All the Different Baseball Player Positions & Duties
A baseball field is shaped like a diamond, and is covered by nine players. The field is split into two main categories; the infield and the outfield. The infield is covered by 2 core players and 4 infielders. The outfield is covered by 3 outfielders. An overall understanding of what each position entails can help make each player more well-rounded and successful. When a player understands their responsibilities fully, then they can then choose their correct glove or mitt with few issues or concerns.
The catcher is a core player, positioned directly behind the home plate, and in direct contact with pitchers. They are responsible for handling the pitches thrown by the pitcher, as well as suggesting which pitch to throw. Aside from catching, catchers must have strong throwing arms in order to throw out base runners attempting to steal bases. Catchers are the only defensive player facing the team and the outfield, and oftentimes are seen as the communicators of the team. They communicate things such as the number of outs, strike count and which base the play is at.
A catcher’s glove needs to conceal signals to the pitcher, as well as catch fast pitches. The glove is bigger than an infielder glove, contains a unique curve, deep pocket, and extra padding along the heel. For added protection from fast pitches, there are palm savers available.
The pitcher is a core player positioned in the middle of the infield diamond. Pitchers communicate with the catcher, frequently through nonverbal communication. They are responsible for throwing the ball to the batters with an array of technical and accurate pitches.
Aside from strictly pitching, the pitcher is seen as the fifth infielder. They are in charge of bunts, infield grounders, and pop-ups that are closest to them. A pitcher must keep their head on a swivel for base runners attempting to steal or lead off a base too far in order to pick them off. A pitcher will be most comfortable with a smaller infield glove that has closed webbing in order to shield the handgrip from the opposing team.
The shortstop is an infield player positioned between second and third base. Shortstops are responsible for covering balls that are hit between second and third base and acting as a cut-off for outfielders. Shortstops have the most ground to cover and are required to be agile and rapid with exchanges from fielding to throwing.
Shortstops typically take priority with infield flies, and must have strong arms in order to throw to bases such as third or home. A shortstops glove is small with open stitching and a limited pocket, which allows them to rapidly transfer the ball from the glove to the throwing hand.
The second baseman is an infield player positioned between first and second base. Second basemen are responsible for fielding the balls hit between first and second base, while favoring second base. Ultimately, the second baseman is responsible for the play at second; whether that be forced at the base, or tagging the runner out. The second baseman is the pivot for double plays, so being able to transition from catching to throwing is crucial.
Typically, second basemen are right-handed so that double plays can be carried out more naturally than if someone was left-handed. Characteristics of a second baseman’s glove that will help quick transitions are having narrow pockets and minimal stitching.
The third baseman is an infield player positioned along the third baseline. Third basemen are responsible for fielding balls that are hit down the third baseline, which includes quick reactions to bunts. Primarily, the third baseman is responsible for plays coming to third. This can be seen as forced outs by touching the plate, as well as tagging a base runner out when they are stealing. The third baseman is required to make long throws across the body to first base as well as quick turns to initiate double plays.
Third baseman gloves have open webbing and deep pockets to help catch hard hits at a closer range than a shortstop or second baseman, but also to make quick plays. While a glove is utilized in every position, third basemen may also be expected to field the ball barehanded to eliminate a step in throwing out a runner.
The first baseman is an infield player positioned along the first baseline. A first baseman is the most active defensive player outside of the pitcher and catcher. First basemen are primarily responsible for catching throws to first. Since plays at first are typically fast-paced they are not always accurate. A first baseman must then excel at reacting to throws that hit the ground before reaching them, and throws that require jumping or stretching.
First baseman gloves are larger than other infield gloves and they do not have finger holes. It has a unique curve that gives other infielders a larger target to throw to and also helps with scooping up misthrows.
The left fielder will stand outside the diamond and cover the left-third of the outfield. Left fielders typically have the shortest throw, frequently to third base, and they need a powerful arm in case they need to throw to home plate.
Left fielders are responsible for catching more outfield hits, because the majority of batters in baseball are right-handed hitters. According to an article on ESPN, 25 percent of Major League Baseball (MLB) players are left-handed and 75 are right-handed. Left fielder gloves are typically large-sized gloves that expanding the range of their reach. Other beneficial characteristics are gloves with deeper pockets so the ball has less of a chance of bouncing out.
The center fielder will stand outside the diamond and cover the middle-third of the outfield. Center fielders usually have the largest area to cover, as well as the furthest throws to make. This means that the center fielder typically has one of the strongest arms on the team.
Center fielders are responsible for knowing when to use a second baseman or shortstop as a cutoff, backing up throws to second base, reading hits in the air, and catching fly balls. Center fielder gloves will be big and have significant sized pockets to secure catches and expand their reach.
The right fielder will stand outside the diamond and cover the right-third of the outfield. Right fielders are responsible for catching fly balls, preventing triples, backing up first base, and long throws to third base. Playing right field demands quick thinking, a strong arm, and running fast. Similar to other outfield positions, a right fielders glove will need to be large with deep pockets benefits in order to increase reach and prevent dropped balls.
In some cases (almost never in the MLB) players may field several positions. In this case, you can build your own custom glove in order to attempt covering the needs of multiple positions.