Baseball Magazine

Another Option for Defending the Double-steal

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
In a major league game with runners on first and second, you'll probably notice that the catcher usually will step out in front of the plate and give the infield players some hand signals of some kind.  What he is doing is letting the infielders know what base he will be throwing to if the runners take off on a double-steal.

Another option for defending the double-steal

Going for the runner trying to steal second base is
sometimes the better choice on a double-steal.

For many catchers, the only logical place to throw the ball would be to third base.  That's the lead runner so you want to cut that guy down trying to steal third.  But in some cases, throwing to second base would be the better option for the following reasons:
  • Many times a coach will put on a double-steal when the runner on second base is a base stealer.  That usually makes him faster than the runner on first base.  The coach on offense is betting that the defense will try for the lead runner going to third which will allow the slower runner an easy trip to second base.  Going after the slower runner may increase the defense's ability to get an out.
  • Many trailing runners (the guy at first base) on a double-steal think along the same lines as their coach in that they assume the throw will be to third base.  As a result, sometimes trailing runners don't always run as hard making them a better target.
  • In another post linked HERE, I mentioned why it can be valuable to allow runners to steal on their own without giving them signs.  However, on a double-steal, this can pose a problem for the trailing runner.  He obviously cannot take off on the steal until he sees the runner at second base take off towards third.  If the runner on second is stealing on his own, the trailing runner will never be able to get as good of a jump because he has to wait to see what the guy on second decides to do.  

Put all these reasons together and it's not always to logical choice to go for the runner trying to steal third base.  Gunning down the runner going to second base is sometimes the better choice when looking to get an out.
Note:  It's important to remind infielders that if they are not involved with the throw, they need to "hold their ground."  As an example, if it is decided that the throw is going to second base, the third baseman needs to "hold his ground" and not move to cover third base since the throw is not going there.  Doing so would only open up another hole for a batted ball to travel through.  This note may seem obvious but some fielders will move to their bag on a steal just out of habit.

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