Positioned near second base, the second baseman's main responsibility is to cover second base on double plays and assist in turning them. They also field ground balls and contribute to defensive plays in their area.
Key Responsibilities of a Second Baseman
Fielding Ground Balls
One of the primary responsibilities of a second baseman is to field ground balls hit in their direction. They must have excellent reflexes, quick hands, and the ability to make accurate throws to first base. They need to anticipate the direction of the hit, react quickly, and make clean fielding plays.
Double Play Execution
Second basemen are often involved in turning double plays. They work in coordination with the shortstop or the other infielders to receive a ground ball, touch second base to force out the runner, and make a quick throw to first base to complete the double play. Timing, communication, and precision are essential in executing double plays effectively.
Covering Second Base
When a runner is attempting to steal second base, it is the second baseman's responsibility to cover the base. They need to be quick to react, position themselves correctly, and be ready to receive the throw from the catcher or pitcher to apply the tag on the runner.
Second basemen need to have a good understanding of defensive positioning. They must know how to position themselves based on the game situation, the batter's tendencies, and the strategies employed by their team. This includes adjusting their positioning for specific hitters, defensive shifts, or situational plays.
Second basemen must have good communication skills, as they need to communicate with other infielders, particularly the shortstop, to coordinate defensive plays, coverages, and relay information about baserunners or potential threats on the field.
Awareness and Reaction
Second basemen need to have excellent situational awareness. They should be aware of the number of outs, the baserunners' positions, and the game situation. This helps them make split-second decisions on whether to go for a double play, cover a base, or make a quick throw to prevent runners from advancing.
Second basemen also contribute to their team's offense by being effective baserunners. They should have good instincts, speed, and the ability to read the pitcher's moves to steal bases or take extra bases on hits.
Best Second Basemen of All Time
- Jackie Robinson: Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball when he made his debut with the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947. He was an exceptional second baseman known for his speed, defensive prowess, and intelligent base running. Robinson's impact went beyond his on-field performance, as he became a symbol of civil rights and social progress. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1962.
- Rogers Hornsby: Rogers Hornsby, often considered one of the greatest hitters in MLB history, played primarily as a second baseman. He had a remarkable career that spanned from 1915 to 1937, during which he achieved a career batting average of .358. Hornsby won seven batting titles and two Triple Crowns, solidifying his place as one of the most feared hitters of his era. He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1942.
- Joe Morgan: Joe Morgan was a key figure in the success of the Cincinnati Reds during the 1970s. Known for his exceptional speed, excellent defense, and remarkable plate discipline, Morgan was a two-time National League Most Valuable Player (MVP) and a ten-time All-Star. He played an instrumental role in the Reds winning back-to-back World Series championships in 1975 and 1976. Morgan was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1990.
- Roberto Alomar: Roberto Alomar, a Puerto Rican second baseman, enjoyed a stellar career spanning from 1988 to 2004. He was a 12-time All-Star known for his exceptional fielding skills, agility, and ability to contribute offensively. Alomar won 10 Gold Glove Awards and four Silver Slugger Awards during his career. He played a vital role in leading the Toronto Blue Jays to back-to-back World Series titles in 1992 and 1993. Alomar was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2011.
- Ryne Sandberg: Ryne Sandberg, primarily known for his time with the Chicago Cubs, was an exceptional second baseman from 1981 to 1997. He was renowned for his outstanding defense, range, and power-hitting abilities. Sandberg won nine Gold Glove Awards and was a 10-time All-Star. He was also named the National League MVP in 1984. Sandberg's impact on the game earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame in 2005.