Commonly referred to as the "hot corner," third base is one of the most exciting and demanding positions on the field. The third baseman needs to have the ability to recognize game situations and adapt as the game changes. In this position, it is important that the player stays alert and focused the entire game. The following information contains the main keys for positioning, footwork, receiving and fielding for third basemen:
Third Base Positioning
- Regular: The third baseman should play about six steps behind the bag and three steps off the line. This, however, is an estimate and should change depending on various factors such as the speed of the hitter, hitter tendencies or the strength of the third baseman's arm. For example, the third baseman will typically play even with the bag for the leadoff hitter, since this is a hitter that could try to bunt for a base hit. The more tuned into the game the infielder is, the better prepared he will be for a ball hit his way.
- Double Play Depth: In a double-play situation, the third baseman should be three-to-four steps behind the bag and two-to-three steps off the line (subject to change based on various factors).
- Corners up/Infield in: Play even with the bag or just beyond the edge of the grass and two-to-three steps off the line. This allows the third baseman to throw home or look the runner back to third base and throw to first base.
- Bunts: In a bunt coverage play, the third baseman should start on the lip of the grass, creeping forward a few steps as the pitcher sets. As the pitcher begins his motion, the third baseman then charges the batter, yelling "Bunt!" If the batter does not square to bunt, then the third baseman should run into foul territory to avoid being hit from such a close distance.
Double Play - Feeds to Second Base
- Once the third baseman fields the ground ball, he should turn to second base, stay low (do not stand up) and throw overhand at the second baseman's chest. On a dive to his left, the third baseman should throw from his knees to second base but only if he can make a controlled throw to second.
Balls Hit to Left Field
- The third baseman should be aggressive and go for any playable ball hit to his left that he can. On this play, the third baseman has priority over the shortstop because he can get to the ball quicker than the shortstop.
- Although the coach will usually signal for a bunt coverage play, infielders should always be aware of bunt situations. Depending on the situation, the third baseman or pitcher may need to cover third base after the bunt.