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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Productive Outs at the Plate

By Larry Cicchiello

Sometimes it's a little thing that helps win a ballgame. It's not always what makes the headlines in the newspapers or something that draws the most attention. "Productive outs" definitely fit into the category of little things that aren't so little at all.

I think it's a truly great at bat when an important run is on third base with less than two outs and the batter hits a very weak six-hopper to the second baseman and the much needed run scores. If the infield is playing fairly deep with a very important runner on third base, just focus on contact. If you can put the ball on the ground it's usually enough to get the run in. If it turns into a hit, that's better yet. The main objective is that you put the ball in play. You must make contact and not give the pitcher the all important strike out that he desperately needs.

Another productive out is when an important runner is on second base and is advanced to third base with a grounder on the right side of the infield with no outs. Productive outs are especially important to teams that play lots of close, low scoring ball games because they may very well have to "scratch and claw" to get runs.

To Be Clear On A Couple Of Things:

Hitters in the heart of the batting order. They very seldom should be looking to make productive outs. I didn't say never. I said very seldom. For example, with no outs, they should not be trying to advance the runner from second base to third base and give themselves up for the first out of the inning. That's the same as if they're saying, "here, someone else take the responsibility to knock in the run, not me." The better hitters should not give themselves up and should not leave it up to other hitters to drive in the runs.

When trailing by several runs. If your team is trailing by several runs late in the game and you ground out with no outs and have your runner go from second base to third base, there is nothing productive about that at all. The same holds true with a runner on third base with no outs or one out and you are trailing in the game by several runs. If you ground out and the run scores, there isn't anything productive about that at bat either. The other team got the out that they wanted.

Make sure productive outs are true productive outs and not counter productive outs!

Larry Cicchiello is the author of "Excellent Baseball Coaching: 30 Seconds Away." His very user friendly eBooks cover 320 topics on playing or coaching excellent baseball. ANY players, coaches or parents who want to help their child improve will be fully equipped! Some FREE tips are available at

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Hello Baseball Friend,
I welcome any comments or suggestions. If you have a question or a topic that you would like to read about, please leave a comment and I will try to address that topic as soon as I can. Good luck in the coming season!
Have a great day, Nick