Great examples of baseball cutoff man – how to be the cutoff


Youth baseball players and coaches wanting
to improve their level of play will need to tackle the job of the cutoff man. This higher
level skill is not an easy one to master. One of the overlooked skills in youth baseball
is the correct way to be the cutoff man. At the younger levels we start by helping players
know which infielder covers the bag and which is the cutoff man and then progress to helping
them run to the right depth…not too deep and not too shallow depending on where the
ball is fielded. As youth players progress in their ability
and baseball knowledge, coaches will want to teach the importance of cutting off throws
while positioned in line with the intended base. Furthermore coaches will want to teach
them when to cut the throw and when not to cut the throw. That higher level awareness
and communication takes time and practice. In most of these examples the players are
positioned correctly, in line with the base the ball needs to get to as well as at an
appropriate distance. Let’s look at them one at a time beginning
with the play that didn’t line up correctly. These players are 10U travel ball players,
so a bit lower level, but this does show us what happens when the cutoff is wrong. As
the outfielder is fielding it’s obvious that there is no play at 2nd base and the
throw is going to need to go to third. The fielder is very deep and should have a cutoff,
but here we see the cut off is inline with 2nd base….or more likely this player simply
went to where he always goes to cut any ball regardless of the game situation. Had this
shortstop ran to cut a throw to third base that runner wouldn’t have gone to 3rd base,
but even if he did, he would have been out. You can clearly see in this shot the ball
traveling far further than was necessary. In addition, had the shortstop been in the
correct position, the third baseman, seeing the throw and the knowing where the runner
was could have called off the cut and taken the throw from the outfielder. But this type
of skill and awareness level needs to be coached during practices so players know when and
how to communicate correctly. The rest of the clips we are using are from
a game between PA & SC during the 2015 LLWS. In this first example the SS dives for the
ball but immediately gets us, signals he’s the cut, and gets in line with second base.
Since it’s obvious the runner is staying at first on this play, it is rather routine.
Even so, every player should always respond to ever hit correctly so when the play finally
IS close, they are in the habit of being in the correct position. This next example we have the same players
involved, but here the play might have been close. Typically it is the catcher who communicates
how the cut should be handled. Each team may have a different system, but a typical method
is: Catcher yells clearly and forcefully, cut,2 the cutoff cuts the ball and throws
to 2nd base. Cut 4 to home, etc. If the catcher simply says “Cut” the ball is cut but
held. A cutoff man might be expecting the play to be at 2nd base, but when he hears
Cut, 1 he knows the runner is retreating and where to go before he has the ball. If the
catcher yells pass, the fielder does not cut the ball and lets it pass. If the catcher
says nothing, the fielder needs to determine what to do, and given the situation, a pitcher
or first baseman might interject. However, at these world series games the crowd volume
can be so loud that infielders will not hear. In this final clip we are looking at, the
second baseman becomes the cutoff to home plate. Presumably the catcher yelled CUT because
the runner going home wasn’t a possible out and no other plays were possible Like I said earlier, the volume at these WS
games can be loud and we see here that the second baseman checks the runner’s position
just before cutting the ball. The outfielder makes a throw that can reach home, but is
low enough to be cut which it is.

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