There’s a lot more to base stealing than speed and flashy gloves. Just ask Philadelphia Phillies shortstop Jimmy Rollins. Here, the 2007 National League MVP shares his tips for successful stealing.
For Rollins, preparing to steal a base starts in the clubhouse before games, where he evaluates the opposing pitcher’s habits. “I’m studying his pick-off moves. I’m studying when he goes to first, any habits that he has,” Rollins says.
Rollins also analyzes the speed and accuracy of the opposing catcher’s throws to second base, because that allows him to calculate the amount of time he’ll have to get to the base. “It happens so quickly,” he says. “You get three [seconds] from the time you take off, [so] your reaction time has to be good.”
Once he finally gets on base, Rollins focuses on the pitcher so he can get a good jump before the pitcher makes a move. “No runner is ever good enough to break as soon as he makes his first movement,” he says. “It’s usually…a little less then half a second.”
Rollins’ off- and on-field tactics have allowed him to rip off more than 250 bases during his eight-year MLB career. In addition to studying opposing pitchers and catchers, Rollins offers the following base stealing dos and don’ts:
• Do pay attention to the game, and know when a situation calls for a stolen base
• Do take a few extra steps on your lead off to get a better jump on the ball once you’ve picked up on the pitcher’s tendencies
• Don’t steal if the pitcher has a quick throw to home and the catcher has a fast and accurate throw to second