Ground Ball back to Pitcher
Photo Bill Stanton: Checkswing.com
John asked: When there are runners on first & second and either no outs or one out, then a ground ball is hit to the pitcher(who fields it cleanly), where does he throw?
Rick answered: John, thank you for your question.
There are a few game situation factors which the defense needs to take into consideration.
- The score.
- The inning.
- How hard the ball is hit.
First, the score. If the defensive team has a big lead, then the pitcher should be turning and throwing to second base, attempting to get the double play in the easiest manner possible.
If the score is close, and it is imperitive that the runner on second not score, the pitcher should look to throw to third base for the force, and possible double play.
The inning makes a difference also. Early in the game, defensively you are looking to go the easy way, thus going to second base to start the double play.
Late in a close game, you may not feel ok with putting that runner on third, if you have no outs, or if you don't get the out on the back of the double play with one out, having that runner on third base.
There are 25 more ways for a runner to score from third base, in the same situation, than he can score from second base. If it is a close game, you may want to keep runners from getting to third.
How hard the ball is hit makes a difference also. Going from the pitcher, to third to first generally is slower, than pitcher, to second to first.
Much of the decision process is already decided before the pitch is made and the ball is hit, the pitcher has been told by the middle infielders who is covering at second on a comebacker to him.
Coaches have decided how much importance they place on a runner not getting to third right at that moment, and that information has been passed along.
Lots of things to consider and sort out, in a short period. The time spent on teaching situations in practice, and providing everyone on the team with numerous live repetitions
in all possible situations, pays big dividends come game time. Makes for those smooth, free flowing, effortless players we all love to watch play the game.
Good luck as you go forward.
Yours in baseball,