The first question to ask is do I need to steal a lot of bases against this team? The stronger the pitcher the more you will want to steal! These tips are for a higher level of play. We are assuming the catcher has a strong arm.
Stealing 2nd Base
- How far is the shortstop from bag they are covering? The farther they are from the bag the higher your chances of being safe.
- What is the shortstops IMMEDIATE REACTION TIME? Some shortstops leave too early before the ball gets past the batter. This is bad as a smart team will hit and run. Some shortstops have a 1/2 second to full second delay before they remember to look and cover the bag. This is also bad. The best shortstops won’t have any delay. They may cheat a step before the pitch but the second the ball gets past the batter they ASSUME the batter is stealing and stop when they realize they aren’t stealing.
- NEVER Fake Bunt when stealing 2nd Base. This just moves the shortstop closer to the bag and makes it easier for the defense. Instead I use a SWING THROUGH where the batter intentionally misses the pitch. This freezes the shortstop and makes it hard to get to the bag if they hold their ground.
- Know where the centerfielder is prior to the pitch. If you’re using a swing through there is a good chance the ball will go into centerfield. If the centerfielder isn’t charging in you may be able to get to 3rd Base on an overflow. I would suggest a pop-up slide when you think you’ve beaten the throw.
- Every pitch you don’t steal your chances of success goes up. Most catchers are ready in the first few pitches. But after 5-6 pitches they will assume you aren’t stealing with that runner.
- Look to steal more on pitchers that throw a lot of change-ups, drops and screwballs. Less on fast, rise and curves. Also steal more on pitchers that throw inside than outside.
Stealing 3rd Base
- Who is covering the shortstop or 3rd Base?
- What is their IMMEDIATE REACTION TIME?
- If the third baseman is covering from 5-10 feet in front of the bag wait for the pitch to be released and have the batter fake a drag bunt. If the pitch is a ball, pull back at the last second. If the pitch is a strike, have the batter miss the bunt. This will draw the third basemen in and the runner just needs to outrun the SS. This is a READ PLAY. If the third baseman doesn’t bite on the fake bunt or if you can’t outrun the shortstop then stop and sprint back to 2nd.
- If the third baseman is way up and the shortstop is responsible for covering the steal and 30 feet from 3rd Base, try a swing through. If they have ANY delay in their IMMEDIATE REACTION TIME, you should be safe.
- If the third baseman is covering, try to slide to the left-field side of the bag. If shortstop is covering, slide to the inside of third base. Be ready to pop-up quick when stealing 3rd Base. Lots of throws will go into left field and you will be able to score. Always have a good idea how deep the left fielder is playing. I also wouldn’t hesitate to steal third with two outs.
- The better the pitcher the more you should try to steal third!
- If you are able to get the defense to cheat to cover steals you will open up a lot of holes for your hitters to hit through. Teach your players to hit to all fields!