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How to take a lead at first and second base

Posted by John T. Reed on

I went to a Giants game yesterday with a college classmate. Several players on each team took their leads from first base several feet back off the baseline from first to second. That is incorrect. Others lined up ON that baseline, which is correct.
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The best practice is you line up right on the base line between first and second always because there is always a force out at second on a runner at first base. And you do the same if you are a runner at second base, but only if there is a runner also on first because that creates a force out possibility at third.
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The reason is your job on a ground ball when you can be forced out at the next base is to get to that base before the ball does. And the fastest path from first to second or second to third is a straight line between the bases in question.
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Taking a lead several feet on the outfield side of the baseline is ONLY done when you are at second base and only when there is no runner on first so you can round the bag and get to home faster on a base hit. But when you are forced at the next base, top priority on a ground ball is beating the force out there.
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Runners on third always take their lead in foul territory, even if forced at home, because it means they will not be out if hit by a batted ball.
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This stuff is in both of my baseball books. I got it from other books on baserunning. It is inarguable logic and well-known in the baseball world. Why are MLB players who get paid millions a year not doing it correctly? Why are their lower paid managers and base coaches also letting them get away with it? Why don’t the announcers and writers comment on it? The game is so absurdly slow that they certainly have the air time available. This is why I prefer to take kids to minor league or college games for learning. The lower-than-MLB players are more likely to do everything right than the millionaire players in the bigs.
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