When I teach base running to players, I do not just cover the mechanics, techniques, and the mental side. I also list and explain all the words and phrases the coaching staff will use to remind base runners of the situation and what is needed from them. One such phrase is “Don’t run him off.”
“Don’t run him off” is something I routinely say when there are multiple runners (in succession) on base. This includes 1st and 2nd, 2nd and 3rd, or bases loaded. The phrase is meant to remind the trailing runner to pay attention to what the runner in front of him does before deciding on what to do.
There is a need for this on all of the following plays:
- A ball that gets past the catcher.
- A throw back to the pitcher that gets by him.
- A base hit and the runner on 2nd may score and the runner on 1st can go to 3rd.
- A potential tag-up on a fly ball.
- A ground ball that is hit with runners on 2nd and 3rd.
I’ll take the last one and expand on it to give you an idea of what is meant by “Don’t run him off.”
With runners on 2nd and 3rd and less than two outs, a ground ball is hit to the first baseman. The runner on 2nd base needs to see if the runner on 3rd base goes home before deciding on whether to run to 3rd base. If not, he may have the awkward situation where two runners end up on the same base. (Note: if you are the defense and need to know what to do in that situation, click HERE.)
In every situation listed above, the lead runner cannot automatically continue to the next base. He must see what the lead runner is doing first.
This makes it tough for the trailing runner because he not only has to manage whether he can move up a base but he also needs to be aware of what the lead runner has decided to do.
If you’re the trailing runner, be aggressive but “Don’t run him off!“