Friday Base Running Tips
Keeping Eyes Open for Defensive Baseball Mistakes
It is never good for coaches and players to “rub it in” with overly aggressive base running at the inexperienced levels of baseball. That is poor sportsmanship – things like allowing fast runners to get in a pickle just for the sake of it when they know the defense cannot execute the run down – is an example. However, as the more advanced levels of baseball, coaches and players, who keep their heads up and eyes open, help teams win games.
Good baseball coaches watch for the little things that may give their team the edge and pass that knowledge on to base runners so they can watch for those little things, too. Many of these not so obvious defensive mistakes can lead to an extra base and more runs, as well as turn the momentum of games. Sometimes, it is wise for coaches to save these noticeable defensive mistakes to use at the most opportune time in the game, so as not to alert the defense to their mistakes early in games.
Common defensive baseball mistakes for alert base runners
- Unoccupied bases – many times, especially at the end of plays, as bunt plays, a base is left unoccupied by the defense – alert runners may be able to take advantage of this
- The lob ball – it is common for defensive players to lob balls to other players when they feel the play is over. Catchers often lob the ball back to the pitcher after the pitch and outfielders lob balls back into the infield after fielding outfield hits. Good base runners take advantage of those, when they feel they can take the extra base on those lobbed throws.
- End of plays – more often than one would think, the throw back to the pitcher at the end of plays often gets away. Alert runners keep their eyes open and heads up at this time for possible advancement.
Forced Defensive Baseball Mistakes for Base Running Success
- Delayed steal – coaches should watch what the middle infielders do after the pitched ball, when the base runner does not steal. Often, they drop their heads or begin looking elsewhere – this is a great time to put on the delayed steal, where the runner waits till the ball gets to the hitting zone before taking off for second base. The element of surprise works to get slower runners to second when they would not have been capable of stealing the base the traditional way.
- Trick bunt play – a good play with a fast runner on first and no outs is to have the batter sacrifice bunt the runner on first to second base. The runner on first does not stop at second, when they see the throw made to first base, and continue on to third base. Having to make two throws, third to first and back to third is a difficult defensive play. Often, there is no one even covering third on this play or the defense is late getting there for the return throw.