BUT if you are a PITCHER, do not go away too quickly. As a pitcher, the best way to gain knowledge is to find out what base runners are trying to do to you.
An educated base runner with very average speed can steal more bags over time than a speed guy if he can use the information the game presents.
This is why it is important to be a constant student of the game!
Pitchers at all levels have certain tendencies, from little league to the big leagues.
In the dugout, your only responsibility is to gain an advantage by simply paying attention.
Pitchers get ‘cleaner’ as they become more educated through getting picked at higher levels. At amateur levels, this part of the game is rarely taught or talked about.
There are literally hundreds of different tendencies players, especially pitchers can have and not even realize they have them.
For the purpose of this article, I am going to keep with some of the more common, easy to pick up tendencies.
Remember, always look for an edge!
There are a few basic keys to look for when studying a pitcher that tips his pitches out of the windup. (I know this will not help with base running much, but if he does it in the windup there is a chance he might in the stretch)
First, is there glove movement? If his finger is out of his glove, does he wiggle it on a fastball? Does he dig in his glove on off speed?
Stretch (First base) RHP
Is his glove above his shoulder? If yes, can you see the grip of his pitch?
Does he only pick before he comes set? A lot of pitchers are only comfortable picking before they come set, others may only be comfortable picking after they come set.
Know the pitcher. It is not uncommon for a pitcher to only do one or the other even at higher levels.
When he comes set, does he always pitch on a certain rhythm? For example, a lot of pitchers come set, one-thousand and one, one thousand and two – then pitch. If he is that guy, you can time it out and get a great jump.
Often times LHP’s have tendencies when they are pitching or picking.
Some pitchers will come set looking at the runner only when they are picking.
Others look at the plate after coming set only when they are picking.
Some pitchers will raise their hands before their legs, so you can watch only their hands and run when you see them start to go.
The list of tendencies is endless, because each player is different and unique.
Your goal as a player and as a base runner is to relentlessly pursue and hunt these tendencies.
One pitch could be the difference between you winning and losing!
In a future baserunning series article, we will discuss how to use these tendencies to your advantage as a baserunner!