What Is the Best Position in Baseball?

- September 4, 2023

Baseball has nine positional players – the pitcher, the catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, center fielder, right fielder, and the left fielder. Of all the positions listed, what is the best position in baseball?

Best Position in Baseball?

We rank the the pitcher as the best position in baseball. However, multiple positions can be the best depending on the outlook and the overall value one delivers to that position.

Here are the rankings from most to least important, and why each position ranks where it does.

Top 10 Best Positions in Baseball Ranked

1. Pitcher

The pitcher on a baseball field is easily the most essential in all of baseball. They are involved in every single play from the first pitch to the last out of the game. 

Depending on the league, multiple pitcher positions are filled on a baseball team, including starting pitchers, relief pitchers, and the closer. 

Starting pitchers start the game and attempt to go as deep into the game as possible. Relief pitchers look to shut down a rally or help keep a team’s lead, and the closer closes out the game. 

Pitchers are extremely important, as one mess-up could hand the lead to the opposing team and even win them the game. Pitchers must possess many qualities, including power/strength, stamina, endurance, and the ability to handle pressure.

Greatest Pitchers All-Time: Cy Young, Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, Satchel Paige, Jim Palmer, and Greg Maddux

Best MLB Pitchers 2022: Justin Verlander, Julio Urias, Dylan Cease, Kenley Jansen, Emmanuel Chase, and Sandy Alcantara

2. Catcher

Depending on who you ask, the catcher position may be at the number one slot based on the workload and importance to the pitcher.

Like the pitcher, the catcher is in on every play setting up where he wants the pitch to be thrown. Additionally, the catcher calls pitches to the pitcher, and stops the ball either by catching it or throwing his body in front of a pitch to prevent it from being a wild pitch.

Catchers must possess multiple qualities, including strength, ability to handle pain, willpower, and endurance to handle the pitching staff and heat.

Greatest Catchers All-Time: Johnny Bench, Yogi Berra, Carlton Fisk, Mike Piazza, and Yadier Molina

Best MLB Catchers 2022: Will Smith, J.T. Realmuto, Wilson Contreras, Yasmani Grandal, and Adley Rutschman

3. Center Fielder

When it comes to athleticism, the center fielder is typically the best athlete on the team while having some of the biggest responsibilities in all of baseball.

One of those responsibilities is being able to field the gaps of left-center field and right-center field while also being able to back up both the left fielder and right fielder.

Other responsibilities include aligning the outfielders defensively and communicating with the players throughout the game.

In addition to being an athlete, other qualities center fielders must possess are leadership, communication, and, most importantly, speed.

Greatest Center Fielder All-Time: Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr, Kenny Lofton, Ty Cobb, and Mickey Mantle

Best MLB Center Fielders 2022: Mike Trout, Cedric Mullins, Byron Buxton, and George Springer

4. First Baseman

Coming in just behind the top three positions in baseball is the first base position and one that can play a vital role in the outcome of any game.

Many first basemen are also the power hitter on the team and can drive in runs. In addition, the first baseman must be able to field the position, including picking a bad throw in the dirt or jumping to catch a high throw.

The first baseman’s qualities include being strong, flexible, durable, and ultimately not being afraid of doing what it takes to catch the throw over to first.

Greatest First Baseman All-Time: Albert Pujols, Eddie Murray, Jeff Bagwell 

Best MLB First Baseman 2022: Paul Goldschmidt, Pete Alonso, Vladimir Guerrero Jr & Freddie Freeman

5. Designated Hitter

The designated hitter position and the spot it ranks among the best baseball positions depends on if the league has the position. 

If a league such as MLB has the position, it ranks near the top five positions in baseball. Since the position is designed just to hit, the player filling this spot must be able to hit for power as well as average to go along with being able to produce runs in scoring opportunities. 

Additionally, one of the main qualities designated hitters must display is their ability to turn their on/off switch as they spend most of the game on the bench rooting for their team. 

Greatest Designated Hitters All-Time:

Best MLB Designated Hitters 2022:

6. Shortstop

The captain of the infield, the relay man, the communicator, and Mr. Athletic can all be associated with the shortstop position.

Once a position that lacked power in Major League Baseball is now a position that includes one of the best fielders on the entire team and one that can communicate defensive strategies and field adjustments on the fly. 

Qualities found in shortstops fall in line with the center fielder, including being able to communicate, strong leadership abilities, physicality, and a strong mentality.

Greatest Shortstops All-Time: Derek Jeter, Honus Wagner, Ozzie Smith, Barry Larkin, Cal Ripken Jr, and Ernie Banks

Best MLB Shortstops 2022: Francisco Lindor, Trea Turner, Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Fernando Tatis Jr, and Xander Bogaerts

7. Third Baseman

The third base position is possibly the most difficult of the positions to play in all of baseball. Often referred to as the hot corner, third base requires quick reaction time and a strong arm.

With most hitters being right-handed, the third base position sees many hard-hit balls come their way and one that also has to be able to recognize bunts.

Third basemen must possess qualities that include being smart, having guts, being willing to go all in, and strength.

Greatest Third Basemen of All-Time: Mike Schmidt, Brooks Robinson, George Brett, Wade Boggs, Chipper Jones, and Alex Rodriguez

Best MLB Third Baseman 2022: Jose Ramirez, Nolan Arenado, Austin Riley, Rafael Devers, and Manny Machado

8. Left fielder

When you look at left and right fielders, their importance can vary based on the team you are playing, the field on which the game is being played, and how the opposing team hits.

That said, many professional baseball fields have more ground to cover in left field, opening up larger defensive responsibilities for the left fielder and seeing more balls come their way.

Left fielders must be quick on their feet while also being able to react to make a break on balls hit short or hit deep to avoid allowing extra base hits and runs to score.

Qualities left fielders must have include speed, a strong arm, and excellent reaction time.

Greatest Left Fielder All-Time: Barry Bonds, Stan Musial, Ted Williams, Carl Yastrzemski, Pete Rose, and Manny Ramirez

Best MLB Left Fielder 2022: Yordan Alvarez, Andrew Benintendi, Joc Pederson, and Alex Verdugo

9. Second Baseman

One position that often gets overshadowed by most of the other infield positions is the second base position.

While the second baseman usually has shorter fielding ranges and requires weaker throwing arms, the position still needs someone who is finesse on their feet and fast enough to turn the double play.

Over the years, second basemen have evolved at the professional level, including guys who are not only fast and have strong defensive abilities but also have power.

Second baseman qualities include strong defensive range, quick on their feet, and smart defensively and on the base paths.

Greatest Second Baseman All-Time: Jackie Robinson, Roberto Alomar, Joe Morgan, Rogers Hornsby, and Ryne Sandberg

Best MLB Second Baseman 2022: Jose Altuve, Marcus Semien, Jorge Polanco, Trevor Story, and Ketel Marte

10. Right Fielder

The right fielder position comes in at the bottom of the best positions in the baseball rankings list.

While this is often seen at younger ages, including little league, the right fielder position has become more important at all ages and when players develop into older age groups.

At the professional level, right fielders often have one of the strongest arms on the team, making throws to third base and the catcher.

Right fielder qualities include having a strong arm, being able to react to throws to first base quick to back up throws, and speed to cover the right-center gap.

Greatest Right Fielders All-Time: Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Frank Robinson, Roberto Clemente, and Ichiro Suzuki

Best MLB Right Fielders 2022: Juan Soto, Mookie Betts, Ronald Acuna Jr, Aaron Judge & Bryce Harper

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