Thursday, January 6, 2011

Keeping a Runner at First Base From Stealing

You must think of every runner that reaches first base as a potential run. As the runner moves around the bases, the chances of him scoring significantly increase. This makes it important to do your best to keep any base runners at first base.

From an offensive point of view, a runner at first is not in what is considered scoring position. Scoring position means that a runner has a chance to score on a single to the outfield. Coaches are more likely, especially with a fast base runner, to try and steal second base.

In addition to getting into scoring position, there are several other reasons a coach would have a runner try to steal second. One is that second base is a longer throw for the catcher than third base. A second, and maybe bigger reason, is that a pitcher cannot fake a move to first base without stepping backwards off the pitching rubber. Another common reason to try to steal second base occurs when your opponent has two outs. Most coaches are more willing to risk making the third out at second, even with a slower runner, in an effort to advance a runner into scoring position.

So how does a pitcher slow down runners from first and decrease the likelihood they will try to steal first base?

The easiest way is to mix up your timing from the set. Remember, if you are playing in a league where a runner is allowed to take a lead and steal on the pitch, you are going to have to pitch from the stretch position. After you receive your signal from the catcher and come to the set position, you have to vary the amount of time you spend in the set position. For example, if you always hold two seconds before throwing your pitch, your opponent may notice this. Base runners will potentially count to two and take off, getting a good start and increasing their chances of stealing second base. You have to keep base runners guessing by holding in the set for one, two, three, four and even five seconds before delivering your pitch.

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