Time and Distance Relationships on The Base Path


When you’re a base runner and especially a base coach, you should be aware of the throw times in seconds of each outfielder, to each base. Then, when matched against a player’s time in seconds to cover ninety (90) feet, there’s a pretty good indication of the go-n-no go to beat any thrown ball from any outfielder to any base.

Basically, a record is made of every player’s time in seconds to cover ninety (90) feet. Then, the players that normally cover the outfield take a position at a shallow location, then a midfield location, and finally a deep location. At each location the outfielder gives his best throws to each bag, and that time in seconds is recorded to reach each bag.

So let’s say that player #1 is a base runner that can cover ninety (90) feet in four (4) seconds. Let’s assume that a ball is in play, either by a hit or throwing error, and reaches deep in left. The time that seems to average out on your club for a fielder in deep left field to reach second base is four (4) seconds. Now if the base runner on first base stays on the bag, there’s no way that he’s going to beat the throw from the left fielder, so he’s stays put. On the other hand, if that same base runner takes a ten (10) foot lead – or even greater, then he’ll have less than 90 feet to cover, hence a quicker time to make it to second base in less than four (4) seconds.

In pro ball, take notice of just about every base coach, especially the first base coach. Take note of the stopwatch curled up in his hand. That stopwatch is there for many reasons, and one of those reasons is for the example that I outlined here.

A club I was with put me on as a first base coach a few times. Admittedly I wasn’t very good at it- but nevertheless, this principle of time-n-distance relationships I did understand and used it. In fact, I found some outfielders a sleep at the switch and took advantage of it every time.


Great point about time and distance.

Another thing to look at when deciding to send a runner is whether or not the fielder is running toward or away from his throwing side, or toward or away from the intended base. If he’s running away from the throwing side or away from the advancing base the runner has a pretty good shot at taking that base.

When a corner outfielder and the centerfielder are both approaching a ball in the gap, it’s generally better to hold the runner if the CF is anticipated to get there first. Be careful testing the RF arm–they usually have a cannon. I’ll usually risk scoring from second with two outs anyway, but I’ll often risk it with one out if the outfielder’s track to the ball is conducive to putting pressure on the defender to make a great play.

Another rule about sending the runner approaching third to the plate is depth of the ball and whether or not the fielder has control of the ball before the runner touches third base. I’ll set up down the line about half way and see how he handles the ball and if the throw is online then decide to put on the brakes or wave him through. Give your self time by gaining distance down the 3rd base line.