March 2014 - Tip of the Month

"Fake it 'Til You Make it"

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 9.03.03 PM

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 9.03.03 PM

Tell me if you've seen this before.

First and third situation and the coach calls for the fake to 2B, throw to 3B. The runner at 1B takes off, the catcher receives the pitch, gets up out of their crouch and makes a pitiful pump fake to 2B, fooling nobody and immediately turns to throw to 3B and the runner has been sitting on the base the entire time, thinking to themselves, "Really?".

I'm not sure anyone has ever fallen for this play. It's like the pitcher's fake to 3B - pickoff to 1B. We're all sure it's worked at some point, but like unicorns, the Loch Ness Monster and the boogie man, it's likely just another myth.

One of the worst parts of this botched fake is that I see this turn into runs far more often than it should. I can't begin to count the times this throw results in the catcher losing their handle on the ball, having it squirt out during the fake, allowing the runner from 3B to score.

There is also something to be said for the fact that rapidly decelerating your arm with the ball in hand may not be the safest thing for your arm in the long run.

Luckily for all the catchers out there, there is a way to not only sell this fake throw without losing control of the ball or hurting yourself, but at the same time get the runner to actually bite on it.

As Wilin Rosario of the Colorado Rockies demonstrates in THIS VIDEO, the best way to pull off this play, or any play for that matter where we are attempting to fake a throw in the hopes of getting another runner to take off prematurely, we must FAKE THE TRANSFER - NOT THE THROW.

By leaving the ball inside your glove, you give yourself the ability to go through the whole throwing motion realistically without risking the ball slipping out of your hand or hurting yourself.

I've been teaching my catchers to do this for a very long time and the results have been fun to watch. Runners are almost always looking for a realistic throwing motion, not necessarily the ball in the air, and because of this you will have a chance to steal an easy out.

So remember catchers, during plays like this fake the transfer of the ball, but go through the full throwing motion towards your target, and more often than not the runner will bite on it.

Thanks for reading March's tip of the month!