From BR Bullpen

The strategy for the game of baseball is just like the strategy in every sport, you want to win, by scoring more points (in this case runs) than your opponent. The traditional setup for a major league baseball game is simple: the defense sends nine players out to the field. The players and positions consist of:

  • One pitcher, who stands on the mound in the center of the infield
  • One catcher, who crouches behind home plate
  • Four infielders: 1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, shortstop
  • Three outfielders: right field, left field, center field

The game starts with the home team sending its defense out to the field first.

Their are different strategies that the manager will call for, depending on the type of hitter at bat. Some forms of this strategy are shifting the fielders. For example, if there is a right-handed hitter who consistently pulls the ball to left field, the manager may call for a shift in his infield or outfield for everyone to move towards right field or third base.

A different type of strategy is calling for the hitting team to executive specific plays to advance a baserunner, such as the sacrifice bunt, stolen base or hit-and-run, or simply asking for a hitter to do everything to advance the runner through at "productive out". Strategies of this type are often called "small ball" tactics, as they increase the probability of scoring one run, but lower those of scoring more, thus being more suited for a low-scoring game (or when one run will be enough to win the game). There are also opposite "big inning" strategies, such as having batters take pitches, work the count for a possible base on balls and look for a pitch they can hit with power.

On the pitching side, strategy involves choices about the composition of the starting rotation and the usage of relief pitchers, as well as tactical move such as calling for a pick-off, a pitch-out or an intentional walk, or simply pitching around a batter.

Further Reading[edit]

  • Thomas Boswell: "The Big Bang Theory and Other Secrets of the Game", in How Life Imitates the World Series, Penguin Books, New York, NY, 1982, pp. 69-78.
  • Bill Felber: The Book on the Book, St. Martin's Press, New York, NY, 2005.
  • Robert K. Fitts: "The Evolution of Japanese Baseball Strategy", in The Baseball Research Journal, Number 36 (2007), SABR, Cleveland, OH, pp. 61-67.
  • David P. Gerard: Baseball GPA: A New Statistical Approach to Performance and Strategy, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2013. ISBN 978-0-7864-7256-7
  • Keith Law: The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves, William Morrow, New York, NY, 2020. ISBN 978-0062942722
  • Pete Palmer: "Relief Pitching Strategy: Past, Present, and Future?", Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 47, Nr. 1 (spring 2018), pp. 45-52.
  • Christopher J. Phillips: Scouting and Scoring: How We Know What We Know About Baseball, Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ, 2019. ISBN 9780691180212
  • James D. Szalontai: Small Ball in the Big Leagues: A History of Stealing, Bunting, Walking and Otherwise Scratching for Runs, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2010.
  • Tom Tango, Mitchel Lichtman and Andrew Dolphin: The Book: Playing the Percentages in Baseball, TMA Press, NJ, 2006.