First baseman

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.

Also called first sacker or cornerman, the first baseman is ideally a tall player who throws left-handed and possesses good flexibility and quick reflexes. Flexibility is needed because the first baseman receives throws from the other infielders, the catcher and the pitcher after they have fielded ground balls. In order for the runner to be called out, the first baseman must be able to stretch towards the throw and catch it before the runner reaches first base. First base is often referred to as "the other hot corner"—the "hot corner" being third base—and therefore, like the third baseman, he must have quick reflexes to field the hardest hit balls down the foul line, mainly by left-handed pull hitters and right-handed hitters hitting to the opposite field. They often are power hitters who have a substantial number of home runs and extra base hits while maintaining a .270 plus batting average.

Baseball 1B
The position of the first baseman.
D-backs first baseman Paul Goldschmidt takes batting practice on Gatorade All-Star Workout Day. (28042717673)
Paul Goldschmidt, first baseman for the St. Louis Cardinals

Fielding

Baseball first baseman 2004
Sean Casey, former first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds tries unsuccessfully to keep his foot on the base while receiving a throw from an infielder.
Baseball Play-at-first
A high school first baseman takes a throw from the third baseman in an attempt to have the runner called "out".

Good defensive first basemen, according to baseball writer and historian Bill James, are capable of playing off first base so that they can field ground balls hit to the fair side of first base. The first baseman then relies upon the pitcher to cover first base to receive the ball to complete the out. Indications of a good defensive first baseman include a large number of assists and a low number of throwing errors by other infielders.

In general

The nature of play at first base often requires first basemen to stay close to the bag to hold runners or to reach the bag before the batter. First basemen are not typically expected to have the range required of a third baseman, shortstop, second baseman or an outfielder. As a result, first base is not usually perceived to be as physically demanding as other positions. However, it can also be a very hard position to play; a large amount of concentration and timing is required. Though many play at first base their entire career, it is common for veteran players to be moved to first base to extend their careers or to accommodate other recently acquired players. Facing a possible trade or a considerable reduction in playing time, a player will usually opt to move to first base instead. Catchers and corner outfielders are often moved to first base due to deteriorating health or if their fielding abilities at their original position are detrimental to the team.

Position

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 first baseman 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 play begins.[1]

When first base is not occupied by a baserunner, the first baseman usually stands behind first base and off the foul line. The distance he plays from the base and foul line is dependent on the current hitter and any runners on base. The exact position may also depend on the first baseman's experience, preference, and fielding ability. For a known right-handed pull hitter, the first baseman might position himself further towards the second baseman's normal fielding position. For a known left-handed pull hitter, the first baseman will position himself closer to the foul line to stop a ball hit down the line.

To protect against a bunt on the first base side of the infield, the first baseman will position himself in front of the base and move towards the hitter as the pitch is thrown. As soon as the pitcher commits to throwing towards home plate, the first baseman will charge towards the hitter to field the bunt. During these plays, it is the responsibility of the second baseman to cover first base.

With a base runner present at first base, the first baseman stands with his right foot touching the base to prepare for a pickoff attempt. Once the pitcher commits to throwing towards home plate, the first baseman comes off the bag in front of the runner and gets in a fielding position. If the bases are loaded, or if the runner on first base is not a base stealing threat, the first baseman will position himself behind the runner and appropriate for the current batter.

When waiting for a throw from another player, the first baseman stands with his off-glove foot touching the base, then stretches toward the throw. This stretch decreases the amount of time it takes the throw to get to first and encourages the umpire to call close plays in favor of the fielding team. Veteran first basemen are known to pull off the bag early on close plays to convince the umpire that the ball reached his glove before the runner reached first base. The first baseman also has the responsibility of cutting off throws from any of the three outfield positions on their way to home plate. Though highly situational, the first baseman usually only receives throws from the center or right fielder.

Double play

The first baseman is usually at the end of a double play, though he can be at the beginning and end of a double play. Unusual double plays involving the first baseman include the 3–6–3, 3–4–3, 3–2–3, or a 3–6–1 double play. In a 3–6–3 or 3–4–3 double play, the first baseman fields the ball, throws to second, where the shortstop (6) or second baseman (4) catches the ball to make the first out and then throws back to the first baseman who reaches first base in time to tag first base before the batter reaches first base. For a 3–2–3 double play, the bases must be loaded for the force-out at home plate or the catcher must tag the runner coming from third base out. With a force-out at home plate, the first baseman fields the ball, throws to the catcher, the catcher steps on home plate for the first out, then he throws it back to the first baseman to complete the double play. The 3–2–3 double play with a tag out at home plate is usually not attempted because of the possibility of the catcher not being able to tag the runner and/or block the plate. If the runner at third base is known as a good or fast baserunner, the first basemen will make considerable effort to make sure the third base runner does not advance to home plate for a run by "looking" him back to third base. The primary goal of the first baseman in this instance is to ensure the runner doesn't advance and that the team records at least one out, especially in a close game. A 3–6–1 double play is almost like a 3–6–3 or a 3–4–3 double play, but the first baseman is usually playing deep in the infield. Here, the first baseman throws the ball to the shortstop covering second, but the pitcher then has the responsibility of covering first base to receive the throw from the shortstop.

A first baseman can theoretically also make an unassisted double play. There are two ways to achieve this. The first is by catching a line drive and returning to first base to tag the base before a baserunner can return. This is rare because the first baseman is usually slower than most baserunners who generally return to their bases on line drives near any fielder. The second is by getting an infield hit to the right when there is a runner on first, tagging the runner and returning to the first base in time to get the man running towards him.

Left-handed throwing first basemen

A left-handed throwing non-pitcher is often converted to or begins his career playing at first base. A left-handed throwing baseball player who is not particularly fast or has a weak arm (and therefore not well suited for playing in the outfield) will be relegated to playing first base. This is because the only other positions available to the player (catcher, third base, shortstop or second base) are overwhelmingly held by right-handed throwing players, who can make quicker throws to first base.

The same advantages of being a right-handed throwing catcher, third basemen, shortstop or second basemen apply to the left-handed first baseman. These advantages surface in plays where the player is required to throw to another infielder after fielding a batted ball. In these instances, a right-hander will be required to turn more towards their target before throwing whereas a left-hander will usually already be positioned to make a throw. However, compared to the advantage for the right-handed throwing third baseman, shortstop, or second baseman, these advantages for the left-handed first baseman are minor because many balls hit to the first baseman are to his right, so that a right-handed first baseman fielding them backhanded does not need to turn after fielding a batted ball to throw it. In addition, a majority of plays only require the first baseman to receive a throw, not to field or throw himself. This is attributed to the overall majority of baseball players batting right-handed, and therefore, a majority of batted balls are hit to the left side of the infield and fielded by the third baseman or shortstop. Left-handed first basemen are also advantageous in attempting to pick off baserunners at first, as the left-hander can catch and tag in one motion, often doing both at the same time, while right-handed first baseman must sweep their glove across their body, costing them a crucial fraction of a second in applying the tag.[2]

First-baseman's mitt

The first baseman's mitt is similar to a catcher's mitt in that it has extra padding and has no individual fingers. (In shape, it is closer to a mitten than a glove.) It is much larger than the other infielders' gloves; it is wide, very deep, and it is crescent-shaped at its edges, allowing the first-baseman to use the mitt like a scoop in catching errant throws from other players on the infield.

Since many throws to first base are made in great haste, the first baseman must be prepared to catch balls that are either high or low, as well as balls thrown quite a distance to either side, all while maintaining contact with the base (using one foot or the other). This requires a fair amount of agility and physical coordination. Among the most difficult plays a first baseman is normally required to make are the "short hop" and the "tag play," both of which are far easier to execute when the fielder is wearing the first-baseman's mitt rather than another type of glove.

Short Hop

Hank Greenberg 1937 cropped
Hank Greenberg, Hall of Fame first baseman and 2-time MVP

Every ground ball hit to an infielder becomes a race between the batter-runner and the team in the field; the fielder must catch the batted ball and throw it to first before the batter can reach the base. Consequently, part of the first baseman's job is to step toward the incoming ball and stretch his body so that his catching hand makes contact with it as soon as physically possible. Compared to catching the ball while standing passively on the base, this shaves a fraction of a second from the time the runner has to reach base. When it is thrown too low and bounces before reaching the first baseman, catching the ball is difficult, especially while he is in a "stretch position". A throw caught shortly after its bounce, that is, while the baseball's path, rebounding from the turf, is sharply upward, is called a "short hop". Since a ball that strikes the ground is always subject to the possibility of encountering a pebble or a rut or a spike-mark that sends it in a radically new direction, it is best that the first baseman catch the ball on the short hop by swiping or scooping the ball as close to the ground surface as possible. This technique also minimizes the amount of time required to make the putout.

Tag play

The second-most-difficult play for a first baseman is the "tag play". Whenever an infielder's throw is so far off the mark that the first baseman must abandon his base to catch it, the first baseman is left with only two options. To put the runner out, he must either lunge back to the base before the runner reaches it, or he must tag the runner before the runner reaches the base. A tag involves touching the runner with the ball (or with the gloved hand holding the ball) before the runner reaches the base. At first base, the typical tag play occurs when the infielder's throw is high and to the left of the first baseman, causing him to jump and stretch his long mitt to catch the ball before it sails into the dugout or the grandstand. The tag is made, after the catch, by swiping the mitt downward, toward the in-coming runner's head or shoulder, often in one fluid motion that is integrated with the act of catching the ball. Performed properly, the tag play can be spectacular to see.

As a career move

First basemen are typically not the most talented defensive players on a major-league team. Someone who has the agility, throwing arm, and raw speed to play another fielding position usually plays somewhere other than first base. Great-hitting catchers may play some games at first base so that they can hit in some games without having to absorb the rigor of catching every game.

According to Bill James, aside from pitchers and catchers, the most difficult defensive position to play is shortstop, followed by second base, center field, third base, left or right field (depending upon the ballpark), and finally first base as the easiest position. Anyone who can play another position on the field can play first base.

At or near the ends of their careers, good hitters are often moved to first base as their speed and throwing arms deteriorate, or their teams become concerned with the likelihood of injury. Such players include Hall of Famers Johnny Bench (originally a catcher), George Brett (third baseman), Ernie Banks (shortstop), Rod Carew (second baseman), Al Kaline (right fielder), Mickey Mantle (center fielder), Mike Piazza (catcher), and Mike Schmidt (third baseman). Only rarely does a player begin his major-league career at first base and go elsewhere, as with Jackie Robinson, a natural second baseman who was played at first base in his rookie season so that he would avoid the risk of malicious slides at second base. Hank Greenberg, a natural first baseman for the Detroit Tigers, moved to left field in his 11th major league season (1940) after his team acquired Rudy York, another slugging first baseman who was ill-suited to play anywhere else.[3]

References

  1. ^ Baseball Explained by Phillip Mahony. McFarland Books, 2014. See www.baseballexplained.com Archived August 13, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  2. ^ "Left-handed first baseman like Pirates' LaRoche becoming rare". Trib Live.
  3. ^ Coffey, Alex. "Tigers move first baseman Hank Greenberg to the outfield". Baseball Hall of Fame. Retrieved August 4, 2018.
2017 Major League Baseball draft

The 2017 Major League Baseball (MLB) First-Year Player Draft began on June 12, 2017. The draft assigned amateur baseball players to MLB teams. The first 36 picks, including the first round and compensatory picks, were broadcast on MLB Network on June 12, while the remainder of the draft was live streamed on MLB.com on June 13 and 14.With the worst record in the 2016 MLB season, the Minnesota Twins received the first overall pick. Compensation picks were distributed for players who did not sign from the 2016 MLB Draft. Also, fourteen small-market teams competed in a lottery for additional competitive balance picks, with six teams receiving an additional pick after the first round, and eight teams receiving an additional pick after the second round. The Twins selected Royce Lewis with the first overall selection.

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.

There are nine fielding positions in baseball. Each position conventionally has an associated number, which is used to score putouts:

1 (pitcher), 2 (catcher), 3 (first baseman), 4 (second baseman), 5 (third baseman), 6 (shortstop), 7 (left fielder), 8 (center fielder), and 9 (right fielder).For example:

If the third baseman fields a ball and throws it to first, it is recorded as a 5-3 out.

A double play where the second baseman fields, throws to the shortstop covering second base, who throws to the first baseman, is recorded as a 4-6-3 double play. This is not the only way to make a double play.

Bill White (first baseman)

William De Kova White (born January 28, 1934) is a former professional baseball first baseman who played for the New York and San Francisco Giants (1956, 1958), St. Louis Cardinals (1959–65, 1969) and Philadelphia Phillies (1966–68). In 1989 White was elected President of the National League to replace Bart Giamatti, who succeeded Peter Ueberroth as Commissioner. White served as NL president until he retired in 1994.

White became a full-time sportscaster after his playing career ended in 1969, and was the play-by-play man and color analyst for New York Yankees television and radio broadcasts for 18 years.

Daniel Murphy (baseball)

Daniel Thomas Murphy (born April 1, 1985) is an American professional baseball first baseman for the Colorado Rockies of Major League Baseball (MLB). He previously played in MLB for the New York Mets, Washington Nationals and Chicago Cubs. While primarily a second baseman, he has also played first base, third base, and left field. Murphy was an MLB All-Star in 2014, 2016 and 2017.

En route to leading the New York Mets to their fifth World Series appearance in franchise history, he won the National League Championship Series MVP Award in 2015, setting a record for consecutive postseason games with a home run with six.

Double play

In baseball, a double play (denoted as DP in baseball statistics) 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 less than two outs.

During the 2016 Major League Baseball (MLB) regular season, the average for double plays completed by each team during the course of a 162-game season was 145 — nearly one per game by each team.

George Burns (first baseman)

George Henry Burns (January 31, 1893 – January 7, 1978), nicknamed "Tioga George", was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball (MLB) who played for five American League (AL) teams from 1914 to 1929.One of the league's top right-handed batters of the 1920s, he was named the AL Most Valuable Player in 1926 with the Cleveland Indians after batting .358 and setting a major league record with 64 doubles. A career .307 hitter, he retired with 2,018 hits, then the third-highest total by an AL right-handed hitter. His 1,671 games at first base were the most by an AL right-handed player until 1940; he still ranks third in league history.

George Scott (first baseman)

George Charles Scott, Jr. (March 23, 1944 – July 28, 2013) was a first baseman in Major League Baseball for the Boston Red Sox (1966–71, 1977–79), Milwaukee Brewers (1972–76), Kansas City Royals (1979) and New York Yankees (1979). His nickname was "Boomer". He batted and threw right-handed.

George Stovall

George Thomas Stovall, nicknamed "Firebrand" (November 23, 1877 in Leeds, Missouri – November 5, 1951 in Burlington, Iowa), was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball with the Cleveland Naps and the St. Louis Browns in the American League, and he also played two seasons with the Kansas City Packers of the short-lived Federal League. He was the manager of the Naps for one season in 1911, and in 1912, he went to the Browns, serving as player-manager for two seasons. In 1914, he jumped to the Packers as a first baseman-manager. In 1916, he signed with the Toledo Mud Hens and played a season there before retiring from baseball at age 39.

In 5596 career at bats, Stovall had 1382 hits. He recorded 231 doubles and 142 career stolen bases. While for the most part a first baseman, he did play some second base and even third base, especially early in his career. In 1905, he played 46 of his 112 games at second. Every year from 1905 until 1910, Stovall recorded at least 13 stolen bases.

In late 1913, Stovall was suspended by the American League for spitting tobacco juice at an umpire, and was fired as Browns manager, the job being passed to the relatively little-known (at the time) Branch Rickey.

Harry Davis (1900s first baseman)

Harry H. Davis (July 19, 1873 – August 11, 1947) was a Major League Baseball first baseman and right-handed batter who played for the New York Giants (1895–96), Pittsburgh Pirates (1896–98), Louisville Colonels (1898), Washington Senators (1898–99), Philadelphia Athletics (1901–11, 1913–17), and Cleveland Naps (1912).

Davis was born in Philadelphia. He attended Girard College. After having played the 1900 for the minor league Providence Grays, he decided to quite baseball, but Athletics manager Connie Mack made him an offer too large to refuse to return to baseball in 1901 with the Athletics. He led the American League in home runs from 1904 to 1907, one of only five players to have ever led their league for four consecutive seasons. He also hit for the cycle on July 10, 1901.

He led the AL in doubles three times and the NL in triples once.

Davis was the starting first baseman and first captain of manager Connie Mack's Philadelphia Athletics from 1901 to 1910. In 1905 he led the American league in home runs, RBI, runs and doubles, and led the Athletics to the 1905 World Series against the New York Giants. He was the starting first baseman for the 1910 World Champions and hit .353 in the 1910 World Series. In 1911, the 37-year-old Davis was replaced at first base by the younger Stuffy McInnis, and Davis played a reserve role for the 1911 World Champions.

Davis managed the 1912 Cleveland Naps, but left with 28 games left in the season and a record of 54–71. He returned to the Athletics as a player, coach and assistant captain in 1913, amassing only 33 plate appearances over the next five seasons combined. He continued as a coach and scout with Mack's Athletics until 1927 and also served as a Philadelphia City Councilman.

Davis died in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, August 11, 1947, at the age of 74.

Infielder

An infielder is a baseball player stationed at one of four defensive "infield" positions on the baseball field.

Jack Phillips (first baseman)

Jack Dorn Phillips (September 6, 1921 – August 30, 2009) was an American professional baseball player whose career extended from 1943 to 1959. In the Major Leagues, he was a backup first baseman who played for three different teams between the 1947 and 1957 seasons. Listed at 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m) tall and 193 pounds (88 kg), Phillips batted and threw right-handed, and was nicknamed "Stretch" for his flexibility when covering first base.

John Reilly (baseball)

John Good Reilly [Long John] (October 5, 1858 – May 31, 1937) was an American first baseman in Major League Baseball who hit 69 home runs and batted .289 during his ten-year career. In 1888, he hit 13 home runs with 103 RBI and a .321 batting average.

Karl Pagel

Karl Douglas Pagel (born March 29, 1955 in Madison, Wisconsin) is a former Major League Baseball first baseman who played for five seasons. He played for the Chicago Cubs from 1978 to 1979 and the Cleveland Indians from 1981 to 1983.

In nine minor league seasons, Pagel hit .294 with 163 home runs and 587 RBIs. Pagel was named MVP of the Texas League in 1977 when he played for the Midland Cubs. Pagel was named MVP of the American Association in 1979 while playing for the Wichita Aeros. Pagel was named to the International League All-Star team in 1982 with the Charleston Charlies. Pagel retired following the 1984 season in which he played for in the Maine Guides.

Pagel lives in the Phoenix, Arizona area, where he has worked as a driver for UPS.

List of Major League Baseball career fielding errors as a first baseman leaders

In baseball statistics, an error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to advance one or more bases or allows an at bat to continue after the batter should have been put out.

First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner in order 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.

Cap Anson is the all-time leader in errors as a first baseman with 658 career. Anson is the only first baseman to commit over 600 career errors. Dan Brouthers is second all-time with 513 career errors and the only other first baseman to commit more than 500 errors.

List of Major League Baseball career putouts as a first baseman leaders

In baseball statistics, a putout (denoted by PO or fly out when appropriate) is given to a defensive player who records an out by tagging a runner with the ball when he is not touching a base (a tagout), catching a batted or thrown ball and tagging a base to put out a batter or runner (a force-out), catching a thrown ball and tagging a base to record an out on an appeal play, catching a third strike (a strikeout), catching a batted ball on the fly (a flyout), or being positioned closest to a runner called out for interference.

First base, or 1B, is the first of four stations on a baseball diamond which must be touched in succession by a baserunner in order 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.

Jake Beckley is the all-time leader in career putouts as a first baseman with 23,731. Cap Anson (21,699), Ed Konetchy (21,361), Eddie Murray (21,255), and Charlie Grimm (20,711) are the only other players to record 20,000 career putouts.

List of Major League Baseball player-managers

Major League Baseball (MLB) is the highest level of play in North American professional baseball. Founded in 1869, it is composed of 30 teams. Each team in the league has a manager, who is responsible for team strategy and leadership on and off the field. Assisted by various coaches, the manager sets the line-up and starting pitcher before each game, and makes substitutions throughout the game. In early baseball history, it was not uncommon for players to serve as player-managers; that is, they managed the team while still being signed to play for the club. In the history of MLB, there have been 221 player–managers, 59 of whom are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.The dual role of player–manager was formerly a common practice, dating back to John Clapp, who performed the task for the Middletown Mansfields in 1872. One reason for this is that by hiring a player as a manager, the team could save money by paying only one salary. Also, popular players were named player–managers in an effort to boost game attendance. Babe Ruth left the New York Yankees when they refused to allow him to become player–manager. Five of the eight National League (NL) managers in 1934 were also players. Connie Mack, John McGraw, and Joe Torre, among the all-time leaders in managerial wins, made their managerial debuts as player–managers. At least one man served as a player-manager in every major league season from Clapp's debut through 1955.

Today, player–managers have become rare in baseball. Pete Rose is the most recent player–manager, serving from 1984 through 1986 with the Cincinnati Reds. Whereas some player–managers, such as Lou Boudreau, were full-time players as player–managers, by the time Rose became player–manager, he was a part-time player. Rose was trying to prolong his career to break the all-time hit record set by Ty Cobb, and Reds owner Marge Schott used this as a marketing ploy. Rose removed himself from the 40-man roster after the 1986 season to make room for Pat Pacillo, unofficially retiring as a player, but remained as the Reds manager until he was banned from baseball following the release of the Dowd Report in 1989.

One criticism of the practice holds that the manager has enough to be preoccupied with during a game without playing. With specialized bullpens, extensive scouting reports, and increased media scrutiny, the job of a manager has become more complex. A player–manager needs to decide how much playing time to give himself. Don Kessinger, player–manager of the Chicago White Sox in 1979, believes he did not play himself enough. Additionally, Bill Terry felt he became isolated from his team when he became a player–manager.However, teams continue to consider hiring player–managers. The Toronto Blue Jays considered hiring Paul Molitor as a player–manager in 1997. When approached with the idea in 2000, Barry Larkin reported that he found it "interesting", though general manager (GM) Jim Bowden rejected the idea. In the 2011–12 offseason, the White Sox considered hiring incumbent first baseman Paul Konerko to serve as manager. White Sox GM Kenny Williams said that he believes MLB will again have a player–manager.

List of second-generation Major League Baseball players

The following is a list of father-and-son combinations who have played or managed in Major League Baseball (MLB).

Who's on First?

"Who's on First?" is a comedy routine made famous by Abbott and Costello. The premise of the sketch is that Abbott is identifying the players on a baseball team for Costello, but their names and nicknames can be interpreted as non-responsive answers to Costello's questions. For example, the first baseman is named "Who"; thus, the utterance "Who's on first" is ambiguous between the question ("Which person is the first baseman?") and the answer ("The name of the first baseman is 'Who'").

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