A pick-off is an outcome, not a move: Stay with me as this is one of those “stop and think” moments. A runner gets picked off when they are not paying attention. I am talking about when you actually pick them off, not the time they were stealing on first move. Quite honestly the number of runners picked off based upon the number of pick-off attempts is small.
I’ve never really studied it, but I am guessing there are more errant throws, where the runner ends up taking two bases, compared to the runners picked off. So, with that being the case, let’s change the way we think!
The sole purpose of the “pick-off” is to giving your catcher a chance to throw out the runner by keeping him close, or at least leaning back towards the base. Guess changing pick off to “holding the runner on” or “keep him close” might be verbally cumbersome.
So let’s agree we don’t care what we call it, we just need to give your catcher a chance. I have said it before this game is simple so play it that way! Do so by considering the overall situation:
- The score
- The count
- The other team’s approach to running
Whether you, as the pitcher, decides or the coach makes the call, decide where you are going to throw before you go into your stretch.
Too many pitchers waste to much mental energy on the base runner and forget the person at the plate. They give up an extra base hit worrying about a runner who is already on. Do your job; keep it simple make your choice:
- I am throwing home
- Or I am throwing over
STEP OFF if he has too big a lead if you had planned to throw home. It accomplishes what you want and allows you to reassess the situation without a throw.
I have witnessed too many miscues when a pitcher reacts and makes a throw over emotionally versus mentally. Bouncing the ball over there, throwing it into the stands, or worse, the errant throw staying in the park rolling down the line allowing the runner to advance multiple bases – maybe even score.
So the next time a runner gets on, accept it as part of the game; Remaining focused on the job at hand; the batter at the plate and in the right situation, keeping the runner close.
Not to sound like a broken record, but this game is simple, do your job, pitch, and the rest is up to your catcher.
Until next Blog,