3 Tips for advancing on wild pitches, passed balls and balls in the dirt

Pro tips for advancing to the next base on wild pitches, balls in the dirt, or passed balls.  To create havoc and be disruptive on the bases, anticipating pitches thrown in the dirt will allow quality baserunners to take advantage of opportunities and move up to the next base and into scoring position.
Pro tips for base stealing on a wild pitch or passed ball

Brandon Laird slides easily into 2nd, advancing on a wild pitch. Image by Frank Lauri.

Catching the Catcher off Balance.  When the baseball hits the dirt, the catcher has to make sure he blocks it.  He is in no position to make a throw to second or third.  If a catcher goes down to his knees to block a ball, and you take off for 2nd when the ball hits the ground, you most likely will have 2nd base easily.

Talk to catchers and ask them how difficult it is for them to block a baseball in the dirt, get to their feet, run after the ball, pick it up, throw out the runner at 2nd or 3rd.  Every realistic catcher you talk to will tell you it is very difficult.

1. Spot it Early.  The number one key to base stealing on wild pitches or balls in the dirt is anticipating it (especially in off speed counts, bounced curve balls, etc.).

When taking your secondary lead, watch the trajectory of the pitch out of the pitchers hand.  Many times if you are looking for a bounced pitch, you will see it early (as it leaves the pitchers hand)

2. Be Ready.   The next key is, when you see it, react and run.  Don’t wait and over think the play.  If you see the baseball on a low trajectory and the catcher going to his knees, take off to the next base.

3. Practice.  The only way to know if you can advance on a ball in the dirt is to practice.  Don’t be afraid of making outs, this play can be a huge momentum changer if you can advance on this play.

More on Base Running and Base Stealing:

All articles for Stealing Bases

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

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