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Inside the Game

Stealing Third Base

Who are the targets and what are the tips?

Stealing Third Base Stealing third base in many instances is actually an easier theft than attempting to steal second base. It may seem like stealing second base would be an easier task given the distance of the throw is longer for the catcher to make.

For some stealing second may be easier than stealing third but this would be only true for those runners that are quick on the feet and possess plus speed on the base paths. However for the slower runners out there, who may be classified as count or read base runners, learning to steal third could be your new obsession, and thus adding another weapon to your offense.

The art and skill of stealing third base no matter who you are is very much truly an art in itself and ALL players need to gain knowledge and be given great practice on how to perform this skill!

Predictable pitchers, left-handed pitchers and slow delivering pitchers will primarily be your targets on who you can perform this act of stealing third base on. These types of pitchers are very rarely concerned about the base runner on second base and/or have not practiced controlling runners when at second base.

Predictable Pitchers

Pictures who check or look at the base runner on second base a predictable number of times, or pause for a predictable amount of time before pausing to zone in on the catchers glove and then delivering their pitch.

The base runner will have two keys to focus on when facing a predictable pitcher. First is the moment the base runner sees the pitcher’s turn back to the catcher/home plate. At this time the base runner needs to shuffle his feet to gain ground and shorten the distance between himself and third base. The second key is, timing the pause of the pitcher and gaining more ground to third base making the theft of third base that much easier.

The biggest key is how the base-runner times himself off the pitcher’s delivery.

Left Handed Pitchers

Left handed pitchers are clearly much easier to steal third base on because a base runner is able to create a blind spot behind the pitcher, as the primary lead off and subsequent secondary lead off is performed. When this blind spot is found, most left handed pitchers give up trying to find the base runner and shift their primary focus to the hitter. Again, and similar to a predictable pitcher, the base runner needs to focus in on the pitchers head, the turning of the head as well as the pause. The key is getting to that blind spot, with movement, then breaking hard to third when the baserunner has the timing, and is sure the pitcher is going to the plate. Once again, timing is an essential and necessary entity.

Pitchers who are generally slow to the plate

These pitchers have a high leg lift and rarely work on controlling the running game. Although they are slow to the plate, the base runner must still use timing and movement of the feet to steal third base.

Other Important Factors

Besides the above keys to stealing third base there are many other important factors that go into stealing third base.

  • The base runner must have movement with his feet and proper timing off the pitcher. The base runner will rarely steal third base when having “dead feet”. If either of these keys are missing then abort the play and turn the steal into a secondary lead. You don’t HAVE to steal third base.
  • All base runner movements need to be subtle and quiet so as not to alert the middle infielders, pitcher or catcher.
  • Try to pick up signs or a sign sequence in anticipation of a breaking ball. Obviously the base runner then is able to pick a slower pitch to steal on and also a breaking ball may be in the dirt.
  • Best time to steal third base is with one out and a right handed hitter at the plate. This will give added protection to the runner as the catcher will have to throw around the hitter.
  • Look for a breaking ball grip in the pitchers glove. They all think they are hiding it from the base runner but most do not.

The two biggest factors are movement of the base runners feet and timing the pitchers movements.

The first time you steal third, you will see how easy these skills can be executed!