Runner on Third, Less than Two
An overlooked offensive scenario than has a direct impact on the outcome of games is one that is extremely under coached at most levels of baseball. When it comes to scoring a runner from third base with less than two outs it is important to coach an approach at the plate to your hitters. We teach hitters to simplify their approach at the plate in this run-scoring situation. Below are some coaching points when working situations with your hitters.
The simplest way we can put it to hitters is to work the middle of the field. We want them to focus on getting the ball in play, hitting it hard from the shortstop to the second baseman. With this approach, it keeps them locked in to sitting back on the ball and not worrying about doing too much to score the run. A lot of hitters focus on getting a hit to score that runner from third, but a simplified approach helps them think more about quality contact instead of result.
We hear all the time with a runner on third with less than two outs to get something in the air to the outfield to score the run. While a ball hit to the outfield in the air will most likely score the runner, there is a lot of room for error with this specific approach. If a hitter is looking to lift the ball to get it to the outfield, it requires them to think about hitting the bottom third of the ball to get it in the air. If the swing is a bit off to the bottom side of the ball, a lot of times the result is a ball hit in the air in the infield which has zero chance of scoring that runner. Instead, we want hitters to focus on hitting the top/middle of the ball. There is a lot more ball to work with focusing on hitting the top/middle of the ball. It also actually results in more hits as opposed to thinking of lifting the ball.
Some coach hitters to hit the ball on the ground to the second baseman. While we do buy into this idea slightly, we want a greater part of the field for my hitters to work with. Also some right-handed hitters struggle sitting back long enough to hit the ball the other way with consistency. With slightly opening up the field for the hitters, it allows for greater opportunity for them to get the job done.
Overall, with a runner on third and less than two outs, the name of the game is getting the ball in play. Strikeouts are absolutely deadly in these situations. Remind hitters to be aggressive and hunt fastballs early in the count with this scenario. Emphasize contact with your players and coach them to think about ball in play, preferably on the ground. Executing in these situations has a tremendous impact on the outcomes of games and a simplified approach should help players achieve that success.