This coaching course for baseball takes us to the hot corner – third base is the “hot corner” for a good reason, as many hard hit balls get there quickly, especially with the abundance of right-handed batters in baseball. With the lengthy throw, a strong-armed player at third base is essential, but most importantly, a fearless player to handle the hotshots, is best. Third baseman do not have to have great range but quick reflexes, the ability to charge slow hit balls, a willingness to dive and stay in front of hard hit balls is necessary for the third base position.
As in all infield positions, positioning is imperative and usually based on the side the batter hits from, the game situation and speed of the batter, as well as the throwing speed of the pitcher. When in doubt, they should line up even with the bag, a few steps closer to the shortstop when left-handed batters are up, and a few steps back of the base and a little closer to the line for right-handed batters.
Ready position is also crucial for this position so they are ready for the mentioned, hot hit balls. On the pitched ball, players move to the balls of their feet, with a deep knee bend and by setting their glove at, or slightly below, the knees. On the first move, third baseman must learn to stay low, except on line drives when they must jump.
Most Difficult Third Base Plays
Bunt plays are obviously something third basemen have to deal with and dealing with the “bunt for a base hit” is challenging because it is unexpected. Deciding when to barehand the ball or glove it are things third basemen must learn. However, the toughest plays at third are threefold:
- The back hand play, when they have to roam far towards the third base line before making a strong throw
- The high hopper, when they have to decide to charge (usually best) or lay back and get the high hop.
- The hot smash directly at them when they must stay in front of the ball and at least knock it down, when they often still have time to throw runners out.
Additional third base tips
Diving left and right, with the ability to get up quickly before throwing, is another play that is important for good third baseman. Third baseman also should take any balls they can get to that are towards second base, unless the shortstop calls them off it. On very slow rollers or bunts, third baseman may have to bare hand the ball to get rid of it soon enough, but this method should only be a last resort, when the ball is hardly rolling.
Third sackers have responsibilities on cutoff plays to home on balls hit to left and center fields with runners trying to score, as well as on various bunt coverage plays. Popped up balls around the pitching mound may be the responsibility of the third baseman at the higher levels of baseball, too. Finally, covering the base correctly, usually by straddling the bag and applying quick tags at third is an important third base skill.