Shortstop Explained

Shortstop, abbreviated SS, is the baseball fielding position between second and third base. Shortstop is often regarded as the most dynamic defensive position in baseball, because there are more right-handed hitters in baseball than left-handed hitters, and most hitters have a tendency to pull the ball slightly, so more balls go to the shortstop than any other position. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the shortstop is assigned the number 6.

Shortstops are required to cover second base in double play situations when the ball is hit to the second baseman, first baseman, pitcher, or catcher. They cover second when a runner is attempting a stolen base, but only when a left-handed hitter is batting. This is because the chances of a ball being hit to the left side of the infield are almost cut in half. They also must cover third at various times, including the rotation play; that is, when there are runners on first and second and a sacrifice bunt is attempted. Shortstops generally are given precedence on catching pop-ups in the infield as well, so they end up calling off other players many times, although on deep pop-ups they fall back when called off by an outfielder. In Little League Baseball, the shortstop also has to back up a throw from the catcher to the third baseman when the runner is attempting to steal third base. This is not usually done at the professional levels because the catcher is better at throwing, the third baseman is better at catching the ball, and the left fielder is there to back up third base.

Traditionally, players are selected as shortstops for their fielding prowess, but in recent years more shortstops with excellent hitting have entered the leagues as well. It is an exclusively right-handed position, as a righty can easily throw to first or second without having to physically turn after playing a ground ball, the most common type of hit directed at the shortstop.

Significant shortstops

Baseball Hall of Fame members

Multiple Gold Glove Award winners

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All time single season assist leaders among shortstops

  1. Ozzie Smith

621 (St. Louis Cardinals, 1980)

  1. Glenn Wright

601 (Pittsburgh Pirates, 1924)

  1. Dave Bancroft

598 (Philadelphia Phillies/New York Giants, 1920)

  1. Tommy Thevenow

597 (St. Louis Cardinals, 1926)

  1. Iván DeJesús

595 (Chicago Cubs, 1977)

  1. Cal Ripken, Jr.

583 (Baltimore Orioles, 1984)

  1. Whitey Wietelmann

581 (Boston Braves, 1943)

  1. Dave Bancroft

579 (New York Giants, 1922)

  1. Rabbit Maranville

574 (Boston Braves, 1914)

  1. Don Kessinger

573 (Chicago Cubs, 1968)

All time single season putout leaders among shortstops

  1. Donie Bush: 425 (Detroit Tigers, 1914)
  2. Hughie Jennings: 425 (Baltimore Orioles [National League], 1895)
  3. Joe Cassidy: 408 (Washington Senators, 1905)
  4. Rabbit Maranville: 407 (Boston Braves, 1914)
  5. Dave Bancroft: 405 (New York Giants, 1922)
  6. Eddie Miller: 405 (Boston Braves, 1940)
  7. Monte Cross: 404 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1898)
  8. Dave Bancroft: 396 (New York Giants, 1921)
  9. Mickey Doolan: 395 (Philadelphia Phillies, 1906)
  10. Buck Weaver: 392 (Chicago White Sox, 1913)

Other notable stars

* = Negro Leagues player

See also