In this case, the delayed theft may have been avoided in a number of ways. First, even if his back is turned, the first baseman must accept responsibility for the runner. This is difficult, but it can be as simple as looking back at the runner's secondary or, more typically, listening for the runner's feet. If the first baseman does not react quickly enough, the runner will usually take off anyway.
The other way that this could have been prevented is if the pitcher had better control over his pitch. That is, he should have known when to give up the run and when to hold on to it. Pitching with control is important, because it gives your team the best chance of winning. If the pitcher lets go too early, this leaves him without anything close to a good defense behind him. On the other hand, if the pitcher waits too long, then the batter will often hit into another double play. Again, keeping control over your pitches is key to being successful in this situation.
So, defensive strategies against a stolen base attempt include things like yelling "out" or using your glove as a stop sign. The idea is to get the attention of the baserunner so that he will stop what he is doing and return to the base he came from.
However, these are all just strategies that can help prevent errors. There is no sure-fire way to stop every stolen base attempt, so coaches should not look for one either.
The delayed steal is a tactic for getting to second base that relies on finesse rather than speed or a strong leap. In other words, following each pitch, a middle infielder must take a few steps towards second base. When the middle infielders fail to do so, the delay allows second base to be taken. This is a very difficult strategy to stop because it gives the impression that no one wants to get to second base.
Delayed steals are used by managers who want their hitters to work counts full before they hit. This slows down the game and makes it easier to figure out what kind of pitch is coming next. It can also be used as a bluff. If a manager thinks his team is behind but isn't sure, he might use this tactic as way of putting the other team on notice that he's going after them anyway if they don't hurry up and get to second base.
In college softball, coaches sometimes use the delayed steal when their teams are struggling early in games. They hope that if they can get on base, their hitters will break open the game later on.
In professional softball, delayed steals are used much more often. Managers use them when they want to put pressure on the defense or try to fool the opponent into making a mistake.
In World Baseball Classic play, coaches have used variations of the delayed steal with great success.
Runners attempting to steal will strive to get as far ahead as possible, putting them at danger of being picked off. Pickoffs are most common at first base; the pitcher will swiftly deliver the ball to the first baseman, who will try to tag the possible base-stealing runner with the baseball before pitching.
Jackie Robinson accomplished this feat during the 1955 World Series. A double steal is a play in which two runners on different bases attempt to steal the base ahead of them at the same time. This can entail first and second basemen sprinting to second and third, but it can also be employed to hide a steal attempt.
However, you cannot steal first base. "Batters may'steal' first base on any pitch that is not caught in flight (the batter may be thrown out if he tries to run)." Simply said, if there is a wild pitch or passed ball with no runners on base, the batter may go for it. He has the opportunity to steal it first!
In fact, according to an article by John Powers on ESPN.com, "Stealing first base is so common that professional baseball has adopted rules to stop people from doing it." The article goes on to say that managers are now allowed to protest balls and strikes that are missed by the catcher, which should help prevent would-be thieves from going for it.
Here is how the rule works: If a ball is dropped by the catcher while he is behind the backstop, either because he forgot to set it or otherwise made a mistake, the batter is awarded first base. This can happen even if the catcher didn't intend to drop the ball. For example, if he was distracted by something outside of his viewport, then too bad for the batter who might have been able to swipe second had there been no error.
The only time this rule does not apply is if the catcher sets the ball himself, such as when he throws it to try to get a runner out. In that case, he is not entitled to first base even if he makes an error because he took action to cause the violation.
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 he has not legally stolen any bases.
So if you are playing by the rules, you can't steal a base unless you have been awarded it via a force out, walk, hit-by-pitch or error. However, many players find ways around this limitation. Here are some examples of when players have "stolen" bases illegally:
A batter does not attempt to advance to a base while standing in the on-deck circle during player changes. The umpire may call him from there directly to the plate without allowing him to go to first base.
If a baserunner is forced out by a throw to the catcher and neither team has yet reached first base, both runners are declared safe. They will not be given credit for a stolen base, but they cannot be thrown out either. This situation often arises with a delayed throw to the catcher after a pickoff attempt fails. If a catcher is able to get a hand on the ball before it hits the ground, it is possible that both runners will be safe.
There are three ways that a player can steal a base:
He can tag up when there is no one out. If this happens, the defensive player who tags up must immediately attempt to advance all the way to second base or else he will be called out. This is the easiest way to steal a base because there is no chance of being thrown out.
He can take a'scherage' -- a quick lead off from third to first. The player running from third to first has no choice but to give up his place if the batter does not hit the ball. This is usually done with a slide at home if there is grass on which to slide. It used to be possible to scherage while standing still, but this is no longer allowed by law since it is considered to be blocking traffic while trying to get to second base.
He can take a'spurt' -- a slow trot around the bases. In this case, the player runs as fast as he can without letting anyone pass him.