Thursday, July 20th, 2017

Two outs, two strikes – on the swing

May 11, 2015 by  
Filed under Base Running

Ever see a guy try to score from second base on a base hit and get thrown out by about six inches at home plate?  Of course you have.  Baseball is a game of inches and turn on any game on TV and you’ll see several plays where an inch one way or the other could have reversed the tide of the game.

One extra step can be all the difference.

One extra step can be all the difference.

My base running example above is one of many plays where fans really just concentrate on the end result.  The out or safe call.  As you know, because you are a reader of Baseball By The Yard, simply running from second base to home plate is not so simple.  Many little things go into doing it right.

Today’s tip is one of the many little things that can mean the difference between safe by six inches and out by six inches …

With two outs and two strikes on the batter, the runner on second base should be told (or know) to start breaking towards third base as soon as he can see the batter start his swing.  With two outs and two strikes, it makes no difference whether the batter hits the ball or not.  If he misses it, it’s inning over.  If he hits it then all runners go no matter where it is hit.  Therefore, a sharp runner will start his jump as soon as he sees the batter’s hands come forward to start his swing.  Doing so may allow the runner to get in a step towards third base before the ball is hit.  One step is about a yard.  (Hmmm … there’s that Baseball By The Yard thing again).  Obviously, if a runner can get a yard head start then his chances of being safe at home on a base hit increase.

Nobody on the field or in the stands will probably notice what the runner did.  However, when he is safe by six inches rather than out by six inches, the practice time spent on this will be well worth it.

Comments

3 Responses to “Two outs, two strikes – on the swing”
  1. jack says:

    Coach,
    A typical 5-frame swing takes about 150 milleseconds from launch to contact.
    To put that in perspective, it takes about 250 milleseconds for a fingertip to react to a computerized reaction-time test.

    http://www.humanbenchmark.com/tests/reactiontime/

    Therefore, with all due respect to the coaches who teach this technique, to me it’s clear that a baseball swing is of such incredibly short duration that “go on the swing” is not of any realistic value to the baserunner.

    And even if it were of value (which, again, I strongly believe it isn’t), it would make a runner at second very vulnerable to the back-pick from the catcher on a legitimate check-swing , assuming he had already taken an aggressive secondary lead, which he is supposed to do in a two-out situation, hoping to score on a single and knowing that the middle infielders are playing a “big infield”

    • Stephen Wandzura says:

      Jack,

      Your perspective is wrong. It takes a base runner at full speed less than 50 milliseconds to run 1 foot. If he starts running 150 milliseconds earlier, he will arrive at home ahead by 3 feet. How many safe/out calls have been decided by MUCH less than three feet? It is said that baseball is a game of inches – the runner travels one inch in 4 milliseconds. 150 milliseconds is a quite significant duration. (I asked a successful Div I college head (+ 3rd base) coach about what a runner should do in that situation – he said, “go on the swing – it’s just common sense.”)

      Sorry to differ with Coach McCreary, but it is transparently logical on the math side.

  2. Thanks for the comment!
    Runners are also looking at the flight of the pitch especially if they are at second base. When you combine the flight of the pitch (“it’s going to be a strike”) and seeing the batter start his hands, the runner can start moving/leaning to the next base. It may not seem logical on the math side but I’ve taught runners from the high school level on up to do it and I’ve never seen a runner picked off. I personally did it as a player as well and didn’t either. I suppose it’s possible but I’ve never seen it.

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