Pitcher Fielding - How Good Are You?
As many of you may know, we work with a lot of professional pitchers during the off season. This past off season we asked our professional players for feedback on how we could do better next year. Almost all of them mentioned that they need to work on their Pitchers Fielding Practice (PFP). Often overlooked and under utilized, PFP is an essential part of a pitcher's repertoire and can be a critical factor in winning or losing ball games.
Greg Maddux, one of the best fielding pitchers of all-time, has saved himself many games and many decisions by becoming a great fielder. Fielding is not just limited to come-backers. Learning how to become instinctual on bunt plays and getting over to the right side of the infield on ground balls, and turning double plays, should be second nature. Let's take a look at some of the finer points of PFP.
Balls hit to the right side of the infield create on of the most common aspects of pitcher fielding. On a ball hit to the right side of the infield, especially on a ball hit to the first baseman, you should be busting your tail over to cover 1st base. Run directly toward the inside corner of the bag with your eyes up. Be looking to receive the ball from the 1st or 2nd baseman. Before you can tag a base or a runner it is important that you catch the ball in your glove! Without the ball you can't get the runner out! So keep your priorities straight - catch the ball!
If you reach the bag before the ball gets there, you become a first baseman and should keep a foot on the bag until the out is recorded. It is important to not cross the foul line at any time. The reasons for this are:
It is important to remember to not remove the ball from your glove until you have touched the bag! You cannot throw the ball anywhere else until you have touched the bag for the out/safe call and if you bobble the exchange when you are trying to tag the base you run the risk of not recording an out. After you tag the bag and you turn to see if any other activity is happening on the base paths, be ready to make another throw if necessary.
Fielding Bunts and Slow Dribblers
What do we define as a high percentage throw? Basically it is figuring and playing the odds. Although you do not have much time to decide this during a play, pitchers must decide if the throw is worth the risk that you would be taking to throw it. A 50/50 chance of getting a runner out, if there is a runner in scoring position, might be a risky proposition if the downside of the throw is throwing the ball down the right field line for a triple. Remember that recording one out at 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base is better than forcing throws to one of the those bases if there is a safer and higher percentage throw.
Things to think about when fielding and throwing bunts and slow dribbler.
As you can see becoming an effective fielding pitcher requires skills, planning, and quick decision making. It is an important aspect of being a good pitcher. How are your fielding skills?
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