The shortstop covers the area between the second baseman and the third baseman. He is often the best defensive player on the team. Many major league teams choose their shortstop primarily for defense. A good hitting shortstop is a bonus. In youth baseball the shortstop is often the best athlete on the team and team leader.
If you want to play shortstop, you need to be a strong well-rounded defensive player. You must field well, have good speed and range, and have a strong arm.
Where does the shortstop play?
The shortstop is positioned between the third baseman and the second baseman. How deep you can play depends on the strength of your arm and your speed. By playing deeper you will be able to get to more balls, but you want to play shallow enough where you can get to the ball and still throw the runner out at first base.
Covering Second Base
The shortstop covers second base when the ball is hit to the right side of the field (between first and second).
The Double Play
The shortstop needs to cover second base on double plays where the ball is hit to the right side of the infield. They should catch the ball, drag their foot across the base, and throw to first. It is important that youth players focus on catching the ball and getting the lead player out. They should take their time and make an accurate throw, just like when fielding the ball.
When the shortstop fields the ball on a double play, they need to make the decision whether to run to second and make the throw or throw to the second baseman. If they are very close to the bag, it is safer to take a few quick steps to the bag, tag it, and make the throw. If the ball is fielded between 8-15 feet away from the bag, then the shortstop should toss the ball underhanded to the second baseman. If further than 15 feet they can make an overhand throw.
The Stolen Base Attempt
Generally the shortstop is responsible for covering second base on a steal attempt when the batter is left-handed. On some teams the coach may want the shortstop to cover all stolen base attempts. Either way, be sure to communicate with the second baseman as to who is covering the base and who is backing up.
- Backing up the second baseman when they are covering a steal attempt.
- Act as the cutoff player for plays at third base and home plate on balls hit to left field and center field.
- Cover second base on pickoff attempts.
- Responsible for all pop-ups on the left side of the infield and shallow outfield.