The Break Up

In the Pawtucket Red Sox/Indianapolis Indians game last night, the following situation took place:

Runner on 1st base, 0 outs. Ground ball to the 2nd baseman, fielded in the baseline before the runner reaches him. The runner evades the tag by shifting his course out of the baseline. The 2nd baseman throws to 1st for the out. The runner who leaves the baseline is also called out.

You are the runner
As the runner in this situation, I believe you should lower your body to the ground as you approach the fielder. By doing this, the fielder now has to reach to tag you before throwing to first. You're buying the hitter more time to reach 1st base safely. If you try to avoid the tag, you could be called for running out of the baseline. If you stop, you will likely become the back end out of the double play.

You are the fielder
Resist the temptation to tag a baserunner who is out of reach. Take the out at first and have confidence the 1st baseman will finish the double play with a good throw to the shortstop covering 2nd base.

Are there other things to consider in this situation?

1 comment:

Karl Hassan Cyr said...

Good stuff Andy :).

I encountered this situation as the baserunner heading to second in a high school game. I dropped flat to the ground to avoid the tag from the second baseman and he completely missed me! The fielder was flustered and ended up throwing the ball away on a rushed throw to first.

It's an interesting scenario. As a baserunner, you should always be looking to force a tag. Delaying the throw to first and/or forcing a rundown increases the odds that the defense will make a costly mistake.

I agree with the part about the fielder- the only thing I would add is depending on the situation it might make more sense to force the lead runner if you are trying to keep him out of scoring position. At a higher level of ball you can usually count on your first baseman and shortstop to make the play, but at less refined levels you'll usually be better off taking the easy force on the lead runner.