When Pro baseball players talk, you should listen. I saw a post last year on the Valor Sports blog written by former Cubs pitcher, Steve Ellis, that was re-posted again on that same blog. (Yeah, they do that a lot there. For all I know, this article has been re-posted a dozen times!) Nonetheless, it was a good article a year ago, and it's a good article now!
Steve tells aspiring major league pitchers that if they are right handed, the pick-off move to first base is not really meant to pick the runner off. It's nearly impossible for a right hander to get turned around fast enough to do that. He says that 99 times out of a hundred, your throw to first base will not get the runner. Instead, he offers, a right hander's job is to keep the runner from stealing second by stopping his momentum from going toward second base.
In the article, the former major league hurler says that there are three things a right handed pitcher needs to do to keep the runner from stealing second:
- Be quick to home plate
- Be fast to first base
- Vary your looks and holds
Steve says that a pitcher needs to be able to start his windup and deliver the ball to the plate in 1.3 seconds or less. He adds that the key to a quick move to first or home is having your weight already 60% on the right, plant foot and that you should always throw to first with your very best move. He finishes by talking about changing up the amount of time you hold the ball before moving to first or home and about how to do a jump pivot.
I liked the article the first time I saw it and it's no different now. Too many coaches teach young pitchers that their goal is to actually snag the runner at first. This usually leads to far more more balks and throwing errors than successful pick-offs.
Your job is to keep the runner from stealing. Let your fielders get the runners out!
Again, you can read the full article by clicking here.
Pitching Machine Stop Quote of the Day:"Pitching is the art of instilling fear." - Sandy Koufax