What is a Position Player in Baseball? – Detailed Explanation

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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what is a position player in baseball

As we immerse ourselves in baseball fun facts and information every day, it is also essential to get to know the terms encompassing the different players’ positions in the sport. In this article, I’ll share with you what is a position player in baseball, and how one operates in this position.

To put it simply, a position player is someone who plays defense in the fielding positions aside from the team’s pitcher. He could be a catcher, infielder, or an outfielder.

What Does a Position Player or Play-in Position Mean?


As explained shortly above, a position player is one who takes a defensive position (and sometimes offensive as well), given that he is not the main pitcher of the team.

Position players could play defense, bat balls, and run around bases on the field. They can sometimes be designated to specific areas, such as those around the first base and outfield.

Further, position players pitching is allowed on rare occasions, serving as a relief pitcher for the team. However, pitchers are never considered position players, not to mention that there are specialized relief pitchers as well.

According to the MLB, a position player could serve as a pitcher when:

  • The match is considered a blowout game
  • When extra innings are played during a game
  • When there are no available main pitchers to pitch for the team

Position players play a significant role when the game gets intense and longer, as they serve as two-way players in baseball, who are always available to the team when called upon.

Although they serve as a pitcher’s backup during blowout games, their role is not limited to this, as they could also be an infielder, outfielder, or even a catcher.

What is the Purpose of Having Position Players?

The main role and purpose of position players is to contribute to both the offense and defense of their team. In offense, by scoring runs, and in defense, by preventing the opposing team from scoring runs against them.

What Do They Do?


A baseball player’s position is an asset to a team’s offense and defense, especially if one is a position player. To expound, these are the nine different baseball positions and roles that a position player can fill in. Here are they and their corresponding baseball reference position abbreviation:

  • Pitcher (P)
  • Catcher (C)
  • First baseman (1B)
  • Second baseman (2B)
  • Third baseman (3B)
  • Shortstop (SS)
  • Left fielder (LF)
  • Center fielder (CF)
  • Right fielder (RF)

Frequently Asked Questions

Are position players allowed to pitch?

Yes, positions players are allowed to. However, such an occurrence rarely happens, given that there are specialized relief pitchers. So the most likely scenario you’ll see this happening is when it’s a blowout game or in extra innings.

Is it better to be a pitcher or a position player?

Talking about these two positions, there is no telling whether it’s better to be a pitcher or a position player because these are two very different roles in baseball. The skills needed to be a pitcher are entirely different from that of being a position player.

But if we were to analyze details, a pitcher’s role is the most important presence in the team as they control more the trajectory of the game than position players do.

What is the most important position player in baseball?


Aside from the pitcher aforementioned earlier and the catcher, the next most important position player in baseball would have to be the shortstop position.

Shortstops are sometimes called the “quarterback” of the team as their job is mainly defending the area between the 2nd and 3rd base by fielding ground balls.

They are also a vital part of double plays, where they field a ground ball, then pass it to the 2nd baseman. In this strategy, they may also touch second base before throwing the ball to first base.


Understanding what a position player means, their roles, and their involvement in the game is the first step in truly understanding the game of baseball.

In the article “What is a position player in baseball?”, we hope we’ve helped you understand a very integral aspect of the game. This will certainly make your next baseball game much more exciting.

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