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What Do Baseball Position Numbers Mean?

Baseball position numbers are a shorthand system used by official scorers to indicate where actions occur on the field during a game.

In particular, each position on the field is given a number from one through nine, a scheme that is consistent across all levels of the game. Here are how the baseball position numbers break down:

  1. Pitcher
  2. Catcher
  3. First Baseman
  4. Second Baseman
  5. Third Baseman
  6. Shortstop
  7. Left Fielder
  8. Centerfielder
  9. Right Fielder

In practice, baseball position numbers are used to identify both the position and the player who is stationed there, so another valid breakdown is:

  1. Pitcher
  2. Catcher
  3. First Base
  4. Second Base
  5. Third Base
  6. Shortstop
  7. Left Field
  8. Centerfield
  9. Right Field

In either case, baseball position numbers are represented graphically in the same basic way:

Armed with this system, scorers, umpires, coaches, managers, players, and fans can talk about — and visualize — plays using numbers, and everyone knows what’s happening.

For instance, you’ve probably heard of a “5-4-3 double play,” right? Well, looking at the diagram above, it’s pretty clear that a 5-4-3 double play begins with the third baseman fielding the ball, throwing for one out to the second baseman, who throws to the first baseman for the second out.

And so it goes for simple putouts, strikeouts, errors (“E6”!), throw-downs, and on and on and on.

Baseball position numbers are another part of the vernacular that ties generations of fans together and helps form our rich diamond heritage.

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