1. DON’T walk batters with 2 outs and nobody on.
- Over 60% of balls put in play turn into outs. Make them earn it!
- “I became a good pitcher when I stopped trying to make them miss the ball and started trying to make them hit it.” Sandy Koufax
2. Hang a shutout inning on the opposing team after your team takes the lead
- It’s always discouraging for a team to score go ahead runs, only to give them right back the very next half inning. Get that killer instinct on the mound. Do all you can do to not let down once your team goes ahead.
3. Take pride in blocking the ball!
- “If I can touch it, I will at the very least keep it close.” That should be your mentality.
4. Backing up first base on a ground ball with nobody on base
- It’s one of the little things that scouts notice and teams appreciate. Keeping a runner at first after an errant throw can make all the difference in a close game.
5. Diving to keep a groundball in the infield with a runner on 2nd
- If there is ANY chance you can knock the ball down – lay out! Take pride in trying to get to EVERYTHING on the ground with a runner on 2nd in order to keep him from scoring.
6. Catch everything! Scooping balls out of the dirt should be second nature to everyone, not just 1st basemen.
- All infielders should practice scooping to the point where they can do it without thinking. If you’re not good at it – practice!
7. Hit the cutoff man to prevent the opposing team from taking the extra base.
- Of course there are do or die moments in some games when the outfielder should just ignore the cutoff man and throw all the way home, but these situations are few and far between. Keep the opposing team from taking extra bases by keeping your throws low.
8. Making the extra effort to cut off balls in the gap instead of letting them get to the wall.
- Turning a double into a single or stopping a runner from scoring from first can be huge.
9. Be able to bunt
- Whether it’s a squeeze, a straight sacrifice, or a push/drag bunt to move the runner to 3rd: being able to bunt when called upon makes your team better. Being a good bunter is part technique and part having the balls to just stay in there and get it down. It’s a mentality.
10. Driving in a runner at 3rd with less than 2 outs
- Know the situation and how the defense is playing. If the infield is playing in, look for a ball you can drive. If the infield is playing back and conceding the run, look for a ball you can hit hard on the ground. Hear what Don Mattingly has to say on situational hitting.
11. Know where the outfielders are playing when you’re on base
- This can make all the difference by not hesitating when taking the extra base or scoring on a base hit. You should check where the outfield is playing every time a new batter comes up.
12. Stretching a single into a double with 2 outs and nobody on.
- With 2 outs and nobody on, your job is to get in scoring position by any means necessary. If an outfielder would have to make a good throw to get you out – GO! MAKE HIM MAKE THE PERFECT THROW, especially at the high school level.
On deck Circle
13. Be alert on the on deck circle with men on base
- Be ready when you need to tell a teammate where to slide if there’s a play at the plate.
From the Bench
14. Always be into the game and ready to step in, when the coach calls your number.
- Anticipate when you might be called upon in games where you don’t start. Always be into what’s happening, even if you’re watching from the dugout. Don’t be surprised, be ready.
This is by no means an all inclusive list. What are some other non-sexy ways to help your team win?