Situations where the first baseman will find himself throwing the ball

Throwing the ball is a skill that first baseman rarely need to employ. The reason being that much action occurs around first base, placing the first baseman in a position where his glove is needed more than his arm.

However, this does not exclude the first baseman from needing to make throws. In fact, many throws required of the first baseman are some of the most difficult throws in the game, coming in pressure situations. This can be particularly difficult given how rarely the first baseman’s arm is tested.

Throwing the ball to second base.

If there is a runner on first with less than two outs, and the ball is hit your way, it is probable that you’ll want to attempt a force play at second base – eliminating the lead runner. The difficulty with throwing the ball to second is, because you were likely holding the runner on at first, you fielded the baseball somewhere near the baseline between first and second base.

This positioning naturally places the runner directly in-between you and where you want to be throwing the ball. This obstacle forces you to throw around the runner … either to his left, right, or above, in order to avoid hitting him.

This must be done in a manner where you aren’t throwing the ball wildly into the outfield, giving the base runner a chance to advance to third base or even attempt to score.

If the play to second base will be the first out of a possible double play, you should attempt throwing the ball slightly offline from the bag. The middle infielder should be able to receive the ball in a position to quickly tag the base and get out of the way of the oncoming runner while returning the throw to either you or the pitcher covering first.

Situations where the first baseman will find himself throwing the ball

Going to second after tagging first.

If you already stepped on the bag at first base for the first out, you won’t need to be so concerned about throwing the ball to a location where the middle infielder can return the throw, as long as your throw misses the runner.

However, in this instance, the force play at second base is no longer in force, meaning that the middle infielder will need to tag the base runner rather than the base itself.

The middle infielders will be moving on the hit and may not have had a chance to see if you had a chance to tag first base when you fielded the ball. You’ll want to call out, “Tag!” to give a warning to your middle infielders. Yelling, “tag” makes it known to the middle infielders that they need to tag the runner.

Throwing the ball to third base.

When throwing the ball to third base, the steps are similar to that of a third baseman, just opposite in direction.

You’ll most likely want to use the three-quarters arm slot. This will give the most power behind your throw and will help you achieve fairly good accuracy. But, beware. It is probable that your third baseman has little experience blocking baseballs in a manner similar to a first baseman, just as you have little experience throwing across the diamond like a third baseman.

This combination makes any wild throw to third base deadly. The probabilities suggest that the baseball will go bouncing into the third base dugout. Doing so means that the runner making his way from second base to third gets to trot home to score.

Coming home with the baseball when playing in.

When the infield or corners are drawn in, any ball hit your way will need to be thrown home. The ideal place to throw to a catcher is right at his chest, even on plays where he will need to make a tag.

The catcher can most easily see and handle the baseball in this location, and if he’s done well blocking the plate, an extra delay in bringing his glove down to make the tag won’t cost your team the out.

But, time on your behalf is of the essence. If the ball is hit slowly, jump out of your ready position and rush the ball. In this instance, if needing to bend low to pick up the baseball, your best bet is to use the sidearm throw.

Doing so minimizes the amount of time your arm requires to release the baseball. And, although you get less velocity on the ball using this arm action, the distance to home plate is small. Therefore, given the distance, you should be able to get ample velocity on the ball to make the play.

Coming home with the baseball when the cut-off man.

If you happen to be the cut-off man for a throw home from the outfield, you must make the transition from catching to releasing the baseball as fast as possible. In this instance you’ll want to catch the baseball and spin from looking toward the outfield to looking toward your catcher’s chest.

Because of where you’ll cut the ball off in relation to home plate (you should be standing adjacent to the pitcher’s mound on the side of the field where the ball was hit), and the fact that you’re likely standing in an upright position, use the three-quarter-arm slot for your throwing action. You should be in the correct position to do so and any extra velocity you can muster in thanks to this arm action is likely to be needed.

Making a toss to first base.

When fielding a groundball away from first base with the pitcher covering the bag, if you can’t tag the bag yourself, an underhand toss leading the pitcher is always the preferred play.

If you’re farther back, you may need to use the three-quarter-arm throw for both accuracy and velocity. If in a rush and needing to bend low to pick up the baseball, the sidearm-slot may be your best alternative.

But, be cognizant of your target. Your pitcher should be hustling toward the base, making his play on any throw difficult. Always lead the pitcher with your throw, as the pitcher probably won’t be at the bag when your throw is released.

You want the ball to arrive just as the pitcher is about to cross first base. Judge the pitcher’s speed and distance, as well as the method of your throw, to determine when you should be throwing the ball to make this connection possible.