In A Pickle: Tricky Baseball Situations

Ryan SmithCorrespondent IDecember 8, 2008

Managers have to make tough decisions all of the time. Should he take the starter in and bring in a reliever, or should he leave him in to finish the inning? Should play the infield in, or try for the double play? And if they get it wrong, they are second guessed for the rest of the week, month, or season. If it’s really fatal and occurs in the World Series, it could never be forgotten.


As a player you always have to be thinking. Should you try for the man at home or eat the ball? Should you try for two or go for one? Should you dive for the ball or play it safe and play it on the hop?


What do you think they should do in these situations?


Situation: Bottom of the Ninth, Bases Loaded, One Out, Tie Game, and to make it more interesting, it’s Game Seven of the World Series.


You’re the left fielder of the away team and you’re in the field. A deep fly ball is hit in foul territory. You have plenty of time to settle under it. Do you catch it and try to throw the runner out at the plate? I mean, your arm’s good, but is it good enough? And that runner’s pretty fast. What should you do?


I say, let it fall. Most of the time the runner will score on a fly ball. There’s always a chance the batter will strike out or hit a ground ball. But if the batter gets a hit, you always have time to explain why you let it drop to the press afterwards (don’t blame it on me).


Situation: Bottom of the Ninth, Men on First and Second, One Out, and a Tie Ball Game


You’re the skipper of the club. The other team’s number three hitter is up and he’s been hitting well, but they’re number clean-up hitter isn’t to shabby.  Should you tell your pitcher to walk the batter and go after the next guy? Or should you go after the number three hitter?


In my opinion, I would walk the number three guy and go after the number four hitter. Now, it depends who these players are. If the number four hitter’s leading the league in hitting, then pitch to the number three hitter. Usually the pitcher will walk the batter to set up a force at any bag, but you have to look at the statistics.


Situation: Close Game in Late Innings


You’re the manager again. The game’s dragging on and you’re getting worried about your team’s defense. They’ve been doing well so far, but you’re left fielder can slip up at any time. Should you him out and put in you’re best defensive man? Remember, you’d lose one of you’re biggest bats if you take him out.


It all depends on where you are in the batting order. If the left fielder is up to bat during your next turn at the plate, then leave him in. If he just batted, take him out. It also depends on how good a hitter the replacement would be because what if he has to bat?

If he’s a decent hitter then it wouldn’t be much of a risk, but if you have pitchers who hit better then leave him out…or you could pinch hit for him but then you’d lose another bench player.


Situation: Any Inning, One Out, Man on First

You’re the second baseman and there’s a ball hit into the gap. As you go out for the cut, you look back and see that you have a play at the plate, but it would be close. Then you check on the batter. He’s rounding second and heading for third. Even if you’re throw would be offline, you’d still get him, no doubt about it. You receive the throw from the centerfielder. What do you do?


Always take the sure out. I would rather get an out and have to face the next batter with no one on base than have to face him with a man only 90 feet away from scoring. There’s always a chance you’d catch the guy at home but that depends on your confidence in your arm. Go for the sure out, throw to third.


Situation: In Late Innings, 0-0 Score, Bases Loaded, One Out


Manager time again. You’re pitcher’s up to bat. He hasn’t allowed a run so far, but he’s 0-2 with two strikeouts. He doesn’t have a hit so far this season, and it’s already August. Then again, he pitches better as the game goes on. He could pitch another shutout. Do you take him out and put in a pinch hitter?


This is a tough one. If you’re pitcher has pitched very well so far, then I would leave him in, but it also depends on who’s up next. It also depends on how hard your pitcher’s been hit. If he has given up a lot of hits but has gotten out of jams then I would take him out because nothing lasts forever. Take a look at your bench and bullpen. If you’ve got a good pinch hitter, put him in. If you’ve got a strong reliever, he could pitch next.  


Situation: Top of the Eighth, No Outs, Men on the Corners, Down 2-1


Okay skipper what are you gonna do now? Are you going to play the infield in or let them try for the double play? Even if they get the double play, a run will score. Or you could risk it and bring the infield in. But no matter where you put them, it all depends on where the ball is hit.


This is another hard one. Honestly, it all depends on how fast all of the runners are. If the man on third is slow, you could probably take a chance and set up an alignment that’s half-double play and half-infield in. Or you could bring the corners in to increase your odds only slightly. You could just bring your infield in and try for the man at home, but what if the batter hits a little blooper over the infielders’ heads? No real answer here. Go with the gut.