The Ole Ball Game

Playing Third base

by John

John asks:


My son is 12 years old. Plays third regularly. It is USSSA rules.
When a runner is occupying 3B, should he hover over the base ( not blocking ) to accomodate a pickoff throw from the pitcher, (like a pick to first )?
I know there are several situations that could arise but just some general rule of thumb guidance would be appreciated. Thanks!


Rick says:

John: Thank you for your question.
You never want your 3B on the bag. It creates a big hole on the left side, so what happens is pickoff plays at 3B are pre-set timing plays, between the 3B and pitcher, or 3b and catcher.

Timing is created so that the ball and the 3B get to bag at same time.

On pick with RH pitcher; When he lifts his foot to his balance point, 3B breaks to bag. Pitcher steps toward 3B and throws. Pitcher is in stretch, not windup.

With LH pitcher, he picks up the 3B out of the corner of his eye., turns and throws.

Picks from catcher, catcher gives signal, so the throwdown is on the next pitch. 3B breaks to bag as soon as he sees ball has not been hit.

This pick can also be run as a pitchout with a LH hitter up. Allows the 3B to break earlier. Works well with a runner who is out of control coming down the baseline, or one who is lazy getting back once the ball reaches the plate.

A pickoff system allows your 3B to play the game situation as it is at the time and only be concerned with a runner who takes too many liberties, or is out of control and an easy out.

Picks at 3B are a possible disaster waiting to happen, as a poor throw or missed ball leads to a run scored. We use them sparingly, in times of real need or a pretty sure out.

Yours in baseball,

Rick

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