The Ole Ball Game

There are no outs and runners are at second base & third base should you walk the batter to load the bases?

Anonymous asked: If there are no outs and you have runners at second & third, should you walk the batter to load the bases?



Rick answered: Thank you for your question.

There are some factors which figure into this decision, as to whether you want to pitch to the hitter or walk him.

What is the inning? Is it early in the game, or late? Generally, if you are willing to intentionally walk a hitter, it is late in the game, with the score close, and the hitter in question is a very good hitter.

With no outs, loading the bases gives the defense the possibility of a double play ground ball.

If the runner on third is the winning or tying run, when you load the bases your entire infield will be on the grass, and your double play attempt will be home to first, as you cannot afford to give up that run. With your infield on the grass, that positioning adds about .150 points to a hitters average.

So, the second factor is the score. If you are comfortably ahead, there would no real reason to intentionally put someone on base, play it out.

If the hitter was just wearing you out, you could justify walking him to load the bases and face a lesser threat. With a comfortable lead your middle infielders could play at double play depth and see if you could manage a double play. Percentages would be higher.

The abilities of your infield also come into play here. In the MLB they have no issue with intentionally loading the bases, as their infielders will routinely turn most all ground balls.

In college those percentages go down some; but are still a good bet.

With varsity high school players, you may be looking at 50/50 whether, even if you get the ground ball, that everything from the speed of the ground ball, to fielding the ground ball, to the fielder making a good front end throw, to the second infielder turning that feed with an accurate back end throw, that the first baseman is able to catch.

As you move down into JV and Freshman team levels the percentage will drop some more.

Younger players, travel ball, little league, even lower.

It doesn't mean you don't want to set it up and go there, they need to have opportunities to execute these types of plays, it is all a learning process. They work on it in practice, letting them work through the experience at game speed and pressure is very valuable.

Yours in baseball,

Rick







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