Here are a few simple baseball rules for the beginner, and maybe a little something for the old pro too. Trust me, every time I think I know all there is to know, I find out how wrong I am. For now, we will try to cover the basics.
On the defensive side of the game there are 9 players on the field at all times. Each player has their own position on the field and each position has a number.
Position Names & Numbers
Position #1 is the pitcher: The pitchers job is to throw the ball to the catcher, and (hopefully) not let the batter hit it. When the pitcher puts his foot on the rubber plate on the mound, play begins. The pitcher controls the pace of the game. In the National League a pitcher bats. In the American League, there is a designated hitter (D.H.). The D.H. usually bats for the pitcher because the pitcher is normally the least proficient hitter.
Position #2 is the catcher: The catchers main job is to catch the pitch from the pitcher. Like the pitcher, the catcher also plays an important role in preventing runners from being able to steal bases. The catcher and pitcher can also be defensive fielders, usually in the case of a bunt, or a ball hit softly between the two.
Position #3 is the first baseman: The first baseman covers the field between first base and the second baseman. A majority of plays made will involve the first baseman. When the batter hits the ball, he will run to first base as fast as possible to try and beat the throw from any fielder who fielded the ball. If the ball beats the runner to the base, then he is called out.
Position #4 is the second baseman: The second baseman will cover the area between second base and the first baseman. He will also cover second base if the ball is not hit to him. If a runner on first tries to steal second, the second baseman will cover the base, assuming the batter is batting from the right side of the plate. He will also be a cut-off for any ball hit to the right side of the outfield.
Position #5 is the third baseman: The third baseman covers the field between third base and the short stop. His primary duty will be to cover third base. The third baseman, pitcher, catcher and first baseman will all charge in on a bunt, leaving their respective positions empty. In this case the second baseman would cover first and the short stop would cover third.
Position #6 is the short stop: The short stop covers the field between the third baseman and second base. He will also cover second base on a steal attempt from a runner on first, assuming it is a left handed batter. He is also the initial fielder in the most common double play: Let’s say you have a runner on first and the batter hits the ball to the short stop. The short stop throws the ball to the second baseman who is covering second base before the runner gets there. The second baseman then throws the ball to the first baseman before the runner reaches first. In this case, both runners would be out. This play would be scored as a 6-4-3 double play.
Position #7 is the left fielder: The left fielder covers all ground between the center fielder and the seats, and from the outfield fence to the third baseman and short stop.
Position #8 is the center fielder: The center fielder will cover the field between left and right field, and from the outfield fence to second base. The center fielder is in charge of the outfield. To avoid collisions in the outfield, it is the center fielders job to take charge and call off other fielders if he can make the play.
Position #9 is the right fielder: The right fielder covers all ground between the center fielder and the seats, and from the outfield fence to the second baseman and the first baseman.
To determine a players position on the field, imagine standing at home plate facing the pitcher. Right field would be to your right and left field to your left. Center field is in between right and left. Working right to left, the infield would go first, second, short stop then third.
On the offensive side there are 9 batters: The number 1 through 6 hitters will typically be your best 6 hitters. The reasoning behind this is that these batters will typically have 1-2 more at bats during the course of the game.
Your number 1 and 2 batters will usually be hitters with a high batting average and on base percentage. These are guys who are on base more often and usually have a lot of speed, giving them the ability to steal bases, and score on a ball hit into the outfield.
The number 3 and 4 batters are the guys who typically have a lot of power. These are the batters you want at the plate when you already have runners on the bases.
The number 5 and 6 batters are still pretty good hitters, but usually have a slightly lower batting average and on base percentage than the top 4 batters. You still want the ability to score runs if the top 4 aren’t producing.
Your 7, 8, and 9 batters may not have the best batting average, but they are still good ball players. In todays game, these will usually be your outfielders and catcher. They may not bring a great deal to the offense, but are usually outstanding defensive players.
A Few More Simple Baseball Rules
There are 9 innings in a regulation game. Each team gets 3 outs in their offensive half of the inning. An out is recorded when a hit ball is caught before the ball hits the ground, or if the ball beats you to the base. There are double, even triple plays where you can end an inning with one play. A strikeout is also an out. You get 3 strikes per at bat, with unlimited foul balls. The first 2 foul balls count as strikes. The exception is when bunting: If you already have 2 strikes, a foul ball while bunting will count as strike 3. There are no ties in baseball: The game will continue in unlimited extra innings. One of the longest games in MLB history was in 1984 when the Chicago White sox beat the Milwaukee Brewers 7-6 in 25 innings.
A quick example of a triple play: Let’s say you have a runner on all the bases (bases loaded) with no outs. The batter hits the ball to the third baseman who steps on third base then throws the ball to second base who then throws the ball to first base, all before the runners reach those bases. Congrats. You have just turned a triple play! Triple plays are rare, and there are many ways to complete one.
There are tons of rules in baseball, and we have only covered some of the basics. If you have any questions about any rule, please feel free to leave a comment below. I promise to give you a quick answer.
See you soon ~Jeremy