View Full Version : Defensive Indifference

The Boss
04-10-2011, 20:13
This is one of the things inside the game of baseball that I have never been able to wrap my mind around.
Let's paint the picture. We have 2 outs in the bottom of the 9th, with a runner on 1st. In this situation you will often see the runner on first take second base without a throw from the catcher and no steal is given due to defensive indifference. The logic being, that the team in the field does not care if the runner advances, because it doesn't matter if that run scores or not.

That makes sense, but the part that does not make sense is the fact that if that runner would be thrown out, it would be the 3rd out, and the game would be over, so why wouldn't you want to throw the guy out if you are the catcher?

What is the down side of attempting to throw out the runner? What is the worst situation that can take place? Throwing the ball into center field and allowing the runner to reach 3rd base. Then the center fielder making a bad throw to 3rd base allowing the runner to score. If the run doesn't matter then isn't it worth the risk? You also lose the force out possibility at 2nd, but yet I seem to see some guys that have no business stealing a base trotting down to 2nd base at the end of a game with no throw. Just because the run "doesn't count" doesn't mean that the out doesn't!

Can anybody help me understand this nonsense?

05-05-2011, 15:52
The reason why they don't try the throw is simple and hopefully I can explain it so you'll understand, since I am sometimes not clear

When a player steals the decision is based on seconds. All teams know how fast a catcher can throw the ball to 2nd, and if you time the pitcher throwing from the mound to the catcher. So if you get a combined time, Pitcher to catcher and then Catcher to 2nd base of say 2.4 seconds. If your runner is faster than 2.4 seconds going from 1st to 2nd he can attempt to steal.

Now to combat that the 1st baseman normally would hold the runner on, the pitcher will delay his delivery and also in some cases he will side step to speed up his motion, but this also means he has less control.

When a runner is on first normally a team picks the SS or 2nd baseman to cover the base. Say it is the 2nd baseman, as soon as the runner breaks toward 2nd the 2nd baseman has to leave his position to take the throw from the catcher. So on every steal you'll have two men out of position, the 1st baseman and also whoever is covering 2nd base.

Ok now that you understand the basics,

Now if a team decides that player has no bearing on the final outcome, all the team cares about is getting outs. It does not matter if you win 6-2 or 6-3. So if you let the runner go, the pitcher can take his full windup, the first baseman can play behind the runner instead of holding him on, and the 2nd baseman and SS will not have to leave their position to cover 2nd base.

The team basically pretends no one is on, so they play regular defense, again the only thing that matters is getting the out. Now if you deiced to throw down, while nothing really bad would happen, the man running will be standing on 2nd before the throw even got near the base, so there is no real reason to throw down.

it looks on TV like you could have the guy easily but in truth the runner sees the 2nd baseman and SS not going to cover so he slows down, knowing if no one is covering there won't be anyone at 2nd to take the throw. That is why it looks like you can have him easily but in truth, it's because 1/2 way to 2nd the runner just starts jogging.

The Boss
05-05-2011, 16:38
I wish I had to particulars but it doesnt really matter. In todays game A-Rod was on first base with either 0, or 1 outs. I think Gardner was up. A-Rod walks down to 2nd base. Now, I have to believe the A-Rod in this point of his career isnt risking injury or being an out down 6-2 in the 9th like they were today, unless he is being given the base. All A-Rod or the Yankees need to think is the base might be contested in order for them to not risk the steal.

What happened, if I remember, was a ground ball that might have been a double play if A-Rod was not already on 2nd base, but instead was just a 1 out grounder. I understand if the man on first is a big time steal threat, but if he isnt going to take the base unless it is given to him, then why give it to him? At least put the doubt in the offensive teams mind and I think that runner stays put at 1st, keeping the force at 2nd and a DP in the realm of possibility.

05-06-2011, 07:21
You are correct..If there was one out and in a similar situation, as a manager I would keep the double play in order, But some managers would rather keep their regular defensive alignment and play it one out at a time.

When I manage, until I have 2 outs, I never play defensive indifference. I would rather keep playing as I have done the whole game, and keep my players on their toes.

Jersey John
05-15-2011, 10:03
I think if its a fast runner at first you let him go and focus on getting the batter out. If its a runner you know you can throw out then you at least have to make him think about it.