If you’re new in baseball, you may be overwhelmed by the different baseball positions and roles.
There are pitchers, catchers, left fielders, right fielders, and center fielders. Baseball placement also includes first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, and shortstop.
There are also positions named designated hitter, pinch hitter, and pinch runner. It goes to say that there’s a lot to learn before one truly understands the game of baseball.
If you’re looking for an article about baseball positions explained, look no further. Read along to learn about baseball positions!
Table of Contents
- List of Baseball Positions and Roles
- The Famous Players in Each Position
- The Number Assigned for Each Position
- Frequently Asked Questions
List of Baseball Positions and Roles
Baseball roles can be intimidating when you first look at them. But, as you read along, you’ll quickly understand baseball positions and responsibilities, you might even find them pretty fascinating and fun.
- Location: Centre, on the pitcher’s mound
Because the ball comes alive and the game starts when the pitcher throws, it’s only appropriate to start our list with this position. If you’ve watched a couple of baseball games, you’ve noticed they’re located at the center of the diamond.
They stand on the first line of the defensive positions in baseball. This means their role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. To put that into context, pitchers are responsible for allowing weaker contact against the other team’s hitter.
To do this, the pitcher needs to throw strategic pitches. Good pitchers have to be skilled to throw different pitches. These include curveball, slider, slurve, and a lot more.
Ideally, a pitcher should be capable of allowing weaker contact against the other team’s hitter and making defensive plays easier. Among the goals of a pitcher is to strike out more batters and prevent them from making walks.
Amongst the different positions in baseball, the pitcher is one of the highest-paying roles—something to think about if you want to really make a career in this sport.
Let’s now discuss the pitcher’s partner in the field. That is none other than the catcher.
- Location: Behind the homeplate
You can see the catcher starting the game when facing toward the outfield to have a broad view of the whole play. They’re positioned behind the home plate and are crouched down and ready for the ball.
As the partner of the pitcher, their main responsibility is to receive all of the pitcher’s throws.
Catchers are also part of the team’s defense and prevent the opposing team from scoring by suggesting to the pitcher what kind of pitch will be most effective against a particular batter.
As physically enduring as it is, baseball is also a game of mental tactics, and the catcher plays a significant role in this aspect of the game as well. Catchers also help calm down a struggling pitcher.
3. Left Fielder
- Location: Left outfield
The left fielder is one of the most important outfield positions, covering the left portion of the outfield grass.
Left fielders are responsible for fielding baseballs that fall into this area of the field. They’re also responsible for backing up the bases.
Left fielders can be slower or have less range than center fielders. Still, these skills are required to be a good left fielder.
4. Center Fielder
- Location: Left-center and right-centre alley
Like other fielders, center fielders are required to catch fly balls. However, among the three fielding positions, the center field is responsible for covering the widest area in the field. This includes the left-center as well as the right-center alley.
Because of this, they’re expected to have a wide range. In addition, having a powerful throwing arm is important for center fielders since they need to throw the ball long distances to home, third, and second base.
5. Right Fielder
The next position we’ll tackle is the right fielder. Other than where they are located in the field, how do they differ from the left and center fielders?
- Location: outside the field’s diamond, to the third of the field on the right
When talking about skills, indeed, the right fielder does not have as much speed and range compared to other fielders.
But thanks to renowned right fielders like Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth, it’s clear that being a right fielder requires a unique set of skills just as important as speed and range. And that important skill that right fielders possess is arm strength!
To complete the infield positions on this list, we’ll also mention positions for short stop.
- Location: In the middle of the second-base bag and the 3rd baseman
When you need the captain of the infield, then the shortstop is the position you should be looking for. Shortstops stand between the second-base bag and the third baseman.
Based on the skills needed by each baseball position, you can say that the shortstop has it all. To be a good shortstop, you need to have a wide range, a strong arm, and be able to catch batted balls.
7. First Baseman
- Location: the back of the infield dirt
Want to know what’s common among Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Albert Pujols? All of them play the first baseman! If you look closely in the field, you’ll see the first baseman on the right side, towards the back of the infield dirt.
There are two main responsibilities of a first baseman. The first one is to field or scroop for ground balls that may hit his field. The second one is to catch throws from other infielders.
They don’t need to possess as much speed as other players. But in addition to being good catchers, first basemen also need to be decent fielders.
8. Second Baseman
- Location: between 1st and 2nd base bag
In every game, the second baseman stands between the first and second base, often positioned towards the back of the dirt infield and closer to the second base.
The role of the second baseman demands quick and agile movements. This is to ensure they cover ground balls hit to both their left and right. If you’re looking into getting into this position, you don’t need to have a strong throwing arm to be a good baseman.
9. Designated Hitter
Let’s now go on to the baseball batter positions by discussing the designated hitter. This position was first adopted in 1973 by the MLB. A designated hitter is someone who’s assigned to hit the bat to relieve the pitcher of doing so.
10. Pinch Hitter
Sometimes, managers need someone to take the place of the batter. This is where pinch hitters come into play.
They are often used to replace a weaker batter or to gain a platoon advantage. In some cases, a pinch hitter may be called upon to perform a specific task, such as executing a sacrifice bunt.
11. Pinch Runner
Aside from replacing hitters, managers would sometimes want to replace runners.
Pinch runners are very flexible and can substitute and put at any base. A pinch runner may even take over for a player who cannot advance to the next base due to an injury.
You can now identify a baseball field with player position, watching a game would be just more enjoyable. Understanding the different positions in baseball is essential for any player, coach, or fan like us.
In a nutshell, all types of baseball players we discussed require specific skills and attributes, and mastering them can lead to success in the field.
As you scroll along, we will delve deeper into the most famous players of each position and the number assigned for each position.
Read more: What position should I choose in baseball?
The Famous Players in Each Position
We have seen a number of players whose contributions to the game have been nothing short of legendary when it comes to the history of baseball.
To further discuss baseball player positions, let’s look at certain players who have distinguished themselves because of being the best on the field.
|Position||Best player of all time|
|Left Fielder||Ted Willams|
|Right Fielder||Babe Ruth|
|Center Fielder||Willie Mays|
|First Baseman||Edgar Martinez|
|Second Baseman||Rogers Hornsby|
|Designated Hitter||Joe DiMaggio|
|Pinch Hitter||Lenny Harris|
|Pinch Runner||Matt Alexander|
The Number Assigned for Each Position
Aside from baseball positions and roles, understanding starting numbers and baseball fielding numbers will also help you understand the game deeper.
If you want to know what position number the pitcher is and all positions by number, you can refer to the table below:
To give you an idea of how baseball field position numbers would look in the field, you can look at the pictures below:
Frequently Asked Questions
Let’s answer some FAQs about baseball positions and roles!
What is the most important position in baseball?
All baseball positions are important. With one missing, no one can consider a game complete. But if we rank them all in order of importance, that would be the pitcher. The better the pitcher is in a team, the more likely they will do well in a season.
What is the hardest position in baseball?
There are many different skills you can find on a baseball team. But not surprisingly, the hardest position in baseball is also the pitcher position.
How many players are there on a baseball team?
Now that you know how many positions there are in a team, you may ask how many individuals are allowed in one team. The number of players on a baseball team depends on the competition level.
The whole roster for minor league baseball, which covers the A-AAA levels, can have between 28 and 30 players. The total number of players on a major league baseball (MLB) roster can be between 22 and 28.
What’s the position on defense that is behind the batter?
In baseball, the catcher is the player who stands behind the batter on the field. The catcher crouches directly behind home plate and is in charge of catching all of the pitches thrown by the pitcher.
Now, you know every position player in baseball and their roles. The next time you watch a game, you can easily identify every MLB position right off the bat!
We’re very happy that through this article, you gained a clear picture of where different baseball players stand on the field and which players became a legend in each role.
As we always say, baseball shouldn’t be complicated. For more baseball information, just keep scrolling through our page!
Rogers is a hardcore baseball enthusiast. He joined Nations Baseball as a writer to share his knowledge and help others realize their passions for the sport. Roger is striving towards becoming a coach at his local baseball club.