Why does first baseman play the 'front' (home plate side) of the base when holding a runner on?
First Baseman Holing Runner
Runner With Secondary Lead At First Base
Jim asked: It seems to me that if the first baseman played the back of the base, there'd be less reaching around or to the back (ie., less 'drastic' body movement but more ergonomic) in trying to tag a runner out on a throw from the pitcher or catcher.
Rick answered: Jim, thank you for your question.
The main reason for the first baseman setting up on the front corner of the bag, on a pickoff attempt from the mound, the runner is not in the way of the first baseman catching the baseball.
Looking at the first image above, if you picture the first baseman on the back corner, the runner diving back in, he is diving across the flight of the throw.
In the second image, you have a runner getting out into his secondary lead, as the pitch is delivered.
The first baseman must also gain some ground towards second base, to cut down on the size of the hole left on the right side, due to having hold the runner.
If the first baseman was set up on the back side of the base, as he gains that ground towards second, the runner would be in front of him, potentially in his line of sight of the hitter.
All based on keeping the first baseman's job a little less complicated, whether it be a pickoff attempt, or a batted ball.
Yours in baseball,
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