Last updated
The position of the shortstop Baseball SS.svg
The position of the shortstop

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.


More hit balls go to the shortstop than to any other position, as there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the ball slightly. Like a second baseman, a shortstop must be agile, for example when performing a 4-6-3 double play. Also, like a third baseman, the shortstop fields balls hit to the left side of the infield, where a strong arm is needed to throw out a batter-runner before they reach the safety of first base.


Doc Adams of the Knickerbockers created the concept of the shortstop position, according to baseball historian John Thorn and Baseball Hall of Fame researcher Freddy Berowski. [1] [2] In the first five years the Knickerbockers played, the team fielded anywhere from eight to eleven players. The only infielders were the players covering each of the bases; if there were more than eight players, extra outfielders were sometimes used. The outfielders had difficulty throwing baseballs into the infield because of the balls' light weight. Adams's shortstop position, which he started playing at some time from 1849 to 1850, was used to field throws from the outfielders and throw to the three infielders. [1] [3] The position, more of a fourth outfielder than an infielder, was also then called "short fielder" (a term still used in soft-pitch softball for the 10th player). [4]

With the advent of higher-quality baseballs, Adams moved to the infield, since the distance the balls could travel increased. [1] However, Dickey Pearce, primarily of the Brooklyn Atlantics, is credited as the first to have played the shortstop position as it is played now. [5] Adams had a long playing career with the Knickerbockers: he remained a player with the team until 1860. [6]


Unlike the pitcher and catcher, who must start every play in a designated area (the pitcher must be on the pitcher's mound, with one foot in contact with the pitcher's rubber, and the catcher must be behind home plate in the catcher's box) the shortstop and the other fielders can vary their positioning in response to what they anticipate will be the actions of the batter and runner(s) once the play begins. [7]

The shortstop ordinarily is positioned near second base on the third-base side. Because right-handed hitters tend to hit the ball more toward third base, a shortstop will generally move closer to third base if the batter is batting right-handed, and more toward first base if the batter is batting left-handed. A shortstop typically has a strong throwing arm, because he has a relatively long throw to first base, and often has less time in which to make a throw, given that the ground balls he fields have often traveled relatively far. A shortstop must also be extremely agile, because balls hit to or near the shortstop position are usually hit harder than to other infield positions.

Shortstops are required to cover second base in double play situations when the ball is hit to the second baseman or first baseman. They also cover second when a runner is attempting a stolen base, but only when a left-handed hitter is batting because the infield will respond to a left-handed batter by shifting toward first base, resulting in the shortstop being the infielder who is closest to second base. Shortstops also must cover third at various times, including the rotation play; the latter occurs when there are runners on first and second and a sacrifice bunt is attempted toward third base, requiring the third baseman to move in away from third base in order to field it. Shortstops generally are given precedence on catching pop-ups in the infield as well, so they end up calling off other players many times, although on deep pop-ups they generally fall back when called off by an outfielder. They often become the cutoff man on balls to any part of the outfield that are being directed towards third base and all balls to left and center field that are destined for second base. Depending on the system the shortstop may cut balls from left field heading home; however, this is usually the job of the third baseman.

The emphasis on defense makes the position unusually difficult to fill. Historically, a strong shortstop did not have to be a good hitter. Some of the weakest hitters in Major League Baseball have played the position, including Mario Mendoza, for whom George Brett popularized the eponymous Mendoza Line to describe a batting average below .200. Since the 1960s, however, such mediocre hitting has become rarer as teams increasingly demand players with ability to both field and hit. [8]

In practice, a marginal fielder as a shortstop who hits well can be moved to almost any other position, especially second base or third base, whether early in their careers (examples: George Brett and Mike Schmidt were both tried early in their careers as shortstops) [9] [10] or later due to diminished fielding range, slower reflexes, weaker throwing arms, increased risk of injury, or co-existence with another dominant shortstop, as with Ernie Banks, Cal Ripken Jr., Alex Rodríguez, Michael Young, or Miguel Tejada.

Significant shortstops

Shortstops inducted to the Baseball Hall of Fame

Cardinals great Ozzie Smith Ozzie Smith 1983.jpg
Cardinals great Ozzie Smith

The year in which the player was inducted is given in brackets after his name.


  1. John Henry Lloyd and Willie Wells were elected for their play in the Negro leagues.
  2. George Wright was elected as a pioneer, but also starred as a shortstop in the 1860s and 1870s.
  3. Robin Yount started his career as a shortstop, and moved to the outfield where he played his last nine seasons. (Besides winning the MVP award as a shortstop in 1982, Yount also won the award as a centerfielder in 1989.)
  4. Ernie Banks played shortstop for the first half of his career and first base for the remainder.
Yankees former shortstop Derek Jeter getting ready to field his position in 2007 Jetershortstop.JPG
Yankees former shortstop Derek Jeter getting ready to field his position in 2007

Multiple Gold Glove Award winners

All-time single season assist leaders among shortstops

Omar Vizquel played more games at shortstop than any other player in MLB history. Omar Vizquel at Wrigley Field.jpg
Omar Vizquel played more games at shortstop than any other player in MLB history.
  1. Ozzie Smith: 621 (San Diego Padres, 1980)
  2. Glenn Wright: 601 (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1924)
  3. Dave Bancroft: 598 (Philadelphia Phillies/New York Giants, 1920)
  4. Tommy Thevenow: 597 (St. Louis Cardinals, 1926)
  5. Iván DeJesús: 595 (Chicago Cubs, 1977)
  6. Cal Ripken Jr.: 583 (Baltimore Orioles, 1984)
  7. Whitey Wietelmann: 581 (Boston Braves, 1943)
  8. Dave Bancroft: 579 (New York Giants, 1922)
  9. Rabbit Maranville: 574 (Boston Braves, 1914)
  10. Don Kessinger: 573 (Chicago Cubs, 1968)

Source: [11] (does not list teams)

All-time single season putout leaders among shortstops

  1. Donie Bush: 425 (Detroit Tigers, 1914)
  2. Hughie Jennings: 425 (Baltimore Orioles [National League], 1895)
  3. Joe Cassidy: 408 (Washington Senators, 1905)
  4. Rabbit Maranville: 407 (Boston Braves, 1914)
  5. Dave Bancroft: 405 (New York Giants, 1922)
  6. Eddie Miller: 405 (Boston Braves, 1940)
  7. Monte Cross: 404 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1898)
  8. Dave Bancroft: 396 (New York Giants, 1921)
  9. Mickey Doolan: 395 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1906)
  10. Buck Weaver: 392 (Chicago White Sox, 1913)

All-time single-season fielding percentage leaders among shortstops

  1. Mike Bordick: .9982 (Baltimore Orioles, 2002)
  2. Cal Ripken Jr.: .9956 (Baltimore Orioles, 1990)
  3. Omar Vizquel: .9954 (Cleveland Indians, 2000)
  4. Rey Sánchez: .9941 (Kansas City Royals, 2000)
  5. Rey Ordóñez: .9938 (New York Mets, 1999)
  6. Omar Vizquel: .9933 (San Francisco Giants, 2006)
  7. Omar Vizquel: .9931 (Cleveland Indians, 1998)
  8. J. J. Hardy: .9923 (Baltimore Orioles, 2012)
  9. Tony Fernández .9919 (Toronto Blue Jays, 1989)
  10. Rey Sánchez: .9915 (Kansas City Royals, 2001)

Number of seasons with 100+ double plays turned at shortstop (among Hall of Fame shortstops)


See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baseball positions</span> Fielding positions in the sport of baseball

In the sport of baseball, each of the nine players on a team is assigned a particular fielding position when it is their turn to play defense. Each position conventionally has an associated number, for use in scorekeeping by the official scorer: 1 (pitcher), 2 (catcher), 3, 4, 5, 6 (shortstop), 7, 8, and 9. Collectively, these positions are usually grouped into three groups: the outfield, the infield, and the battery. Traditionally, players within each group will often be more able to exchange positions easily ; however, the pitcher and catcher are highly specialized positions and rarely will play at other positions.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Softball</span> Team ball sport

Softball is a game similar to baseball, and it is played with a larger ball on a smaller field and with only underhand pitches permitted. Softball is played competitively at club levels, the college level, and the professional level. The game was first created in 1887 in Chicago by George Hancock.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Cal Ripken Jr.</span> American baseball player (born 1960)

Calvin Edwin Ripken Jr., nicknamed "the Iron Man", is an American former baseball shortstop and third baseman who played his entire 21-season career in Major League Baseball (MLB) for the Baltimore Orioles (1981–2001). One of his position's most productive offensive players, Ripken compiled 3,184 hits, 431 home runs, and 1,695 runs batted in during his career, and he won two Gold Glove Awards for his defense. He was a 19-time All-Star and was twice named American League (AL) Most Valuable Player (MVP). Ripken holds the record for consecutive games played (2,632), having surpassed Lou Gehrig's streak of 2,130 that had stood for 56 years and that many deemed unbreakable. In 2007, he was elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility with 98.53% of votes, the sixth-highest election percentage ever.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Double play</span> Making two outs during the same play in baseball

In baseball and softball, a double play is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. Double plays can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and fewer than two outs.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Third baseman</span> Baseball position

A third baseman, abbreviated 3B, is the player in baseball or softball 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.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Mark Belanger</span> American baseball player

Mark Henry Belanger, nicknamed "the Blade," was an American professional baseball player and coach. He played 18 seasons in Major League Baseball as a shortstop from 1965 through 1982, most notably as a member of the Baltimore Orioles dynasty that won six American League East division titles, five American League pennants, and two World Series championships between 1966 and 1979.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">First baseman</span> Infield defensive position in baseball and softball

A first baseman, abbreviated 1B, is the player on a baseball or softball team who fields the area nearest first base, the first of four bases a baserunner must touch in succession to score a run. The first baseman 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.

An infielder is a baseball player stationed at one of four defensive "infield" positions on the baseball field, between first base and third base.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Baseball rules</span> Overview of the rules of baseball at different levels and in different countries

Throughout the history of baseball, the rules have frequently changed as the game continues to evolve. A few common rules most professional leagues have in common is that four balls is a base on balls, three strikes is a strikeout, and three outs end a half-inning.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Assist (baseball)</span> Baseball statistic

In baseball, an assist is a defensive statistic, baseball being one of the few sports in which the defensive team controls the ball. An assist is credited to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball prior to the recording of a putout, even if the contact was unintentional. For example, if a ball strikes a player's leg and bounces off him to another fielder, who tags the baserunner, the first player is credited with an assist. A fielder can receive a maximum of one assist per out recorded. An assist is also credited if a putout would have occurred, had another fielder not committed an error. For example, a shortstop might field a ground ball cleanly, but the first baseman might drop his throw. In this case, an error would be charged to the first baseman, and the shortstop would be credited with an assist.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Billy Ripken</span> American baseball player (born 1964)

William Oliver Ripken, nicknamed Billy the Kid, is an American former professional baseball infielder. He played in Major League Baseball (MLB) from 1987–1998 for the Baltimore Orioles, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians (1995), and Detroit Tigers (1998). During his career, he batted and threw right-handed. He is the younger brother of Hall of Famer Cal Ripken Jr. He currently serves as a radio host for XM Satellite Radio and a studio analyst for MLB Network.

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.

The wheel play is a defensive strategy in baseball designed to defend against a sacrifice bunt. The play's name derives from the wheel-like rotation of the infielders.


  1. 1 2 3 Thorn, John. "Doc Adams". Society for American Baseball Research. Retrieved November 28, 2011.
  2. Miller, Robert (September 26, 2009). "The Ridgefield man who helped invent baseball". The News-Times. Retrieved November 30, 2011.
  3. Miller, Robert (September 26, 2009). "'Doc' Adams legacy; The position of shortstop". The News-Times. Retrieved December 2, 2011.
  4. Dickson, Paul (1998). The Dickson Baseball Dictionary. New York: Facts On File. pp. 317, 611, 772, 792. ISBN   9780816017416 . Retrieved April 24, 2023.
  5. McKenna, Brian. "Dickey Pearce". Society for American Baseball Research. SABR. Retrieved 3 April 2021.
  6. Thorn, John (2011). Baseball in the Garden of Eden: The Secret History of the Early Game. Simon & Schuster. p. 106. ISBN   978-0-7432-9403-4.
  7. Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  8. Seminara, Dave (2010-07-06). "Branded for life with 'The Mendoza Line'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  9. "George Brett Statistics and History". Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  10. "Mike Schmidt Statistics and History". Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  11. "Single-Season Leaders & Records for Assists as SS". USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 7 August 2012.