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Baseball cut-offs and relays – Defensive Positioning, Part 1

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.

Single to left fielder, runner on 2nd base. 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.

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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

1.B. Single to center fielder, runner on second base.

Single to center field, runner on 2nd base. Play is at home plate. Baseball cut-offs and relays for shortstop and 2nd baseman.

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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

1.C. Single to right fielder, runner on 2nd base.

Diagram of positioning for a single hit to right field with a runner on second base.  The play will be at home plate, with the possibility of a cut and throw to 3rd base.  1st baseman is the relay guy.  2nd baseman will 1st 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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

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.

Single to left field, runners on 1st & 2nd bases.  Proper defensive positioning, baseball cutoff diagrams, and who is the cut off man in various baseball situations.

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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

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.

(What positions do the numbers represent?)

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.

I hope you find this article on baseball cut offs and relays, along with the baseball cutoff diagrams, to be helpful.  I’ve tried to cover the proper defensive positioning and who is the cut off man in various baseball situations.  Comments, questions and feedback are welcome in the comment section below.  - Doug
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About the Author: Doug Bernier

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 11 years. After hitting .361 with the New York Yankees this 2012 spring training where he relieved Derek Jeter at shortstop, Doug spent the 2012 season with the Yankees’ triple A team. Click here to get personal, one-on-one instruction with Doug Bernier

3 Comments

  1. This was a great tool for my junior team to read although they shold have this down by this level it was still a wonderful reminder.

  2. The note under diagram 1.B seems to conflict with the diagram itself. It reads as follows: “See Diagram 1.B. – Positioning for a single hit to center 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 guy. Second baseman covers 2nd base.”

    Shouldn’t the possible cut and throw be to 2nd base and shouldn’t the second baseman cover 1st base? Please clarify. Thanks, Tom

    • Tom,
      Thanks for pointing out the mistake. We try to proof read everything, but that slipped through the cracks. The diagram was correct but the wording was wrong. The second baseman should be covering first base and the shortstop would be covering second base. Thanks for helping us out and pointing out the mistake.

      Thanks, Doug

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