Is Hit and Run in Baseball A Smart Play? Find Out Yourself

John Means

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Hit and Run In Baseball

Everyone is familiar with hit and runs on roads. But we, the baseball fans know what it means in baseball. 

A hit and run in baseball happens when a baserunner attempts to steal the base at once the batter hits the ball.  The runner is so in a rush and he starts to run before the baseball is even hit. In case the ball isn’t hit, then the runner is technically trying to steal the base. 

Does hit and run help you score more runs? If yes, how and when is the best time to apply the strategy? 

Let’s take a deeper look today into the realm of baseball players’ trick and strategy – the hit and run in baseball. 

What is Hit and Run In Baseball? 

In baseball, a hit and run is a highly risky offensive strategy to replace the defending infielders out of position for an attempted base hit. It involves the stolen base attempt and can be highly beneficial too. 

The strategy mostly depends on the positions of the infield defensive players. The first and third baseman generally take positions near the foul lines, set slightly back to steal more time and receive the hit balls. 

However, the attempt may go in vain because the first baseman often stands closer to the base to avoid steals. In addition to that, this kind of positioning often results in a wider gap between the second and the first baseman. 

The hit and run strategy bears some risk that can be dangerous for the play. Mark that, the ball shouldn’t hit in the air or on a line drive.
In case the ball is in the air or on a line drive, the runner must return to the original base before it is caught. The runner must track the ball to prevent getting doubled up.
Other than this, the trick plays off just fine. 

Difference Between the Normal Gameplay Position and the Hit and Run Position? 

Here’s the thing, the hit and run strategy always involves a stolen base attempt. Mark that the baseball gameplay position is entirely different for this play.
The baserunner from the first base will start to run toward the second base. The infielders will then get aware and they will start to move toward that base to tag the runner.
However, the infielders get out of position for the hit ball leaving a wide opening between the first-second and second-third base. This is where the hit and run gets into play.
By leveraging this difference, the baserunner attempts to steal the base immediately after the pitch is thrown. The batter also tries to hit the ball targeting one of the resulting gaps to fail the attempt. 

In regular play, one infielder runs toward the ball while the other one runs toward the empty base as soon as the ball is thrown into the infield. It allows them an easy chance of getting out with the player who is covering the base.

For example, imagine gameplay, when the ball is hit towards the second baseman. He will start to run after the ball while the shortstop will target the empty second base for an out. 

A Brief History of Hit and Run in Baseball

Baseball, itself is a traditional game that dates back to 1839. The hit and run became an integral of baseball in the early 19th century. 

Ned Hanlon, known as the father of The Father of Modern Baseball, introduced the hit and run strategy. It was back in 1894, at the beginning of the National League season.

Not exactly Hanlon but his team should be credited to develop this tactic including several others like – Spring Training. Back then, Hanlol was the manager of the Baltimore Orioles

The hit and run was introduced as part of Inside Baseball – a strategy to keep the ball in the infield. It became essential to counteract pitchers by putting pressure on the defense and creating opportunities for base runners.

Though the strategy earned some biased opinions, it was later deemed universal and slowly became a calculated strategy. 

What Happens When Hit and Run Attempt Fails? 

As mentioned earlier, hit and run can become dangerous while execution. There remains a catch when the batter fails to contact the ball and this leaves the runner vulnerable to being thrown out at second base resulting in a caught stealing.
The defense can, however, use the pitchout to improve their chances of success.
Thus, when the runner decides to move on with a failed hit and run attempt, he is more likely to be thrown out from the game by the umpire. 

However, outcomes are not the same with straight stealing of the second base. Because, here the runner is not waiting on the right pitch to steal on. He waits a little bit longer at the original base and lets the deception cook a while longer.  

Keep in mind that, this strategy will turn out to be successful mostly when you have a batter who doesn’t frequently swing and miss. Plus, a runner who is fast enough to get the second base even if the batter swings and misses. 

The Right Time to Hit And Run? 

The Right Time to Hit And Run? 


Before you reach the conclusion and assume the right time for hit and run, there are a few rules you should be concerned of: 

  • Don’t hit and run on a 2-strike count. 
  • You should be aware of aggressive pitchers who are unpredictable in the field. 
  • Be aware of hitters who swing and miss a lot with poor plate discipline. 

These are genuine guidelines every player should keep in mind if they want to execute the hit and run strategy. The next thing is, when is the best time to apply the hit and run? 

The answer lies in the coach. Yes! The right time to use this play depends on the coach from indifferent teams. Many coaches like it early in the game while others prefer to wait till the last inning to execute the strategy. Things may change abruptly with a fast runner on base. 

Furthermore, with a skilled hitter on the plate, this strategy is questionable. This is because hit and run requires a hitter to swing at a poor pitch. 

Why engage the best hitters to poor pitch? You should preserve the qualified hitters for a good pitch.  

A summary of what we just described above is,

  1. With a fast hitter, wait for counts like 1-0, 1-1, or 2-1.  
  2. Move with a pitcher who delivers lots of strikes. 
  3. Plus, hitters who hardly miss a sign and have proper control of the bat. 
  4. In the end, rely on the coach to get the final decision on the execution of the strategy. 

Possible Outcome of Hit and Run in Baseball

Reading through all that, what’s the point if we yet don’t know the results of this play? Here is a good and bad scenario to possibly describe what lies ahead of hit and run in baseball.  

Intended Outcomes

  1. Runners reach the first and third base with the hit and run executed as expected; leading to 0 outs. 
  2. Runners go advance with one of them reaching on the second base. This leads to one out. 
  3. Double play is avoided. The runner steals the base while the ball is in play. 

Unintended Outcomes

Things can often go wrong and we can’t control what happens and what won’t. Here are a few case scenarios of unintended outcomes in the play, 

  1. The hitter gets a hit to another part of the field. 
  2. The hitter swings and miss while the runner steals safely. 
  3. The hitter picks up the ball but didn’t do what was he supposed to do. 

Events like these all lead to unexpected outcomes. The umpire decides the ultimate fate of the hit and run strategy applied here.  

Disastrous Outcomes 

This is the part of which you and your team should be aware of. Not often, but sometimes poorly batted balls can lead to these outcomes. 

  1. The ball is in the play but the runner doesn’t advance. Resulting in one out, the runner stays on first base. 
  2. Both bases remain empty. Batter swings and misses. In this case, the runner will be thrown out; leading to one out. 
  3. Bases are empty. The hitter hits a fly ball or a liner. In situations, like this, the runner will be doubled off with two outs in the field. 

Although it is very unlikely for the runners to not advance, rare events like this might happen due to the high negligence of the runners; leading to the runner’s out. 

Pros and Cons of Hit and Runs

Let’s explore both sides of hit and run in baseball. We will start with the positives at first: 


  • Often appreciated for an effortless single. 
  • Even possible for the slow runners to reach third base. 
  • Hitters of different skillset get the opportunity to swing.  
  • Hit and run can be a successful and humble act for pitchers and defense. 
  • This strategy can often prevent a ground ball to become a double play. 
  • The baserunner can advance to two bases instead of one. 
  • With both players playing their roles perfectly, you can drive out the best result out of hit and run. 
  • Hit and run increases the likelihood of advancing the base runner to a scoring position. 


  • When the pitch is not in the right direction, you might go through hell to execute this play. 
  • With bad pitches in play, you might just waste a good hitter for nothing. 
  • Planning doesn’t always work with hit and run. Let’s say, you advise your hitter to bat the ball on the right side with a pitch where he could have had more bases. 
  • Shifting between poor pitch and good pitch may become disappointing and demoralizing for the hitters. 
  • Since batter and runners are related when the batter misses, you lose a runner too. 
  • Both hitter and runner need to be well informed by the coach. Miscommunication can often lead to disaster. 
  • If the pitcher notices the base runner’s attempt to steal the catcher has a better chance of throwing out the base runner at the next base. 
  • Fly balls and pop-ups may often result in double plays. 
  • Line drives are also guaranteed double plays in the hit and run. 
  • Being caught stealing will result in an out and end the offensive threat.

The Do(s) and Don’t(s) of Hit and Run

You need to ensure a few things before applying the strategy in the field. The two most crucial Do(s) of hit and run in baseball are: 

  • You should hit the ball on the ground at the time of executing a hit and run. 
  • Must track the ball; figure out where it is hit as a baserunner during a hit and run. 

While reading more about what you shouldn’t do during a hit and run, we figured out these few things. Take a look: 

  • Being a batter, don’t hit the ball in the air. Don’t have a fly ball on purpose. 
  • Don’t keep running aimlessly without knowing where the ball is hit. 
  • Don’t decide in haste whether to run or return. Figure out where the ball is and then decide. 

Is Hit and Run a Smart Play?

We are at the end of our guide. What to expect at this point? 

We believe hit and run can be a brilliant call when used right. The pitch may end up anywhere in the wide location. Thus, it is advised to follow the coach and bring out the successful outcome of this strategy. 

However, most baseball teams still don’t use this strategy due to its high risk with the possibility of a disaster. But when executed correctly – with the ball hitting on the ground or a line gap in the outfield, things will turn out perfect for your team. 

However, if you are not confident enough to apply the strategy with your hitter and runner, DON’T! It needs professionals to govern the success of this strategy and eliminate the potential risk of hit and run in baseball.

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John Means

John Means is a professional baseball player who has played in the major leagues for the Kansas City Royals and the Oakland Athletics. He made his major league debut with the Royals in 2009. He was traded to the Athletics in 2012. Baseball is his favorite sport. His passion about the game is evident in his play. Now he write blogs about baseball and other things whenever he has some free time. LinkedIn

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