Baseball The Baserunner

What is a baserunner? What are his goals during a game? Get ready to learn about the baserunner in baseball.


We've already learned about batting and when a team is at-bat (on offense). When a batter makes contact with a pitched baseball, he becomes a batter-runner.

Baseball Batter Transitions

In this tutorial, we will learn what happens when the batter-runner gets safe on-base and becomes a baserunner.


A batter becomes a baserunner (also called runner) when he safely reaches a base. Once he safely occupies a base, he is considered to be on-base, and his primary goal is to reach home plate to score.

Baseball Baserunner


Baserunners must follow specific rules when running the bases. They must run counterclockwise, from first base to second base to third base and finally to home plate.

The Circuit of Bases

As they are advancing bases, they must touch each base in that order; they cannot skip a base or run past a base without touching it. Additionally, there can only be one baserunner occupying each base. Runners are forced to advance to the next base if a runner behind them is trying to advance to their current base.

Baseball Advance

The Base Path (Natural Running Arc)

A base path is created on the field when a fielder is trying to tag a runner out.

REMEMBER: You cannot actually see the base paths on the field.

Baserunners may not stray too far from the base path when running; for example, a runner cannot run into the outfield on his way from first to second base. He must stay a certain distance within the base path. We will learn more about this rule later in this chapter.

Baseball Running Arc

Running Lane

The running lane is a three-foot (3ft) wide lane that begins halfway between home plate and first base, and ends at first base. When a batter-runner is advancing to first base, he must run within that lane, or else he may be called out on interference. However, he may step out of the lane when he is within vicinity of the base, if stepping out will allow him to reach the base. This rule is sometimes only enforced under the umpire's discretion.

Baseball Running Lane


Overrunning is a tactic used by batter-runners when trying to reach first base. Often, if a Baseball is not hit hard, the batter is only concerned with reaching first base -- he can worry about second base and third base later.

Baseball Overrun

Therefore, his running path is straight to first base. Since it is hard to stop exactly at first base when sprinting, batter-runners will often let their momentum carry through, and end up running past first base. In this process, if he touches first base before an infielder can tag or throw him out, he is safe. However, he must return to first base immediately after overrunning it, or he may be called out.

REMEMBER: Overrunning is only allowed for batter-runners going to first base.

Man on First, Man on Second, Man on Third

If a runner is occupying a base, the situation is referred to as there being a man on the base he is occupying.

Man on Second

For example, if a runner is occupying second base, you might say, There is a man on second. The phrase is only used to describe the situation, not the baserunner himself. For example, if a baserunner is on second base, you would not say, He is a man on second.

Baseball Man on Second

Runners in Scoring Position

If there are baserunner(s) on second base, third base, or both, that is considered a situation where there are runners in scoring position (RISP). Second base and third base are considered scoring position because it usually only takes a single being hit to drive them to home plate.

Baseball Scoring Position


A rundown, sometimes called a pickle, is when a baserunner is stranded between two (2) unoccupied bases, with a fielder on either side of him having the baseball. This sometimes happens when a batter-runner overestimates which base he can get to safely before the infielders get the baseball. As the runner tries to reach one of the bases he is stuck between, two (2) infielders will surround him, and toss the baseball to each other depending on which direction the runner is going. Often, the runner will switch directions with the baseball, or try to run past the fielder to avoid being tagged out.

Around the Horn

What happens when there are no baserunners at all? Sometimes, if the batter is put out and there are no baserunners, the infielders will throw the baseball to each other in order to keep their arms loose and warm between inactive plays.

If the batter struck out, the throwing around the horn will begin with the catcher, who usually throws it to the third baseman, who will throw it to another infielder, and it will continue for each infielder until the baseball is returned to the pitcher. If the runner was thrown out at first base, the throwing will begin with the first baseman in a similar fashion. This is only done when there are less than two (2) outs; once the third out has been made, all the fielders will simply run back to the dugout.

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