Baseball cut-offs and relays for middle infielders. Includes proper defensive positioning, baseball cutoff diagrams, and who is the cut off man in various baseball situations.
Note: If you haven’t already, you may want to read about the basics of cut-offs and relays before proceeding with this article on 2nd base positioning for cut-offs.
1. Base hit with a runner on 2nd base.
In this relay situation, the throw or relay is to home plate. This section describes the defensive positioning for a base hit to outfield if there is a runner at second base.
1.A. Single to left fielder, runner on 2nd base.
The shortstop will run over to 3rd base and cover the bag. The 3rd baseman is vacating his base so he can be the cut off man to home plate.
With the throw going towards home plate, be ready for a ball cut off by the third baseman and thrown to the second base bag. This could happen if there is no play at home, and the batter is trying to move up to 2nd.
1.B. Single to center fielder, runner on second base.
The shortstop will cover the 2nd base bag, notice that this responsibility will be different if there is a runner on 1st. In this scenario, the 2nd baseman will cover 1st and the shortstop will take 2nd.
See Diagram 1.B. – Positioning for a single hit to center field with a runner on second base. Play is at home plate. First baseman is the cut-off man. Second baseman covers 1st base.
1.C. Single to right fielder, runner on 2nd base.
The shortstop will cover 2nd base. Again this responsibility will be different if there is a runner on 1st base. With nobody on base the 2nd baseman will cover 1st and the shortstop has the 2nd base bag.
Diagram of positioning for a single hit to right field with a runner on second base. Play is at home plate, with a possible cut and throw to 3rd base. First baseman is the cut off man. Second baseman covers 1st base.
2. Base hit, with runners on 1st and 2nd Bases.
In this situation, the throw is to home plate, with potential for a cut and throw to 3rd base. This section describes the positioning for a base hit to outfield if there are runners on both first and second bases.
2.A. Single to left field, runners on 1st & 2nd bases.
The shortstop will cover 3rd base. With no one on 1st, the 2nd baseman should run to 1st base in case there is an attempt to get the hitter out at first.
This diagram shows the setup for runners at 1st and 2nd base when a single is hit to left field. The 3rd baseman is the cut-off guy, so he may choose to reroute the throw if to 2nd or 3rd if needed.
2.B. Single to center field, runners on 1st and 2nd bases.
The shortstop will line up to 3rd base because the outfielder has the option of throwing home or to 3rd depending on the ball hit and the speed of the runners. The 2nd baseman is covering second base, and will be expecting the ball from a cut off man if the runner takes to big of a turn around 2nd base.
2.C. Single to right field, runners on 1st and 2nd bases.
The shortstop lines up to 3rd base, expecting the throw from the outfielder who has the option to go to home or to 3rd base.
You should line up in a straight line and about 15 – 20 feet to the 3rd base side of 2nd base. This will allow you to keep the ball and runner in your line of vision and make the decision to cut the ball or let it go through. This decision depends on what the runner decides to do.
To summarize, the shortstop must understand that depending on where the runners start out makes a big difference on which base to cover during baseball cut-offs and relays.