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Fake to Third, Throw to First (featuring Tim Wakefield!)

How many times have you seen the “fake to third, throw to first” move work? It seems that every time a pitcher makes the move, the runner at first doesn’t even blink. It’s almost laughable, right?

On Friday night, Tim Wakefield picked off Toronto’s Fred Lewis with the much-maligned move. Jordan Bastian, the Blue Jays’ terrific MLB.com writer, immediately tweeted this:

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That seems to be everybody’s reaction whenever they see the move work. And I mean everybody. Because, as I’ve followed Twitter throughout this baseball season (follow Wezen Ball here!), I’ve noticed that this move might be more successful than you expect. It’s still not very successful, mind you, but it’s successful enough. Check out these tweets:

April 16 - Yovani Gallardo picks off Willie Harris

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(Click “Read More” to continue reading.)

May 26 - Jason Kendall is thrown out at home when Scott Podsednik falls for Scott Feldman‘s move

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June 24 - Reggie Willits is tagged out after a crazy run-down caused by Brandon Wood getting fooled on the fake-to-third move from Jeff Weaver

July 7 - Reid Brignac gets picked off at first by Tim Wakefield

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July 23 - Brian Bannister uses his sabermetric smarts to pick Robinson Cano off

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September 4 - In the first game of a double-header, the White Sox fall for it twice: Omar Vizquel gets thrown out when Alex Rios gets fooled by Clay Buchholz and, later, Alexei Ramirez gets picked off by Tim Wakefield

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There was another mention on September 8 of Tim Wakefield having a runner picked off except his first baseman, Lars Anderson, wasn’t in position. It’s pretty clear, though, that Tim Wakefield is currently the king of this move with him being responsible for three of the eight instances I was able to find (or four of the nine, if you count the last one). If I had to wager a guess, it’d be that runners are extra-antsy hoping to get a jump on Wake’s super-slow knuckler.

Maybe eight examples in a full season aren’t enough for you. I don’t know. Like I said, it still isn’t all that successful, but don’t fool yourself into thinking that this is a full and complete listing of all times that it worked this year. This just happens to be a listing of the tweets that I was able to find on Google months after the fact by searching for the phrase “fake third throw first”. Any tweets that describe the situation differently, or that Google chose not to return (it’s not exactly a perfect search engine for Twitter), wouldn’t be included. Also, any game where a fake-to-third play worked that wasn’t tweeted about would be completely missed too.

But it doesn’t really matter. As you can see from all the different tweets, everyone seems to think that the play *never* works except for the one time they just witnessed, and that is obviously not the case. But since it happens so rarely, it’s understandable for people to be surprised when they see it with their own eyes. I guess they need to follow Twitter as much as I do.

Still, the next time you see someone (probably Tim Wakefield) successfully pull off the fake-to-third-and-throw-to-first move, feel free to tell us all about it – just remember to tweet about it with something other than the phrase “worked for the first time ever!”

Larry Granillo

About Larry Granillo

Larry Granillo has been writing Wezen Ball since 2008 and has dealt with such touchy topics as Charlie Brown's baseball stats and Ferris Bueller's day off. In 2010, he got the bright idea to time every home run trot in baseball; he has been missing ever since.

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