Defender's Guide to Tandem Cuts

Preventing your opponent from taking the extra base can often make the difference in a close game. Here's how to teach your squad tandem cuts to help increase their aggressiveness on defense and keep your opposition's big innings to a minimum.

What is a Tandem Cut?

Tandem cuts are specifically used for balls that are hit in either gap or down the lines and that the defense knows will be doubles and possible triples. It would be easiest to give a scenario to describe what a tandem cut is and does, and how to perform one.

The batter hits a gapper to left-center for a sure double. Left fielder and centerfielder are going after the ball. Shortstop is going out to be the cut man because the ball is hit on his side of the field.

Second baseman is going to trail the shortstop by about 15 feet, he is the tandem cut, (both of which are being lined up by the third baseman). First baseman waits for the batter/runner to round first and he will trail the runner all the way to second.

The ball is relayed into the shortstop from the centerfielder, but goes over his head because of a bad throw. However, the second baseman is there for just that purpose, and he catches the ball and relays to appropriate bag or runs it in.

Teaching the Tandem Cut

Now, this tandem cut is used primarily for a bad throw from the outfield, or a bad hop from the relay to the cut man. This prevents extra bases from being taken if there wasn't a second person in the play. If there was a runner on first to begin the play, it is possible that a tandem cut could prevent this runner from scoring if the relay went awry.

This play switches the cut and tandem man when the play is on the other side, in the right-center gap. A double down the right field line can be handled by the Second baseman being the cut, and shortstop being the tandem. However, on the left-field line, things need to change and can be done differently. Here is what I like to do.

Double down the left field line. Third baseman has to go out to be the cut man and shortstop will be the tandem. Second baseman cannot come all the way over to be the cut man, so he will go to his base and we won't have the first baseman be a trailer. However, he can come to the left field side of the mound and be a filler in case of a bad relay from the cut man to the pitcher, who will be the fielder at third baseman. Note: The pitcher, on all other tandems is backup to the base the play may be made.

This cut play can only be used at higher levels because of arm strength. In a younger age group, a double cut would have to be used.

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