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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Baseball - First & Third Double Steal Defensive Strategy
Baseball - First & Third Double Steal Defensive Strategy
By Nick Dixon

The "First and Third Double Steal" situation is when the batting team has a base runner at first base and a base runner at third base. Often times the offensive teams will put on a base running play to attempt and confuse, fool, or trick the defensive team into making a mistake that will cost them a run.

Before a team can defend this situation, you must know all variations of plays that an offensive team can employ. The two most common plays used by the offensive team in this situation are, 1) Early break by the first base runner off first to attempt to get in a run down to distract the defense long enough for the 3rd base runner to score. 2) Straight steal of 2nd by the first base runner. If the catcher throws down, the 3rd base runner will go home.

Every team must have a "First & Third Double Steal" defensive plan. Most teams have at least 3 or more defensive plays that they can call and execute to counter the offensive team's actions.

The 4 most common defensive plays for defending the "Double Steal" situation are:

Throw to 2nd base by the catcher with a read and cut action by a middle infielder. The catcher will throw down as usual. The 2nd baseman or shortstop, depending on whether a right-handed or left-handed batter is batting, will come early and get into a position to execute a cut of the throw and a quick throw to home plate if the 3rd base runner attempts to steal home. Most times the cut man will sneak a peek to read the 3rd base runners action or the 3rd baseman will make a loud "CUT!" call to let the middle infielder know to cut the ball because the 3rd base runner to going home. If no cut call is made, the middle infielder will let the ball go through to get the out at 2nd.
A middle infielder comes early and fakes a cut to hold the runner at 3rd base while the runner is tagged out at 2nd base.
The catcher will make a quick throw to the pitcher that will immediately checks the runner at 3rd to try and pick the runner off or get him out while attempting to steal home.
The catcher will make a full-arm fake to 2nd base and then makes a snap throw to 3rd in an attempt to catch the 3rd base off the bag far enough to get an out.

Coaching Points:

If a tag is made at 2nd base, the middle infielder must make a swipe tag and come up checking the runner at third. Sometimes the runner at third will make a late decision to break for home when he sees a play being made on the runner at 2nd base.
When the catcher executes the full arm fake and throw to 3rd, he must come out in front of the plate a step or two to make sure that the throw will clear the runner.
If a throw is going to be made to 2nd, sometimes you can hold a runner at third by having the pitcher fake a cut.
When the middle infielder is faking a cut at 2nd, make sure that he comes early enough to clear the throwing lane. This allows the other infielder a clear view of the bad and will not block his vision during the throw.
Remember, when a fake cut call is made at 2nd, you must have the center fielder backing up the throw at 2nd because both infielders are in the box without a back up at 2nd.

I hope that you find this article useful. Have great day, Nick.

There are other calls and variations that I will cover in later articles.

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick