The 45 degree rule

Running on a lefty pitcher is one of the toughest tasks for a baserunner. There are many aspects to studying a lefty pitcher. Here I will focus on a fine point.

We know that a lefty pitcher must follow the 45 degree rule. Once the pitcher has committed to the plate (determined by his right leg having traveled 45 degrees from the line connecting his left leg and 1st base) he no longer is allowed to throw to 1st base.

Conservative baserunners will wait until a lefty pitcher has made this commitment to the plate. Be wary of an exception to the rule. If a pitcher's right leg crosses his left, he has committed himself to the plate. In this instance, a baserunner can often get a great jump on a lefty.

Coach's Tip
Stress the importance of studying a lefty's move. Players should do this on the bench so they are best prepared when they are in a live situation on first base.


Shefty said...

There are a lot of additional factors the further you get away from the major leagues. One thing is the officiating. In the bigs there's always a first base umpire keeping tabs on the angle of the pitchers leg (in theory). At other levels there may not be an umpire in position to make that call definitively. Depending on the umpire's positioning and the number of umpires (and...uh um... the quality of the umpire), lefty pitchers can often get away with a lot more than they would when you're watching a game on TV. That being said, a lot of good basestealers will argue that it's easier to steal on a lefty (due to a slower delivery to home) so it's certainly still worth the risk under the right circumstances.

While studying the pitcher is always a good idea, keep notes on the umps too.

#22 said...

Very good points, Shefty.

If you know an opposing pitcher has an illegal move he likes to use, don't be afraid to say something to the umpires before the game. It can only help you.

Adam said...

Anything below Div I college with Umpires at the corners, going by the 45 degree rule is just going to get you picked.

I'd contend that focusing on the back shoulder (throwing shoulder) is a great key to stealing on the lefty. If it dips back toward third, there is a great chance he's going to throw over. If it stays straight, they are generally going home. You can even use this to get an "early jump" because a lefty using a read move often has difficulty getting a lot on a late throw to first, it's off target and requires the first baseman to have some good skill to receive the ball and get a quick throw off to second base.

Anthony Leonelli said...

I have never seen an umpire miss a balk call on any level


All jokes aside. I too was taught to watch the back shoulder on a lefty and when it turned away from you to get back.