Thursday, January 6, 2011

Executing a Hit and Run

A hit and run is a play that a coach puts on once you reach a level where base runners can lead and steal at any time. When a hit and run is called, the base runner, who is typically at first base, runs as if he is stealing. Once he takes several steps, he looks over his left shoulder to see what happens at the plate. It is the job of the hitter to hit the ball on the ground.

The Base Runner

 As the runner, you have to check and see what the hitter does. If he hits the ball, you have to read the flight of the ball. If it is a line drive, you have to try and return to the base, though most of the time it will be too late. If the ball is hit in the air, you have to judge it. If the pitch is popped up on the infield, you should immediately retreat to the base you were stealing from. If the ball is hit into the outfield and it looks like the fielder will catch it, start to make your way back to the base.

A hitter will swing at and miss a pitch on a hit and run. As the hitter, you have to anticipate this. Once a hit and run is called, you have to think as if a steal is put on. If a hitter swings and misses, continue your stolen base attempt.

The Hitter

A hit and run is usually called in either of the following two scenarios. The first is to stay out of a double play. With the runner on first base running on the pitch, if the batter hits a ground ball, the fielder will usually be forced to throw the ball to first base, allowing the runner to advance to second base and into scoring position.
In the second scenario, a coach will call for a hit and run when he thinks the pitcher is going to throw a fastball. When the runner takes off for second base, one of the middle infielders, either the shortstop or second baseman, is going to leave his position and cover second base. It is your job as the hitter to try and hit the ball to the position just vacated by the player. 

Because everything happens so fast, you have to anticipate, before the pitch, who will cover second base. 

Most infielders play hitters to hit the ball to their strong side, or pull side. For right handed hitters, this is to the left side of the infield. The shortstop plays on the left side, so on an attempted steal, the second baseman will cover. If you are left handed, the right side is your pull side, so most shortstops will cover the base in this situation. When you are batting and a hit and run is called, you should try to hit the ball towards the second baseman’s position if you are right handed or shortstop position if you are left handed. 

The goal of this scenario is to easily allow the runner from first to advance to third and open up a bigger hole on the infield for the batter to hit through. 


A hit and run can be executed with a runner on second base as well as runners on first and second. 

Personally, I like using the hit and run with runners on first and second and a left handed hitter at bat. If the typical events happen, the third baseman will break early to cover third and the shortstop will leave his position to cover second. Now the hitter has the entire left side of the infield to smack a base hit through. 

When a hit and run is executed, it can lead to a big inning for the offense. Think about the instructions I lay out the next time you are in the batter’s box and your coach calls a hit and run.

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