Wednesday Web Gems –Tough Managerial Decisions
Double Steal Defense Strategies
Major league managers have to make quick decisions when the opposition has runners on first and third base. This double steal defense is necessary because, often, opposing teams try to steal a run, so to speak, by stealing a base. Managers have to calculate quickly many things as:
1. Score of game
3. Strength of batter
4. Likelihood of throwing runner out at second
These quick calculations determine how important the runner at third base is, which establishes their first and third base strategy. This strategy may even change from pitch to pitch.
Coaches of youth teams have the same situation decisions and often with the added dilemma of much weaker arms at the catching and second base positions. With that in mind, coaches should have teams practice the following double steal defense plays, so they can adequately defense the double steal. Setting runners, with helmets on, at first and third in practice and having the first base runner steal is the best way for this. Often, coaches can find out what their defensive players are capable of by doing this.
Double-Steal Defense Plays
- Throw through to second – When an out is more important than the run and coach feels there is a good chance of throwing the runner out at second
- Throw through to second but have the short stop or second base man cut short in front of base in case runner from third breaks. This method is not used much anymore as it takes two players out of position
- Throw to second but if runner breaks from third the covering player comes up and meets the ball and fires the ball home or to third – this method requires strong arms and longer bases, usually only for the high school and above level
* Catcher takes quick glance at third before throwing to second in order to freeze runner and/or possibly catch an over aggressive third base runner.
- Throw to pitcher as if to second – can be very effective if catcher sells this throw as when throwing to second. Catcher must be sure pitcher knows this play is on, of course
- Fake to second, throw to third – may catch over aggressive runner at third base
- Fire to third immediately, risky for unnecessary over throw though
These double steal defense plays must be practiced often, as well as the signs relayed from coach to catcher to players.
Other Double Steal Defense Considerations
Often, at the youth levels, teams will have the runner at first intentionally get in a run down so or have base stealers stop before getting to second base so they can score the runner from third base. Coaches have to work on run-downs often to avoid this scoring play.
It bears repeating that coaches should never forget to analyze the strength of the up-to-bat hitter, as often coaches will try to steal that run with a weak hitter up, so coaches are often best off to allow the steal of second base.
Finally, a good rule of thumb is to let the runner steal second when the runner on third is the late-inning, game-winning run, as it is better to make the opposing team earn it with a hit.