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How important is it to you if a player runs hard to first base every time, or goes in hard to second base to try to beat a throw or break up a double play? I came up with a few things that I think it says about a player - http://probaseballinsider.com/blog/baseball-tip-running-hard/
I'm curious to know if you agree with these points, and if this impacts your coaching choices at all.
Doug- Good topic. What are the points?
Running hard to any base is just as important as hitting the ball. By running hard you may be able to strtch a single into a double and now you are in scoring position for the next batter. You could be the tying run or go ahead run. also, if you are trailing by a lot, running hard and making it safely can greate momentum for your team and get them going. It happened to us at least twice this season and we came back from an 11 run and 8 run deficit to win both.
As a coach, I always teach my players that no matter what the score is, you better be playing at a 0-0 score. We are volunteers playing a game and you signed up for this. If you can't put forth the best effort you can, get off my field and I will get someone else who will.
I wish I could remember the sources but I am sure I read this from a successful career coach. He said a couple things that I agree with.
1st: The easiest thing to do on the baseball field is run.
2nd: You can play with a sore arm but if you try to play with a hurt leg and you can't run then you will hurt your team.
Think about all the skills needed to play this game. Running is a no brainer. Hustle all the time. Your not giong to get tired so why not run every chance you get. My aproach to offense isn't limited to getting on base. That is where it starts. As a base runner you can't sit back and rely on the guys behind you to get hits to drive you home. There are several ways to score without a hit and if you don't think about these weapons when on base then you are not a complete baseball player. You have three outs to get around the bases so you have to be ready to take advantage of every chance. For example: A runner on first needs to get a good secondary lead and anticipate several opportunities such as a pitch in the dirt blocked by the catcher or a weak grounder to the infield where you can beat the force at second. You must anticipate these because if you only react then you have lost the jump. It is not so much about speed as it is about looking for the chance and getting a good jump and hustle. Speaking of anticipation, everyone needs to anticipate at least taking two bases every time. Every hit to the outfield is a double for the batter. Every runner on first is thinking third on a hit and every runner at second is thinking score. It is easier to stop with one bag if forced to than to go one bag and then decide to take another. I have scored from second on bunts and on double play attemps. With one out, runners first and second, the runner at second on a ground ball has to anticipate that the defense is going to try for two. Run hard, round third and keep going. The batter knows if he can beat it out he can steal an RBI so he is going to hustle. I use this play a lot but it won't work if you don't think about these things before the play happens.
I made up my own stats with my team to track base running skill. I call it scoring average. Calculated like batting average it is the runs scored per plate appearance. Run these numbers and see if you find a special player in your lineup. It is not always the leadoff guy or the power hitter. It might be an unsung hero down in the order that just finds a way to get his butt around the bases.
What I am really curious to know is if you believe that this is something which can influence a player's career in the long run. I would say that it doesn't always, but in many cases where the talent level is similar, it's things like this that can tip the balance in your favor
Michael, you made a great point about how some guys just know how to get around the bases using every tool at their disposal, along with effort and intelligence. Those guys are effective scorers and it isn't always the guy you'd expect.
Bill, I hope you don't mind I posted the link. I always think a nicely formatted page is more pleasant to read than a bunch of text. But here were the basics:
Here are 3 things that coaches, scouts, and teammates can tell about you by whether or not you run hard.
1. It shows you take pride in your work. Giving effort and running hard is just a sneak peak into a players personality and the pride they have in themselves when it comes to playing the game of baseball. I know you can’t tell everything from effort levels but it does say that the player gives you everything he has and that is important.
Just remember – It doesn’t take talent to run hard, so it looks extra bad when you don’t do it – because there’s no excuse.
2. It shows you are a team player. When a baserunner goes in hard to second base to try to beat a throw or break up a double play, it shows that the player is unselfish and a team player.
In many ways, baseball is an individual sport, but it is also very much a team game as well. When someone gets selfish, it can cost the team wins. Also, effort and results tend to be contagious. If one person is constantly dogging it, it can rub off on the rest of the team.
3. Running hard shows that the player is teachable. Coaches like a confident player, but there are times they may see things that can help your play.
If a player plays the game the right way most of the time, it shows he wants to be the best player possible. In my experience guys that play hard and give the most effort are the same guys that will listen to people who have more experience than they do.
Scouts and coaches know it’s these guys who become the better players in the end. Learning and applying is very important if you want to be the best.
I remind players that you never know who is watching and that could be the only impression you leave on someone.
There are three types of players: guys that cruise all the time and think their tallent is all they need, guys that know when to turn it on, and guys that are trying to impress the coach with meaningless hustle because they may not be skilled in other areas. Wasn't it in the movie Hoosers when the coach was yelling at a player for diving for a loose ball that was already out of bounds? I think to your point it depends on the observer as to wether he can recognize when a player is dogging it or over hustling just to get attention. I heard, or read from a great coach that a shortstop should never dive for a ground ball in the hole with no one on base. In the history of baseball no shortstop has gone to his right, layed out for a ground ball and been able to get up and get the out at first. Up the middle? Yes, but never in the hole. If you can find this highlight, I want to see it. That is fake hustle. Sprinting out ball 4 is another example. You should never "walk" a walk but if you run it out full speed, you are doing it for attention.
I think what the player does before the game shows as much if not more about your three points than how he plays the game. From the Coaches Bible (I can't remember who said it) that is referred to as a "gamer". That is a player that doesn't practice hard but puts it all out on the field during a game. In college, this does not fair well with the great coaches. And if college is a spring board for the next level then it most certainly can affect a carreer.
Doug- No problem in posting the link. If you cut/paste the article here, it's easier for people to respond.