Baseball Situations – Hitting Situations and Strategy

Situational hitting is important slice of a balanced offensive attack.  Understanding baseball situations and how to hit strategically in those situations set you up for a productive at bat, even if you don’t get a hit.

Effective situational hitting can keep pressure on the defense and push runners around to score even if the offense isn’t fully clicking.

Proper strategy for various hitting situations

Baseball hitting situations and strategy.  Image by Ed Wolfstein

Runner at 1st base with less than two outs (most likely 0 outs)
Potential bunt

The direction of our bunt will be towards first base

Potential hit and run

When a “hit and run” is signaled to you the hitter, it means the runner is going so your number one responsibility is to swing and make contact with the baseball no matter where it is thrown – unless it is going to bounce in front of the plate.

If the baseball is going to bounce we are betting that the catcher won’t be able to block the ball, pick it up and throw out the runner that is stealing on the pitch.

Next we want to hit a ground ball, the runner is stealing the base and we have to protect him.  If we hit the baseball in the air there is a potential for a double play, or at least the runner gets back to 1st but we make an easy out.

Ideally we would like to hit it to the opposite middle infielder.

  • If right handed, hit a ground ball to the second baseman.
  • If left handed, we want a ground ball to the shortstop.
We want to hit it to the off middle infielder because he likely will be the person covering the second base bag on a steal, so there will be a big hole open for you to hit through.

However, it is more important to hit it on the ground anywhere than try to for the hole and end up with a pop fly getting caught.

If the pitcher has a good sinker (especially righty on righty, or lefty on lefty) it may be difficult to put his sinker on the ground to the opposite middle infielder.

  • As a righty facing a right handed sinker, it is sinking down and in to the hitter.  The bat is more likely to get under the baseball and end up with a weak pop fly to the 2nd baseman or right fielder than to bat a ground ball the other way.
  • In this situation it is probably better to just turn on a sinker and hit a ground ball in the 5-6 hole (in between the shortstop and third baseman).
baseball situations and hitting situations - pro tips for strategic approach to the game of baseball

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Hitting behind the runner

When the 1st baseman is holding on the runner at 1st base, the 2nd baseman is in double play depth which brings him a little closer to the 2nd base bag it leaves a huge hole open to the right side of the infield.

This is much easier for a left handed hitter but there are many hits to be had by hitting the baseball in the lane between the 1st and 2nd baseman.

This isn’t so much situational hitting, its more handling the bat and taking what the defense gives you.

Runner at 2nd base with 0 outs (move the runner to 3rd base with less than 2 outs)
Potential bunt situation

The direction of the bunt will be towards third base in this hitting situation.

Hit behind the runner

Hit a grounder to the right side of the runner at 2nd base (toward the 1st or 2nd baseman)

Even if the shortstop fields the baseball and has to move to his left, he will most likely just take the out at 1st base. It is too risky of a throw to make to third base, because of his momentum and that the base runner will be potentially in the way of the throw.

Hit a deep fly ball

You can move the runner up from 2nd to 3rd base by hitting a fly ball deep enough for the runner to tag up and move up a base.

The runner is more likely to tag up if you bat a fly ball to deep center or right field, it is a much further throw.

Runner at 3rd base with less than 2 outs
Potential squeeze situation

As the bunter, wait until the pitcher is about to release the baseball. Square around and just get it on the ground, in fair territory.

This bunt can even go right back to the pitcher. We are taking the out at 1st base for a run.

Infield back

Keep your sights up the middle and hit a ground ball.  Keep the baseball away from the corner infielders (especially the 3rd baseman, sometimes the 1st baseman is really deep and its ok if he has to make the play.)

This is a great situation as a hitter because they are giving you a free RBI, all you need to do is just hit a ground ball toward the middle of the field.

Infield In

In these hitting situations, you need a line drive or fly ball to the outfield so the runner can tag up and score.

Think of driving the ball rather than hitting a fly ball. More people get in trouble by trying to hit a great fly ball that they get a little loopy with their swing and they pop the baseball up in the infield, or they miss it all together.

Most people hit more fly balls to the opposite field and more ground balls to the pull side. Think of driving the baseball middle of the field to the opposite gap, this will give you a good approach for driving the runner in from third base.

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I hope you have found this summary of various hitting situations and potential strategies to be helpful.  I invite you to comment below with questions and feedback.  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 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

2 Comments

  1. Jeff Burrell on

    Do most MLB players practice hitting from a Tee? My son who typically bats 4th picks up some bad habits and then has to work hard to fix them. Just wondering if this happens elsewhere.

    • Jeff,

      Yes, most MLB hitters use a tee at some point throughout the day. It is mostly used during the season to get loose before batting practice or flips in the batting cage. But there are some guys that would prefer to hit off a tee every day then actually hit batting practice on the field. During the off season most hitters will hit off a tee quite a bit to get their swing grooved and especially if they want to fix any “problems” with their swings. Its a great way to be in 100% control of your swing. The batting tee is a great tool.

      Doug

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