Baseball Cuts and Relays

Baseball Instruction video about the difference between baseball cuts and relays

(To help you visualize and follow along some of the topics and plays BFTGU offers a downloadable Field Chart.  BFTGU’s Baseball School – Field Chart)

Many people use these two terms interchangeably, but it does help to clearly define them for the kids.

A regular base hit to the outfield with runners on base will have the ball thrown to a cut man on the infield.  An extra base hit past the outfielders will have the ball thrown to a relay man who will make the throw back to the infield.

The relay people will always be the 2b and SS. We call these relay people tandem relay men because there are two of them, and they will only be 10-12 feet apart.

Important baseball cut rule:

The ball will be cut by the infielder in one of two possible situations—the ball is on time but off line, or the ball is not on time.

1. Baseball Cut Situation:

The base runner is on 1b, and there is a base hit anywhere in the outfield

The outfielder will throw the ball to 3b through the cut man. In this case the SS is always the cut.

If the ball is hit to right field the SS is positioned on the 3b side of 2b and in a direct line from the right fielder through 3b. It is the job of the third baseman to line up the SS. If the throw is going to beat the base runner going to 3b, but is off line, then the throw must be cut and redirected by the SS. However, if the throw is not in time, the SS also needs to cut the ball to keep the back runner from advancing. Again, it is important to note, the purpose of a cut man is to redirect a ball that is on time but off line, or to stop a throw that is not on time, and the SS is always the cut man.

2. Baseball Cut Situation:

The base runner is on 2b, and there is a base hit anywhere in the outfield

The first baseman is the cut man if the ball is hit to right field, center field and left center field.

However, on a ball hit at the left fielder or toward the left field line, the third baseman would be the cut. (For younger kids just learning, I would always have the 1b the cut. As soon as they can make the adjustment, then I would make the switch.)

When the 1b is the cut man on a ball hit to right or center, the 2b would go to 1b, the SS would go to second base and the 3b would be on third base. It is the job of the catcher to line of the 1b. The first baseman would be between the mound and the base on the home plate side.

The catcher communicates with the cut man by yelling “Left” or “Right.”  The cutman knows that if the catcher yells left, to take one step left, and then stop.  If the cutman is off more than one step, the catcher will yell left 2 for two steps to the left (and so forth.)

How is the ball hit to left field handled?

The other players on the field need to know who is doing what so all bases get covered.

The 1B always breaks in to the cut position but looks at the 3B. It is the responsibility of the 3B to make the decision if he will become the cut or go to cover 3b.

If the third baseman is going to cut, the 1b will stop and get back to 1b. If the 3b is not going to cut, then the 1b will do his best to assume the cut position. The middle infielders will look at the third baseman and react accordingly. If the 3b cuts, then the SS will go to 3b and the second baseman will go to 2b.

If the third baseman goes to cover 3b, the SS will go to 2b and the second baseman will go to 1b. The position of the cut man is about halfway between the pitcher’s mound and baseline. It is the job of the catcher to line up the cut man.

With multiple runners on and a base hit, we need to use a little common sense for the baseball cut positioning.

If the play starts with runners at 1b and 3b and there is a base hit to the outfield, the runner on 3b is going to score easily, and therefore the baseball cut should be the same as if there was a runner on 1b. If you have runners at 2b and 3b, then react as though there is a runner at 2b.

There are 2 interesting baseball cut situations.

The first one is there are base runners at 1b and 2b, and the baseball is hit to left field.

The third basemen would be the cut, SS to 3b and second baseman to 2b. The first baseman would break hard, reading the third basemen and then go back to 1b.

With base runners on 1st base and second base, and a baseball is hit anywhere but left, then we would have 2 cuts.

The first baseman would be cut the for throws to plate, the SS would be cuts for throws going to third base. The second baseman would not go to 1b, but would cover 2b.

Why? We don’t have enough fielders to cover all the bases, so the base that is the most dangerous would be the runner at 2b. If the bases were loaded the cuts would be exactly the same as runners on 1b and 2b.

Keep in mind that the other fielders all have jobs to do if they are not the cut. They should be on a base expecting the ball to be cut and thrown to the back base trying to catch an over aggressive base runner.  The outfielders have responsibilities as well and they are covered on the outfielder back up positioning page.

Baseball Relays

Baseball relays are used when the ball is hit past the outfielders and we send out our 2 middle infielders to relay the ball back into the infield.

No matter what the situation with base runners, we can plan for only 2 possibilities—nobody on or a man on first.

Runners on 2b or 3b in this situation will score without a play, so we don’t worry about them.

With no base runners on and a ball hit to the wall, we know the runner will have at least a double.  If the ball is hit to center or left the SS goes out and the second baseman will trail him by about 12 feet. The outfielder will relay the ball back to the SS.

If the throw from the outfielder is low or too high, the SS will let the ball go to the second baseman for an easier handle. The infielder who catches the ball will make a throw to either 3b or home depending on the runner. The 1b will trail the batter runner into 2b and position himself on the third base side. If the batter runner goes to far to 3b and decides to come back to 2b the relay man could throw behind the runner to the first baseman covering 2b.

If the play starts with a base runner on 1b, then we assume our first play would be on that runner trying to score. The middle infielders go out and assume relay positions, the first baseman would become a cut man being lined up by the catcher in line with the ball in the outfield, thru the relay men to home. The first basemen then communicates and lines up the middle infielders.

The outfielder not in the play would hustle in and cover 2b to keep the batter runner from going to 3b and then trying to come back to 2b.

The pitcher backs up either 3b (nobody on), or goes half way between 3b and home with a runner on 1b. The pitcher would then see where the relay throw is going and hustle to back up that throw. The pitcher should be back as far as he can get when he backs up.

Note—on extra base hits to right field the 2b is the front man and the SS would be the trailer about 12 feet behind the second baseman. It is always the job of the trailer to be the eyes and brains of the front guy constantly looking back at runner and then finding ball and determining where the front guy should be throwing the ball. The trailer should be constantly talking to the front man.

Don’t forget to check out the rest of the baseball school before you leave!  There are great articles on hitting, bunt defense, pfp, run downs and more.

Any additional baseball cuts and relay questions?  Contact us with your baseball questions.