How to Steal Second Base off a Lefty

This article provides pro tips and instruction how to steal second base off a left-handed pitcher, including common tenancies that will help you read if the pitcher is going to try to pick you off at 1st or is going to throw the baseball home.

Two Options

For how to steal second base off a lefty, it is important to know that there are two types of moves to first base.  These moves are meant to keep the baserunner close to 1st and not let him feel like he can steal 2nd base.

How to steal second base off a lefty pitcher

Image by Frank Lauri

The pitcher is either:

  • A reader
  • Or he is predetermined.

Readers

If the Pitcher is a Reader…  If the pitcher is a reader he will make a decision to pick or pitch after he starts his motion.  As he starts his leg kick he will decide if he is going to throw over to 1st or pitch the ball.  A pitcher that is good at reading the runner is very difficult to steal on.

The advantages the runner has against pitchers who read the runner.

The runner has the attention of the pitcher, and can use this attention to take away from the concentration he should have on the hitter.

  • Pitchers who are thinking too much about the runner are more likely to make a mistake to the hitter.
  • Also a pitcher may throw more fastballs if he wants the catcher to have a better chance of throwing the runner out.  Fastballs are quicker to the plate and are easier to handle.
How to steal 2nd base off a reader

When attempting to steal off of a pitcher that reads the runner, you have two options.

  • Option 1 – Wait until the pitcher is at his highest point of his leg lift before you take off to second base.  — At this point the pitcher has made his decision to throw home and he will not be able to throw over to first base.
  • Option 2 – If the pitcher is really slow to lift his leg, you can take off first move.– When you steal on the pitchers first move, expect the him to pick over to first base.  But if the pitcher is really slow, you may be able to get to 2nd before the 1st baseman can get the throw and throw you out.

Pre -determined Pitchers

If a Pitcher is Predetermined…  He will know when he comes set whether or not he is going to throw over to first base.  On these type of pitchers you want to look for any difference between his move and when he pitches home.  There are a few basic differences many pitchers will have.  Some are easier to see than others, and some pitchers are very good at disguising their pick off move.

Common Tendancies

Knowing how to steal second base off a pre-determined pitcher takes a little more observation.    You can tell a lot just by watching the pitcher.  These are some of the most common tendencies a left handed pitcher would have.

tips for stealing 2nd base

Image by Frank Lauri

  • First – When the pitcher starts the delivery from the set position and the entire free foot or any part of the stride leg breaks the plane of the back edge of the pitcher’s rubber, the pitcher is committed to throw or feint a motion toward second base or pitch to home plate [NCAA Rule 9(b)(3)] except to throw to second base on a pick-off play [MLB Rule 6.02(a )(1)].   If he tries coming to first after that happens, he will be called for a balk.  A word of warning –  Some pitchers will cross over their knee over the edge of the pitcher’s rubber but not their foot, so it’s not technically a balk.  This can sometimes confuse a base runner, and he can pick over to 1st without a balk being called.
  • Some pitchers will lean with their upper body toward 1st when they are picking over.  Sometimes this lean will make a pitchers hands move in a way that is different from their normal movement and can be easily picked up by the runner.
  • Some pitchers may look to home before they throw to first and look to first when they are going to throw home.
  • Some pitchers will have a quicker leg kick when coming to first and slow leg kick when pitching home.
  • A pitcher may move his hands up and down in a different manner when picking over to first base and when pitching the ball.
  • Hemay hold his hands a little further away from his body when picking to first base, so he can move his lower half without any interference from his hands.
  • Sometimes a pitchers feet may tell you what he is thinking.  (1) He might turn his left foot a little (counter clockwise) to have a better angle to throw over to 1st; or (2)  He may set up a little wider with his feet when he is picking over to 1st base, especially if he normally comes set with his feet close together.

Sometimes differences will jump out at you and sometimes it will be a little more difficult.  You won’t always be able to guess right, sometimes you have to be bold and take a chance.

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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 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. Where is he now? After batting .200 in 45 at-bats and fielding .950 during 2017 spring training with the Rangers, Doug was assigned to the Ranger’s AAA team the Round Rock Express. You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier

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