Multiple details for holding the runner close to first base

Elvis Elvis

A common first baseman task is holding the runner. This means that if a batter has reached first base via a hit, error, or walk, the runner can take a few steps off the first base bag (referred to as “taking a lead”). Using the lead, the base runner may attempt to “steal” second base.

In an effort to keep the base runner close to first base, the first baseman covers the base while the pitcher prepares to throw a pitch. By covering first base, the first baseman gives the pitcher the option to throw over to first base in an attempt to pick the base runner off for an out. It also reduces the probability of a successful stolen base attempt by the base runner.

Give that pitcher a strong target.

When holding the runner, you’ll want to use both your body and glove to give your pitcher a big target for any pick-off attempt, particularly if the pitcher is right-handed.

If the pitcher is right handed, his back is going to be toward you as he pitches out of the stretch. Although he knows where he needs to throw the ball, having his back toward you puts him in a poor position to see where he needs to throw, making his throw more difficult.

Multiple details for holding the runner close to first base

If the pitcher is left-handed, he’ll be facing you, making your target less an issue.

Position your feet for balance, to help form a target, and to put yourself in the best position to tag the base runner.

You want to start holding the runner by having your shoulders and waist square to the pitcher. You should be in a slight crouch, having your knees slightly bent while also being bent at your waist – making sure that your head is still up.

Place your feet so that they are shoulder width apart. The heel of your right foot should be tucked in fair territory up tight against the face of the front corner of the base … the front being the side that faces home plate. If you’re square with the pitcher, and your feet are spread shoulder widths apart, your positioning should naturally place your left foot slightly into foul territory over the baseline.

Put that glove out there so the pitcher can see it!

Raise your glove hand approximately waist high above the ground. Keep your glove’s webbing wide open, using it as a target for the pitcher.

If you’re a left-handed thrower, your glove will be naturally close to the runner, whereas if right-handed, you’ll want to shade your glove-hand closer toward the right hand side of your body, using your throwing hand to help balance yourself by placing it on your right knee.

Getting back into position quickly is critical to you fielding any baseball.

If the pitcher should come your way with a pick-off attempt while you’re holding the runner, receive the throw. If the throw is on target, swiftly swing your arm down toward the side of the base facing toward second – preventing the base runner from sliding back into first base safely.

If the pitcher should decide to throw home, you must act quickly and get back into position to field any ball hit your way. Use the crossover step, crossing your left foot over your right, to get started toward your fielding position.

A few fast steps toward second base should get you where you need to be. You should find yourself out in front of the base runner, as you don’t want to cross paths with him. Crossing paths and getting tangled up with the runner can lead to you being called for interference or you not getting into position in time as the ball is hit your way.

Once several feet away from first base, turn so that you can square your body around toward home plate. Get yourself in your ready or “alligator” position – on the balls of your feet, knees slightly bent, hands out in front, bent moderately at your waist, and head up … ready for any batted baseball headed your way.