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Baseball Strategy:Hit and Run

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The bottom line is a hit and run is very rarely a play that increases a team's run production. More often than not, it puts two offensive players in a compromising position: The hitter, who is forced to expand his strike zone in an attempt to make contact, and the runner, who is often thrown out at second if the hitter cannot make contact with the ball, because he did not take a traditional approach to stealing the base (or, because he's not fast enough to steal a base).

No matter what guys like Joe Morgan or Tony LaRussa try to tell you, there are few if any exceptions. But, if the hit and run actually works, you'll be in for a managerial love-fest from whoever's in the booth because things like hit-and-runs exist only to convince the viewer that managers actually play a significant role in the outcome of a game.

Does the Hit-and-Run spark big innings?

(From my comment on this article:)

"Okay, quick, what's the MLB success rate on hit-and-run plays? 35-40%? Let's call it 37.5%. So on 37.5% of the instances a hit-and-run was called with a runner on first, the baserunner advanced and no double play occurred. That means on 62.5% of plays, either a fielder's choice resulted (no advancement) or they got doubled off. Let's say the hit-and-run cuts the expected DP% in half, so guys get doubled off only 6.5% of the time, and a FC occurs 56% of the time. Okay, so what about the advancement scenarios? Let's say managers only hit-and-run with batters who have a .285 average or better, so the odds that the runner advanced and the batter got on with a hit is 28.5%. That means the other 9 percent of successes resulted in a runner on second, but also in an out. Oh, and on what fraction of the 28.5% do runners take third base? About 33% of the times a hit lands in the outfield, so we'll say 9.4% of the time. So, to recap:

Hit-and-run results
Double Play	 6.5%
No DP, no Adv.	56.0%
Advancement+out	 9.0%
Hit + Adv.	19.1%
Took third	 9.4%

If our manager is calling the hit-and-run with no outs and a runner on first, we can re-write this as:

Hit-and-run results
0 on, 2 out	 6.5%
1B, 1 out	56.0%
2B, 1 out	 9.0%
2B & 1B, 0 out	19.1%
3B & 1B, 0 out	 9.4%

Almost there... Now, you want to know whether or not the hit-and-run is good for big innings (vs. non-intervention by the manager). At the start of an inning, the probability of scoring 2 or more runs is 13.8%. With nobody out and a man on first (our situation before the manager hits and runs), it's 26.1%. Let's assign probabilities of big (2+ run) innings to each of our scenarios after the hit-and-run:

Probability of 2+ runs
0 on, 2 out	 2.5%
1B, 1 out	16.1%
2B, 1 out	17.5%
2B & 1B, 0 out	42.1%
3B & 1B, 0 out	45.9%

Now we can combine the frequency of getting to each state from our hit-and-run (chart 1) with the probability of a big inning once we get to each state by multiplying the two values and adding. The resultant probability of a big inning from our hit-and-run: 23.1%. Remember, if we did nothing it would be 26.1%. It's close enough that it would make sense in late innings (or even if your batter was better than .285), but on average it seems to lower our chances of a big inning."

Another thing to consider is the runner on first and the hitter at the plate. While a manager can easily tell a hitter to hit the ball on the ground as hard as he can, the hitter, unless he's an absolutely team-oriented player, might step to the plate thinking about his own ego, etc, and look at the 'hit-and-run pitch' or try to hit a fly ball. The right hitter and the right baserunner must be used. While the baserunner doesn't have to run fearlessly into traffic as he has to on a suicide squeeze, he has to be willing to potentially get thrown out if the hitter can't make contact with the ball. So in addition to being a ground-ball hitter, the hitter should also be ready to take part in a team-style play that, while potentially resulting in a double play or a single out at first, has the potential to be highly beneficial. The hitter must also not be afraid to swing at a pitch out of the zone- now is not the time to be picky, since there could be a sitting duck waiting to be thrown out at second. The runner can't be iceberg slow, but speed to the tune of 15-20 SBs a year will be fine for the purpose.

The best counts for hit-and-run are 3-0 and 3-1, when a pitcher is forced to throw a strike or else walk the batter, in which case the runner taking off from first can just jog to second.

This play is also a good idea against pitchers known for throwing first-pitch strikes to 9 out of 10 hitters. If a hitter goes up to the plate knowing he'll take the first pitch, and so he really digs in with an 0-1 hole. That is why the play is a good idea for the first pitch of an AB: the pitcher might throw a get-me-over pitch, such as a fastball or curve, that hitters usually look at. This might be the best pitch in the at-bat, especially since the hitter is already at a disadvantage on an 0-1 count.

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Use it if you have a contact hitter and a good runner....This will get the infielders moving and can find a hole in the infield and allow the runner to get to 3rd. This is what we call "making something happen" if your offense in in a struggle, if your offense is struggling to score runs then this is 1 way to help force the issure t

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