Tuesday, December 12th, 2017

Back to the bag in the air

September 10, 2013 by  
Filed under Base Running

There were three MLB games I watched in recent days where a runner on third totally screwed up a tag play on balls hit to the outfield.  I guess it bothers me so much because these are mistakes that I could not even accept from my high school players.  Here is what happened in all three cases.

The runner at third was either the go ahead or tying run.  There were less than two outs.  Each of the three batters

Great base running!  Bonehead shortstop!

Great base running! Bonehead shortstop!

hit a line drive to various parts of the outfield but essentially right at the outfielder.  Each runner on third took off towards home plate on contact for a step or two and then tried to get back to third to tag up.  None of them got back in time and none of them even tried to score.

Players, the rule is pretty simple.  When you are at third base with less than two outs, you immediately go back to the bag on any ball hit in the air.  “In the air” includes line drives and fly balls.  It also includes fair balls and foul balls alike.

The only exception to this is when the runner is pretty certain a bloop or line drive has a good chance of falling in front of the outfielder for a hit.  In that case, immediately on contact the runner should freeze (not take a step or two towards home plate before stopping!) and watch the flight of the ball.  If it is going to drop, he goes.  If it is likely to be caught, he still has a chance to get back and tag up before the catch is made. (the video clip shows the runner correctly doing this)

If this is explained to players and practiced, this type of mistake can be (should be!) ironed out well below the major league level.

Tomorrow’s post:  Seasons of strength (Part 2)


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