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Encyclopedia > Third base
The position of the third baseman

A third baseman, abbreviated 3B, is the player in the sport of baseball whose responsibility is to defend the area nearest to third base, the third of four bases a baserunner must touch in a counterclockwise succession in order to score a run. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the third baseman is assigned the number 5.

The third baseman requires good reflexes in reacting to batted balls, as they are often the closest infielder (roughly 90-120 feet) to the batter. They also need a strong arm, since they have the farthest to throw to first base after fielding ground balls, and sometimes must throw quickly to second base in time to start a double play. The third baseman must also field fly balls in fair and foul territory.

Third base is known as the "Hot Corner", since most right-handed hitters will tend to hit the ball hard in this direction. In this situation, the third baseman needs fine eyes-glove coordination and quick reactions in order to catch hard line drives. And third basemen often must begin in a position even closer to the batter if a bunt is expected, creating a hazard if the ball is instead hit sharply. As with middle infielders, right-handed players are standard at the position because they do not need to turn their body before throwing across the infield to first base. Some third basemen have been converted from middle infielders or outfielders since the position does not require them to run as fast.

Expectations of how well a third baseman should be able to hit have varied a great deal over time; in the early years of the sport, these expectations were similar to those for shortstops, the third baseman being merely the less skilled defensive player. Players who could hit with more ability often were not suited for third base, either because they were left-handed or because they were not mobile enough for the position. However, the beginning of the live-ball era in the 1920s created a greater demand for more offense, and third basemen have since been expected to hit either for a high average (.290 or better) or with moderate to substantial power.

With the notable exception of John McGraw, surprisingly few third basemen have gone on to have successful managing careers, with Jimmy Dykes and Negro Leaguer Dave Malarcher being perhaps the next most prominent managers who began their careers at third base.


Significant third basemen

Baseball Hall of Fame members

Multiple Gold Glove winners

Other notable stars

Baseball positions
Outfielders: Left field | Center field | Right field
Infielders: 3rd base | Shortstop | 2nd base | 1st base

Pitcher | Catcher

Designated hitter

  Results from FactBites:
All About Baseball (3924 words)
If first base is occupied when a batter hits the ball, that runner is required to advance to the next base.
The third baseman's primary requirement is a very strong right arm so that he can throw the ball all the way across the infield to the first baseman.
A successful hit where the batter stops at first base is a single; if he stops at second base, a double; at third base, a triple.
Basics of Playing Baseball - Baseball Fanatics (1197 words)
The area in the vicinity of the square formed by the bases is called the infield; fair territory outside the infield is the outfield.
The initial decision to make first base 90 feet from home plate was an inspired one; it means that no runner, no matter how fast, can beat the throw to first of a ball cleanly fielded and properly thrown to first by a fielder in proper position.
This is called a "walk." A batter may also move to first base if he is struck by a pitched ball, unless he puts himself in the path of the pitch and makes no attempt to avoid being struck.
  More results at FactBites »



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