There are many things that make up a good baseball player. You obviously need to be able to hit, field, throw and run to be really good. But what are the other traits that most good baseball players possess? If you said you need to be smart in how you play the game and are able to “think” the game as well as play it, you are right. That’s called having good baseball intelligence, or Baseball IQ.

So what are some of the elements that make up good Baseball IQ? Although there are not really any specific hard and fast rules for these elements, it could be any number of things. In this article we’ll detail some of the nuances of the game of baseball where your intelligence in playing the game can take you to the next level in your development.

Baserunning IQ

This is an area of the game where a players instincts or intelligence can allow them to take advantage of a situation. The average base runner will normally be happy with settling for a single or a double or advancing one or two bases on a hit. But a baseball player with a high baseball IQ is always looking for an advantage. For instance, a smart base runner will know how strong the outfielders arms are and what depth and position they are playing at on any given play. This will give them an advantage in that if a ball is hit to a certain outfielder, or to a specific area, they can take advantage and take the extra base.

Another thing a smart base runner will do is understand the pitchers tendencies. That could involve what pitch they throw in certain counts, or if they have a move they make when throwing to the plate that’s different than their pickoff move. Let’s say they always throw a breaking ball or offspeed pitch when they have two strikes on a hitter. That may be the best pitch to steal on since the odds increase of you being successful. Or if the pitcher has an obvious tell move when they deliver the ball to the plate instead of throwing to first to keep you close. Knowing that can let you take off for second quicker on a steal attempt, also increasing your chances.

Infield Pop Ups

Believe it or not, knowing what to do on a ball that is catchable on the infield can make a big difference and show your baseball intelligence. For instance, let’s say there is a catchable popup on the infield in which the infield fly rule was not signaled and there is a runner on first base. The base runner may be the team’s fastest runner while the batter who hit the popup is one of the slowest. A smart infielder who understands the situation would let the ball drop. That way the runner ends up being forced out at second and the batter becomes safe at first base, therefore replacing a fast runner with a slower one.

Another situation that a smart infielder may take advantage of is a short popup hit in the air with a runner at first base. In this instance, the infielder can let the ball drop, throw to second to quickly get the lead runner and they can hopefully throw back to first to get the batter and complete a double play instead of only getting one out.

Handling Bunts

How many times has a bunt been rolling on the line with a chance to go fair or foul? Making the smart play here is important for the infielder. Grabbing it just as it goes foul is a good move if you have no chance to get the runner. On the other hand a bunt that starts foul and then ends up on the line is a great chance to get a batter who didn’t run thinking it was foul.

Rundowns and Fake Throws

These are situations where smart players will always make the right play. When there is a rundown with multiple players on base, the smart player will always be aware of the lead runner. If they break for the next base, the smart player will be ready for the move and make the play on the lead runner.

Another great play for the intelligent infielder is making a fake throw at the right time. Let’s say they fielded a bunt and looked like they were throwing to first while a runner headed around third and headed for home. A fake throw to first will catch the lead runner off guard. And don’t forget about the throw back to the pitcher on a pickoff throw. It may not happen often, but keeping the ball and tagging the runner if he steps off the bag can actually work.

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