This week we’ll continue to look at double play feeds around the diamond and focus on 6-4 feeds with this post. I’m going to again preface this post with the importance of being efficient and having a sense of urgency when feeding from the shortstop position. To piggy back on that, we need to again fight the urge to be in a hurry which often leads to recklessness and inefficient play. Remember what John Wooden said, “Be quick, but don’t hurry.”
The second point I’d like to reiterate from last weeks 3B feeds post is that feeds and scenarios discussed below are generalizations. The game is not played in a vacuum so the breakdowns are for instructional purposes and shouldn’t be taken as the gospel.
On to the feeds…
In today’s game, especially at the professional level, the shift could alter where the shortstop is positioned in a double play situation. All of the feeds discussed will be based on the traditional double play depth and position of the shortstop. In image A, we have our map of the different locations associated with different feeds. Keep in mind that this map is used to show the relationship between fielding location and the most common feeds used in that location. Use your natural instincts to:
- create your own map
- your map might have larger sections for certain feeds and smaller sections for others
- be an athlete
- choose which feed is appropriate in situations where the ball is on the fringe of one or 2 sections and/or outside of any given section
Let’s start closest to the bag and work our way out.
Green: Flip or Take it section
This is the easiest of the sections for successfully completing the double play due to its close proximity and momentum heading into to the bag. With this section being close to the bag, we tend to not feel rushed leading to more controlled and relaxed actions.
Take it yourself
If a double play is a pitcher’s best friend then the take it yourself double play is the middle infielder’s best friend. There comes a point where a feed to the second baseman becomes counterproductive. Making a feed as we get closer to the bag causes more problems than it’s worth. Instead of making the feed we need to take these to the bag ourselves. To complete these double plays:
- Field the ball in rhythm
- Take the ball to the bag
- Create rhythm between our feet and arm action
- Plant right foot
- Stride with left foot and step on bag
The other type of feed in the green section is the flip as seen in GIF A. This is used on balls that are too far for us to take it to the bag our self. To perform the flip feed:
- Field the ball in rhythm with left foot opened to 2B (toes point in that direction)
- Clear glove so not to block 2B vision of the ball
- Keep a firm wrist and underhand flip ball from the point where you received the ball (feed uphill)
- Generate power in the flip from your legs
- Follow flip
Common faults in the underhand flip include adding a shuffle toward 2B before we flip the ball. This takes up valuable time. Another common fault is using a big pendulum type of swing to flip the ball. Both of these faults tend to accompany one another. The need to use a long pendulum swing will lead to adding a shuffle before the feed. Think of driving the ball to 2B with the legs to to get rid of the unnecessary movement associated with both faults.
Yellow: Sit & Swivel section
On those routine to harder hit balls directly at us or within a step or two to the right we use the sit and swivel which is seen in GIF B. The sit doesn’t mean we sit back on the ball but it refers to staying low in our legs to deliver the feed. To perform the sit and swivel:
- Field the ball in rhythm with our left foot staggered back; opening our fielding stance to 2B
- Stay as low as your fielding posture OR drop/lower right knee toward the ground to establish a throwing posture (sit)
- Open your belt buckle to 2B (swivel)
- Feed uphill to 2B with a low to 3/4 arm slot depending on your posture
It’s important to note that some balls fielded in this yellow section can be turned into an underhand flip feed. In order to do this we must establish our momentum toward 2B before we field the ball. Doing so is the only way an underhand flip can be used effectively from this general location. If we can’t generate momentum before fielding the ball then the sit and swivel should be used. Momentum is generated by getting outside of the ball, playing thru it, and loading up our weight on the right foot in order to drive toward 2B for the flip.
The common faults while using the sit and swivel are similar to the faults associated with the underhand flip. Many times inexperienced shortstops will add a shuffle after fielding the ball or they’ll stand taller for the feed to 2B. Both faults take time and are inefficient movements that can be the difference in recording 2 outs or 0 outs.
Light Red: Swivel section
The swivel is used on ground balls hit to our right that we can just get in front of. Because we can just get in front of this type of ground ball our momentum is still heading to the right. We need to break this momentum and the swivel helps us do that. An example of the swivel is seen in GIF C. To complete the swivel we:
- Plant our right foot and field the ball with a firm right side to break momentum
- Maintain our forward leaning fielding posture
- Throw with a low/underneath arm slot
Using a firm right side to break our momentum takes the place of the “sit” in the sit and swivel. The firm right side is like our stride leg in hitting. Hitting with a firm stride leg gives our hips something to rotate into and around. The same goes for the swivel.
Often the mistake made using the swivel is finding that fine line between using it or choosing to use our next section, the backhand. As discussed in the Fielding Triangle post, any time we cross the mid line of our body to field the ball we should most likely use the backhand. However, if there’s one exception it could be in this situation using the swivel. You should give yourself a little leeway with that rule. In this situation I’d say the right shoulder should be that transition line between the swivel and backhand.
Deep Red: Backhand section
Backhands are used when we have to extend out to our right as seen in GIF D. On these ground balls we may have to range a little ways which could make it tough to turn a double play. This doesn’t change what we need to do to make a feed to 2B. It’s our job to deliver the ball to 2B and it’s the job of the second baseman to decide if they should try to turn it or just get the force out. To complete feeds in the backhand section:
- Field off of either foot
- Establish direction with our feet toward 2B
- Use appropriate arm slot to feed
Again, similar to some of our other feeds the most common mistake tends to be in our body height during the feed. No matter in which section we field the ball we need to remember to feed from the height in which we receive the ball. Receive it low, feed it from low. Receive it upright, feed it upright.
As mentioned above these sections are very general and represent the most common feeds used in those general areas. On the fringes of these sections or even outside of the sections is when our athleticism needs to take over. At the end of the play we need outs. If the ball doesn’t lend itself to one of the more traditional feeds improvise, be an athlete and get outs.