How and when catchers should back up first base in baseball


When should catcher’s back up first base? Being a catcher is one of the most difficult
positions to play, and there are certainly more important skills to master as a catcher
than being the backup for first base, but as catcher’s progress, they will certainly
need to understand when and how to be a backup. The backup rules for a catcher are not universally
agreed to, but here are the basics to keep in mind. Anytime the ball is fielded by an infielder
with no runners on base, the catcher should be moving to backup first base. With a ball hit to the second baseman, the
catcher should be moving up the line on an angle to be deep enough to get to an overthrown
ball. You do not want to be too close to the first
baseman otherwise the ball will simply get past you too. With a ball hit to 3rd base, the catcher needs
to be running past the first baseman, and even if he can’t get that far before the
throw, if the ball is missed, he is already heading in the direction of the missed ball
and the runners will likely not advance to 2nd. Finally, probably the most important time
for the catcher to backup is with a ball hit to shallow right field when that fielder might
try to make a force play at first base. In fact, unless a runner is on 3rd base, this
should always be done as the catcher doesn’t need to venture too far from home plate in
this situation. With a runner on first base, the catcher still
ought to be backing up first. The one exception may be a ball hit to the
3rd baseman with two outs. With two outs the play is likely to be a 5-3
attempt ignoring the lead runner. The catcher backing up a bad throw would leave
home plate unattended and a run could score. On a double play possibility, the catcher
should then back up. The second baseman will be at 2nd for the
first out which removes the lead runner, the second out, which is much less likely to be
successful, is at first base and these throws are often rushed and off target meaning that
our catcher needs to be in position. The right fielder is often two deep to arrive
on time and depending on his position, may be backing up the throw to 2nd. With runners in scoring position, 2nd or 3rd
base, the catcher will not leave home plate. The pitcher, right fielder or 2nd baseman
need to take that back-up job and the catcher should stand in fair territory in front of
home plate either directing the fielders or preparing for a play at the plate. Here are some clips. In the first clip, the catcher backs up a
4-3 play, We also see the right fielder running in as well. The next clip also shows the catcher backing
up a 5-3 play and you notice he runs to deep foul territory rather than straight up the
line. This clip there are no runners on base and
there isn’t much foul area past first base which almost nullifies the catcher’s need
to back up, but as you can see, both the 2nd baseman and right fielder were moving before
the ball was even thrown. That’s heads up baseball at this age. Same field and exactly the same play as the
last one, only no one from this team is backing up the throw to 1st. These next game clips are from the Little
League World Series from 2015, and I had to watch multiple teams play before finally seeing
a catcher backing up throws. The California catcher was doing it right. Yes the foul area is shallow, but there are
angles and corners that can deflect the ball just about any direction. Catchers should be there. Here is a clip is a perfect example of the
catcher being in place. The coach initially wants to send the runner,
but the moment he sees the catcher fielding the overthrow, he pulls the runner back to
first base. In this next clip, the exact same play and
the catcher is NOT in place. The runner easily makes it to 2nd base. It’s critical for the catcher to back up
this play most of all. Right fielders are not 3rd baseman. They are not as accustomed to fielding and
attempting to quickly throw out a runner the way the 3rd baseman and shortstop are, and
you’ll see these rare plays result in bad throws often.

11 thoughts on “How and when catchers should back up first base in baseball

  1. The little league World Series is awful. It does not prepare kids for middle school ball where the mound is 60 ft 6 in in stead of 46 and 90 foot bases instead of 60. Pitchers don't know how to hold runners and catchers don't have to throw out runners

  2. With regards to a situation with a runner at 2nd only. In this video, it suggests that the catcher remain at the plate on an infield ground ball. I think most catchers do this. However, I remember watching a College World Series game where one of the teams routinely had their catcher back-up 1st on infield grounders (even with a runner at 2nd!) as the pitcher seemed to be the one responsible for the plate. To me, this seemed smart because, if the throw got past the first baseman, there will likely be nobody there if the catcher doesn't back-up and the runner from 2nd could score. The catcher backing up 1st and the pitcher covering home could save a run if the ball gets past the first baseman because, by far, the catcher is the most effective back-up at 1st – not the 2nd baseman nor the right fielder.

  3. As the catcher, he is the on field commander. He sees the whole field every play. His back up role must be inherent and almost second nature (or done without thought).

  4. Ball hit ti left side with nobody on then left fielder backs up first cause of angle of throw and nothing else to do! Ball hit up middle or really to second baseball them left fielder is moving toward the hit ball and the angle of the throw is so the catcher is backup…same as when turning 2 cause throw is coming from second base! Seen few plays where ball gets by the second baseman and rolls to fence cause little league coach has right fielder drilled to BACK UP FIRST when any ball his hit! I still like to send the catcher with nobody on down to first in case of where first baseman tryd to scoop ball and deflects it to his left! If it's a wide throw and no glove is put on it then its deff angles down to right field and that's who should deff be there at fence to recover that one!

  5. I think that the catcher should backup and go as far as he can and let the pitcher cover home plate but that’s just my veiw

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