Positioned near first base, the first baseman's primary role is to receive throws from other fielders and touch first base to record outs.
Key Responsibilities of a First Baseman
The First Baseman is responsible for receiving throws from other infielders and making accurate catches to record outs. This includes catching throws from the pitcher on ground balls hit to the right side of the infield or throws from other infielders on double plays.
When there is a runner on first base, the First Baseman plays a crucial role in holding the runner close to the bag. They need to position themselves in a way that limits the runner's lead and prevents stolen bases, making it more challenging for the runner to advance to the next base.
Fielding Ground Balls
The First Baseman needs to be skilled at fielding ground balls hit in their direction. They must have good reflexes, agility, and soft hands to cleanly field the ball and make accurate throws to other bases or to the pitcher covering first base.
Covering First Base
In various defensive situations, the First Baseman needs to cover first base. This includes situations such as when the pitcher or other infielders are unable to make the play, or when the infield is shifting. The First Baseman must react quickly and position themselves correctly to receive throws and record outs.
Communication and Awareness
A First Baseman needs to have excellent communication skills and situational awareness. They must communicate with other fielders, particularly the pitcher and other infielders, to coordinate plays, coverages, and defensive strategies. They should also be aware of the game situation, such as the number of outs, the score, and the positioning of baserunners, to make quick decisions.
Offense and Hitting
While not strictly a defensive responsibility, the First Baseman also contributes offensively. They are expected to be competent hitters, capable of producing runs by getting hits, drawing walks, and driving in baserunners. The First Baseman's offensive contributions play a significant role in the team's overall performance.
Best MLB First Basemen of All Time
Lou Gehrig: Lou Gehrig, also known as "The Iron Horse," played for the New York Yankees from 1923 to 1939. He is widely regarded as one of the greatest first basemen in baseball history. Gehrig's career was highlighted by his incredible durability, as he played in a record 2,130 consecutive games. He was a seven-time All-Star, won two American League MVP awards, and helped the Yankees capture six World Series championships. Gehrig's career was tragically cut short by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), which now bears his name.
Albert Pujols: Albert Pujols is a Dominican-American slugger who played for the St. Louis Cardinals (2001-2011), Los Angeles Angels (2012-2019), and has since played for the Los Angeles Dodgers and other teams. Known for his powerful hitting, Pujols is a three-time MVP, a two-time World Series champion, and a ten-time All-Star. He has amassed over 3,000 hits, 600 home runs, and 2,000 RBIs in his career, making him one of the most accomplished hitters of all time.
Jimmie Foxx: Jimmie Foxx, nicknamed "Double X," played from 1925 to 1945 for the Philadelphia Athletics, Boston Red Sox, Chicago Cubs, and Philadelphia Phillies. Foxx was a feared power hitter, leading the league in home runs four times and winning three MVP awards. He was a nine-time All-Star and played a vital role in the Athletics' three consecutive World Series championships from 1929 to 1931. Foxx finished his career with 534 home runs, which ranks 18th all-time.
Mark McGwire: Mark McGwire is renowned for his prodigious home run-hitting ability. He played for the Oakland Athletics (1986-1997) and the St. Louis Cardinals (1997-2001). In 1998, McGwire captivated the baseball world by breaking the single-season home run record, hitting 70 home runs, surpassing the previous mark of 61. He was a 12-time All-Star and finished his career with 583 home runs.
Frank Thomas: Frank Thomas, also known as the "Big Hurt," played primarily for the Chicago White Sox (1990-2005) and later had stints with the Oakland Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays. Thomas was a dominant hitter with a powerful swing and keen eye at the plate. He won two MVP awards, was selected to five All-Star teams, and finished his career with 521 home runs and a lifetime batting average of .301. Thomas was known for his consistency and ability to hit for both power and average.