The third baseman is the defensive player (specifically, an infielder) who is stationed at third base. The third baseman must have an especially strong throwing arm and must be good at catching ground balls and line drives. Since many outs are made at first base, the third baseman must be able to throw all the way across the infield to first base. The third baseman usually stands closer to the foul lines, so he can catch hard hit drives that stay fair.
The third baseman often fields ground balls, which 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.
Here are some other third baseman responsibilities:
Third basemen are generally known for their incredible arm talent along with their infield defensive abilities. That being said, some third baseman are only in the lineup because they are great hitters and only mediocre defenders. Some teams are fortunate enough however to have a player who is able to both hit and play incredible defense. There are three common types of third basemen: the defensive guru, the big bat, and the all around stud.
The standard third baseman is a player who can catch fast line drives and field ground balls with the best of them. This player generally has one of the strongest arms on the team because they have to quickly throw ground balls from one side of the baseball diamond (third base) to the other (first baseman) in a matter of seconds in the hopes of throwing the runner out. This player generally has great footwork and is able to quickly react and track balls off the bat.
As baseball has become more homerun heavy, teams have been searching for more and more players who can hit the ball. As a result, teams have begun identifying offense as more important than defense leading to more fielders such as third baseman specializing in hitting as opposed to fielding.
A big bat third baseman can hit the ball with the best of them. This player is in the lineup because they are expected to produce offense. The team knows they aren't going to be making the spectacular diving catches or throwing out the fastest runners, but is willing to accept the drop off in defensive play in return for their batting ability.
This player is one of the best on the team if not the whole league. They are strong in both hitting and fielding. They are rarely left out of the lineup because they can change a game in any moment with a spectacular defensive play or clutch hit. These players are very rare and only a few teams are fortunate enough to have a player of this caliber. They usually hit high in the batting order and are well respected by all of their teammates.
All players are required to wear a team uniform which includes long pants, cleats, a belt, jersey, and the team baseball cap. The third baseman uses a specific glove that has a wide opening and is firm inside so they can deal with fast line drives hit towards them. Third baseman generally use the following equipment as well:
Third base is nicknamed the "hot corner" because the majority of balls hit towards third base are coming at incredible velocities in a matter of milliseconds. Because of this, third baseman have been primarily known for their defensive abilities throughout baseball history. The position is primarily dominated by right-handed players because they do not have to turn their bodies like lefties would to make the throw across the diamond to first base. In fact, in the history of baseball there have only been 7 left handed third basemen! As for hitting, more recently the position has been thought of in an offensive capacity as third baseman are expected to produce on the offensive side now as well now.
Third baseman is one the hardest positions to excel at. There are fewer third basemen (currently only 17 players) in the Hall of Fame than any other position in baseball. In comparison, there are 83 pitchers in the Hall of Fame. Teams have recently expected their Third Baseman to hit with power. In 2019, 4 of the top 11 batting averages belonged to third baseman in addition to 3 of the top 7 homerun leaders. The best metric for a third baseman to judge their power is homeruns hit. Here are the top 5 all time leaders in home runs for third basemen:
|Name||Career Home Runs|
As for the defensive side, the most important stat to evaluate a third baseman's defensive performance is their fielding percentage. The metric is measured as (Putouts + Assists)/(Putouts + Assists + Errors). This means the higher the metric is to 1.0 the better the third baseman's year was defensively because they made minimal errors and made all the plays they were supposed to make. Here are the top 5 defensive third basemen of all time according to the the fielding percentage metric:
|Name||Career Fielding Percentage|
Playing third base starts with positioning. Knowing the batters handedness helps determine where the third baseman will stand generally. For example, if the batter is a righty, the third baseman will play closer to the third base foul line guarding against doubles whereas against lefties they will play more off the line toward second base because lefties are less likely to hit the ball to the opposite field. After positioning, third basemen must be aware of the current situation in the game. If there's a runner on third base, they are more likely to play near the bag holding the runner from getting a big lead. They also need to be aware of bunts and play closer to home plate if they suspect a bunt. A lot of preparation goes into playing third base if the player wants to succeed at the highest level.
Third basemen possess several incredible athletic skills and techniques. As for techniques, some players who are known to have the best arms in baseball stand further back towards the outfield giving them more time to react to a hard hit ball, but only a handful of players are able to utilize this technique because the distance is very far from the outfield grass to first base. Third baseman are usually some of the best athletes on the field because their position requires strength and quick feet. Below are some skills and techniques that third basemen must have in their tool box:
The following lists some of the most famous third basemen of all time in baseball that have been inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
|Wade Boggs||Boston Red Sox, New York Yankees, Tampa Bay Devil Rays|
|Chipper Jones||Atlanta Braves|
|Mike Schmidt||Philadelphia Phillies|
|Brooks Robinson||Baltimore Orioles|
|Paul Molitor||Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays|
The following lists some of the top third basemen in Major League Baseball by team:
|Nolan Arenado||Colorado Rockies|
|Anthony Rendon||Los Angeles Angels|
|Manny Machado||San Diego Padres|
|Rafael Devers||Boston Red Sox|
|Matt Chapman||Oakland Athletics|
|Kris Bryan||Chicago Cubs|
A third baseman is responsible for both fielding and hitting. This position requires an athlete who has a great reaction time and very strong arm. There are different types of third baseman such as a fielder, hitter, and all around player, but all third baseman must be able to throw the ball across the diamond because most plays they will be making are groundouts.
A third baseman is responsible for being a defensive cornerstone for any team. They play in a spot on the field where many balls are hit, therefore they must have great fielding skills. Third basemen have become more important on the offensive side recently as well as they have started to possess big bats hitting many homeruns.
There are three types of third baseman: the defensive guru, the big bat, and the all around stud. The defensive guru is a player who is an amazing defensive player but struggles on the offensive side. The big bat is the opposite and struggles on the defensive side but makes up for it with their batting skills. Lastly, the all around stud is able to hit and field with the best of them. This player is hard to come by and coveted by teams who have a player of this caliber.