In Baseball, what is a Hit and Run?

wiseGEEK Writer

A hit and run is a term in baseball that describes a runner on base attempting to steal a base while the batter makes contact with the ball. The runner begins running before the ball is hit, so he must rely on the strength of the player at bat to actually hit the ball. If the batter does not hit the ball, then technically the runner on base is simply trying to steal a base, which will much more likely result in an out.

A hit and run describes a runner on base who is attempting to steal a base while a batter makes contact with the ball.
A hit and run describes a runner on base who is attempting to steal a base while a batter makes contact with the ball.

Teams with poor hitters may attempt the hit and run more frequently than a team with many reliable batters. This is because the play is an attempt to compensate for the lack of good hits of the ball by moving the players forward to the next base. When the strategy works, it can move the team toward getting a few more points. When it fails, it is likely to result in two outs for a team.

Executing a hit and run increases the chances that a player will be able to score on a play.
Executing a hit and run increases the chances that a player will be able to score on a play.

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A hit and run that fails might resemble this example: The runner on first base advances forward as the ball leaves the pitcher’s hand. He makes his run before the ball makes contact with the bat. The batter misses the ball or hits a pop-up fly that is quickly caught. The ball is rapidly thrown to the second baseman before the runner gets there. The end result is two outs.

Teams with poor hitters may attempt the hit and run more frequently than teams with many reliable batters.
Teams with poor hitters may attempt the hit and run more frequently than teams with many reliable batters.

The play is successful when the batter makes contact with the ball, and sends it far enough away that the runner has time to successfully steal the base. Occasionally, it can become the even more risky bunt and run, where the player simply hits the ball a yard (meter) or two. This can also result in two outs, or three if players on second and third base attempt to run.

The benefits of a hit and run base running approach are magnified if the batter hits into a defensive gap.
The benefits of a hit and run base running approach are magnified if the batter hits into a defensive gap.

In fact, the triple play, getting three players out, is much more likely with the hit and run strategy. If two players on base stay on base until the ball is securely in the air, they are still safe. If they run, and the hitter strikes out or hits a pop fly that is caught, it ends the inning, if the other two players can’t make it to the next base. Generally, this play won’t be attempted unless the runners on base are reasonably certain the hitter has a good shot at hitting the ball.

A hit and run puts pressure on the batter to make contract with the pitch and put the ball in play.
A hit and run puts pressure on the batter to make contract with the pitch and put the ball in play.

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Discussion Comments

anon102627

Wrong! In the caught pop fly ball the runners have to go back to the base where they were before the ball was hit not get to the next base!

JerseyJoe

“Hit and run” is a baseball misnomer. A more descriptive term is “run and hit,” because the runner takes the first action. Therefore, the batter is expected to “lay good wood on the pitch” with a hit to right field behind the advancing runner or to foul off repeated pitches to protect the runner thus avoiding a ground ball double play, the intent of the “run and hit” strategy in the first instance.

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