Who's Covering Second?

You’ve got a runner on first, the batter that you’ve pitched to in the past has a tendency to hit the ball right back at you - usually a chopper that’s not all that hard to field.

So you’ve kept the runner on first checked pretty close to the bag, and, know you can pitch from the stretch quick enough so as not to give that runner on first too large of a head start when you release the pitch.

Now here’s my questions:

who can you depend on to cover second base for an easy out of the lead runner, AND, start the double play? The shortstop or the second baseman?
does it make any difference if the batter is a right-handed or left-handed?
should either fielder BE THE ONE regardless of what the batter is, RH or LH?
should either fielder BE THE ONE regardless of what happens when the ball is chopped back to you?

For the team(s) that you play on, do you and your teammates practice this fielding defense?

Coach B.

Good questions, Coach. I would argue that there is a fair bit of subjectivity in the answers but let me take the first shot and then allow others to pig-pile :lol:

First, the pitcher should communicate with either the SS or the 2Bman before he takes to the rubber. Specifically, as to who will take the throw from the pitcher on a ball back up the middle. Now, let me take a shot at the questions…

  1. All things being equal (that is, both the SS and the 2Bman are equally able to cover the bag), I like the SS in this situation. First, you have given us a fact pattern that suggests the batter will hit back up the middle (versus pull the ball). So, I would play straight up in the infield. I like the SS for three reasons in this fact pattern. First, it is a more natural fielding position for the SS to take a throw at the bag from a pitcher than a second baseman. Second, although you did not mention the number of outs, if there is a double-play potential, the SS is in a better position to make the catch and throw on the double-play. Third, again assuming less than 2 outs, if a bunt situation is in play, I like the 1st baseman charging and the 2Bman covering first.
  2. I would argue that it does not in your fact pattern. However, if the batter’s tendencies were not known, I think you have to at least factor in the pitcher’s game (does he throw hard where a ball the opposite way is likely). I also think you need to factor in the potential for a hit-and-run. Again, where the ball may be hit to the right side of the infield with a right handed batter up. So, as a good lawyer would say…it depends!
  3. NO. Situational baseball dictates (again, all things being equal as to the abilities / health, etc. of the 2Bman and the SS).

O.k., men…have at me!!!