Thursday, January 6, 2011

Why Players Need to Hit the Cut-Off Man

Few things upset me more as a coach than an outfielder missing his cut-off man. The throw from the outfield is a long one, especially to third base and home plate. Many outfielders think they have to be able to throw the ball all the way from their position to the base where the play is taking place.

When the ball is hit to the outfield, one of the infielders, usually the shortstop or second baseman depending on where the ball is hit, should run out half way between the outfielder and the base. This infielder is called the “cut-off man” and there is nothing wrong with throwing him the ball. 

Hitting the cut-off man does not mean that you have a weak arm or do not know where to throw it. Hitting the cut-off man is important for following three reasons. 

The first is the fact that the ball will travel faster in a straight line instead of staying high in the air, slowing the play down. If you throw the ball to your cut-off man’s chest and he relays the ball to another fielder to make a play, the ball will probably travel there quicker. 

Accuracy of the throw is the second reason. A long throw can be made more accurately if the outfielder throws to the cut-off man who relays it to your other teammate. 

The final reason is this will help limit the other team from advancing additional bases. Say there is a runner at first base and the ball is hit on the ground to right field. The runner reaches second base and starts toward third base.  The right fielder throws the ball thirty feet in the air trying to throw the ball all the way to the third baseman. The batter, who is now at first base, sees that the cut-off man will not be able to catch the ball. He immediately takes off for second base and will more than likely be safe. 

This allows another runner to advance into scoring position and is caused by the outfielder not throwing the ball to the cut-off man.

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