Manufacturing Runs – The Sign of A Good Coach
“Manufacturing runs” is a baseball phrase for scoring runs without many, or any hits. Teams who can manufacture runs have the best chance of success because it is difficult for teams to hit well all season long. But it takes practice to learn how to produce runs. It also takes an experienced baseball coach to recognize situations that the offense may be able to take advantage of, without running away their chances of scoring.
Baseball is an unpredictable game. When one expects a pitchers’ duel, teams bust loose and score plenty. When games look to be a high scoring affair, it ends up a low scoring game. In either case, teams that can score without stringing a bunch of hits together, win more often.
Often, coaches can tell early in games that both pitchers have their best stuff. When they see that, they know runs are at a premium. Also, a coach knows when their team is in a hitting slump and are not hitting in clutch situations. In both those cases, manufacturing runs is a key to scoring and winning. Not only is scoring runs in this manner a sign of a skilled coach, runs scored without many hits discourages the opposition.
It may be hard to find time to do with young teams, but working on the plays that manufacture runs is important at the more advanced levels. It is most important to drill the weaker hitters in the manufacturing runs strategy. Weak hitters have little chance against dominant pitchers but they can help win games. Also, coaches do not want to take the bat out of their best hitters’ hands too often.
Ways of manufacturing runs
- The baseball bunt to advance a base runner is crucial for manufacturing runs. Not only that but knowing where to place the bunt can make a big difference too. With a runner on first, the bunt should go towards the first baseman and with runners on first and second down the third base line. Exceptions to the placement are OK when coaches notice a position player who cannot throw too well or is slow on their feet.
- The bunt with no runners. When facing a dominant pitcher when contact is elusive, just putting balls in play with a bunt puts some pressure on the defense. It just takes an error or two to score sometimes.
- The fake bunt. The batter fakes a bunt to distract the catcher or defense enough to advance runners on base stealing attempts. Having batters stand deep in the batter’s box before squaring to bunt, keeps the catcher back longer. Also, the third or first baseman may charge hard which may help players steal second or third base. Once coaches see the third baseman charge hard, they can try a steal of third.
- The delayed steal. Instead of breaking when the pitcher starts their delivery, the runner breaks when the ball reaches the hitting zone. This play works when middle infielders do not pay attention immediately after pitches. This steal often catches everyone unaware, and the ball ends up in center field. That errant throw may get the runner to third, which makes scoring more possible.
- The hit and run. The hit and run play where the runner steals and the batter must swing and attempt to hit a ground ball can spark a team’s offense. This play is best with a batter who handles the bat well, but is more difficult with a dominant pitcher and a complete catcher. It may be worth a try early in games.
- The bunt and run. A seldom used play that may get a runner all the way to third base has the runner on first take off to steal second base and the batter bunts. When the batter gets the bunt down the runner tries to go all the way to third base. This tactic works best with a fast runner that steals and with the bunt down the third base line. Two long throws are necessary, and the defense may not have anyone covering third base after the bunt.
- The first and third steal. If teams can get a runner on first and third base, the steal from first provides a few scenarios to get a runner home. This situation puts pressure on the defense to decide what throws they want to make. It often leads to a mistake that allows the runner from third to score. Like the previous situation, it is difficult making two long throws, home to second base and back. The offensive goal is that it is not soon enough to get the runner at home.
- The first and third fake steal. With a first and third situation, the runner on first draws a throw to first. With that throw, the runner on third breaks for home on the pitcher’s first move. This play works best with a left-handed pitcher.
- The fake steal from third. Every once in a while the runner on third breaks towards home plate right when the pitcher begins their windup. The goal of this play is to get the pitcher to balk by thinking the runner is attempting to steal home.
- The base steal with an intentional swing and miss. This play was much more popular years ago. The batter swings and misses on purpose and takes a full swing. The aim is to keep the catcher from coming up too soon and allowing the base stealer to be safe.
- The steal on the throw back from the catcher. When a catcher lobs the ball back to the pitcher after the pitch the runner breaks for the next base. This is another of the plays that works on surprise and usually only works once a game.
- The suicide squeeze. Maybe the ultimate way of manufacturing runs is the bunt with the runner on third running on the pitch. This play takes a great deal of practice so the surprise works. Any little tip off to the opposition or poor bunt can lead to an easy out at home. This play makes a coach look very good or terrible, depending on the outcome.
The above plays put extra pressure of good decision making on the defense, as well as good execution. It is important to note that manufacturing runs are not with the use of trick plays. Trick plays are a sign of a win at all cost mentality and often serve to embarrass the other team. Finally, these manufacturing runs plays are often called “small ball.”