Holding runners is a lot more than stopping the stolen base. It’s also about keeping base runners off your middle infielders on double plays. It’s about keeping runners from going 1st to 3rd on base hits. It’s about stopping the delay steal & stopping runners from getting good jumps on balls in the dirt. Finally, it’s about having a chance to get the force out at 2nd base on firmly bunted balls. This also affects runners on 3rd base on contact plays & short wild pitches/passed balls, and also at 2nd base on base hits, attempted steals, balls in the dirt & bunt plays.
The key is a strike throwing & stuff delivery with a break time of 1.2 seconds or better. The industry standard is 1.3, but experiences shows us that the 1.3 often deteriorates into 1.35-1.37, which often becomes 1.5 on off speed pitches which gives you virtually no chance to stop a base stealer from stealing 2nd base. Add that 1.5 seconds to 2.00 seconds (average catcher glove to glove time on a throw to 2nd) & 1/10th of a second for the tag on an accurate throw & you get a total time of 3.60 seconds. An average runner with a 12-foot lead gets to 2nd base in 3.35 seconds. That average runner will run 2.30 feet in 1/10th of a second. If you are 1.5 vs. 1.2 seconds, it’s like taking that normal 12-foot primary lead & making it 19 feet.
Overall, 48% of your pitches are going to be made out of the stretch, and in game deciding situations, almost one half will be off speed pitches. It is critical to have a “load & go” stretch delivery that is 1.2 seconds or better and is your best strike throwing & stuff delivery because most of your big pitches in the game are going to be made out of the stretch. I recommend developing your stretch delivery first & your windup delivery off of the stretch delivery. We’ll detail the mechanics of that 1.2 “load & go” in a later blog.
Here is a video from a presentation on Holding Runners from Ron Wolforth’s Pitching Coaches Bootcamp: