Baseball Magazine

Snap Throws to Third Base

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard
One of the more demoralizing things that can happen to an offensive team is to have a base runner picked off third base.  I've written a post or two on base running and taking leads but this post is for the defensive team and mostly for the third baseman and catcher.

Snap throws to third base

Watching how this guys leads off third base is an
important job for any third baseman.

One of the more important jobs of a third baseman is to pay attention to how to base runner at third base takes his secondary lead.  As I mentioned before, good runners time their secondary lead so that their right foot lands as the ball crosses the hitting zone.  However, not all runners do this well. Some runners coming off third base will have their left foot landing as the ball crosses.  Doing this squares up the runners shoulders to home plate.  Other runners are just late getting their left foot down and are still moving away from the bag after the pitch is caught.  When a third baseman notices these things, he needs to inform the catcher because these runners are prime targets for being picked off.
At the higher levels, I can remember catching instructors telling the catchers that if runners' shoulders are squared up to them they should do the following:  catch the pitch and throw it right at the runner's head.  The logic is that when the runner is facing the catcher and the ball is thrown at their head, the runner is in a horrible position to return to the bag.  He more likely is going to react to the throw by just getting out of the way so as not to get hit.  He's also more likely to be out.  Of course, the third baseman needs to be aware that the throw is going to be made so he can be at the bag in time.
A snap pick-off throw to third base may only be successful once or twice a season.  This is why third basemen need to be aware of what is going on around them and not be afraid to put on a pick off play after the pitch.  They must be able to take advantage of the runner's mistake before a coach can tell him to watch out.  If he waits too long, the opportunity is lost.

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