365 Days to better Baseball – Best Pitch to Steal On?

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Friday Base Running Tips – Win-Win Situation

Many coaches like to have a left-handed batter batting behind a good base stealer for the obvious reason that the hitter blocks the catcher’s view of the runner at first base and the throw may be a little tougher with the lefty batter, somewhat. However, as a base stealer, I preferred the opposite – having a right handed batter up to bat.

The reason was simple and it greatly helped me have a high base stealing percentage in the major leagues.With right-handed batters, there was a greater likelihood that right-handed pitchers would throw more breaking balls. It is much easier for runners to steal on breaking balls because it is slower than a fastball and it breaks down, which is a tougher location for catchers to have as quick a release. Additionally, pitchers are more likely to bounce the breaking ball in the dirt, all but assuring a safe steal.

Rickey Henderson steals third base for the New...

Rickey Henderson steals third base for the New York Yankees under the tag of Seattle Mariners Third baseman Jim Presley in the first game of a doubleheader at Yankee Stadium on August 19, 1988. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With the more likelihood of curves in those situations, smart baseball people can usually predict when curve balls would be thrown, further increasing the chances of stealing the base.

With that in mind, good coaches should have runners steal on pitch counts when they feel there is a good chance the pitcher will be throwing an off-speed pitch. This philosophy puts more pressure on the catcher, which may lead to them calling more fastballs with runners on base, which leads to better pitches for the hitters, creating a win-win situation.

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