Wednesday, April 14, 2010
RT Staff Note: The following is from www.qcbaseball.com.
Every Player Can Be Good At Running The Bases
Good teams are often judged on their ability to manufacture runs. What this means is they didn't string together enough hits (or any hits for that matter) to score a run. An example would be a hitter reaching on a walk, stealing second base, going to third on a ground out hit to second, and scoring on a fly ball. In this case a run was scored without the aid of a base hit. Other skills are important in a teams ability to manufacture runs, but one thing for sure, poor baserunning will inhibit a teams ability to manufacture runs on a regular basis. Worse than that, poor baserunning will take your team out of scoring opportunities. There may be no worse feeling in baseball than being picked off a base or making a mental baserunning mistake. There is no where to hide when this happens and it can be a long walk back to the dugout.
You may consider yourself a base stealing threat every time you get on base, or maybe you look for certain situations to take an extra base. Whatever your running ability, your value as a baserunner is important to your team.
Know The Value Of Your Run
As a baserunner you always need to be aware of the value of your run. This is dependent on the game situation and your ability. Your strategy on the bases will be different depending on the inning and the score. Have you seen a player being picked off first base when their team is down by 4 or 5 runs? It can be the nail in the coffin for the team. It's a mental error and should never happen, but it does, even at the major league level. This next section will cover many of the fundamentals necessary to be a good baserunner.
Baserunning - Home To First
Getting Out Of The Box
Regardless which side of the plate you hit from, your first step out of the box is a crossover step. Drive out of the box as if you were stealing a base. Get in the habit of getting out of the box quickly; this helps you at the close play at first and may just turn that long single into a double.
As you take your first couple steps, pick up the ball. Assume there will be a play at first base on any ball hit on the ground or on a line. Once you know where the ball is heading, focus in on where you are going.
Run Every Ball Out! Hard!
Few players in the Majors run out every ball. As with many things in the big leagues, it may okay to do it when you get there but you shouldn't do it when you're working to get there. Lead by example, run every ball out and run it out hard. It doesn't matter if it's a slow roller to the pitcher or a pop fly to the center fielder, get your legs going and hustle down the line.
Run Through First Base
Once you've determined that the ball is going to be fielded by an infielder, focus on the front part of first base. As you hit the base, start breaking down. This gives the illusion to the umpire that you were at the bag sooner than if you breakdown after you pass the base. After you have crossed the base, slow down and look to your right to see if there was an errant throw.
Take A Turn
If the ball is going to make it past the infield, get ready to round first base. Do this by moving off the line and into foul territory to set yourself up for the turn at first. Try to hit the inside corner of the bag. Be aggressive with your turn, put pressure on the outfield to field the ball cleanly and make a good throw. There's a fine line between being aggressive and being stupid. Put yourself in position to take advantage of any mistakes but don't get caught being too far off the base.
Baserunning - First To Third
Make Sure The Ball Gets Through The Infield
After you determine from first that the ball will land safely in the outfield or make it past the infield on the ground, you need to analyze your chance of making it to third base on the play. Start to flair out on your way to second to prepare yourself for the turn towards third.
Ball Hit To Center Or Left Field
If the ball is hit from center to left field, you will have the play in front of you and it will be up to you to determine if you are going to attempt to make it to third or not. Remember, by making it to second, you are in scoring position. Do not take chances going to third if an average to good throw will get you out.
If you determine that you are going to try and make it, make sure you focus on hitting the inside part of the bag as you turn the corner. Once you have made it past second look up and pick up your third base coach. If you look over your shoulder trying to pick up the ball, you'll only slow yourself down. The third base coach will let you know whether to slide or go in standing.
Ball Hit To Right Or Right Center Field
If the ball is hit from right center to right then you must rely on the third base coach to let you know whether to stay at second or go for third. This often happens after you have rounded second base! When you're about 3/4 of the way toward second, you should have already picked up the ball and the position of the outfielder and determined whether you will try for third on the play. Since you only get one chance to take a look, you will want to pick up the third base coach. He may be giving you a sign to stay on second, or to keep running, or he may not know at that point. If you get no sign before getting to second, you must use your determination from the picking up the ball. If it looks like it was hit hard and directly to the right fielder, you will want to go straight in to second base and pick up the right fielder or third base coach as you do so. If the ball was hit down the line or in the gap and you are anticipating trying for third, take an aggressive turn. You must pick up the third base coach immediately after touching second. He will be able to let you know whether to continue on or to stay at the bag. The big difference between scenarios is in the first, you plan on staying at second unless the coach lets you know otherwise; in the second scenario, you plan on going to third unless the coach signals you to stop.