The table below is a good indication of the distance and time relationships of base runners. These times, in seconds, are for highly competitive play. The base time is 4.05 seconds, the time it takes a batter runner to cover ninety feet … from home plate to first after making contact with the ball.
All other times are related to this constant distance (90 feet) with less distance to cover as the base runner takes a greater and greater lead.
Why is this so important? Because when a base runner takes a lead off any base, first base especially, he/she compresses the time, in seconds, that the fielding unit has to make a play. And as easy as that sounds - the fielding unit making a play, things happen that inject a ton of variables. Like reaction time of the player who first fields the ball, the level of awareness of the first fielder with the ball and all other fielders that follow up with the play, and so forth. And when a play is not in the works, base runners stealing second are a major concern due to the distance that the pitch has to travel, then the catcher has to react and throw a pin-point ball down range across the entire infield - all under 3.3 to 3.6 seconds. In fact, catchers are graded on this and part of that grade is called “pop time”.
Now do these times (below) only pertain to base runners? Not really. Say you’re the third base coach, and you have a base runner on third. This base runner takes a ten (10) foot lead off of third - which is normal, and your batter lines a shot to the short. The SS gets the ball, gives a look-back at your base runner on third, then throws to first. Your base runner still had a ten (10) foot lead at the time of the throw - so, Third Base Coach, do you send your base runner home? YOU BET YOU DO! With a ten (10) foot lead off third, your base runner only has to go eighty feet. So this base runner should be able to eat up eighty feet in only 3.60 seconds. Now compare this time to the time it usually takes a SS to throw all the way across the infield to first, the first baseman to gain possession of the ball, react to your base runner going home, then turn and throw right on the money to the catcher covering the dish. Your base runner should make it in time - with a few tenths of a second left on the clock.
Next time your on the field, try these times out for yourself. In fact, make a scale for fielding throws like the one I just describe, or how about relay throws from the outfield to cut-off infielders then to various bases or even home. See if your base runners at various parts on the skins can beat or be beaten by any of those times. It’s important to know where on the skins a base runner is and his/her chances of beating any fielder’s throw to any base.