Baseball is one of the most difficult sports, requiring players to hit a small, moving baseball with a wooden/aluminum bat. It takes playing the game at a high level to appreciate its difficulty, despite lacking strategies as other sports do. While the debate around the most important position in baseball has no real correct answer, it’s a fun one to have.
Baseball is built around 10 positions, with only nine used on the fielding side. The 10 baseball positions are as follows: catcher, pitcher, first baseman, second baseman, shortstop, third baseman, left fielder, center fielder, right fielder, and designated hitter. However, the designated hitter is a dedicated hitter in higher-level baseball but mostly professional baseball starting in the minor leagues through Major League Baseball.
An argument can be made that the pitcher is the most important position in baseball, based on the pitcher’s role in the game’s outcome and how each pitch the pitcher throws can change the game. When you think about it, the pitcher controls the pace of the game, whether or not the batter hits the ball or gets on base, and whether or not a rally is broken.
On the opposite side of the debate, many baseball fans and baseball players may argue the catcher or first baseman is just as important, if not more important.
However, other positions, such as first baseman or catcher, have a valid argument to compete with the pitcher position. The catcher handles a big responsibility of the game, including pitch calls, handling the pitcher, and ensuring runners don’t steal one base.
Meanwhile, the first baseman handles the throw across the diamond while preventing runners from getting on base on hits within the infield. The more hits produced, the more runners reach base in return equaling more runs that can potentially be scored.
Read on to learn more about our pick for the most important position in baseball.
Most Important Positions in Baseball Ranked
10. Designated Hitter
The designated hitter depending on whether or not the league features them may play the lowest role based on the importance of the positions. While the primary role on most teams is to be a great hitter, the designated hitter only hits and doesn’t play a factor in the team’s success within the field.
Designated hitters are typically power hitters at the MLB level, as many lack the speed and defensive skills to anchor a defensive position routinely.
While hitting plays a crucial role in the outcome of a game, most hitters typically only bat, on average, between three to four times during a baseball game.
9. Second Baseman
The second baseman’s importance has expanded and become more valuable. Once a position known for being speedy and solid defensively has evolved into a position that includes power-hitting and run-producing hitters at the plate.
However, second basemen have the shortest throw on the infield diamond and a chance to recover to record an out on a misplayed baseball.
8. Right Fielder
Any of the three outfield positions can be challenging to play, depending on the league and the quality of baseball players within the league.
However, with the majority of hitters in most leagues hitting from the right-hand side of the plate, most right fielders have fewer opportunities to make plays in the field and add the value as a left fielder or center fielder would to their team.
The right fielder, however, often has one of the stronger arms among the outfield positions while having the role of preventing base runners from moving from first to third base on a hit to right field while also having the longest throw to third base on potential triples.
7. Left Fielder
The left fielder position can be a difficult position to play and one that is often involved in more plays than other outfield positions based on the level of the play on the opposing team.
Left-fielders often see more batted balls coming their way, as the majority of hitters at all levels are right-handed batters.
Left fielders are responsible for backing up throws from the catcher to third base while also being able to protect the foul line on baseball hits down the line.
In addition, left fielders often have strong arms with the ability to throw runners out at second base, third base as well as on plays at home plate.
6. Third Baseman
The hot corner might be the most dangerous of all the positions in the infield, with a majority of hitters batting from the right-hand side.
Third basemen often require the fastest reaction time among all infielders while handling baseballs hit both directly at them as well as down the left field line.
The third baseman is also responsible for covering the infield grass on potential bunts while having little time to react to make a play.
The third basemen can vary at the plate, with some teams focusing on defensive abilities over hitting, while other third basemen can hit for average or power, with some having the ability to hit for both average and power.
The Shortstop position rounds out the top five on the ‘most important positions in baseball’ rankings list. Often referred to as the captain of the infield, the shortstop position is not only one of the most athletic players on the baseball field but one that has one of the strongest arms and is a great hitter at the plate.
The shortstop position handles double play responsibilities and base covering duties with runners on first base with a left-handed batter at the plate.
In addition, the throw for deep in the hole behind third base is the longest throw in the infield on the baseball diamond.
4. Center Fielder
Like the shortstop position, the center fielder is often the captain of the outfield while having one of the best views of the entire baseball field, similar to the catcher position looking at the field from the opposite end.
Center fielders are often exceptional athletes with speed and vision while being able to throw and field and hit with the best players on the baseball field.
Center fielders are responsible for covering the most ground within the outfield from left center to right center field and backing up balls hit to both left and right field.
3. First Baseman
The first baseman plays another crucial role in the success of any baseball team while directly resulting in outs for a baseball team while playing defense.
First basemen are responsible for playing their position for any balls hit their way and covering first base on hits to a second baseman, shortstop, or third baseman.
While first basemen don’t play a role in every single play, they do, however, have the potential to cost their team a drop ball at first, which could result in a batter being safe and reaching first base.
Other roles of the first baseman include acting as a cutoff man when hits travel to right field and center field with runners on base and potentially having a chance to score.
Theoretically, the pitcher position deserves to be the most important position in baseball. In the eyes of many, the pitcher can change the outcome of the game by how he is pitching during any single game.
The pitcher is responsible for collecting the pitch call from the catcher, gripping the baseball with the correct pitch grip, and ultimately executing the pitch correctly to prevent the hitter from hitting the ball.
Other roles the pitcher play include fielding his position, covering first base on balls hit to the first baseman, and covering home plate on pass balls.
Read more: 10 Best MLB Pitchers in 2023
The catcher position is one of the most difficult positions in baseball to play and requires mental and physical toughness to endure.
During a baseball game, the catcher must crouch between home plate for every pitch of the game over the entire stretch when their respective team is within the field.
In return, the catcher must call pitches, catch pitches from the pitcher, and even field the position, including being hit with foul balls while requiring themselves to give up their body to block balls to prevent runners from advancing.
Other roles of the catcher play include throwing out potential base runners, calming down the pitcher in between pitches, and using knowledge of the game to adjust what pitches are called for each batter across the length of the baseball game.
Why Catchers are the Most Important Position in Baseball
While the debate about whether the catcher or the pitcher position is more important is valid, with many leaning towards the pitcher, there are many reasons why we pick the catcher’s position as the most important position in baseball.
Catchers can make pitchers better by calling various pitches from one pitch to another while forcing the batter to get off balance. In addition, catchers can make a pitcher who lacks velocity better by mixing up the hitter.
The ability to call a great game behind the plate a catcher adds more value to the output of a game than most realize, thus making the catcher the most important position in baseball.
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