How to Steal 2nd Base off a Righty

3 common tells where pitchers give themselves away, as well as how to recognize tendancies that will help you with how to steal 2nd base successfully

Stealing 2nd base off a right hander is more of a reaction movement.  All the pre pitch analysis is the same as it is with a lefthander.  Base stealers have a couple different places they will look on a pitcher to get the best read possible.

3 tips for how to steal 2nd base of a right handed pitcherPitcher Tells to Watch for

1. Left Heel.  Some base runners will look at the pitchers left heel

  • If the pitchers left heel comes off the ground and his right foot is still in contact with the rubber, he is pitching the ball home.
  • If you are focused on his left heel and you see feet shifting or his right heel come off the ground, he is picking over to 1st.
  • This movement of his right heel is so he can get his feet in a good position to throw over to first. The movement of his feet does not start without his right heel coming up off the ground.

2. Front Shoulder.  Another place to look is the front shoulder.  This along with the heel is the first body part that will move to start his motion towards home plate.

  • If he turns his front shoulder in, he is throwing home.
  • If his front shoulder opens up he will be throwing over to first base.

3. Back Knee.  Some base runners will look at the pitchers back knee.

  • This move is similar to the heel. If the back knee gets a little more bend in it once he starts with some movement he will be pitching the ball home.
  • This knee bend is made possible by weight shift that the pitcher is trying to complete before he delivers the ball home.
  • If his back knee stays straight and starts to spin, he is coming to first base.
Pro Base Stealing Tips

Tip #1: If a right handed pitcher is holding you on at first and his feet are close together, he probably doesn’t have a very good move.

Tip #2: If a right handed pitcher is holding you on at first base and he comes set with his hands at his belt, his pick off move will be a little slower. Starting in a low position his arm has to come up to get to a proper throwing position, that will take a fraction of a second longer.

Watching the entire pitcher VS watching specific body parts.

Watching the Entire Pitcher

Pros: Looking at the entire pitcher can be highly effective because you can better read his intent. Reading the whole body allows for you to get a good overall look at what pitchers are trying to do.

Cons: There are base runners that feel by looking at the entire pitcher and waiting to see what he does, slows your reaction time down and gives you a slower jump on your stolen base attempt.

Watching Specific Body Parts

Pros: Some base runners feel the only good way to get a great jump on a pitcher is to focus on something small that starts his motion and read that body part.
Cons: Some runners feel that if you focus on one part of the body (ie. The heel or front shoulder), you may be more susceptible to being picked off if a pitcher has a good move.  Since these small body movements can easily be misread.

Sometimes a pitcher can be very subtle with his movements and if he is very subtle with the area in which you are looking (heel movement or shoulder turn) he may be able to pick you off.

Also, if the umpires are not on top of his move to first base, the pitcher may be able to get away with a “balk move”. This is a pick off move that is disguised as a pitch to home plate. This is not legal but if the pitcher is good at this, he will be able to pick off a lot of base runners.

A few examples of this would be if (1) Maybe the back knee buckles and the pitcher still picks over to first base; or (2) if the pitchers front shoulder closes off and then picks over to first.

stealing second base

SWB Yankee, David Phelps. Image by Frank Lauri

Pitcher’s Tendancies

The follow are tendencies to look for when trying to steal off of a righty.

1. Come Set or not.Some right handers come set when they are pitching home and they don’t come set when they are picking over to 1st.

2. Rhythm.Certain pitchers will keep the same rhythm when they pitch.

  • A pitcher may come set and wait a certain amount of time every pitch (ie. One second).
  • Once the he comes set, just start counting in your head and see if he pitches home on the same number every time.
  • You may be surprised how many pitchers will not change up their rhythm.

3. Come set position.Some pitchers may come set in a little different position when he is throwing over to 1st and when he is pitching home.

  • A pitcher may have his feet a little wider apart when he is attempting a pick off.
  • A pitcher may do something different with his head.  (ie.  Look down before he picks over to first.  Or maybe have quick head movements when he is going to try to pick you off)
  • Some right handers will come set with their hands in a different spot.  Especially if a pitcher comes set around his belt buckle.  To throw to first from this position takes a lot more time than if his hands are higher.  He may come set a little higher if he is planning on picking over to 1st, especially if he normally comes set pretty low.

Some teams have pitchers pick over to first on certain counts.  Just pay attention to what a pitcher is doing out on the mound.

Many times a pitcher gets the pick off sign from the catcher, so he will shake yes and throw over to 1st.  If he shakes no at least once, it could be a good indicator that he is not going to throw over to 1st.  He may just want to throw a certain pitch and he is not shaking off a pick off attempt.

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I hope this article with tips for how to steal 2nd base off a righty has been helpful.  If so, I hope you’ll share with your friends and help us get the word out about the great free resources for serious baseball players from Pro Baseball Insider.  Also, I invite you to leave feedback or ask questions in the comment section below.  Play hard! – Doug

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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 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

3 Comments

  1. Dale Slater on

    As an ex-college pitcher, I found alot of base stealers, loved to steal off the left heal, due to the great jump. I picked alot of base runners off by using a bulk move. A quick, slight lift of the left and a throw over to first almost simultaneously. But these same base stealers also had a tremoundous amount of stolen bases as well by running off the righty’s front heal.

    Unless I missed a section, I’ve always thought stealing in breaking ball counts is a far better strategy as well. It’s a slower pitch and the catcher may have to dig the baseball out of the dirt. Higher success rate, in my opinion.

  2. Doug: I always watched the pitcher’s (righthander) throwing hand. If, after coming set, the hand dropped, the pitcher was going home. Another “tell” is the throwing arm elbow. If, after coming set, the elbow moved toward second base, the pitcher was going home. I also am a strong advocate of watching the whole pitcher. If there was a discernible weight shift towards second base, the pitcher was going home.

    • Bill,
      Thanks for the input. I totally agree with you, there are certain things some pitchers do that give away if they are going home or not. Thats an aspect of baseball that i find so rewarding is when you can find something on a pitcher that gives away a certain pitch he is throwing or if his is going to attempt a pick off. Thanks for writing in.

      Doug

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