The shortstop is called the captain of the infield. Shortstops stand between second base and third base usually. The shortstop is usually the most athletic infielder. Second basemen stand far away from the batter but have a short throw to first base. Third basemen stand close to the batter but have a long throw across the diamond. Shortstops stand far away from the batter and they also have a long throw. Shortstops are also in charge of organizing the infield for cut off throws from the outfield to the bases.
Role and Responsibilities
Like the second baseman, the shortstop is around the center of the action when a baseball is hit into play. The shortstop must have good awareness of players' positions around the infield and know where to throw the baseball next.
The shortstop fields many ground balls; often he fields the most ground balls out of all the infielders. Ground balls are baseballs hit fast and low to the ground so that they bounce. Since ground balls travel very quickly, it is important for infielders to get a hold of them quickly so they can throw the base runner out.
After collecting the baseball, the shortstop often tosses it to the second baseman to begin the double play, or he throws it directly to the first baseman.
Here is a list of the common responsibilities a shortstop takes on:
- catch hit baseballs that enter his area (in between 2nd base and 3rd base and in shallow left-center field)
- cover third base or second base when necessary
- be able to throw the baseball to first base where most outs are made
- make double plays with the second baseman
Types of Shortstops
There are different types of shortstops. These types are mostly defined by the type of player. There are defensive shortstops, offensive shortstops and all-around shortstops.
A defensive shortstop is a shortstop who is better at the defensive side of baseball. Defensive shortstops make few errors, they usually have good instincts and range in the field. A good defensive shortstop will also have a good arm to make tough plays at first base. Some defensive shortstops include Andrelton Simmons and Troy Tulowitski.
Offensive shortstops are the opposite of defensive shortstops. They tend to be a little worse at fielding. They might make a few more errors. However, offensive shortstops will be better hitters, sometimes the best hitters on their team. Famous offensive shortstops include Alex Rodriguez, Manny Machado, and Tim Anderson.
All-around shortstops are shortstops who are equally good at defense and offense. All-around shortstops tend to be the best shortstops. Being an all-around shortstop is hard because you have to be good at both hitting and playing defense. Some of the best shortstops ever are all-around shortstops. These are guys like Derek Jeter, Honus Wagner, and Cal Ripken Jr.
Shortstops don't really need equipment different from any other position's equipment. The only difference is that you probably want an infield glove for playing shortstop instead of a bigger outfield glove.
Other equipment you should get to play shortstop:
- Baseball Bat
- Batting Gloves
- Baseball Spikes
- Batting Helmet
- Ankle/Wrist/Elbow Guards
The position shortstop was created because old baseballs didn't go very far so often they would land behind the infield but in front of the outfielders. So players quickly realized that if they had one infielder between second and third base they could catch those balls and make more outs.
The first famous shortstop was Honus Wagner. Wagner started playing in 1897 and he played until 1917, mostly with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Wagner was an all around shortstop and helped make the position important. The position was the same for a long time. In the past 20 years though, shortstops have gotten more hitting focused. Their fielding skills used to be more important but now hitting has become a crucial part of playing shortstop.
Shortstops don't have any specific statistics for them. Which statistics are important though do change. Errors, for example, might be more important for shortstops than other positions because they field more balls than other positions. There are lots of different statistics in baseball though.
Some of these statistics include:
The basic shortstop strategy is the same as basic strategy at every other position, field the ball if it's hit near you. Nowadays, there is more to strategy. The two big strategies that shortstops have to take into consideration are the shift and covering second base.
With the shift, shortstops are usually left alone on the left side of the field, they have to cover more ground. This also means that sometimes shortstops have to play near third base, preparing for a potential bunt.
Covering second base is important to prevent runners on first from getting a free base. Shortstops and secondbasmen coordinate for who is going to cover second base. Usually if the batter is left handed the shortstop will cover second and if the batter is right handed the second baseman will cover second base. This limits hit and run opportunities as much as possible.
Shortstop Skills and Techniques
There are many skills a shortstop needs. For the most part they're the same as other players on the field but there are some that shortstops need more than others. The main skills are usually called the five tools.
- Hitting for Average
- Arm Strength
Shortstops need arm strength more than second or first basemen and definitely need to be good fielders.
Hall of Fame Shortstops
Of position players, shortstops are tied for the most inductions with 26 in the Hall of Fame. The following lists some of the most famous shortstops of all time in baseball that were inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
Honus Wagner: Pittsburgh Pirates
Luke Appling: Chicago White Sox
Ernie Banks: Chicago Cubs
|Honus Wagner||Pittsburgh Pirates|
|Luke Appling||Chicago White Sox|
|Ernie Banks||Chicago Cubs|
|Ozzie Smith||St. Louis Cardinals|
|Cal Ripken jr.||Baltimore Orioles|
|Derek Jeter||New York Yankees|
Top MLB Shortstops
The following lists some of the top shortstops in Major League Baseball by team:
|Trevor Story||Colorado Rockies|
|Andrelton Simmons||Los Angeles Angels|
|Gleyber Torres||New York Yankees|
|Javier Baez||Chicago Cubs|
|Fernando Tatis Jr.||San Diego Padres|
|Francisco Lindor||New York Mets|
What is a shortstop in baseball?
A shortstop in baseball is an infielder who stands between second and third base. Shortstops are often called the captains of the infield. They are the most important infielder and one of the most central players on the field.
What does a shortstop do in baseball?
A shortstop's main job is to field ground balls around them. On top of that they cover second base, take relay throws from the outfield to second, third base and sometimes home plate, and take charge of the infield.
What are the types of shortstops in baseball?
The three main categories of shortstop are defensive, offensive, and all-around shortstops. This is based on the skill level of players at shortstop, whether they are better at fielding, hitting, or both.