Wednesday Web Gems
Key to Solid Defensive Baseball
The importance of good defensive baseball, especially when it comes to being able to keep runners out of scoring positions, along with avoiding the big run innings, cannot be overstated, as a key to winning baseball games. A major key to defensive baseball efficiency lays with players’ backup responsibilities all throws and batted balls. These backup responsibilities prevent runners from gaining additional bases and runs. Another advantage to good backup defensive baseball is that extra outs often come with base runners attempting to advance on missed balls, only to be thrown out by players in correct backup positions.
Coaching sound defensive baseball is a slow process at the lower levels of ball. Often, inexperienced players only respond when balls are directly at them, but in time players begin to learn to think ahead and backup all thrown and batted balls. When players adhere to their backup responsibilities, more wins usually follow and it is a sign of a well-coached team. Every position on the field has backup responsibilities and it is a beautiful thing to see players hustling to backup in games, especially when it pays off in an out or advanced base prevention.
Most Important Defensive Baseball Backup Responsibilities by Position
Catcher – On most batted balls and thrown balls, the catcher should hold their catching position, as home plate is not a base to leave unattended when there may be a potential play at the plate. With that in mind, catchers should back up throws to first base with no runners on base on throws from the second base, shortstop, and right field positions.
Pitcher – Pitcher backup responsibilities involve backing up third base and home plate on any throws from the outfield to those bases. On singles to the outfield, with nobody on base, pitchers should back up throws to second base from center, right-center, and left-center fields.
First Base – First baseman do not have many backup roles, but this one is very important. On hits to left field and throws to second base, first baseman acts as a backup, when the right fielder is not there.
Second Base – The second baseman backs up throws to first base from the pitcher, catcher, third baseman, and shortstop (from the hole), with other no runners on base. The second baseman also backs up second base on throws to second from the catcher and pitcher.
Shortstop – The shortstop gets behind second on most throws from the pitcher and catcher, when the second baseman is responsible for covering second.
Third base – Also a position without a lot of backup responsibilities, but throws to second base from right field and right center field is a natural one, with nobody on base.
Outfielders – A key to outfield play is backing up all balls, batted or thrown, that occur in the infield. These possibilities are wide ranging and require good hustling outfielders and ones that anticipate where throws are going. Any throws to first base, require the right fielder to be moving there and any throw to third base has the left fielder backing up. Throws to second base are the responsibility of the outfielder who has the angle to the correct backup positioning. Additionally, good outfielders are moving in on all ground balls, line drives and infield popups, so they are ready in case of missed balls. A coach’s dream is to see his outfielders anticipating plays and moving to the correct backup positions before thrown and missed balls.
As mentioned, teams win with the performance of the correct defensive baseball responsibilities.