Baseball Magazine

The Delayed Steal (Part 1)

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
One of the most underrated offensive plays at the lower levels of baseball is the delayed steal.  My teams at the high school level have probably used it well over one hundred times.  I can honestly say that the runner has been thrown out about 5 times max.  Of course, the runner needs to know how to do it correctly and the coach needs to know when to put it on.  Part 1 of the delayed steal will focus on how to properly do it as a runner, Part 2 will deal with when to delayed steal, and Part 3 will deal with how to prevent a delayed steal on defense.  How to do a delayed steal

The Delayed Steal (Part 1)

Shuffle, shuffle (with shoulders square to home),
and then take off!

Normal lead.  Like most steal situations (the exception being a “first move” steal on a lefty where the runner can get a bigger lead) the runner wants to take a normal lead to not tip-off the fact that something is on.  A normal lead off first base is also warranted on a delayed steal because it is more of a timing play instead of a quickness play like a straight steal.  Two hops and go.  When a runner shuffles off first base on his secondary lead, he will usually hop off once or twice on the pitch and time it so his right foot lands as the ball crosses the hitting zone.  If the ball is not hit, the runner plants his right foot and returns to the bag.  If the ball is hit, the runner turns his body and takes off if the situation calls for it.  On a delayed steal, the runner shuffles off the bag on the pitch as normal and then takes off towards second base after landing on the second hop.  I teach it by saying “hop-hop-go” or “shuffle-shuffle-go.”Common mistakes.

The Delayed Steal (Part 1)

Square those shoulders to second base too soon
and the surprise is over on a delayed steal.
(AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

Turning the shoulders.  Players on the field, their coaches, the bench players, and even some fans will all watch the runner at first base to see if he takes off on the pitch.  As soon as the runner turns his shoulders square to second base, everyone screams “RUNNER!” or “HE’S GOING!”  One mistake runners make on a delayed steal is that they turn their shoulders too soon.  When runners shuffle off a base, they keep their shoulders square to home plate in order to see the pitch and the result.  Runners on a delayed steal need to mimic that so nobody yells “RUNNER!” right away.  When a runner shuffles off like normal, all the defensive people then usually turn their eyes to the pitch and don’t continue to watch the runner.  When the runner turns his shoulders and takes off after the second hop, very few people will actually notice.  That’s one reason why the play works.  Too much “up” and not enough “out.”  Another mistake runners make on a delayed steal is that their hops do not cover enough distance.  When they hop, they tend to hop upward instead of outward.  One goal of the runner when they shuffle off from first base is to shorten the distance of his run to second base.  If a runner hops upward he may only get 5-10 feet closer to second base after his second hop.  If he hops outward, he may get 15-20 feet closer after the second hop.  A runner should try to stay low when they shuffle off twice so that their momentum is directed towards second base instead of just hopping up and down which covers less ground.

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