Base running

Last updated
Ichiro Suzuki rounds third base to run towards home plate Suzuki Ichiro runs to homeplate.jpg
Ichiro Suzuki rounds third base to run towards home plate

In baseball, base running is the act of running from base to base, performed by members of the team at bat.


Base running is a tactical part of the game with the goal of eventually reaching home base (home plate) to score a run. Batters strive to become base runners, and to enable existing base runners to move to a subsequent base or to score. In statistics, the number of baserunners (for example those allowed by a pitcher) is denoted by the abbreviation BR. [1]

Becoming a runner

A batter becomes a base runner when one of the following happens: [2]

The batter-runner

The Official Baseball Rules uses the term batter-runner to identify the batter from the time he becomes a base runner until the end of the same play, whether he is successful at legally attaining first base or any subsequent base. The term is not applied if the batter is awarded first base (the last three items in the above list).

Ceasing to be a runner

A player ceases to be a base runner when:

If a base runner's teammate is put out for the third out of the inning, the base runner is said to be left on base (LOB).

Running the bases

Pick-off attempt on runner (in red) at first base Baseball pick-off attempt.jpg
Pick-off attempt on runner (in red) at first base

A runner who is touching a base which he is entitled to occupy may not be tagged out. Runners may attempt to advance from base to base on any fair ball that touches the ground. When a ball is hit in the air (i.e., a fly ball) and caught by the defending team, runners must return and touch the base they occupycalled tagging up after the ball is first touched by a fielder. Once they do this, they may attempt to advance at their own risk. On a ball that touches the ground in fair territory, if there is a force, runners are required to run.

Base runners may attempt to advance at any time while the ball is alive, even before or while the pitcher is throwing a pitch. The catcheror pitcher, in lieu of delivering the pitchoften tries to prevent this by throwing the ball to one of the infielders in order to tag the runner. This pick-off attempt is usually unsuccessful in tagging out the runner but is effective in keeping the runner closer to the base. If the runner is tagged out while diving back to the base, it is called a pickoff . If the runner attempts to advance to the next base but is tagged out before reaching it safely, he is caught stealing. A successful attempt by the runner is called a stolen base . If a pitch gets away from the catcher, runners may also try to advance. This may be a wild pitch , if the pitcher is held responsible for the ball getting away, or a passed ball if the catcher is deemed to be at fault. Sometimes the defending team will ignore a runner who is trying to steal a base; in this case a runner is not credited with a steal, and the base is attributed to defensive indifference.


An infielder who cleanly fields a ball hit on the ground, then throws it quickly and accurately, will usually get the ball to a base before the runner runs the 90 feet (27 m). However, any hesitation or mistake on the part of the fielder may allow the runner to reach the base safely. Teams scout the opposition and take advantage of players who are poor at defense. For example, on a deep fly ball to center field with a man on second base, if the center fielder has a weak arm, the runner on second base may tag the base and attempt to reach third despite the risks of being tagged out.

Base running and hitting are coordinated to produce better results in the squeeze play and the hit and run play. When the count is full and there are two outs, any runners forced to advance begin running as soon as the pitcher's motion obliges him to complete his pitch, as their distance from the base will not be the cause of any third out. Good runners also try to get extra bases when a play is being made at a different base. For example, a batter who hits a single should determine whether the defense's focus on another runner gives the batter a chance to reach second base.

Sliding into a base is an important part of base running. The pop-up slide both ensures that the runner touches the base and elevates him to an upright posture to help him take additional bases if the defense misperforms. [3] A take-out slide tries to use a collision with a fielder to keep him from taking additional action, such as throwing to achieve a double play. However, this move, when made independently of the attempt to reach the base, has been illegal since 2016 because of the potential for injury. [4] The base coach at third base, and any batter still at home plate, may watch the ball approaching the base and may signal the base runner on the optimum slide to avoid being tagged out.


The most baserunners allowed by a pitcher in a game since 1901 is 39, by Eddie Rommel, who pitched 17 innings in relief for the Philadelphia Athletics to defeat the Cleveland Indians, 18–17, on July 10, 1932. [1] The record number of baserunners in a season is 820, by John Coleman of the Philadelphia Quakers in 1883. [5] Wilbur Wood of the 1973 Chicago White Sox was the last pitcher to allow more than 500 baserunners in a season. [6]

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hit (baseball)</span> Hitting the ball into fair territory and safely reaching base without an error or fielders choice

In baseball statistics, a hit, also called a base hit, is credited to a batter when the batter safely reaches or passes first base after hitting the ball into fair territory with neither the benefit of an error nor a fielder's choice.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Stolen base</span> In baseball, when a runner advances one or more bases before the ball has been batted

In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a runner advances to a base unaided by other actions and the official scorer rules that the advance should be credited to the action of the runner. The umpires determine whether the runner is safe or out at the next base, but the official scorer rules on the question of credit or blame for the advance under Rule 10 of the MLB's Official Rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Softball</span> Team ball sport

Softball is a sport similar to baseball, and it is played with a larger ball on a smaller field and with only underhand pitches permitted. Softball is played competitively at club levels, the college level, and the professional level. The game was first created in 1887 in Chicago by George Hancock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Bunt (baseball)</span> Batting technique in baseball or fastpitch softball

A bunt is a batting technique in baseball or fastpitch softball. Official Baseball Rules define a bunt as follows: "A BUNT is a batted ball not swung at, but intentionally met with the bat and tapped slowly within the infield." To bunt, the batter loosely holds the bat in front of home plate and intentionally taps the ball into play. A properly executed bunt will create weak contact with the ball and/or strategically direct it, forcing the infielders to make a difficult defensive play to record an out.

In baseball, fielder's choice refers to a variety of plays involving an offensive player reaching a base due to the defense's attempt to put out another baserunner, or the defensive team's indifference to his advance. Fielder's choice is not called by the umpires on the field of play; rather, it is recorded by the official scorer to account for the offensive player's advance without crediting him with an offensive statistic such as a hit or stolen base.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Caught stealing</span> Baseball statistic

In baseball, a runner is charged, and the fielders involved are credited, with a time caught stealing when the runner attempts to advance or lead off from one base to another without the ball being batted and then is tagged out by a fielder while making the attempt. The runner is said to be caught stealing or thrown out. A time caught stealing cannot be charged to a batter-runner, a runner who is still advancing as the direct result of reaching base. In baseball statistics, caught stealing is denoted by CS. It may be the result of a rundown.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Double play</span> Making two outs during the same play in baseball

In baseball and softball, a double play is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. Double plays can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and fewer than two outs.

In baseball, a triple play is the act of making three outs during the same play. There have only been 735 triple plays in Major League Baseball (MLB) since 1876, an average of just over five per season.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Catcher</span> Defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

Catcher is a position in baseball and softball. When a batter takes their turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">First baseman</span> Infield defensive position in baseball and softball

A first baseman, abbreviated 1B, is the player on a baseball or softball team who fields the area nearest first base, the first of four bases a baserunner must touch in succession to score a run. The first baseman is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Out (baseball)</span> In baseball, when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out

In baseball, an out occurs when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out. When a batter or runner is out, they lose their ability to score a run and must return to the dugout until their next turn at bat. When three outs are recorded in a half-inning, the batting team's turn expires.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baseball rules</span> Overview of the rules of baseball at different levels and in different countries

Throughout the history of baseball, the rules have frequently changed as the game continues to evolve. A few common rules most professional leagues have in common is that four balls is a base on balls, three strikes is a strikeout, and three outs end a half-inning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Tag out</span>

In baseball and softball, a tag out, sometimes just called a tag, is a play in which a baserunner is out because a fielder touches him with the ball or with the hand or glove holding the ball, while the ball is live and the runner is in jeopardy of being put out – usually when he is not touching a base.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Appeal play</span>

In baseball, an appeal play occurs when a member of the defensive team calls the attention of an umpire to an infraction which he would otherwise ignore.

In baseball, interference occurs in situations in which a person illegally changes the course of play from what is expected. Interference might be committed by players on the offense, players not currently in the game, catchers, umpires, or spectators. Each type of interference is covered differently by the rules.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Pickoff</span> Baseball defensive play

In baseball, a pickoff is an act by a pitcher or catcher, throwing a live ball to a fielder so that the fielder can tag out a baserunner who is either leading off or about to begin stealing the next base.

A hit and run is a high risk, high reward offensive strategy used in baseball. It uses a stolen base attempt to try to place the defending infielders out of position for an attempted base hit.

This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.


  1. 1 2 "Player Pitching Game Finder: In the Regular Season, from 1901 to 2021, requiring BR >= 30, sorted by greatest BR". Stathead Baseball. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  2. Rutt, Bryan (28 March 2010). "The 8 Ways a Batter Can Reach First Base". That's What I Was Going To Say. Retrieved 19 March 2016.
  3. Doug Bernier (8 July 2016). "How to slide head first, pop up and hook slides". Pro Baseball Insider. Retrieved 2017-10-07.
  4. Grant Brisbee (2016-02-25). "MLB's changes to takeout slides are obvious, sensible". SBNation. Retrieved 2017-10-06.
  5. "Player Pitching Season & Career Finder: For Single Seasons, In the Regular Season, since 1871, requiring BR >= 750, sorted by greatest BR". Stathead Baseball. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  6. "Player Pitching Season & Career Finder:For Single Seasons, In the Regular Season, from 1920 to 2021, requiring BR >= 500, sorted by greatest BR" . Retrieved May 19, 2021.