A base runner on first is the gateway to 90 feet closer to scoring. There are other dynamics to be sure, but the simple truth is, it’s the starting point for you and your backstop to be alert.
Take for example this picture below…
See how far out this base runner is from the bag. It’s kind of hard to judge the distance he’s taking away from you - BUT, if you know the dimension of that quarter circles just to the right of the bag ( or to the left as you’re looking at from the mound) you can estimate how much time that runner is using against you.
For example, if a batter can make contact with a pitch and then bolt to first in 4 to 4.5 seconds - which is normal for varsity play on a 90 foot diamond, then it’s only logical that whatever distance that base runner takes form first will reduce that time.
So, that quarter circle to the right of first is normally 13 feet, on 90 foot diamonds. That base runner in our picture is 13 feet closer to second, and, if he took only 4 seconds to make it to first, then he’s only got 77 feet to make it second. You and your backstop would be hard pressed to ignore this base runner.
Below is another base runner doing the same thing… only this time this base runner has about a 14 foot start towards second. NOT GOOD.
Below is a picture of a pitcher who is not allowing this base runner to take advantage of him. He’s going to “check” this base runner back - even try a pickoff, if he can.
If a base runner on first does attempt to steal, the backstop can be equally effective by how accurate his throw is to second. Below is an example - in very simple terms, of how the backstop can control his throw with the greatest amount of accuracy.
- The throw to second has the best chance for accuracy and purpose if the backstop throws directly over the right-hand corner of the pitcher’s rubber, and at the same time, just above the height of his pitcher. Now the backstop has to have a strong arm for this - no fluff throws. Also, notice that fielder just to the right of second - THAT’S where the ball is going to be, greeting the base runner from first and in complete control of the fielder covering second.