Baseball Magazine

The Shortstop’s Priority When Holding Runners on

By Meachrm @BaseballBTYard

There are a boatload of little things that shortstops should do in order to effectively hold runners on at second base.  However, one stands out as the top priority and that involves getting the runner (and third base coach!) comfortable with you being just off the runner’s left shoulder.

Unfortunately, many shortstops position themselves here with a runner at second base …

The shortstop’s priority when holding runners on

This next visual shows why this is a problem.

The shortstop’s priority when holding runners on

The shortstop has too long of a sprint to the bag should a pickoff be called or needed.  Of course, as soon as the shortstop breaks, the third base coach will yell “BACK!” and the runner will easily get back before the shortstop gets to the bag.

In order for the timing and element of surprise to work, the shortstop must position himself off the left shoulder of the runner before the pitch from the get-go and then hustle back to a better location on the pitch.  After doing this for several pitches, runners, innings, etc. both the runner and the third base coach will grow accustomed to you being there.  Now when a pickoff is warranted, the shortstop only has a short sprint to the bag as shown here …

The shortstop’s priority when holding runners on

If the pitcher spins at the proper moment (as soon as the shortstop breaks to the bag) then it will not matter if the coach yells to get back.  The shortstop will be at the bag and the ball will be on its way.

Mastering the footwork and timing takes a lot of practice and attention to detail by shortstops and pitchers.  Don’t take the time to practice it to get it right and you’ll miss a lot of opportunities to get an out without having to throw a pitch.

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