On a dead ball, whether the runner is sent back to the original base (like on a foul ball) or is granted the next base, there is no steal attempt (as on a hit batsman). When the ball is alive (as in a walk), the runner may attempt to steal beyond the base provided. If the defensive player does not pursue immediately, then the batter is awarded another plate appearance.
In modern baseball, when a batter hits into a force out situation, the batter can either take first base (if the pitcher is not charged with a balk) or stay at home (if he is). If the batter stays at home, a new batter will be summoned by the umpire. This process of changing over batters is called a switch-off.
If a runner steals while another runner is advancing towards second base on a double play groundout, then the baserunner who stole first is eliminated from further action and cannot advance toward any further bases. However, if after the double play is completed both runners continue to advance toward third base, then the man who reached first can now go to third, while the other runner remains at second. In this case, the man at first would not be able to return to first because it has been claimed by a third baseman, but he could possibly advance to third later in the game if someone else is put out at second (or even earlier in the game if the manager wants to use him for offensive purposes).
A "dead" or foul ball cannot be used to steal a base. Overthrown or passed balls may be taken as long as they are deemed "live." The base ahead of you must be empty (unless the runner ahead of you also attempts to steal the base in front of them; this is known as a double steal).
If the ball hits the ground in an area that isn't manned by fielders, that's live ball territory. Any player who is not actively playing can enter the field of play at any time during an active game. If a baserunner reaches first base while a ball is in play, there will be a confrontation between the catcher and any fielder who tries to tag him out. If the catcher wins this battle, then he will have prevented the batter from reaching first base. If the batter manages to get past the catcher, then he has become a home run threat and should be given room to do so.
In practice, only about one in every eight balls hit into the stands results in a stolen base. This is because most batters do not try to steal second base - they either go straight for third or stay put at second hoping for a triple.
However, if a batter does attempt to score while a ball is still in play, then it is possible to steal bases even if the defense is not fooled. In fact, this type of stealing is very common when no more than two outs are made during an inning.
The rule on stolen bases stipulates that: Advances credited to another play are not considered steal attempts. On a wild pitch or a passed ball, for example, the official scorer must determine whether the runner advanced to the next base before the pitch got away. If he did not, then it is not a legal steal attempt.
In other words, yes you can steal a base before a pitch. But only if the batter does not advance to the next base otherwise you will be called out.
A baserunner may begin to run as soon as the pitcher takes his position in front of the plate and does not throw the ball. He may not stop running until he reaches any base other than home plate. However, if the catcher catches the ball with one hand and turns to tag the runner with the other, then it is a dead ball and the runner has to return to first base.
Stealing a base before the pitcher delivers the ball is illegal but this violation usually results in a warning from the umpire. If the offender continues to try to steal after being warned, then he will be called out.
In fact, during World War II, when baseball players were needed on the battlefield, scouts found young men who had illegally stolen bases in order to make the game more exciting.
The batter-runner is granted first base since the ball is dead. The fact that the runner made contact with the base when hit by the batted ball has no influence on the outcome of the play. (The runner is an exception if he is struck by an infield fly while on base.)
In conclusion, a baseball is considered "dead" if it is hit so that it cannot be returned to play; however, if it hits a player in any way except at a distance where it cannot be caught, it is live and should be returned to the field. A batted ball that does not reach a fielder is called a strikeout or foul out depending on whether it was caught or not. A ball that is hit into some type of defensive playing area but not beyond it is a ground rule double.
A dead ball can only be called if the ball is spotted in the outfield or along the line. If it isn't seen immediately, then it's considered alive until it becomes dead. For example, if a ball is hit into the stands behind home plate and not captured by an outfielder or umpire, then it's considered alive and should be retrieved by the home team. However, if a ball is hit into the stands over the left field wall and not captured by an outfielder, then it's considered dead and can be pursued by the batting team as a result of an error on defense allowing them to advance one base.
The runner does not earn credit for a stolen base if the pitch is a wild pitch (WP) or a passed ball (PB). Exception: If the runner was sprinting on the pitch, he gets the benefit of the doubt and is credited with the steal.
Stealing on a Foul Tip: Base runners are not required to tag up on a foul tip and can steal a base instead. If the foul tip is not collected, it is a foul ball, and runners must return to their previous base, even if the steal was successful. Stealing while being tagged out is not allowed under any circumstances.
On most occasions, yes, you can steal a base when there's a batter on first. But there are times when it just isn't advisable to do so. For example, if the batter at second has a good swing and could hit you home, it might be best to let him finish his at-bat before stealing the base. Also, if the batter at third is a good hitter who is likely to hit your runner, it might be best to leave him in place rather than risk getting thrown out himself.
In fact, it is better to let the batter(s) at first or second reach safely than to attempt to steal both those bases at once. It is much easier to allow one of them to be caught in a rundown, which will bring in another runner to cover those bases. Or, if the situation calls for it, you can throw down a bunt to get someone else in scoring position too.