Baseball Rundown (a.k.a. the Pickle) – Pro tips to get the runner out

The baserunner should NEVER win in a baseball rundown (or “pickle”).  If the play is executed properly, the defense should be able get the runner every time.

How to execute a Rundown

A baseball rundown, sometimes called a ‘pickle’, is when you have a base runner caught in between two bases.

Tips from the Pros

  • Use the fewest number of throws possible.

    The goal is to complete this play with two throws or less, because this cuts down on the potential for an errant throw. The key to doing this is to run hard at the baserunner, forcing him to commit, before making the throw to your partner.

  • Don’t let the runner advance.

    If you have a base runner caught between bases and have choice to run him toward any base, make it the smaller base. (If between 1st and 2nd, run him to 1st, etc.)

How to do a Baseball Rundown:

  1. Get the baseball into your throwing hand.

    You want this so you can tag or throw quickly.

  2. Choose your throwing path.

    Both infielders, whether throwing the ball or receiving it, should get to the same side of the base runner. For example, both players get to the infield grass side. This will prevent the throw hitting the runner, and gives both thrower and receiver a clear line of sight.

  3. pro tips for the baseball rundown or baseball pickle

    Yankee Doug Bernier executes a baseball rundown

    Run toward the target.

    If you have the baseball, it is your job to run hard at him so he can make a decision. If you run hard, he has to run hard and it is more difficult to stop and change directions. Make him commit and either tag him or give the ball up to the receiving infielder. If you are receiving the baseball, you should close the gap between you and your partner. This makes it more difficult for the runner to stop and get going the other direction before you can tag him. Also, this will keep the play in the middle of the bases and not close enough to where he can make an athletic slide and get in safely.

  4. Follow your throw.

    For example- If you are playing first base and you throw it to the shortstop, peel off and continue to second base. You will be in line behind the second baseman who is waiting for the next throw, and if the shortstop gives the baseball up, he goes to first base and gets in line. It is set up this way just in case it takes longer than two throws.

  5. Get out of the baseline.

    After you make a throw to another infielder, make sure to peel off and never cross the baseline. Stay out of the way of the runner. If the runner makes contact with any player from your team that doesn’t have the baseball, he is automatically safe. So stay out of the baseline.

  6. Communicate.

    The receiving infielder should use a command like “now” when he wants to get the ball. This will help when closing the gap and hopefully when you give it up he can catch and tag right away.

  7. Secure the ball for the tag.

    When making a tag, keep the ball in your throwing hand but wrap your glove around it. This is so the ball is secured and won’t come out if there is a little collision. Remember you have to tag him with the ball. You can’t have the ball in your throwing hand and tag him with your glove.

To Fake or not to Fake?

Try not to use pump fakes. This is tough because they usually work. The problem is that you don’t only fake the runner -you usually fake out the receiving infielder. So if you do use it, limit it to one.

Read more about infield specific skills

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. This is great advice that not many high school teams use. I played college ball and am currently a high school assistant and I have tried to implement this but my head coach thinks its too hard. Kate to your question there should be someone there to be next in line for the rundown, so if the timing is off or the catcher gets ran over/passed by the runner you just throw to the base/plate. Also you have to think the runner will be looking back at the player chasing him so he will not see the player in front of him more than likely. Keys to success with this, getting the runner going full speed, get the ball in your throwing hand right away, good timing, and no pump fakes. I hate pump fakes

  2. It’s great advice,
    and very informative. One thing you didn’t cover that I’m a little curious about: you mention closing the gap, so it’ll be easier to pass the ball and tag the runner, but what’s to stop the runner from charging the receiver before the throw and barreling him over on his way to the plate?

  3. Great summary, Doug. A lot of coaches preach the 1 throw rule but that can be easier said than done. Also I feel like a lot of players forget your second point about choosing a throwing path – especially the younger players who get a little over-excited in these situations.

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