View From The Bleachers

January 26, 2011

Chet’s Corner: What position suits you?

Filed under: Featured,General — Chet West @ 5:00 am

The year was 1983.  I was all of nine years old and playing in a fairly sophisticated under-10 baseball league.  We had tryouts and everything,  it was a day and age when an eight or nine year old could try out and not get selected for a team.  Parents didn’t file a grievance against the league for damaging their child’s ego or accusing the league of elitist behavior.  They just understood that their little Charlie wasn’t good enough and baseball may not be his calling.

The Division or age group was called the “Willie Mays” division.  I was anything but Willie Mays.  The first and only time I played in the outfield was a disaster.  My coaches put me in left field as this is where the least amount of action is seen at this age.  When you have mostly right handed hitting nine year olds trying to hit fast pitch, it is rare that anybody gets out in front of a ball to pull it, hence everything goes to right field.

It was probably about three innings into the game and one of the opposing hitters managed to swing a little early and lined a shot at yours truly (there is a chance it was a can of corn but to make myself feel better over the years it has become a line shot).  I locked in on it, said my best prayer, and just as ball was about to meet glove, I closed my eyes.  What happened next was an absolute disaster involving blood and tears and a black eye.

From then on I stuck with pitching and shortstop with a little first base sprinkled in.  The funny thing, I loved line drives and pop ups as an infielder, it was something about the distance from the outfield to home plate that got me that day.

The other day I started thinking, maybe the outfield position didn’t suit my personality?  Then I read an article here on ESPN.com about Derek Jeter playing center field if and when the day came to make a switch.  I then tried to picture him playing center field, and while it wasn’t a stretch, I did have some trouble envisioning it.  His personality seems to fit the shortstop position.

My question to the readers…..

If you were a major leaguer, no matter how much of a stretch that is, what position would suit you and why?  Also, what position is the furthest from your dream spot on the field?  This can be based on skill, as some of us still seem to play the game to one degree or another (Raker and Seymour), or base it on personality as this is all just for fun.

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Chet West is an IT professional living in Minneapolis, MN with his wife and two daughters. He has a pug named Banks and loves photography. Follow him on Twitter @chetwest19

  • http://twitter.com/MoondogKP MoondogKP

    Honestly, official scorer’s always been my best position, thought some parents and coaches argue about that now. Or first base coach. Couldn’t run, so the outfield was no good. Not quick enough reactions to play third. Couldn’t scoop to save my life at first. Couldn’t hit enough to DH (not that that was an option in our leagues growing up, despite playing for the A’s in little league). And my fastball would have trouble breaking a pane of glass.

  • Chuck

    I would love to be a catcher in the big leagues. You are in on every play and you have a lot of control over the outcome.
    Alas, my glove was not good enough to play catcher much. I am probably best suited to 2B where can take advantage of my decent reflexes and minimize the impact of my weak and eratic arm.

  • John

    Catcher. The mental part of understanding situations in the game and then calling the game suit my personality. Plus I would be old school about blocking the plate. I don’t care if you are Pete Rose in the 1970 All Star game you would be getting through me.

  • MJ

    Right now I’m primarily our everyday Right Fielder. On occasion, I get into LF, which I hate, and CF. CF is my true outfield position, but everyone thinks their an CF, so I told the manager I’d play RF to help. Been there for almost ten years now. It’s second nature.

    Towards the end of my Little League career they moved me to 2B. I have a weak arm (So why I’m in RF now, who knows), and it suited my skill set really good. Still miss that position, and would play it again in a heartbeat.

    In Fall Ball I’ve played every infield position except C, 1B and P. 3B scared the poo poo out of me, and SS just flat wore me out.

  • Seymour Butts

    3b.
    Been there for about 5 decades now and still love it. I will tell you more about who has been playing short next to me this week at the end of the week. You will recognize the name.
    I hate anything in the out field. Can’t judge the angles, or track well while running.

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman

    If I were a major leaguer, which, by the way, is as big as a stretch can be, the position that would suit me would be shortstop. I love going deep into the hole, snagging the ball, jumping and spinning to throw to first (not that I have ever done that except once or twice in practice situations).

    Like Chuck, I would probably have to be at second.

    I loved Kessinger’s fielding when I was a kid.

  • http://mytimetowaste.com Rich Beckman

    Oh yeah…

    My last position choice would be catcher. I swear those guys are just begging to be hit in the head with a bat. I don’t think I could get over my fear of that.

  • Dragon

    Pitching would be my calling. I would hope to use some of my Doc Gooden ability with my Greg Maddux brains to own the league. Unfortunately I had more of a 50 year old Jaime Moyer fastball and am right-handed so my dreams never made it past small time college ball.

    Last choice would be catcher. While it’s true they are in every play, there’s a reason the expression “tools of ignorance” is used, I have no desire to take ice baths daily for all the bumps and bruises. Plus I tried it a couple times and couldn’t stop blinking when the batter swung.

  • Doug Bagley

    I would play 2nd base because i’m white, slow, can’t throw the ball far/accuarte, and my bat has no power…basically i’d be the second coming of aaron miles

  • http://van Buddy

    I catch every day, and I do it “old school.” No helmet, ever. Some days I don’t even wear a facemask or use a glove. I’m silly like that.

  • Doc Raker

    I grew up playing 1b, was scooping balls out of the dirt at the age of 8. I like one 1b, hang out, always get some action on an infield play and you get to pick some throws out of the dirt. After playing 1b throughout college I moved to the middle infield since I had some range and good infield fundamentals. I now play a lot of short stop but I think 2b suits me best. My arm slot is low from the side like a second baseman’s and I love turning the double play. Plus I got a little pop in my bat so like Ryne Sandberg I bring some slugging to a traditional non slugging position. My BABIP is very good since I tend to hit the ball hard, trouble is my K’s are high making my BABIP not to often enough. Due to the K problem no one every wanted to pay me to play the game, but after this weekend I think I gotta a shot at pitching! Just need to get looked at……………

  • Doc Raker

    Seymour- Phil Donahue or Eddie Vedder? Just spit it out, your tease is very Fox News but you lack the Fox News graphics and background music to make it appealing so it is just annoying.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    I played 2B and OF as a kid, that’s what I would probably do. Last game of my little league career, the championship game, tie game top of the 6th inning (last inning). Bases loaded, 2 outs, I’m up. Hit a 3-run double to clear the bases, took 3rd on the throw, scored on an error. After doing that, bottom of the 6th they load the bases with 2 outs. I’m playing RF, the guy is about to hit a grand slam and tie the game, but I robbed him. Prevented it from going over the fence, then threw it to the 2B, who then threw it home to the catcher for the tag-out, the win, and the championship 8-7.

    I could never play catcher because I’m left-handed, I can’t handle the throws at 1B, we already discussed my 81.00 ERA as a pitcher, and I played SS and 3B for a while, but I would always pull the 1B off the bag with my throws.

  • walterj

    i love 3b . no better position in my book .backup spot would be 1b . it appears i’m the same exact player as seymour in the outfield . i was never huge on having power and i was never guilty of having speed , but i always hit in the gaps and racked up a ton of doubles .i have always been hitting in the six or seven slot .

  • MJ

    Doc, like you, I suffer from K-isitis. Fastballs, I like very, very much. Curve ball, not so much.

    Best story of my fielding prowess, and I will say defense is my strength, was recalled to me over the weekend by a friend that came out to watch me play a couple years back. They threw me into LF for that game, and we were getting clobbered. The number four hitter comes up, and launches one. It’s a total moonshot, but I track it to the fence (which at this particular field is four feet tall – thank you Robert Morris College and the City of Bensenville), time my jump, and the ball falls gracefully into my glove. Unfortunately, my rump catches the top of the fence, and immediately I lose my balance and topple over the back side of the fence landing roughly on the back of my head, and jarring the ball loose. Home Run.

  • Bobbi Wickham

    I have great admiration for catchers, but on the few occasions when I’ve played softball/baseball I’m usually at first base. I can hit OK, but my throwing is terrible. I was always better at soccer (sob sob).

  • http://swantron.com jswanson

    I have too much muscle memory at 2nd to give up my little tiny glove. I was pretty sawed off until I was 17/18, so my dreams of playing shortstop never really materialized. Once I grew into my feet, my range was pretty impressive, I guess. I will go on record as saying that making a play on the left side of the infield is as good as it gets. I wasn’t a long-ball threat, so that is sort of what I had going for me. Some day I’ll hit a moon-shot and pull a Bonds, but every dong I have under my belt has been more of an Ichiro squeaker. Or like Fisk’s shot, but about 60 feet foul. I like to snag flies in BP and mess around at 3rd and short, but second is the only thing I am good at. That said, I’d give my left nut to be a bullpen catcher in the bigs for a year.

  • http://swantron.com jswanson

    Oh yeah…I used to pitch in Legion ball. I’d pretty much just alternate between fastballs on the knuckles and circle changes in the dirt. High leg kick to make up for the low top speed. Pretty sure I was in the low 70s…nobody ever showed up with a Jugs gun, that is for sure. I pitched four innings in an alumni game a while ago…seemed like my fastball has picked up a bit. Either that, or the opposing bats were waaaay slower.

  • MJ

    jswanson, you in Chicago? My team’s looking for some arms.

  • cap’n obvious

    I still fancy myself as quite the defensive first baseman…I would say very good for a 41 year old. However, at 41, I don’t hit for the power I once did, and since there is a dearth of light hitting, defensive specialist first basemen in the majors, I hereby banish myself to the bullpen, where I can make about $3 million a year as a spot lefty.

    Think Will Ohman meets Paul Assenmacher…or, if I don’t stop shoving cheeseburgers down the old gullet, think a white Ray King. Big sweeping dueces and fastballs in the dirt. I only have to get one guy out…and he is lefthanded. I still have the nasty pickoff move as taught to me by former big leaguer Dennis Moeller. I’m swell in the clubhouse, and will eat crickets and flirt with the ladies on the bullpen to keep the fellas loose. As long as I throw strikes, have a team of stellar defenders behind me, and am exceptionally lucky in only giving up lasers hit right at guys, the sabermatricians will assure me $5-6 million for next year. Then I could afford to live in Doc Raker’s neighborhood.

  • Chuck

    My oldest son is the primary catcher for his USSSA team. Thankfully his new coach is not going to have him catch more than 1/2 of the games. This is a better situation than the last couple of years when his coach had him catch almost every game. He just takes a pounding back there and can’t pitch well at all by the end of a tournament because he is so tired. The new coach is going to play him at every position just like his last year of Little League.
    My middle son is a 1B, 2B, P so far but we shall see as the new season unfolds. He was used a lot at 1B at the lower levels because he could catch a thrown ball most of the time. He is not as athletic as the older one but is more skilled because he has a much easier time repeating movements.
    The youngest starts T-Ball this year.

  • Joe

    I always enjoyed middle infield and would play 3B if needed. This was in softball for church league, so I don’t know that I’d be brave enough for hardball at third.

    If I could pick, I think I’d like to be in the bullpen. Something always seems fun about being able to goof off half the game when you know you won’t be needed.

  • http://swantron.com jswanson

    @MJ…wish I could take you up on that…unfortunately home is Bozeman, Montana. Between the humidity and elevation, pretty sure my warning track power would be can of corn power in Chicago.

  • Doc Raker

    Chuck- how old are your boys and what state do you play in? My son plays 10U USSSA in SoCal. He throws right and hits left, they have him playing ss. He can pitch but they like him at ss so he doesn’t pitch much. Lot’s of fun.

  • Doc Raker

    My natural swing is oppo, I swing right but my power is to right center. I used the whole field this past weekend but I like the ball out for a right center gap shot. Most of my HR’s were to center, right center and right, rarely did I pull the ball for power in baseball or softball.

  • Chuck

    My boys are in 11U, 9U and T-Ball. The USSSA teams are AA for now, but that may change in the future. I don’t like posting too much personal stuff on the web, but suffice to say that I live nowhere near SoCal. There is snow on the ground right now and will be there for another month. Amazingly, my middle son throws lefty and hits righty.
    I love USSSA for the more competitive kids and Little League for more of the rec players. I like to tell parents that are new to USSSA that every kid who plays AA and above were All-Stars in Little League. I do the statistical analysis/scorebook for the USSSA teams and coach T-Ball.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    I throw left and hit right. My youth leagues were AAA. As for Jeter, I don’t think he can move to CF because he doesn’t have a strong arm, or the range for CF. I can see him in LF.

  • Lizzie

    Well, I’ll go for 2B too, that’s what I played in softball many many many many years ago. Just like Doug B. I’m white, slow, can’t throw very far, no one fears my bat, and I’m also the second coming of Aaron Miles except I think I’ve got him by an inch. And my spam word is “broad”. Hm.

  • Seymour Butts

    @Jswanson…did you say you have a dong under your belt that is like Ichiro’s? Not sure I’d be letting the blogosphere know about that.
    @Raker, Both of those guys have been here, and neither can play short, though EdVed is a good outfielder. Just have to be patient.
    Took both games today from the Giants camp across the way. Johnny Southsider pitched well enough to earn the 8-7 victory in the nightcap. Johnny has visited our blog, but to my knowledge not commented. Used to enjoy some guy named Sherm. I think I remember him as well.

  • Doc Raker

    @ Seymour-JS is a big league lefty. Any familar faces at Giants camp?
    @Chuck- Yes, USSSA is certainly more competitive. We play all year long here in SoCal. My son has had more coaching by the age of 8 than I had my whole career. The level of coaching here in SoCal is impressive. Everyone has pro or big league experience. My sons baseball coach has a brother who played for the Phillies last year, his hockey coach just ended a 20 year NHL career, the list goes on. It’s all fun and the instruction is far superior to what I ever had. Maybe we will see you on the circuit. We are going to PHX for the Triple Crown Spring Training tournament, play a tournament and catch some ST. Check it out.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    Y’all are part of the Sunday Beer League, right? Isn’t can of corn power good enough for the Sunday Beer League?

  • Buddy

    My nephew is in a league coached by Joaquin Andujar. At the end of every practice he has them curse and chase after the umpires. The kids really seem to like it. In March, John Tudor is coming to teach them how to punch an electric fan with their throwing hands. Maybe he’ll take them to Chuck E. Cheese afterward.

  • http://swantron.com jswanson

    Dong? Where is my au-to-mo-bile?

  • Randy

    I was strictly right field in little league, I had a good arm but terrible aim. Coach would just have me hug the line and put our speedy center fielder in right center to cover more ground since I had no speed either.

    If I was in the major leagues I would think I’d probably play 1B. Strong arm doesn’t mean anything if you can never hit your target. I was also a switch hitter with a little opposite field power. High OBP and I rarely struck out, but I imagine I probably hit into more double plays than 2010 Derrick Lee. Wow that was a long time ago.

    1B has a lot going for it. Skill position, where you rarely have to actually use said skills. There is a reason worn out catchers head to 1B when their knees go but there is still pop in the bat. Long life span is another reason, longer you’re in the league the greater the chance you’re going to cash in on multiple nine digit paydays!

  • Doc Raker

    Depends were the sun is Terrelle.

  • Kris

    I started out in little league wanting to pitch and play first base. I did both, which was interesting since I was a) one of the only girls in the league, and b) hit my growth spurt early and was bigger and stronger than most of the boys. I played outfield, too. In junior high softball, I added second base to my repertoire.

    By high school softball I was officially a utility player–not the best player but one of the better players with a very strong arm who could be used most anywhere. I played 6 of the 9 positions (everything except pitcher, catcher and short stop). I still loved first, but thanks to one girl who was too freaking slow to play anywhere but first, I didn’t get much time there. But I learned to really love playing third by then.

    Third is still my favorite position. In adult co-rec, I learned to play second more and more and enjoy that as well. In seasons when I’m in really good shape and quick enough to get to the ball, I’m happy to play outfield as well.

    My favorite recent sports memory is one game where the guys in the outfield moved in on me. I popped it right over their heads. My dad later said, “That’s what they get for moving in on my daughter.” I wish I was more consistent at the plate–but when I get a hold of one, I will really get a hold of it. :)

  • Doc Raker

    Nothing better than squaring up a round ball with a round bat and watching it fly off your bat is there Kris. It’s addicting.

  • Terrelle Pryor 2

    Hit it high and let it fly.

  • Kris

    Now if I just had the speed to turn some of my hits into the singles they could be…

  • Kris

    Or doubles, which is what I meant to say. Apparently I left my brain somewhere else.

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