Friday Base Running Secrets – So Much to Think About
This is a very tough call for major league players, let alone youth baseball players. It maybe the toughest base running decision of all and occurs when on third base with less than two outs. Not only does this play require great concentration, it is a difficult one to get experience at because runners are on third base the least of all the bases. The good news is that a good third base coach helps with the decision making before each pitch, as to whether runners should run on any ground ball contact or not and with whether to go on caught fly balls. Beyond that, good instincts are necessary because any false move can be the difference between out and safe. As mentioned in last week’s tip, having a runner taken out of scoring position with an unnecessary out can cost the team the game.
Base Running Practice Drill – During batting practice, place runners at third base (in foul territory with helmet on) and give them a game situation before each pitch.
Different scenarios and thought processes involved with less than two outs and runner at third:
1. Run on contact is for all grounders, except balls to the pitcher, which is obviously a tough call.
2. Make the ball go through means run on ground balls only if it gets through the infield
3. Make the ball go through on grounders, but go on high-chopped ground balls
4. Freeze and be moving back to base on line drives
5. Tag up on balls hit in air – then decide whether ball is deep enough to go on or not (with help from third base coach)
6. Tag on fly balls, but not on shallow hit fly balls, when runner couldn’t score if ball is caught but could score if down the line some if ball drops in
7. Breaking at the right moment when tagging up on fly ball, which is a decision made by runner by watching when ball hits outfielder’s mitt, not waiting for coach to yell “go”
7. Run on pitches that get away from the catcher, but only if it is far enough away to score
8. Exactly when to exactly run when the suicide squeeze play is on (when pitcher’s front foot lands)
As you can see, much goes through the base runners mind in this situation and a split second decision is necessary. A slight delay is often costly.