"You Be the Coach"

The Situation - "Split Second Decision"

It's the Boston Red Sox versus the Cleveland Indians at Jacobs Field.

The score is tied 1-1 in the top of the third inning with one out. Mike Benjamin is at third base and Reggie Jefferson is at first base. Jim Leyritz is the hitter. Troy O'Leary is on deck. On a 2-1 pitch, Leyritz hits a hard ground ball to third baseman Travis Fryman.

The Question

You be the coach. Third base coaches - get your thinking caps on! What do you tell Mike Benjamin to do? As always, keep in mind the setting, the players involved, and the time in the game.

Give me your answer and any supporting reasons.

Here's WK's answer:

"Before the first pitch is made to Leyritz, you should tell Benjamin to go on any ball on the ground.

Travis Fryman, on a hard ground ball, should go to second base for the easy double play because Jefferson and Leyritz are slow runners. By telling Benjamin to go, maybe Travis, as he's fielding the ball, will see Benjamin react and throw home. Then we will have another chance to get the runner (Jefferson) in from second base."

Here are some good answers from various coaches on the internet.

"I would tell Benjamin to get off the bag just enough to make Fryman pause and think for a secound. The extra second may prevent the double play. I would not let Mike try and score seeing that O`Leary is on fire and is a good candidate for at least a sacrifice fly."

Geoff Van Toen

"I have Benjamin digging for home. Fryman will probably go to second to start a double play. If he plays to the plate, we still have two men on. Troy is hot and will possibly hit his eleventh homer."

Mike Mahoney

"I say Benjamin should go home immediately on the grounder. There is going to be one out on this play, possibly two. Fryman should try for the 5-4-3 DP and given the relative speed of the players, it is almost a certainty. If Benjamin can cause a little distraction and perhaps make Fryman double clutch or throw home, that could be the difference between one out or two."

Rick Donnelly

"Send the runner on third home because the defense should go for the 5-4-3 double play on a ball hit hard to the third baseman. Leyritz is a slow runner and a double play should be possible if executed properly. Also, the runner on first should not be running on a 2-1 count."

Greg McGlaun

"Send him. If they double through second (like they should), the inning is over. If they cut Benjamin down at the plate (tag play), you still have Jefferson in scoring position and another chance."

Stuart Beard
Canberra - Australia

"I would send Mike Benjamin home. If the ball was sharply hit, then it would be a sure 5-4-3 double play. Sending Benjamin, would probably make Fryman go home and the worst that could happen would be Benjamin would be out. Then O'Leary is up with runners at first and second."

Gary Moats

"Send the runner. This early in the game, if the third baseman makes the mistake to go home instead of turning a double play, the worst you're left with is runners on first and second with two outs. If the catcher gets tied up or the runner gets himself hung up, you have the chance of the runners advancing an additional base and now you have runners on second and third with two outs."

Joe Spain

"Send Benjamin home. This is a double play ball. If the Indians turn two, they're out of the inning regardless of what Benjamin does. If they botch the double play, we steal a run. If they make a mistake and try to throw Benjamin out at home instead of turning two, we extend the inning."

Bruce Berger
Ithaca, NY

"Send him! Leyritz hit the ball hard which enables them to turn the double play unless Jefferson can break it up at second base. With one out and early in the game, the Indians are not interested in that run."

Mike Sorbin

"I would send Mike Benjamin home, there is only one out and the infield is going to try for a double play. Just in case they don't have time to turn it, Benjamin would score."

Joseph Tuhn

"Mike Benjamin should have been told prior to the pitch to be reading the angle on the ball hit (i.e. freeze on a line drive and see it through the infield, break towards home immediately on a ground ball, and tag on a fly ball). Being that it is the third inning of the game, the Indians should be attempting the double play, especially on a hard hit ground ball. If Travis Fryman were to choose to attempt to throw Benjamin out at the plate (and for argument's sake, we'll say he was successful), the Red Sox still have a runner in scoring position and a two out attempt to score him."

Paul Wilhelmsen

Thanks for answering my situation. Be sure to include your name and where you are from with each response.

Good luck until next time!

All my best,


That's it for "Split Second Decision".

Updated May 24, 1998