All Baseball Positions You Should Know

From the elderlies down to the kids, playing or watching baseball with friends or family makes the sport exciting. Baseball is the 3rd most popular sport in the US. However, watching the sport will not be fun if you do not understand how it works. 

The first step in knowing the sport is learning the basic baseball positions. In this article, you will get an idea about what the basic rules and positions of the sport are. This will help you understand how it is played so that you can also get to hit a home run!

Basic Baseball Positions Explained

What Is Baseball?

Baseball is a sport that was pioneered in the eastern United States in the 1800s. It was popularized as the country’s “national pastime”. It has become a game that millions of Americans and baseball fans continue to enjoy every spring and summer. Major league baseball or MLB is the top baseball tournament in the present, garnering more than 100 million in 2020.

Baseball is a bat-and-ball sport played on a field by two competing teams against one another. In baseball, a player on one team throws a ball at a player on the opposite team, who tries to hit it with a bat. The mechanics of the game revolves around hitting the bat, catching the bat, and out-playing the opposition. This is why it has become a sport that all ages love to watch.

Why Is It Called Baseball?

A game called “base-ball” was developed in England in the early 18th century. It was loved by the people, then continued to be called “baseball” until the 1800s. The first set of rules for “baseball” was created in 1796, as seen in a German book by Johann Guts Muths. He called the game “English base-ball”, which began the popularity of the sport in the entirety of England and the US.

Basic Rules Of Baseball

Before playing any sport, it is essential to know the dos and don’ts of the game. The first thing you should know is the rules of baseball. For beginners, this is the first thing taught to them in baseball class. This will open your knowledge of the mechanics of the baseball game. 

Objective

Baseball is played by two teams composed of 9 players each. To win, a team must score more runs than the opponent by rounding the bases and crossing home plate. The batting team remains to bat until the fielding team puts out 3 batters.

Playing Area

The playing area, or baseball diamond, consists of the pitcher’s mound, 4 bases, outfield, and infield. In order to play, you need the following equipment:

  • Bat
  • Baseball 
  • 4 bases
  • Gloves
  • Batting helmet 
  • Pitching rubber

Scoring

A run is scored when a runner rounds all of the bases by stepping from 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and crosses home base. If the ball is hit over the outfield fence in fair territory, it is a home run and therefore the batter has a free trip all the way around the bases until the home base.

Strikes

The strike zone is between the batter’s shoulders and knees. Once a player gets 3 strikes, the next player will come up to the plate. It is considered a strike when a batter: 

  • Failed to swing at a pitch that crosses the plate in the strike zone.
  • Swings then misses.
  • Hits the ball outside with less than two strikes against him.

Ball

A ball is a pitch that crosses the plate outside of the strike zone. If a batter receives 4 balls, he then gets to walk to first base. If a batter swings and misses, he is called for a strike.

Duration

A standard baseball game lasts 9 innings, with each inning divided into two halves. The visiting team bats the first half of the inning, and the home team bats the latter half. A half-inning is completed when a batting team gets 3 outs. If the score is tied after the 9 innings, there will be additional innings played. 

Baseball Positions

The more positions a player knows, the greater the chance that coaches notice his knowledge. There are overall nine baseball positions: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, left fielder, center fielder, and right fielder.

Pitcher

The pitcher is the defensive player which initiates individual play. They are positioned on the pitching mound and must touch the rubber in it. The main goal of the pitcher is to get batters out. Either by a struck ball or strikeout, where the hitter gets three strikes.

To be an effective pitcher, a player must accurately throw to different targets in the strike zone. It is essential to have pitch location, ball movement, and strategic pitching.

Pitchers can be either right or left-handed, but coaches prefer a lefty.  Left-handers are statistically favored the most when trying to retire left-handed hitters because of the different angles they can throw the ball.

A pitcher also holds a runner on when needed through varying the timing of their delivery of the pitch to home plate. Overall, the pitcher’s primary role is to get opposing players out without sacrificing runs.

Starting Pitcher

Starting pitchers begin the match by pitching most of the innings early in the game. They tend to set the pace with the different pitches to throw.  After the starter begins to show physical exhaustion or inconsistency, the relief pitcher comes in.

Relief Pitcher

Relief pitchers usually come in the middle to the latter part of a game. The length of time they play in the field differs depending on the situation. It’s either long, middle, or close relief. Relief pitchers are usually harder throwers that rely on only a few pitches.  They also tend to have less playing time and may be asked to pitch in back-to-back games.

Catcher

The catcher is the field defense specialist due to their outward-facing field position. He is positioned behind the batter and home plate to receive pitches which makes them experts in defensive positioning. Catchers also give signs to the pitcher to guide where to throw the ball.

Due to the nature of the position, the catcher is trained to have quick decision-making. When pitches are thrown in the dirt, it’s the catcher’s job to block the ball with his body. If he does not do this, it will result in a runner advancing to a base. Their fast hands and feel are also important in managing base runners. 

Catchers are known to receive a pitch and quickly throw it as fast as possible. This is why a strong arm is needed for this position.  If a catcher is able to throw with higher velocity, that compensates for a slower exchange or footwork. Those who can also hit well are also in demand for competitive teams.

Right-handed catchers more effectively deliver a better throw to third base in case of a steal. Because of this, left-handed catchers are almost unheard of in professional baseball. Most professional baseball teams prefer a right-handed catcher. Catchers vary in hitting ability and strength but are usually more valuable to a team for their defensive skills.

First Baseman

The first baseman is the most involved defensive player in a baseball game. The first baseman is positioned nearest to the first base, usually playing a couple of feet behind the baseline and fair territory. First basemen are usually right-handed, but competitive baseball teams prefer left-handed players in this position for the difference in angle throwing.

Left-handers have their glove on the proper hand, allowing better positioning for tags on pickoff plays, and even have their throwing arm on the side of their body that permits them to throw to second base on a possible double-play situation without rotating their body. Due to the primary baseman’s primary role being a receiver of throws, the fielder must be excellent at catching the ball and also scooping up balls that hit the dirt before arriving near first base.

First basemen are usually one among the simplest hitters on their team and typically hit for power. It’s always favorable to possess an athletic player initially, but traditionally the corner infielders are larger guys that hit for power as mobility isn’t as necessary to play those positions. 

Second Baseman

Second basemen are referred to as middle infielders. They position themselves between the primary and second bases, shading toward the second base to hide the center of the infield. Middle infielders got to be quick and agile, often having to obviate the ball quickly and canopy many grounds. They are also heavily involved in double plays, wherein a runner is retired at second and first base within the same play.

It is preferred for a second baseman to be right-handed, although, in some instances, left-handed basemen are welcomed. Like catchers, left-handers as the second baseman is unprecedented in baseball. This mostly has got to do with the throwing arm being far away from the most throwing target, which allows for a quicker release of the ball to first base without the fielder having to pivot or address to make a play to first.

Due to their positioning, they have a shorter throw to first and typically longer to form a play, in order that they are traditionally a touch less agile and have a touch less arm strength than the shortstop. That being said, they still help anchor the center of the infield and are vital to an efficient defense.

Third Baseman

The third base is additionally referred to as the “hot corner”. The nickname comes from the fact that the third base requires the fastest response time in the field. Third basemen are very versatile in their skill set as they need to have a robust arm. Thanks to the length of their throw to first base,  they must be very quick to handle a tough hit ball by a right-hander down the third baseline or a bunt by a batter.

They do not usually need to be as agile as the other positions, but they are quite mobile as a middle infielder. Third basemen are usually bigger in stature and typically play a major position for support among the power hitters. Alongside 1st base, this corner infielder position is typically where the coach sets a number of the least mobile players with great aptitude for hitting.

Right-handed players are often the rule for this position; a bit like the shortstop, second base, and catcher positions.

Shortstop

Shortstops are the anchor of the infield defense. They are in the opposite middle infield position, between the second and third bases. Their role is to hide hit balls from the second base moving to the left.

Shortstops are usually right-handed players to have faster-throwing connections from one player to the other. Shortstops have strong arms which throw from an extended distance to first base. They are the foremost ground and agile to urge up after a diving stop.

They are heavily involved in double plays and are occasionally responsible for putting out base stealers at second base. They communicate and find out the defense strategies and patterns in bunt situations.

In cases where a ball is hit to the outfield, the shortstop also redirects throws. They also complete plays at second, third, or home bases. Shortstops also have fly ball priorities on the infield when other players are in chaos.

Left Fielder

Left field is one of the three outfield positions, due to their distant position to the home plate. In this corner outfield position, they cover less territory. Left fielders are known to have the weakest arms in the outfield since they usually do the shortest throws. Left fielders are also the usual positions of power hitters with a little less mobility.

Center Fielder

Center fielders play one of the most crucial roles in defense.  They have to cover most of the area of defense, which makes these players agile. Part of their job is to adjust their position to have a better jump on any hit ball. They are the outfield head and have priority in catching the ball. 

Center fielders also need to have strong arms to throw out runners on the bases. Dexterity is not as important in this position, because all it requires is quickness and athleticism. Oftentimes, due to their athleticism and speed, center fielders are found to be intimidating to play against and hard to develop over time.

Right Fielder

Right field is another corner outfield position. They are usually known to have the strongest arm in the outfield due to having their long throws. They play a crucial role in preventing potential triples in the right-centerfield gap or down the right-field line. Offensively, right-fielders are power hitters who can be stationed if the team already has the first base and third base filled on the infield.

Types Of Penalties

Regardless of position, a penalty can be called to a player if he breaks the rules. This may result in an out, earning a base, or in the worst case, getting ejected from a game. The umpire is responsible for calling penalties on coaches and players during a baseball game.

Charging The Mound

Charging the mound occurs when a batter takes an offensive action at a pitch that either hits him or nearly hits him. Then, raging out his frustration on the pitcher by charging towards him and purposely attacking him. This will then often trigger a bench brawl against the opposing team. 

Interference

If in the judgment of the umpire, one of the players intentionally kicks a batted ball or a plate on which the infielder has missed a play, then this would be considered interference. This would result in the player being out and the ball dead.

Unsportsmanlike Conduct

An unsportsmanlike penalty is called when a player contacts a foul which, in the judgment of an umpire, is intentional. This is through an action that is not a legitimate attempt to play the game within the spirit and intent of the rules. Examples of this would be excessive hard contact on the opposing player, intentionally making contact with an umpire, and not immediately leaving the game when ejected.

Quick Facts

Here are some baseball facts that most non-baseball fans do not know of yet.

  • A baseball game lasts 3 hours long on the average.
  • There are 162 baseball games in an average season.
  • In the 2019 regular season of MLB, the average baseball game lasted for 3 hours, 5 minutes, 35 seconds.
  • The longest baseball game ever recorded in Major League Baseball lasted a whopping 26 Innings.
  • The New York Yankees is the MLB team with the most Hall of Famers, with  27 of its players awarded this.
  • The oldest ballpark was made in 1912.
  • Baseball fans eat enough hotdogs that it could stretch from Dodger Stadium to Wrigley Field in the US.
  • The crowd anthem of baseball in the US is “Take Me Out to the Ballgame.”
  • A Major League Baseball (MLB) ball, on the average, only lasts for six to seven pitches because of the amount of force it experiences.
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