NVTBL is launching a new EDU blog with weekly messages every Monday focusing on educating coaches, parents and players on various baseball topics.
This week’s “Monday Message” comes from Mike Gallagher, head coach at Robinson High School and member of NVTBL’s EDU Pro Advisory Committee. Gallagher also co-founded the Metro Baseball Academy in Lorton.
Gallagher has long ties to Northern Virginia baseball, growing up in the area and developing into an All-Conference player at Shenandoah University. His prior head coaching roles include Hayfield High School, where he set a program record with 17 wins in 2006, and Bishop Ireton, where he led the Cardinals to their first conference title game in 2008.
Gallagher: “Hitting your cutoff man and keeping force outs in play is how you stay away from big innings.”
There may not be a better fundamental play for an outfielder to make than hitting his cutoff man. More often than not it requires a quick, accurate throw rather than a long-distant, high-velocity throw and can go a long way when trying to limit runs in an inning.
When an outfielder hits the cutoff man, it not only keeps runners from advancing any further but keeps the double-play in order, allowing your pitcher to get out of the inning with just one more pitch. Keeping force plays and double-plays in play allow teams to prevent big innings and can keep teams in games where they may feel they are getting outplayed.
It can also put additional pressure on the third base coach to send or hold a runner. The base coach will usually start to slow the runners up once the throw from the outfield is cutoff. When a throw from the outfield is quickly cutoff, it gives the base coach less time to make a tough judgment call on if to send the runner or not. When the cutoff man is missed or the throw is airmailed into the infield, every coach knows there is only one sign to give: the big ol’ windmill to send the runner home.
The only scenario where an outfielder should not hit the cutoff man is with the game on the line and in a situation where you cannot let a run score. In that case, let it fly and try to gun down the winning run at the plate. Otherwise, all throws from the outfielder should be cutoff. Again, the goal is to limit the damage by keeping a single from becoming a double or preventing a runner from going first to third or second to home.
Outfielders hitting their cutoff man might be the number one most underrated play in baseball and trust me, pitchers will appreciate it.