Pitchers Defense Backing Up Bases

By Steven Ellis, former Chicago Cubs pitching pro

Some people say baseball is a lazy man’s sport. Boy how wrong they are! All nine players on the field have a job to do every single play, including the pitcher. It is the baseball pitcher’s job to back up the throws to the bases from the outfield. This requires anticipating the play, and knowing the situation.

Listen to the catcher!

The catcher should be the one yelling which base the throw should go to. If he is yelling “Four! Four! Four!”, you will want to back up home plate. Keep in mind that the catcher may change his call depending on what the base runners do, so be prepared to change direction fast.

Know the situation!

If your team is down late in the game and there is a gap hit to the outfield with runners on base, you can be pretty darn sure that throw is coming to the plate. Hustle back there to help out your catcher!

Watch your fielders!

If you see one of your fielders coming off the base to go after an off-centered throw, make sure you cover the base yourself so it is not unoccupied. There is even a chance your fielder can make a quick throw over to you to get the lazy base runner.

Get to the fence!

If you are backing up a throw to third or to the plate, you will want to get yourself positioned against the fence in line with the throw. The further away from the throw you are, the more time you will have to react to a bad throw. If you are backing up too close to the base, you may not have enough reaction time to go after a bad throw which may end up going past you which will mean your efforts were pointless.

Know the field!

If there are any gaps or holes leading to out of play, make sure the ball doesn’t go in there. If you are backing up a throw to a base and you know of a dead ball area, get positioned in a way so the ball can’t sneak into that area. If a ball goes out of play, the base runner gets an extra base.

Get out of the way!

If there is a throw coming across the infield, be sure to get out of the way. A pitcher floating in the infield will get in the way of the throws and cause further problems.

Common Situations:

A single to the outfield with no runners on base, the pitcher should back up second base directly in line with the incoming throw.

A single to the outfield with runner on first base, the pitcher should back up third base. Be sure to find the fence!

A single to the outfield with runner on second base, the pitcher should be prepared to back up home plate.

If there is an extra base hit with runners on base, the pitcher needs to be prepared to back up any base. Listen to the catcher!

Games are won and lost by the small things. If a baseball pitcher fails to back up a wild throw, it could mean the difference between winning and losing. However if a pitcher can do his job properly, it might mean he saves the wild throw that would allow the winning run to score.


 

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