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An infielder is a baseball player stationed at one of four defensive "infield" positions on the baseball field.
Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. The game proceeds when a player on the fielding team, called the pitcher, throws a ball which a player on the batting team tries to hit with a bat. The objectives of the offensive team are to hit the ball into the field of play, and to run the bases—having its runners advance counter-clockwise around four bases to score what are called "runs". The objective of the defensive team is to prevent batters from becoming runners, and to prevent runners' advance around the bases. A run is scored when a runner legally advances around the bases in order and touches home plate. The team that scores the most runs by the end of the game is the winner.
In a game of baseball, two teams of nine players take turns playing offensive and defensive roles. Although there are many rules to baseball, in general the team playing offense tries to score runs by batting balls into the field that enable runners to make a complete circuit of the four bases. The team playing in the field tries to prevent runs by catching the ball before it hits the ground, by tagging runners with the ball while they are not touching a base, or by throwing the ball to first base before the batter who hit the ball can run from home plate to first base.
There are nine defensive positions on a baseball field. The part of the baseball field closest to the batter (shown in the diagram as light brown) is known as the "infield" (as opposed to the "outfield", the part of the field furthest from the batter, shown in the diagram as green.)
The infield is composed of four positions: first base (1B), second base (2B), third base (3B) and shortstop (SS). Generally, the first three have responsibility for plays at their respective bases, although the shortstop often shares responsibility for second base with the second baseman. Each position requires a different set of skills. A player who lacks the offensive or defensive skills needed to be a member of the starting lineup, but who has the various skills needed to play two or more infield positions competently and therefore can be called upon to come off the bench and fill a variety of defensive roles is called a utility infielder.
Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball or softball fielding position between second and third base, which is considered to be among the most demanding defensive positions. Historically the position was assigned to defensive specialists who were typically poor at batting and were often placed at the bottom of the batting order. Today shortstops are often able to hit well and many are placed at the top of the lineup. In the numbering system used by scorers to record defensive plays, the shortstop is assigned the number 6.
A utility infielder (UI) is a baseball player, usually one who does not have a regular starting role on the team and who is capable of playing more than one of the four defensive infield positions: second base, third base, shortstop, and less typically first base. Utility infielders are generally considered excellent defensive players who do not hit well enough to remain in the starting lineup, but can fill in at multiple defensive positions to give the various starters a rest, or replace a starter late in a game to provide improved defense when the team is winning.
The second baseman tries to field balls hit between first and second base. The shortstop does the same between second and third base. Once fielded, the balls must be thrown to the first baseman before the batter can reach first base. This requires speed to get to hit balls before they pass beyond reach, dexterity to successfully field the balls, and agility to field the balls in a position that will allow a strong throw to first base. Second basemen and shortstops—known as the middle infielders—also share responsibility for tagging runners who are attempting to steal second base. Because a shortstop has a longer throw to make to first base, he must reach the ball faster and throw harder than the second baseman. For this reason, the shortstop must have the best fielding skills of any infielder. Because of the spectrum of skills required by a middle infielder, emphasis is usually put on defensive skills rather than offensive ability—good defensive skills and a mediocre bat are often considered more important than a good bat and poor defensive skills.
The third baseman primarily fields balls hit and bunted down the third base line, but can also attempt to reach balls hit between second and third base. Although the third baseman does not need to cover as great a range as the shortstop or second baseman, the position requires greater anticipation and quicker reflexes, since the third baseman may be standing only 90 feet from the batter and sometimes much less; thus, he has much less time to react to hit balls than the shortstop or second baseman. The third baseman must also have a very strong arm, since the throw from his position to first base is the longest on the infield.
The first baseman is largely responsible for keeping one foot on first base while catching throws from the other three infielders before the batter can reach first base. These throws are often hurried and thus off-target. A player who is tall and has long arms may be a good candidate for first baseman, because these attributes help him handle off-target throws. The first baseman must be able to cleanly field thrown balls that hit the ground before they reach first base, and to quickly decide to abandon first when necessary to catch an especially bad throw. Since the first baseman mostly stands close to his base, his mobility and throwing skills do not need to be high; good hitters who are slow of foot are often placed at first base. In some cases, an aging third baseman or outfielder who has lost some speed but is still a good hitter will be moved to first base to keep his bat in the line-up.
An outfielder is a person playing in one of the three defensive positions in baseball or softball, farthest from the batter. These defenders are the left fielder, the center fielder, and the right fielder. As an outfielder, their duty is to catch fly balls and/ ground balls then to return them to the infield for the out or before the runner advances, if there is any runners on the bases. As an outfielder, they normally play behind the six players located in the field. By convention, each of the nine defensive positions in baseball is numbered. The outfield positions are 7, 8 and 9. These numbers are shorthand designations useful in baseball scorekeeping and are not necessarily the same as the squad numbers worn on player uniforms.
Softball is a game similar to baseball played with a larger ball on a field that has base lengths of 60 feet, a pitcher's mound that ranges from 35–43 feet away from home plate, and a homerun fence that is 220 feet away from home plate. It was invented in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois, United States as an indoor game. The game moves at a faster pace than traditional baseball. There is less time for the base runner to get to first while the opponent fields the ball; yet, the fielder has less time to field the ball while the opponent is running down to first base. The name softball was given to the game in 1926, because the ball used to be soft, however in modern day usage, the balls are hard.
A bunt is a batting technique in baseball or fastpitch softball. To bunt, the batter loosely holds the bat in front of the plate and intentionally taps the ball into play.
A third baseman, abbreviated 3B, is the player in baseball whose responsibility is to defend the area nearest to third base — the third of four bases a baserunner must touch in succession to score a run. In the scoring system used to record defensive plays, the third baseman is assigned the number '5'.
Catcher is a position for a baseball or softball player. When a batter takes his/her turn to hit, the catcher crouches behind home plate, in front of the (home) umpire, and receives the ball from the pitcher. In addition to this primary duty, the catcher is also called upon to master many other skills in order to field the position well. The role of the catcher is similar to that of the wicket-keeper in cricket, but in cricket, wicketkeepers are increasingly known for their batting abilities.
In baseball and softball, second baseman is a fielding position in the infield, between second and first base. The second baseman often possesses quick hands and feet, needs the ability to get rid of the ball quickly, and must be able to make the pivot on a double play. In addition, second basemen are usually right-handed; only four left-handed throwing players have ever played second base in Major League Baseball since 1950. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the second baseman is assigned the number 4.
First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner to score a run for that player's team. A first baseman is the player on the team playing defense who fields the area nearest first base, and is responsible for the majority of plays made at that base. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the first baseman is assigned the number 3.
In baseball, an out occurs when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out for one of the reasons given below. When three outs are recorded in an inning, a team's half of the inning, ends.
The rules of baseball differ slightly from league to league, but in general share the same basic game play.
A baseball field, also called a ball field, sandlot or a baseball diamond, is the field upon which the game of baseball is played. The term can also be used as a metonym for a baseball park.
A right fielder, abbreviated RF, is the outfielder in baseball or softball who plays defense in right field. Right field is the area of the outfield to the right of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the right fielder is assigned the number 9.
A hit and run is a high risk, high reward offensive strategy used in baseball. It uses a stolen base attempt to try to place the defending infielders out of position for an attempted base hit.
Baseball scorekeeping is the practice of recording the details of a baseball game as it unfolds. Professional baseball leagues hire official scorers to keep an official record of each game, but many fans keep score as well for their own enjoyment. Scorekeeping is usually done on a printed scorecard and, while official scorers must adhere precisely to one of the few different scorekeeping notations, most fans exercise some amount of creativity and adopt their own symbols and styles.