This Tigers runner shuffles off on
the pitch and is in position to
land properly at the right time.
A secondary lead is the extra lead base runners take when the ball is traveling to home plate. Others call it "shuffling off on the pitch" but it's all the same thing. This post is specifically going to deal with a very important piece that must occur at the end of a secondary lead. It simply involves landing with the proper foot at the proper time. It doesn't matter what base the runner is on.
When a runner takes a secondary lead, they must land with their right foot as the ball crosses the hitting zone.
Jason Werth easily gets picked off
on a catcher's snap throw in the
2009 World Series.
(NY Post Photo)
There are no exceptions to this rule. When a runner lands with his right foot as the ball crosses the hitting zone he can plant and return to the bag very easily and quickly if necessary. He is also in a good position to take off running if the ball is hit. A runner that lands with his left foot as the ball crosses the zone will be squared up to the next base (shoulders and/or hips) and is in a horrible position if he has to return to the bag quickly. He is making it very likely that he will get picked off by the catcher after the pitch. This is also true for a runner who is late landing with their right foot. If this is the case, the runner is still moving away from the bag after the catcher has caught the ball. On a snap throw by the catcher, the runner in this scenario will take longer to get back and increases the odds he will be out.
A note to catchers and infielders:
You should be looking for runners who either land with the incorrect foot or have poor timing of their right foot landing. They become prime targets. If you see this at any bag, relay a sign to the proper teammate and put on a pick-off following the pitch.