3 Things to know before Stealing Second Base

3 things to know before stealing second base

Three important things to know before stealing second base. If you know these three things, you will know whether you should challenge the pitcher and catcher and go for the steal.

1.  How fast are you?

What is your time from 1st to 2nd base?  Once you have taken a lead,  if you can get to 2nd base (or 3rd) in 3.2 to 3.8 seconds, then you have a good shot at stealing bases.  I’ll explain more below.

What is the pitcher's time to home? Important considerations when stealing second base

Kei Agawa throws home. Image by Frank Lauri

2.  What is the pitcher’s time to home plate?

  • In order to know the pitchers time to home plate, start your stop watch when the pitcher makes his first movement towards home plate and the time stops when the catcher catches the ball.
  • Depending on your speed and your reaction time usually runners will want the pitcher to be at least 1.35 and usually over 1.40 seconds in order to try to steal second.
  • A quick pitcher will usually have a consistent time of 1.1 – 1.29 seconds.

3.  What is the catcher’s time to second base?

The catchers time starts when he catches the ball and stops when the infielder standing on second catches the ball.

What is the catcher's time to 2nd base?  Part of the formula for stealing second

Catcher Chris Stewart throws to 2nd. Image by Frank Lauri

An average catcher throw to 2nd base is 2.0 seconds.

The Bottom Line

After making these quick calculations you will know whether or not to challenge the pitcher and catcher and try stealing second base (or third).

For example quick pitchers will have a consistent time of 1.1 -1.29.  This combined with the average catcher’s 2.0 second throw gives you 3.1 – 3.29 seconds to get to the bag.  That can be tough, especially when we usually start after the pitcher has started his motion.

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On the positive, you might like your chances to steal if a pitcher is 1.4 seconds or higher.  Add that to the average catcher’s time of 2.0 seconds and you have 3.4 seconds to get there.

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I hope this article on 3 things to know before stealing second base is helpful to you.  If so, I hope you’ll share it with your friends and help us get the word out about all the free info on Pro Baseball Insider.  Also, I invite you to leave feedback or ask questions in the comments section below.  Play hard!  – Doug

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More on Stealing and Baserunning:

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

8 Comments

  1. Andrew O'Brien on

    Does the pitch type enter into your decision to try and steal ? ie, curveball, change up run vs fastball ?

  2. Love coaching at 1st and prefer it over third even when I’m the head coach. I time the pitcher from when he first contacts the pitching plate to when he separates his hands to deliver the pitch. This allows the baserunner to anticipate his first step toward second. The runner has his weight on his right foot so he can spin and crossover with his left foot in order to square his hips to second base as quickly as possible. A good crossover will propel the runner 2 steps versus the pick it up/set it down with the right foot only. Also, every pitcher has a “tell” which indicates he is throwing over to first. Some movement initiates that throw – raising the left elbow to tilt the ball into the throwing hand (righty), raising the right elbow to extract the ball, same with shoulders – there’s always something that the coach/baserunner can pick up after just 1 or 2 throws over. We check our own pitchers on this and try to eliminate their particular “tell”.

  3. How far is a good lead off? I’m crunching the numbers with you and if you can run 90 feet in 3.4 seconds then a good lead off should put you at 2nd safely. What are your thoughts on this?

  4. when should you slide head first or feet first? And should you watch the throw down from the catcher while stealing or should you focus on the bag?

    • Andrew,
      I believe sliding feet first should done most if not all the time. I have seen a lot more injuries sliding head first than feet first. Some people just find it a little easier to slide head first, but if you are comfortable I recommend sliding feet first. I believe when you are stealing a base at about 3 to 5 steps into your steal take a quick look over your left shoulder (you will be able to see if the ball got by the catcher, or the ball was hit, or if you need to prepare to slide). I believe a quick peek won’t slow you down at all and it will only help you especially on balls that are hit when you are running. On a side note, when a ball is hit and you are stealing ALWAYS know where the ball is. Don’t rely on the defenders to help you. They may be tricking you and hoping to get a double play. Good luck

      Doug

  5. Dear Sir/Madam:

    Do you have statistics for:

    1. How balls in the dirt depending on the pitch (fast ball curve, change-up, slider, cutter, etc, scooped cleanly by the catcher) add seconds to his/her time to second? Touch to touch. Or, add time to exchange ball at home and tag at second?

    Thanks you kindly!

    Al

  6. Great approach to breaking down baserunning based on time. I’m honestly surprised you don’t see more assistant coaches with stop watches paying attention to these things. For being a game of numbers, it seems the numbers on the base paths are underutilized.

  7. Excellent article; you clearly make your point and make sense on how this should work. You say this better than I have heard or explained myself before. Thanks for another good article.

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