Thursday, January 6, 2011

Hitting with the Infield In

In certain situations, usually later in the game, your opponent may pull their infield in when you are at bat. Infielders are pulled in when there are less than two outs and a runner is at third base. Any ball hit to an infielder will be thrown to the catcher if the runner at third base tries to advance and score. This is done to try to get the base runner out at home and prevent the run from scoring.

As a hitter, you have to think about this situation when you are making your plan. 

There are two schools of thought about this scenario. The first is that the batter must hit a fly ball to the outfield. A fly ball to the outfield will give the runner at third base a chance to tag up and score a run.
The second is to simply swing at a pitch you can hit hard, whether the ball ends up in the air or on the ground. The infield is playing in and this gives the hitter two advantages. 

The first advantage is that the infielder will not be able to field as many ground balls hit to the side. When an infielder is playing at normal depth, he can read a hit ball and move side to side in order to cover more ground. But when he is playing in, more than likely he will not be able to field a hard ground ball more than a step or two away from him.

The second advantage is a hard hit ground ball to an infielder playing in will increase the chances of the infielder making an error. The infielder has less reaction time, even on a ball hit directly to him, and is only concerned about keeping the ball in front and not about fielding it cleanly. 

As a coach, I think the number of outs dictates which philosophy you take into the batter’s box with you. If you are hitting with no outs and a runner at third base and the infield in, I think you should take the approach of hitting any pitch as hard as you can and taking your chances it will get through. The run will score and you can safely reach base. With one out, you should try and get a pitch you can drive to the outfield and score the run. If the ball falls in for a hit, that is a bonus, but scoring the run is more important.

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