Shortstop

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The position of the shortstop Baseball SS.svg
The position of the shortstop
Troy Tulowitzki, shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays (2015-2017) Troy Tulowitzki At Bat (25411527464).jpg
Troy Tulowitzki, shortstop for the Toronto Blue Jays (2015–2017)

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.

Baseball positions

Baseball is a bat-and-ball game played between two opposing teams who take turns batting and fielding. Within the game there are positions in which each player can play in.

In sabermetrics, the defensive spectrum is the graphical representation of the positions on a baseball field, arranged from left to right. Most people say that catcher is the hardest position to play because a catcher has many responsibilities. A catcher has to watch the runners, make sure no one is going to steal, squat for 2-5 hours a game, and has to make the right calls for what pitch the pitcher should throw.

Batting order (baseball) sequence in which the members of the offense bat against the pitcher

In baseball, the batting order or batting lineup is the sequence in which the members of the offense take their turns in batting against the pitcher. The batting order is the main component of a team's offensive strategy. In Major League Baseball, the batting order is set by the manager, who before the game begins must present the home plate umpire with two copies of his team's lineup card, a card on which a team's starting batting order is recorded. The home plate umpire keeps one copy of the lineup card of each team, and gives the second copy to the opposing manager. Once the home plate umpire gives the lineup cards to the opposing managers, the batting lineup is final and a manager can only make changes under the Official Baseball Rules governing substitutions. If a team bats out of order, it is a violation of baseball's rules and subject to penalty.

Contents

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.

In baseball, a pull hitter is a batter who usually hits the ball to the side of the field from which he bats. For example, a right-handed pull hitter, who bats from the left side of the plate, will usually hit the ball to the left side of the field, termed "left field", from the batter's perspective. The opposite of pull hitting is known as "hitting to the opposite field." Hitters who rarely hit to the opposite field or "up the middle" are often described as dead pull hitters.

Second baseman defensive position in baseball and softball, played on the right side of the infield near second base

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.

History

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] With the advent of higher-quality baseballs, Adams moved to the infield, since the distance the balls could travel increased. [1] Adams had a long playing career with the Knickerbockers: he remained a player with the team until 1860. [4]

Doc Adams American baseball player and executive

Daniel Lucius "Doc" Adams was an American baseball player and executive who is regarded by historians as an important figure in the sport's early years. For most of his career he was a member of the New York Knickerbockers. He first played for the New York Base Ball Club in 1840 and started his Knickerbockers career five years later, continuing to play for the club into his forties and to take part in inter-squad practice games and matches against opposing teams. Researchers have called Adams the creator of the shortstop position, which he used to field short throws from outfielders. In addition to his playing career, Adams manufactured baseballs and oversaw bat production; he also occasionally acted as an umpire.

New York Knickerbockers

The New York Knickerbockers were one of the first organized baseball teams which played under a set of rules similar to the game today. In 1845, the team was founded by Alexander Cartwright, considered one of the original developers of modern baseball. In 1851, the New York Knickerbockers wore the first ever recorded baseball uniforms.

John Thorn American baseball writer and editor

John Thorn is a sports historian, author, publisher, and cultural commentator. Since March 1, 2011, he has been the Official Baseball Historian for Major League Baseball.

Positioning

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. [5]

Pitcher the player responsible for throwing ("pitching") the ball to the batters in a game of baseball or softball

In baseball, the pitcher is the player who throws the baseball from the pitcher's mound toward the catcher to begin each play, with the goal of retiring a batter, who attempts to either make contact with the pitched ball or draw a walk. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the pitcher is assigned the number 1. The pitcher is often considered the most important player on the defensive side of the game, and as such is situated at the right end of the defensive spectrum. There are many different types of pitchers, such as the starting pitcher, relief pitcher, middle reliever, lefty specialist, setup man, and the closer.

Catcher defensive position in baseball and softball played behind home plate, facing the field

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.

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.

Covering a base

In baseball, part of the infielders' and pitcher's jobs is to cover bases. That is, they stand next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball thrown from another fielder, so that they may make a play on an opposing baserunner who is approaching that base. On a force play, the fielder covering the base stands with one foot on that base.

Double play making two outs during the same play in baseball

In baseball, a double play is the act of making two outs during the same continuous play. The double play is defined in the Official Rules in the Definitions of Terms, and for the official scorer in Rule 9.11. Double plays can occur any time there is at least one baserunner and fewer than two outs.

Stolen base

In baseball, a stolen base occurs when a runner advances to a base to which he is not entitled and the official scorer rules that the advance should be credited to the action of the runner. The umpires determine whether the runner is safe or out at the next base, but the official scorer rules on the question of credit or blame for the advance under Rule 10.

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. [6]

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) [7] [8] 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.

Notes

  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

Venezuelan Omar Vizquel with the San Francisco Giants in 2008. Omar Vizquel at Wrigley Field.jpg
Venezuelan Omar Vizquel with the San Francisco Giants in 2008.
  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: [9] (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)

Source: baseballreference.com

See also

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References

  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. 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.
  5. Baseball Explained, by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived 2014-08-13 at the Wayback Machine
  6. Seminara, Dave (2010-07-06). "Branded for life with 'The Mendoza Line'". St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Retrieved January 9, 2013.
  7. "George Brett Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  8. "Mike Schmidt Statistics and History". Baseball-Reference.com. Retrieved February 13, 2011.
  9. "Single-Season Leaders & Records for Assists as SS". Baseball-Reference.com. USA Today Sports Media Group. Retrieved 7 August 2012.