What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?

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A double steal is just that – both runners are attempting to steal at the same time. The catcher has his choice of which one to attempt to throw out. In this article, we will see about ‘What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?’.

What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?

What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?

A double steal is when both runners are breaking at the same time. The runner on second attempts to steal third, and the runner on first await until the play developed, the runner going from first to second may not be credited with a stolen base, but rather, advancing because of the play at third, e.g. a fielder’s choice.

Double Steal in Baseball Explained

This would be similar to how a batter might single with one or more runners on base and the defence attempting to get the lead runner. The batter advances to second on the play; however, he is only credited with a single and advances on the throw home.

Likewise, with a runner on first, a slow-grounder, fielded by the SS, who relays to the second baseman for one out; the relay to first for a double-play is not in time, allowing the batter-runner to reach first safely. This is not a hit, but also a fielder’s choice.

The bottom line, it depends on intent. If both runners are simultaneously attempting to advance, and both do so safely, then yes, both get stolen bases Ah, the beauty of the baseball scorecard!!

However, if the runner attempting to steal third had been thrown out, the runner taking second base would not get credit for a stolen base.

Exception To The Double Steal Tactic

  1. The exception would be if there were two outs and the throw to third was successful in putting out the runner. That would of course be the last out of the inning, and the runner going from first to second would not be credited with a stolen base.
  2. If something completely unforeseen were to happen – say, the runner attempting to steal second fell and injured himself temporarily before reaching second base – then it could be possible to throw out both runners, one after the other, and both would be listed as caught stealing in the box score.

Real Life Example

There was once a match at  Nationals Park with Washington playing the Kansas City Royals. The Nats’ Victor Robles was on third base and Trea Turner was on first. Turner takes off for second base on a delayed steal, intending to draw a throw from the catcher after the pitch. The Royals’ catcher throws through to the second baseman, Turner is tagged out well before reaching the base, and Robles breaks for home. The second baseman fires home, the Royals’ catcher puts down the tag, and Robles is safe. The Nats score a run, achieving what they wanted when they set up the play, even while sacrificing an out.

Double Steal Rule

To be credited with a steal, the defence must either attempt to throw the runner out or not make a throw because they know they can’t get the runner out. The question isn’t rather or not the defence tries to get the runner out. The question is whether or not they would have had a legitimate chance to get the runner had they tried. 

If they simply choose not to try because they don’t care whether or not the runner advances or because making a play might allow a previous runner to advance, it is called defensive indifference and no stolen base is credited.

Double Steal Baseball Tactics

Equally fast runners occupy first and second base, and the manager calls for a steal of third and then on the next pitch a steal of second instead of a double steal. 

This may be if the lead runner isn’t ordered to run but is given the “green light” to go if he can get a good jump, usually because the pitcher was not holding him close to the bag. If the pitcher does look back this time, he doesn’t run. In that case, the trailing runner can’t be sure that second base will be open so he can’t get a good jump.

But now, of course, the catcher is less likely to throw to second base because there is already a man on third who could score.

A lot depends on the score, the count, how many outs there are etc.

Double Steals Statistics In US Baseball

How often do runners try to steal 2nd base? the vast majority of stolen bases are steals of 2nd or double steals of 2nd and 3rd.

For 2021, there were 0.46 stolen bases and 0.15 caught stealing PER GAME. Count backwards and you see that singles make up 5/8 of hits (5.15 singles and 8.13 hits per game), and then 3.25 walks per game – so not counting the times players reach on an error, you’ll have roughly 8.5 times a player reaches first base per game.

How often do they steal? Well, adding up successful and unsuccessful steals, that’s 0.61 per game. Looking at that ratio and you see it’s about 7.2% of the time, and slightly less since it’s all steals in that first line. Note that those numbers are per game, per team.


Now We’ve learnt about ‘What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?’, in the case of the double steal, the defence could make a play on either runner. That they chose to attempt to get the runner to advance to third does not mean indifference to the runner going to second. They simply can make a play on both so they chose the runner closest to home plate. So yes, the runner from first is credited with a stolen base.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Question 1: In Baseball, Can Multiple Runners Attempt To Steal A Base At The Same Time?

Sure. If there are runners at first and second and the runner on second takes off for third, it’s all but guaranteed that the runner on first will take off. It’s likely the catcher will throw to third because that is the shorter throw and likely to be the runner who is thrown out. 

  • Question 2: What Happens To The Runner Heading For Third Base In A Double Steal Scenario?

He is either: 

  1. out and now there is at least still a runner on second if the runner on first broke for second, 
  2. safe and now the team has runners on second and third or 
  3. safe and a wild throw get past the third baseman and now both runners can move up more.
What Is A Double Steal In Baseball With Examples?
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