Think the Game

1st and 3rd Down Angle Part 2 (2018)

Last time, we explored nearly the same situation. This week, we throw in an added twist. Check out the last TTG  here and see if you can figure out why the situation changes. 

The Situation: 

It’s the top of the 3rd inning and the game is still tied at zero. The offense is threatening and they have runners at 1st and 3rd with one out. There is a 2-0 count on the batter, who is sitting dead red, waiting on his pitch. 

The Play: 

The pitcher comes set and deals. The runner on first gets a good jump and steals on the pitch, hoping to score on a ball in the gap if the batter gets his pitch. The batter gets his fastball, but is just a bit early with his timing. He hits the top half of the ball and still manages to hit it hard. Unfortunately, it’s a one-hop bullet right at the third baseman, who fields it waist high without having to move his feet. 

The Outcome: 

The runner at third freezes initially, before returning to the third base bag. The third baseman sees the runner at third in the corner of his eye, glances at second base, realizes he will have no chance with the runner’s good jump, resets his feet and fires a strike to 1st to get the batter. There are now runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs. 

What Went Wrong: 

Can you figure out the glaring mistake? How about what is different from last week’s situation?  If you can’t figure out the mistake, that’s because there isn’t one! While the situation compared to last week is very similar, the stealing runner changes everything because it eliminates the double play possibility. With the chance of the inning ending with a double play negated, it would be foolish for the runner at 3rd to give up an easy out at the plate in exchange for the out at 1st base. Runners at 2nd and 3rd with two outs is a much better position than runners at 1st and 2nd and two outs. Now, the offense is a passed ball, wild pitch, or error away from at least 1 run, and a bloop or blast away from 2 or more. In this case, understanding how the situation changed with the stealing runner was a great job on the part of the runner at third base, who has put his team in the best position to produce runs given the situation. 

One of the things that makes baseball so great is the need for players to think on their feet. Having read the last two articles, you now are prepared to be a step ahead of the competition and think the game.