Tuesday, January 16th, 2018

It can’t even be close

June 4, 2013 by  
Filed under Base Running

This past Saturday I had the pleasure of attending a Phillies game.  In the ninth inning, Kyle Kendrick (yes, a pitcher) was put in to pinch run for Jimmy Rollins (bad foot) with no outs and the Brewers up 4-3.

Even though the SS dropped the ball on this play, a runner needs to make sure it isn't even close.

Even though the SS dropped the ball on this play, a runner needs to make sure it isn’t even close.

 After being sacrificed bunted to second base, Kendrick proceeded to get picked off second base.  Although nobody saw it at the time, cameras around the stadium clearly showed that the shortstop had dropped the ball.  Kendrick should not have been out but his body blocked the umpire from seeing the ball on the ground.  Consequently, the ump called him out.

Everyone focused on the fact that the umpire blew the call.  Kendrick when interviewed said he got his hand in anyway so it didn’t matter that the ball was dropped.  However, the bad call and the fact Kendrick got his hand in are totally irrelevant.  In that situation when you are the tying run in the ninth inning you absolutely positively cannot get picked off.  Any pick-off play at second base cannot even be close.  A close play puts the call (and in this case the game) into the umpire’s hands.  Not what you want.

In that situation, a runner should take a shorter lead and make up for it on his secondary lead.  The shorter lead guarantees he will get back in time on a pick-off and the longer secondary lead will enable a good jump as needed.

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