You’re the Base Runner at 2nd and There’s 1 Out

So what are you going to do?

You just hit a double!  That was a great piece of hitting you had right there.  I didn’t think you would be able to hit a Ubaldo Jimenez fastball.  The radar gun said it was 98 mph.  That’s moving huh?  Well get over it.  It is your job and if you make the right decisions here we can go up a run.  Of course, if you mess up, it could mean the difference between winning this game and going to the playoffs or losing and missing the post season by a game.

Enjoy thinking about your responses and if you feel like asking a question then go for it!  It really doesn’t matter what you say because our goal is to learn.  We are trying to learn about the process and not the outcome.  If you feel like simply saying your opinion (notice that this is an opinion) that is good.  If you want to try and explain your reasoning then I think you may get more out of this exercise.

Guys…remember to put your favorite number next to your name.  You are on base and baseball players uniforms have numbers.  Is your helmet on?  It better be on because you are standing on second base.  Look at the 3rd base coach and check the signs.  Ok…nothing is “on” so it’s time to check the infielders and outfielders.  Take your lead….here we go….

Scenario: You are the runner on 2nd base and there is 1 out.  The score is 3 to 3 and it is the 4th inning.  A fly ball is hit to right center field and the right fielder will attempt to catch the ball.  As a runner you have average Major League speed.  If you choose to tag, you will be safe at 3rd base, but you will have to slide.

The next batter up hits in 7th in your lineup and he is a career .250 hitter with 10 HR’s and 60 RBI’s.

What do you do and why?


104 Comments on “You’re the Base Runner at 2nd and There’s 1 Out”

  1. Drew says:

    My jersey is #21

    I would be reading the right fielder’s body language. If he is jogging or casually standing in one spot, I’m tagging on second. If his eyes are looking toward the sky and hes on his horse, I’m half way to third. If he has his back to the infield and hes looking at the right field wall (and thus waiting for the carom), I’m gone.

  2. Matt says:

    My jersey number is 10

    You go halfway because with one out, even if you tag and make it to third, there will now be two outs and you will have to score on a hit, as a fielder’s choice or sacrifice fly will no longer get the job done. If you have average major league speed, then you should be able to score from second on a base-hit to the outfield. In the 4th inning, it isn’t do or die time. Hopefully, the seventh hitter, a mostly singles and doubles hitter (because he hits .250 but with only 10 HR), can drive you in. And if you are tagging and the ball drops you will not be able to score on the play.

  3. brian says:

    brian #55….that’s my birthday may 5th.

    alright, i’m with karen and a few others. gotta tag and go to third. i can run. i’ll be safe. with me now on third i think the pitcher has to worry a little about his breaking pitches breaking too much..especially if he’s trying to bury an awesome one with an 0-2 count and strike out the hitter who’s at .250. it may be in his mind just a bit more and maybe he throws something that flattens out cuz he doesn’t have as much confidence in himself when he’s not able to just cut loose and give it his moost natural effort. throwing with any hesitance is arecipe for disaster…i’ve seen it with AJ Burnett a few times…and of course, the balk possibility or an error..these things happen all the time. if ol’ .250 hitter is in the majors than he is one of the best .250 hitters ever and at any time this dude is potential trouble with the bat in his hands…he could knock you in any old way with two outs and the pitcher will certainly respect that at least a bit…..worse case scenario is you were playing aggresive energetic baseball by advancing to third and you got left stranded. i bet you inspired your team in the process and maybe now you can hang another three spot more on the untouchable ubaldo.

  4. Matt B says:

    The benefit of tagging is not worth the risk. I go halfway and force the throw in case it bounces into the stands. But with a .250 hitter up with 10 HR /60 RBI (is that a final season total, or a Jume 18th total?) assuming that’s a career season average line, chances are this guy isn’t going to get the kind of hit that being at third with two outs would score me on that being on second with two outs wouldn’t.

  5. Matt B says:

    Matt #29 The benefit of tagging is not worth the risk. I go halfway and force the throw in case it bounces into the stands. But with a .250 hitter up with 10 HR /60 RBI (is that a final season total, or a Jume 18th total?) assuming that’s a career season average line, chances are this guy isn’t going to get the kind of hit that being at third with two outs would score me on that being on second with two outs wouldn’t.

  6. Sean says:

    My response is to go halfway, get back to 2B on a catch and score if the ball falls in. I think this is my answer for most situations like this, but the answer depends on so many more variables.

    The more likely the ball is to be caught, the more I’d want to tag and go to third. From the question I don’t know if it’s a routine flyball or would take a spectacular play to make.

    If the next hitter is a speedy guy who gets a lot of his singles on the infield, or if the pitcher throws a lot of breaking balls in the dirt, these factors make it more important to get to third, and I’d be more likely to tag up.

  7. Greg says:

    #23 – I’m always going to take the aggresive path and go for the tag up. Aggressive because it forces them to make a play and possibly a mistake. If that ball sails or skips away, I’m scoring right then and there. If I’m sure I can make it with a slide, there’s no way I’m not going.
    I’d rather make my own luck. If on the #8 hitter there’s a wild pitch or muffed ground ball on the infield we just got a “lucky” run.

  8. #36

    I’m curious as to why we’re all tagging and heading toward third. If it isn’t a sure thing, you have to go half way to see if by some miracle the thing drops, then retreat when the CF catches it. Major League pitchers and catchers don’t have enough passed balls or wild pitches to justify risking getting gunned. Plus, a .250 hitter down in the lineup will mostly see fastballs. The game is tied early, if it’s the 8th or 9th I’d think twice about a riskier play, but that early in the game, it seems illogical to give the opposing team a shot at a double play and momentum.
    I see the point that “things happen” …but, you’re more likely (1 of 4) to have that hitter dink a single than have an MLB infielder muff one. However, if your third base coach yells tag up tag up….. do that.

    good topic, Morgan

  9. Brian Harter says:

    If I were a runner at second and a ball is hit to right center, up on contact I will take a few steps off of second to judge how deep the right fielder and center fielder are going to try and catch the ball. If they are deep and they are camping up under the ball to catch, I will race back to second to tag up and advance to third. If its not caught that leave me a chance to score on the base hit. If it is shallow, I will get about a third of the way to third and try to get a read on wheather the ball will be caught. If not, I move to third and pick up the third base coach to tell me to stay or try to score.

  10. Rick says:

    #11

    A few things first:

    – It’s the 4th inning. This run is not likely to be the deciding run in this game, at least not such that it merits preferring a higher chance of scoring 1 run at the cost of a greater run expectancy.
    – While the #7 hitter is a worse hitter than the #3 or #4 hitter in the aggregate, in an individual PA, the difference is quite small – a ~5% chance difference in the batter getting a hit. 4 in 20 instead of 5 in 20. The skill of the batter behind you should only serve as a tie-breaker with the general run-expectancy .
    – The rule of the thumb for a runner trying to score on a ball hit to the OF is that if you’re at 3B when the fielder gets to the ball, you run. If not, you don’t. As an average runner, this rule applies.

    So, two things can happen on this play:
    1) The RF catches the ball
    2) The RF doesn’t catch the ball

    As a runner, I have two basic options:
    1) Stay on the bag, ready to tag up.
    2) Go half way and run if it drops, retreat if it doesn’t.

    So there are 4 possible combinations. Let’s look at each.
    1-1: I end up on 3B, 2 outs.
    1-2: I end up on 2B, 2 outs.
    2-1: I end on up 3B if it drops in front of him or if CF backs up, score if it scoots past both.
    2-2: I end on up 3B if it drops in front of him or if CF backs up, score if it scoots past both.

    If the ball drops, it doesn’t matter which you did. If you went half way and it’s fielded easily, you won’t have enough time to score either way. If it’s not fielded easily, you’ve got a good chance to score either way.

    If the ball is caught, you’re clearly better off tagging up.

    So I’m tagging up. The trick is being realistic about your chances of scoring and recognizing that that you’re probably not going to score no matter what happens.

    If you want to take it further and press the assumption that you won’t score if you go half way and the ball is dropped by fielded quickly, you can look at run expectancies. (http://www.tangotiger.net/RE9902.html, http://www.tangotiger.net/RE9902score.html)

    2B, 2 outs: Avg of .34 runs, 22% chance of at least 1 run
    3B, 2 outs: Avg of .37 runs, 26% chance of at least 1 run

    Given how small your chances are of scoring with 2 outs, you only need to have a better than ~35% chance of scoring to make it worth trying. I’m assuming that you won’t have those odds if the ball drops but is fielded quickly. But I’d be open to being shown otherwise.

  11. lisa gray says:

    suggestion

    get your web person to fix the comment section so that all the coments are on 1 page

  12. Mikie says:

    My jersey is #7 and it reads “Biggio” just above it, so I’m used to standing on 2nd after a hit, though it’s hard to fathom how I’m still standing there when the 7-hole hitter comes up since I lead off…and yes, my helmet is on, it’s caked with pine tar and my uniform is dirty since it’s the 4th inning already.

    I’m tagging all the way. That I’ll have to slide to make 3rd on a catch says either the ball isn’t deep or the RF has a gun or both, so there’s no advantage to partway, in fact there’s a risk of getting doubled off. I take the sure thing and make 3rd whether it drops or not, again, since it’s shallow and/or the RF can throw I’m not scoring from partway anyway, plus it’s only the 4th and our offense is clicking, no need for baserunning risks at this point in the game.

    First time I’ve run across your site, Morgan, I like the essays. As a lifelong Astros fan (thanks for 2005, btw), it’s nice to see you’ve still got your head in the game!

  13. lisa gray says:

    mo,

    you go to dashboard
    look in upper right corner
    click on “screen options”
    see “comments per page”
    change number to something high
    click “apply”

    try that

  14. lisa gray says:

    and before i forget

    happy fathers day!!!!

  15. teamlittleguy says:

    Jeff = #30.

    In this situation, I’m tagging all the way for the following reasons:

    1: If the fielder catches the ball- I can safely advance, which opens up the chances of scoring on a wild pitch or any base hit by subsequent hitters.

    2. If the fielder fails to make the catch,which by ME’s scenario will be in the immediate vicinity of the RF, I will make third but will probably not be able to score anyway.

    3. If I do not advance to third and an out is recorded, the pitcher can walk the #7 hitter if he chooses and pitch to the #8 hitter in order to have a putout at each base on a ground ball.

    Interesting question/scenario. I look forward to hearing how you would play it!

    • TLG- you are always commenting and I love it. I really like the way you have thought about this. You took the situation and worked it through. I really like your 3rd options thinking.

      Morgan

      • teamlittleguy says:

        And I appreciated very much your expertise in sharing you would do – it gave me a perspective I would never have considered. I’ll watch for this scenario in the future and see how players/teams handle it.

        Good post as always, Morgan!

  16. Marc Schneider says:

    Jersey no. 14

    If it’s a routine fly ball and I know I am going to make it, I go to third. There is a marginal advantage in being on third with two outs where I can score on an error or wild pitch. However, if there is any doubt, I don’t go because I am already in scoring position and the risk doesn’t justify the benefit.

    If it is not a routine fly and a legitimate chance the fielder won’t make the play, I go halfway so that I can score if the ball drops.

    Under no circumstances do I take a chance on making the third out at third base.

    • Marc you are right, but we also want to exploit the other teams mistake if they drop the ball. With 2 outs you will be running on contact so if there is a ball that gets through you will score.

      Morgan

  17. joe c. says:

    Joe-#77 (sorry, I was a beter left tackle than first baseman)

    Halfway. Assuming the rightfielder is average. If I have to slide into third to be safe, it’s too close to be the last out on third and have to explain to everyone why I’m an idiot. If I can walk into third, then yeah I take the base just to increase the availablity of ways I can score (wild pitch, infield hit, balk, liner off the pitchers dome, swinging bunt, etc.) But chances are, it’s still gonna take a knock to score the run. You’re on second with one out; you did your job. Let the other guys do theirs.

    • Joe your humor is awesome! I love that you are rockin’ the #77 as well.

      When I was playing, I would actually get off about 20′ fr second so that I could go back and tag if the ball was caught. As I played longer in the league I realized that getting to 3rd with 2 outs is virtually the same as 2nd with 2 outs. Because of that, I started to go partway and realized the advantage I gained. By going partway, I put more pressure on the fielder to catch the ball. They knew that if they dripped the ball I would score. By going partway a runner actually is putting as much pressure on the fielder as possible.

      Morgan

  18. David says:

    Morgan,

    I abide by the rule of thumb: tag with no outs, go halfway with one out, and run with two outs.

    When I read about base running and I am always reminded of the single smartest base running feat I have ever seen. A late ’90s Astros team was playing a tie game in the ninth inning at the Astrodome. Runners on 2nd (Bagwell) and 3rd. As the pitcher went from the stretch to being his motion forward I was amazed to see Jeff walking slowly back towards second base. Pitch after pitch he kept doing it. Take a modest lead and then walk back to the base as the pitch is delivered. I had never seen it done before but I finally realized why he did it. I could not think of a single reason why he mattered at all in that situation. Other than potentially distracting a fielder on a gourd ball, which is risky at best, he might as well have been sitting in the dugout. All he could do was potential cause an out, thus ending the rally.

    Have you ever seen such a move? Do you consider Jeff to be one of the best base runners of his time? I am a life-long Astros fan so perhaps I am biased, but I was constantly amazed at his below the radar base running decisions.

    Thoughts?

  19. Justin says:

    JT #10

    I am going halfway. The mass majority of major league outfielders can gun you down at third on shallow balls hit to the outfield. Even if it one hops into his glove and he’s already winding up in case the runner goes, chances are I’ll be out at 3rd. I still have a chance to score on a base hit regardless if the outfielder catches it or lets it fall….to me that’s smart baseball.


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