Each fielder’s role and positioning on double cuts and relay plays. Includes diagrams for baseball positioning in various situations.
Continued from Relay Positioning, Part 1: Cut offs and Relays
If you haven’t already, you may want to read about the basics of cut-offs and relays before proceeding with this article on positioning for double cuts.
What is a Double Cut?
Double cuts in baseball are needed when a ball is hit to the wall and there is going to be a long throw to a base. A double cut is when two infielders go out to cut the ball and relay (throw) the ball to a base. One infielder will be the primary cut off man, or the lead cut off man. The other infielder will be behind him in line with the target about 20 to 30 feet and will be the relief valve and get the throws that the lead guy can’t handle. This section will show you the ins and outs of where to position yourself.
Diagrams 3: Runner on 1st base
When a double is hit (i.e. the ball gets past the outfielder) and there is a runner on first base, then the throw will be to home plate. As always,there is the potential for a cut-off and throw to 3rd base.
3.A. Double to left
If there is a runner on 1st and a ball is hit down the left field line, then the throw is lined up to home plate.
Positioning – The shortstop is the lead cut-off guy and the second baseman is the trail man.
Stay in fair territory, and line up about halfway between the leftfielder and the catcher. Depth fully depends on the leftfield arm strength.
3.B. Double through left center gap
If the ball in hit through the left center gap – runner on 1st – then the shortstop is the lead relay and the second baseman is the trail guy in the double cut lining up to home plate.
3.C. Hit through right center gap
For a double hit through the right center gap, defensive positioning changes up a bit. The second baseman is the lead guy in the double cut lining up to home plate, and the shortstop is his trail guy.
3.D. Double to right
Ball is hit down the right field line. Second baseman is the lead cut off man lining up to home plate. Stay in fair territory, and know your first baseman is behind you in case of a bad throw from the outfielder.
Note to Shortstops: The shortstop hangs out behind the pitchers mound in line with ball and 3rd base. From here you need to be able to get to 2nd if the hitter falls down and there is a potential play at 2nd. The shortstop also needs to see if the rightfielder air mails both cut off men throwing home, he needs to run over and be the emergency cut off man. “The Derek Jeter play.”
Diagrams 4: No one on base
When the batter hits a double to the wall with no runners on, then the relay is lined up to 3rd Base.
4.A. Double to left
This diagram is shows the double cut for a ball hit down the left field line with NO ONE on base. The throw will line up to 3rd base, with the shortstop as the lead cut-off man and the 2nd baseman as the trail guy.
4.B. Double to left center
This diagram shows the double cut for a ball that is hit past the outfielders through the left center gap. Since there is no one on, the throw is to 3rd. The short stop is the lead cut-off guy, and the second baseman is the trail man. First baseman covers 2nd base. The pitcher backs up at third base.
4.C. Double to right center
For balls hit in the right center gap, the second baseman is the lead guy in the doublecut and the short stop is the trailing cut-off guy.
Again, with no baserunner, the play is at third base.
The 1st baseman covers 2nd. The pitcher and left fielder back up the third baseman, in case the throw is off or he misses it.
4.D. Double to right
This diagram illustrates positioning for when the hitter gets a ball down the right field line.
The second baseman is the lead guy in the doublecut lining up to third base. The 1st baseman is the trail guy.
The short stop will be covering second base, and the left fielder should back up the throw behind third base.
Like what you read?
What to Read next:
- Pop Up Priorities – Zone coverage and the pecking order when it comes to catching fly balls
- How to Field a Baseball Like A Pro – Part 1 of a series on fielding the baseball
- How to Throw a Baseball, Part 1: The 4 seam Grip
- Communication and Defensive Strategies – Secret infield communication throughout the game
- Baseball hitting drills – new book release
If there is a runner on third and the ball is hit to left field where does the first baseman go?
If it is a fly ball, the first baseman stays at first. The third baseman lines up on the infield grass directly between the LF and catcher in case of the need for a cutoff. The SS covers 3rd base in the event of a rundown.
If it is down the left field line (extra base hit), see diagram 3A above…
This is good stuff, but I have to pick on your semantics. You’re using “cutoff” and “relay” completely interchangeably and they’re not exactly the same thing. A cutoff man can also act as a relay, but a relay man is not a cutoff.
I appreciate the response and I guess I am being picky but if the first baseman is not trailing the runner to 2B with a man on 1st then why in diagram 3A runner on 1st base is he standing at 2B which looks like he is trailing the runner?
I just want to make sure I am getting it right as we have been going over this with our team and don’t want to teach them the wrong thing.
Appreciate your website and all the information by the way.
“The first baseman in these diagrams is in his normal cut off position. He wouldn’t be trailing the runner to second base because with a runner on first base there is a potential play at home plate.”
Thanks for noticing the first baseman’s positioning in figure 3A. The positioning in these diagrams can be adjusted mildly depending on the team but these are the most common. I did ask my friend who plays first base for the Minnesota Twins and he said that the first baseman is the cut off man between third base and home plate. The right fielder would have to come in and cover 2nd base.
Thanks for catching this mistake. I was wondering if when I wrote the diagram if one of the teams I was on actually did it this way or if I just made a mistake. Anyway thanks for catching it and I will be changing the diagram as soon as possible.
You said, “The first baseman is only used in double cuts on balls hit down the right field line”
Why then in the Diagram 3C and 3B does the drawing have the first baseman in tandem cut instead of trailing runner to 2B.
Thanks for your question. The “double cut” is when two infielders go out for the cut off and the trailing infielder can catch an errant throw from an outfielder that the first cut off man can’t field. The first baseman in these diagrams is in his normal cut off position. He wouldn’t be trailing the runner to second base because with a runner on first base there is a potential play at home plate. He only trails the runner to second base when there are no runners on base, a runner on second, or third base. If there is a runner on first he is now a cut off man to home plate. The first basemen’s job is to see the throw coming in and if there is a play at home let it go, if not, cut it and see if you can get the runner trying to stretch his double into a triple. The runner at 2nd may just stay at second because he knows the 1st baseman is there to throw him out if he tries to go to third base. Even though this is a double cut situation the first baseman is not directly involved in the “double cut”. I hope this clarifies the diagram. Thanks for your question.
The 1B man should never drop down in front of the catcher like that, the explanation hardly makes sense.
Thanks, Doug. I was wondering if you’ve seen any other variations of a double cut system that coaches use to fit the players they have on the infield? Also, I think it’s interesting how often you have the first baseman involved as the trail guy. Any special reason for this?
Thanks for the question. I have seen other variations of double cuts but this is by far the most used. The first baseman is only used in double cuts on balls hit down the right field line. This is the case because it can be a long run for the shortstop to get into that position as well as have your first baseman run to where 2nd base is in front of him but is also a cut off man to third base.
A variation I have seen is where only the shortstop and second baseman go out for every relay throw. I understand they catch and throw better than first baseman usually but you have to make sure they get to their spots. If these 2 guys are out of position a poor throw from your right fielder may allow the base runners to move up an extra base.
I understand certain plays (double cuts, relays, etc.) depend on your players and their strengths. All positional situations can be modified to fit your team, just make sure there is someone to back up all potential throws. Good luck and I hope this helps