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  • Which are more athletic/skilled?

    Are infielders really more athletic/skilled than outfielders? I was just wondering because I see that on here all the time as an argument on who is greater when two players played different positions.

    I will admit to not being near as knowledgeable on baseball history as many of you, but from my limited knowledge, it seems that except for shorstop and possibly second base, infielders are not more athletic or skilled in fielding than outfielders, particularly CF'ers. When I think of athletic players who can make a great play on the ball, I think of guys like Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., Tori Hunter etc.

    Guys like Mark McGwire and Jason Giambi are playing first base. Are you telling me a guy like Ken Griffey really isn't athletic enough or a good enough fielder to be an infielder? (Well maybe not now, but back in the day.)

    Your thoughts....?

  • #2
    --I doubt you see the argument very often that firstbasemen are more gifted athletically or play a more demanding position. I can't say that I've ever seen anyone argue that way and I've been around for awhile. SS/2B do have a more demanding job on defense and to a lesser entent 3B's, but 1B are better compared to corner OF than other IF. I'd agree that CFers are as athletic as anybody in the game on average, but the position isn't as demanding and doesn't detract from offensive as much as the IF (less 1B) spots.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by leecemark
      --I doubt you see the argument very often that firstbasemen are more gifted athletically or play a more demanding position. I can't say that I've ever seen anyone argue that way and I've been around for awhile. SS/2B do have a more demanding job on defense and to a lesser entent 3B's, but 1B are better compared to corner OF than other IF. I'd agree that CFers are as athletic as anybody in the game on average, but the position isn't as demanding and doesn't detract from offensive as much as the IF (less 1B) spots.
      I guess harping on the 1st basemen detracts from my argument....anyway I think that CF'ers are more nimble than 2nd basemen and some are even moreso than shortstops.

      The argument I am referring to is like "if Ty Cobb was such a great fielder why wasn't he an infielder". Now I never saw the man field, but let's say he was even close to being as good as Griffey Jr. If he was, I think such an argument is pretty stupid.

      I agree shorstop is involved in more plays, but it doesn't mean having an athletic slick fielding CF isn't extremely valuable as well, particularly if your pitching staff isn't a ground ball one.

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      • #4
        Whats the old saying? A secondbasemen is SS who can't throw, a third basemen is a SS who can't move his feet.

        CF is an important position probably as important as SS but the positions are two completely different positions requiring different things from player with obviously some overlap in skill requirements.

        You good be a great SS but a lousy CF'er and vice versa.

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        • #5
          The best way to measure the skill required to play a defensive position is to look at batting statistics for each group. Shortstops, 2Bmen and catchers all hit less on average than CFers, so it is pretty safe to assume that those positions require more fielding skill.
          "The numbers are what brought me here; as it appears they brought you."
          - Danielle Rousseau

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          • #6
            Originally posted by AcesDJD
            I guess harping on the 1st basemen detracts from my argument....anyway I think that CF'ers are more nimble than 2nd basemen and some are even moreso than shortstops.

            The argument I am referring to is like "if Ty Cobb was such a great fielder why wasn't he an infielder". Now I never saw the man field, but let's say he was even close to being as good as Griffey Jr. If he was, I think such an argument is pretty stupid.

            I agree shorstop is involved in more plays, but it doesn't mean having an athletic slick fielding CF isn't extremely valuable as well, particularly if your pitching staff isn't a ground ball one.

            I have never heard or read anywhere that Ty Cobb was a great fielder. Average at best.

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            • #7
              --He was above average, very good in his prime, but never great. Don't know where the "if Cobb was a great fielder why wasn't he in the IF" argument came from though. I have heard it argued that he suffers defensively in comparison to Mays and Speaker (which is, of course, true), but the IF issue is a new one to me.

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              • #8
                As far as second basemen and center fielders, I'd say that in today's game, 2Bs tend to be more athletic. When the game first started, second was thought of as more of an offensive postion, like 3B is today (3B was thought of like 2B is today). If you're talking about the history of the game, CFers are probably more athletic than 2B. Today, however, 2B are more athletic.

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                • #9
                  If you're looking for a pure athlete look to centerfield. If you're looking for the best fielder look at shortstop. Each position takes a different skill set. An infielder has to have better reaction time, particularly SS and 3B. An outfielder can usually take a little more time to evaluate where the ball is going and make up ground with pure speed.

                  A centerfielder has the most ground to cover and has less ability to "cheat" so he is usually the best athlete and always the best fielder in the OF. A RF has to make the throw from right to 3rd (a LF rarely has to throw to first) so a guy with average speed and an above average arm usually ends up in right. A LF is usually a first baseman waiting to happen (see Dunn, Adam).

                  As I said an infielder (2b, ss, 3b) needs good reaction time, but also needs good lateral movement rather than straight line speed. A high percentage of major leaguers were SS in high school and even into the minors. As someone mentioned earlier, if they have a weak arm they are moved to 2nd, slow feet to 3rd and poor reaction time or lateral movement to the OF. A first baseman should be over 6 feet tall and preferably lefthanded (to make the throws to 2nd and 3rd).

                  Catchers have the best understanding of the game (which is why so many become managers), a strong arm and quick release, unless it's Mike Piazza.

                  No matter what the league, level or game the worst athlete on the field is always . . . David Wells.

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                  • #10
                    there are some guideines for the different positions. Obviously, if you're lefthanded, you are limited to the 3 outfield postions or 1B. If you can't run very well and don't have much of an arm but can hit, it's 1B. 2bmen are usually smaller guys, I guess a big guy is too much of a target and would have a tougher time making the pivot on the doubleplay. Also a guy can get away with an average or weak arm at 2B, which you can't really do at SS. I would think the SS is usually the best athlete in the infield. Among the OF, the CF is going to be the guy who can cover the most ground. Almost always, the LF will have the weakest arm and covers the least ground, or is the worst defensive oufielder. A RF should have a good arm, cause it's a longer thow to keep runners from advancing from 1st to 3rd on a basehit or tagging up at 2nd and advancing on a flyball. Most catchers usually can't run very well, but I'd bet a lot of them have the best hand to eye coordination.

                    That being said, I'd usually place a bet on the CF for being the best allround athlete on a MLB team.
                    It Might Be? It Could Be?? It Is!

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                    • #11
                      I've seen Robin Yount quoted on this subject, and he's always made the move from SS to CF sound like a break. CF was much less demanding on his body, and the fielding practice was much less rigorous, thus allowing him to concentrate on his offense more.
                      I'm a Ramblin' Wreck from Georgia Tech and a Hell of an Engineer!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mac195
                        The best way to measure the skill required to play a defensive position is to look at batting statistics for each group. Shortstops, 2Bmen and catchers all hit less on average than CFers, so it is pretty safe to assume that those positions require more fielding skill.
                        Or could it be these positions just wear the body down more? It probably at least proves that they are involved in more plays than a CF'er, not sure that it proves they're more skilled.

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                        • #13
                          Great replies guys.....learned several new things on what is required to play the various positions, even though I used to play ball as a kid lol. Of course I was always the left fielder

                          David

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                          • #14
                            Not a chance.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by NationalPastime1980
                              I have never heard or read anywhere that Ty Cobb was a great fielder. Average at best.
                              Average at best?

                              Not sure where you heard that.

                              According to most who saw him play, Ty was either a great fielder or certainly a very good one, especially before age 30. Cobb had three great years in RF before moving to CF for good in 1910. He was certainly a notch below the best center fielders in the game, but he was still well above average from the late teens into the early 20's. Only his last few years was he an actual liability, but then, how many OF'ers that play that many games (and into their 40's) aren't a liability by that point? Many unfortunately remember Willie Mays' embarrasing himself out in the field in 1973.

                              The easily accesible fielding stats like range factor, fielding runs, and fielding percentage are useless and should be ignored. All have been shown to largely team dependent, instead of being indicative of individual player talent). Further, more sophisticated measures like Defensive Efficiency Rating (DER), Zone Rating, and Ultimate Zone Rating (ZR and UZR) aren't widely available for players from that far back, anyway, and even those are nascent in their development. The sagacious Branch Rickey was prophetic in saying (over 5 decades ago) that: “There is nothing on earth anybody can do with fielding.”

                              So (at least for now) we have to rely in large part on experts who saw Cobb play- many of them on hundreds upon hundreds of occasions- and obviously knew a ton about Cobb's fielding abilities and were in a position to assess.

                              Those who saw him the most were probably Speaker, Mack, and Eddie Collins. Sisler, Hooper, and others who witnessed him a ton also weighed in- and basically everyone agreed that Cobb had excellent instincts (he was an agressive ball hawk, no surprise there) and covered a ton of ground, but only had an average arm. One might argue that his instincts and range more than made up for his arm- maybe similar Barry Bonds in his prime, who was also very good (bordering on excellent) as a fielder, but not possessing of a particularly strong throwing arm. Both still managed to rack up the assists and accolades.

                              Here's one source of quotes:
                              http://baseballguru.com/bburgess/ana...burgess10.html

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