Baseball consists of two teams playing a 9 inning game, alternating between offense and defense every 3 outs. The defense of a baseball team consists of 9 players. Each is assigned the task of fielding a baseball hit by the opposing team’s batter. If there are runners on base, not only do they have to field the ball. They also have to catch it as a fly ball or a ground ball. Each player needs to throw the ball quickly to another field position to stay ahead of the runner. Each defensive position is necessary, but is there such a thing as the easiest or hardest position in baseball?
Yes, there is a hardest position in baseball. The hardest position in baseball is catcher. An argument could be made for a pitcher or possibly shortstop. The catcher is easily the most physically and mentally demanding position. This is due to the number of responsibilities in each game.
Hardest Position In Baseball (Responsibilities of a catcher):
He is the most alert player on the team. The catcher always knows the score of the game and has to know how many outs there are every inning. He works with the pitcher to get each hitter out. The catcher is involved in every play during the game, while fielders wait for batters to hit the ball before reacting.
He also must be able to block balls, preventing balls from going past his body on wild pitches. When balls go behind the catcher, runners can easily advance to the next base. There is a great deal of preparation involved to play catcher. He must also wear knee pads, shoulder pads, a chest protector, and a face mask throughout the game.
There are many more duties and responsibilities of playing catcher. He must know something about the hitting habits of every batter that comes to the plate. The catcher communicates to the pitcher what kind of pitch to throw to each batter. That could be a fastball, breaking ball, changeup, high or low. While also memorizing hand signals to call the pitches from the pitcher.
He must possess a remarkable throwing arm to throw a runner out trying to steal second base. While having to deal with all these defensive responsibilities, the catcher also has to hit as a batter with all the other players and prepare for that as well.
What is the easiest position in baseball?
Its believed that right field is the easiest position to play in baseball. The main reason that this is the case is that right field has statistically the least amount of balls hit in that direction. However, the right fielder needs to have the same skill set and be as good on defense as the center field player and the left fielder.
In the major leagues, 75% of hitters are right-handed, and 25% of hitters are left-handed. When it comes to switch hitters for example, when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound, switch-hitting batters try to gain an advantage over the pitcher by batting left-handed. The opposite is also true: left-handed pitcher, batter switches to right-handed hitting.
This means that the majority of balls hit to the outfield will be to left field or left-center field because most hitters pull the ball. This means that the right fielder is involved in a small percentage of plays in a typical nine-inning game compared to any other defensive player.
Other Positions In Baseball? (Names & Responsibilities)
The remaining positions on defense in baseball from remaining easiest to the most difficult are:
First Baseman – The first baseman’s main job is to catch balls thrown by other infield players. A first baseman is usually left-handed and must be flexible to stretch off the base while keeping his right foot on the bag. This can happen if balls tossed to him are thrown too short and he has to stretch to record the out before the batter reaches the bag.
The first base bag is placed along the right-field line. The player will occasionally catch balls thrown from the outfield to tag a runner out who has taken too big a lead off the base. The first baseman would be considered the next easiest position as there are fewer responsibilities to worry about.
Second Baseman – The second base position is also located on the right side of the baseball diamond. The second baseman does not field as many ground balls as the shortstop or the third baseman on the right side of the infield, but his position is also challenging.
The second baseman is involved in every double play from second base to first base. When there is a runner at first and a ball is hit to the shortstop, the second baseman must run to the 2nd base bag to force the runner out. The player then throws to first base quickly and accurately to complete a double play. His throws are off balance and sometimes thrown in midair to avoid the runner from first base sliding into him.
Center Field – The center fielder must cover the most outfield grass when a fly ball is hit, more than the left fielder or the right fielder. Centerfield is the same size of the area as both the left and right fields. During a game, the center fielder will navigate into right field and left field territory to retrieve a fly ball. He must also run to catch baseballs hit over his head.
Left Field – The job of playing left field is the hardest in the outfield to play. This is because the left field is the most active in the outfield. This is because the majority of hitters are right-handed, so they tend to pull the ball towards left field. Balls are often hit over the fielder’s head and he must be able to run and retrieve them. Like all outfielders, he has to keep track of balls hit high in the air into bright sunlight.
Because his position is on the left side of the baseball diamond, he needs to have a powerful arm to throw directly to home plate accurately. He often throws all the way home instead of to a cutoff man in the infield to try and catch a runner out at home plate.
Third Baseman – The third baseman’s job is very challenging. He must throw with great power and accuracy every time he fields a ground ball. He must have lightning-quick reflexes to get in front of a fast ground ball. The third baseman fields ground balls, usually hit by right-handed batters who pull the ball.
Baseballs hit to the 3rd baseman come at incredible speeds, sometimes over 120 miles an hour. Once the ball is in his glove, he must throw the ball quickly and accurately to the first baseman to get runners out in time.
Shortstop – Shortstops must be efficient at fielding ground balls that take unusual bounces, move fast and unpredictably over the infield grass and infield dirt. He usually tells the outfielders who to throw to in the infield to force a runner out. The shortstop needs to have a great arm since he throws the ball in all directions. This can be to second base for a double play, to third base to pick off a runner, to home plate, and to first base after fielding a routine ground ball.
It is the most challenging position in the infield because the majority of infield ground balls are hit to the shortstop. Shortstops are often elected to be team captains due to the sheer number of responsibilities they have to manage.
Pitcher – The pitcher plays one of the most challenging positions on the field. It could be argued the pitcher is the hardest position in baseball. He is responsible for ensuring batters don’t hit home runs over the outfield fence or get any other forms of a hit. He must always try to stay ahead in the pitch count and strike out as many batters as possible.
A pitcher is taxed with pitching up or around 100 throws in a game, often sustaining shoulder and elbow injuries from overusing his arm. He must be proficient in throwing a large arsenal of pitches; a curveball, fastball, changeup, slider, and many more. Besides throwing throughout the game, the pitcher fields bunts and balls hit directly hit to him. He needs to be aware of which base to throw the ball to if there are runners on the bases. The pitcher must also be an exceptional thrower as well as an excellent fielder.
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