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mjharrison72
01-28-2005, 11:01 AM
I'm less of a "student of the game" than most people on this board, so I'll ask the burning question on my mind: What are the different skills required to play SS, 2B and 3B? Obviously, short is the most demanding in terms of quickness and range, and from 3B, you have to be able to make the throw to first, and they call it the "hot corner" for a reason. The reason I ask is, how far-fetched is it to think the Sox could convert Willie Harris to a backup at all three IF positions, and particularly, could they convert him to a 3B to compete with Crede? Further, people have said Iguchi was a SS before hurting his shoulder... what does that have to do with his ability to play short? Did it reduce his quickness? Ability to dive?

If I can ask another dumb question, when people say a player like Carlos Beltran is a "five-tool" player, what does that mean... what are the five tools? And do the Sox have any five-tool players?

Hangar18
01-28-2005, 11:23 AM
I'm less of a "student of the game" than most people on this board, so I'll ask the burning question on my mind: What are the different skills required to play SS, 2B and 3B?

SS and 3B require very strong arms, and of the 2, the most Agile and Quickest guy should be at SS. ALSO, helps if the SS is SMART, because he has to be Aware of ALL the runners on base, and has to back up on many different plays.
a 2B has to ALWAYS be aware of the SS and COMPLIMENT him when backing up on plays. A Good SS always makes a 2B much better. 1B usually dont have much range, but should be good fielders ............

Ol' No. 2
01-28-2005, 11:25 AM
I'm less of a "student of the game" than most people on this board, so I'll ask the burning question on my mind: What are the different skills required to play SS, 2B and 3B? Obviously, short is the most demanding in terms of quickness and range, and from 3B, you have to be able to make the throw to first, and they call it the "hot corner" for a reason. The reason I ask is, how far-fetched is it to think the Sox could convert Willie Harris to a backup at all three IF positions, and particularly, could they convert him to a 3B to compete with Crede? Further, people have said Iguchi was a SS before hurting his shoulder... what does that have to do with his ability to play short? Did it reduce his quickness? Ability to dive?

If I can ask another dumb question, when people say a player like Carlos Beltran is a "five-tool" player, what does that mean... what are the five tools? And do the Sox have any five-tool players?Five tools:
Running
Throwing
Catching
Hitting
Hitting for power

jabrch
01-28-2005, 11:27 AM
I'm less of a "student of the game" than most people on this board, so I'll ask the burning question on my mind: What are the different skills required to play SS, 2B and 3B? Obviously, short is the most demanding in terms of quickness and range, and from 3B, you have to be able to make the throw to first, and they call it the "hot corner" for a reason. The reason I ask is, how far-fetched is it to think the Sox could convert Willie Harris to a backup at all three IF positions, and particularly, could they convert him to a 3B to compete with Crede? Further, people have said Iguchi was a SS before hurting his shoulder... what does that have to do with his ability to play short? Did it reduce his quickness? Ability to dive?

If I can ask another dumb question, when people say a player like Carlos Beltran is a "five-tool" player, what does that mean... what are the five tools? And do the Sox have any five-tool players?

Willie has no chance of playing SS or 3B. He'd lack the arm and the hands to play on the left side of the IF.

5 tools are power, speed, average, arm and glove. Magglio was a 5 tool player. Right now, Rowand is the closest we have to a 5 tool guy - but he really is far from it.

veeter
01-28-2005, 11:27 AM
First the five tools: Hit for avg., throw, run, fielding skills, power. I believe Harris could play all the positions simply because he has great range and and above avg. arm. The differences in positions is the angle in which the ball comes at you. Also the length and directions of throws. Shortstop is where you put simply put your best infielder. He needs the strongest arm, most range and smartest head. He is involved in more plays per game usually than anyone. Iguchi hurting his arm probably meant he can't make the long throw from deep short anymore. That's not to say second base is not demanding. When turning two you're blind to the approaching runner who wants to kill you. Also plays to 2b's right can become long throws as well. Third base actually has fewer long throws than you think. Yes the throw from behind the bag is very long but the 3rd baseman makes a lot of play coming in or to his left. But like you said he fields the most rockets and must have very quick reflexes. Every position has it's demands but at short, for the most part, you cannot even bobble the ball or the runner is safe. At second or third a bobble can be gotten away with. I hope I answered all or some of your questions. I like the idea of trying Willie as a utility player. However traditional thinking would not allow him to take over for Crede because 3rd base requires a power hitter. Although Chone Figgins is a very good utility guy Willie could become, ... maybe.

Tekijawa
01-28-2005, 11:29 AM
I Think that Willie definitely has the range to play SS, I can't remember his Arm being anything special from 2nd. I question the "intangibles" in his case and his disire to actually get the job done there... I don't think I would want him as a "leader" in my infield either as the SS usually is.

ja1022
01-28-2005, 11:38 AM
Willie has no chance of playing SS or 3B. He'd lack the arm and the hands to play on the left side of the IF.



I think his arm and glove are adequate. I believe what he lacks is baseball "moxie".

MisterB
01-28-2005, 11:39 AM
Basically, SS requires the best combination of range (has to cover a lot of ground) and arm (making throws from the hole). 3B doesn't need the footspeed of SS but quick reflexes are a must, and arm strength is needed though they usually have some time to set before throwing to first. 2B should have range/speed comparable to SS, but arm strength isn't as necessary.

In general, good arm + good range = SS; good arm but not range = 3B; good range but not arm = 2B.

Iguchi's shoulder injury robbed him of some arm strength, which is why he was moved to second. Harris doesn't have the arm to play on the left side of the infield.

voodoochile
01-28-2005, 11:43 AM
The raw skills aren't so different - though you obviously need a stronger arm to play 3B than 2B, but the footwork is much different at the different positions. I don't know the specifics, perhaps someone more knowledgable can fill in the details.

jabrch
01-28-2005, 11:48 AM
I think his arm and glove are adequate. I believe what he lacks is baseball "moxie".

I think it is more talent than moxie. I can't see Harris' hands quick enough to play the left side of the IF and that he surely doesn't have an arm strong enough to make that throw from the left side, while moving to his right. Anyone can throw it over there - but I mean to make it hard, while moving right, and fielding a ball.

VC - actually a SS often needs to have a stronger arm than a 3B because he will be more often moving to his right, grab the ball in the hole, and fire it without being able to get a 2 step delivery. A 3B will have that far less often. The difference of the distance of the throw is not so significant as the movement that a IF will be making while getting the ball.

mjharrison72
01-28-2005, 12:09 PM
So it's the guys who have above-average range and an above-average arm who can be utility infielders? I hear some people saying Willie's arm is more than adequate, while others say he doesn't have the arm to play on the left side of the infield. It sounds like people think he has more than adequate range to play third. I don't see the damage in trying him out as a late-inning replacement at 3B (after pinch-running for Speedy Crede, if he ever gets on base). Obviously he has decent arm strength if he's played some CF.Why is it so important third basemen hit for power? If you have power at other positions, can't your 3B be another speedy guy?

jabrch
01-28-2005, 12:14 PM
The other thing is that he (I don't believe) has played anytime in the left side of the IF either in the majors OR in the minors. You don't put a guy in that position now...

akingamongstmen
01-28-2005, 01:01 PM
3B is actually an extremely challenging position for anyone that hasn't tried it in the past. Alex Rodriguez was a gold glove caliber SS, and he struggled quite a bit trying to get used to 3B. The ball comes at you so much quicker, and you have to have exceptional reaction time to be good. Crede, for example, has great hands and reacts extremely quickly to slow-rollers in front of him. I'm not sure Willie could handle it. He could probably play some SS (he has the range and a serviceable arm) if he could handle the intellectual aspects of the position.

voodoochile
01-28-2005, 01:06 PM
I think it is more talent than moxie. I can't see Harris' hands quick enough to play the left side of the IF and that he surely doesn't have an arm strong enough to make that throw from the left side, while moving to his right. Anyone can throw it over there - but I mean to make it hard, while moving right, and fielding a ball.

VC - actually a SS often needs to have a stronger arm than a 3B because he will be more often moving to his right, grab the ball in the hole, and fire it without being able to get a 2 step delivery. A 3B will have that far less often. The difference of the distance of the throw is not so significant as the movement that a IF will be making while getting the ball.


That's an excellent point and plays into what I was talking about with footwork. Most 3B footwork is to the left while SS and 2B need to go either direction though the ability to work toward the middle is obviously very important - and again that is obviously completely different for 2B and SS as is the turning the DP footwork which is more straight forward for a SS but requires a lot more foot speed for a 2B.

jenmcm76
01-28-2005, 01:11 PM
3B is actually an extremely challenging position for anyone that hasn't tried it in the past. Alex Rodriguez was a gold glove caliber SS, and he struggled quite a bit trying to get used to 3B. The ball comes at you so much quicker, and you have to have exceptional reaction time to be good.

All true, but isn't it harder for a shortstop to switch over to 2B than 3B? 2B requires a very different throwing angle over to 1B, more of a throwing across your body. The throwing angles for 3B and SS are pretty similar. I'd think that reacting to the ball would be harder at 3B, but making the actual throw would be much harder at 2B (as compared to SS).

Palehose13
01-28-2005, 01:26 PM
All true, but isn't it harder for a shortstop to switch over to 2B than 3B? 2B requires a very different throwing angle over to 1B, more of a throwing across your body. The throwing angles for 3B and SS are pretty similar. I'd think that reacting to the ball would be harder at 3B, but making the actual throw would be much harder at 2B (as compared to SS).

Not really. You know you have more time at 2B, so you have time to get in position to square up for your throw. Plus, it's a good idea for middle infielders to track hitters and know their tendencies. That way you can take a few steps in either direction to "cheat". It's usually not as prominant as the old "Harold Baines shift", but a good middle infielder will know the hitter's tendencies and look in to see what pitch is going to be thrown, and then "cheat" just after the ball has been released. It makes a difference (with positioning)if there is going to be an off speed pitch or a fastball. The footwork is different from both positions to turn a DP, but I learned both so I am sure it can't be too difficult for a MLB player to learn them.

In short:
3B needs quick reaction time and strong arm. Able to charge and throw for bunts.

SS needs good range, and a strong arm (longest throw in the IF). Has to also be aware and able to make quick decisions (cut offs, etc).

2B needs good range also, not as strong an arm. Quick reaction time (and needs to know where to be) in situations for example, cover first on a surprise bunt, turn DP, cutoffs, etc. In my experience 2B is a very busy position, but doesn't get a lot of credit.

Joel Perez
01-28-2005, 01:38 PM
So it's the guys who have above-average range and an above-average arm who can be utility infielders? I hear some people saying Willie's arm is more than adequate, while others say he doesn't have the arm to play on the left side of the infield. It sounds like people think he has more than adequate range to play third. I don't see the damage in trying him out as a late-inning replacement at 3B (after pinch-running for Speedy Crede, if he ever gets on base). Obviously he has decent arm strength if he's played some CF.Why is it so important third basemen hit for power? If you have power at other positions, can't your 3B be another speedy guy?

Historically, MJ, your 3Bs have been "power hitters" - Mike Schmidt, Troy Glaus, or hitters that have an above average batting percentage (Wade Boggs come to mind), or both (Edgar Martinez before he moved to DH, but his defense was average at best anyway).

It's just the way it is in the history of baseball, IMHO. I can't remember, save for Tony Phillips, a guy that can play 3B and have speed to burn but not hit for power. Alex Rodriguez may come to mind having power and speed, but not speed in a Rickey Henderson/Vince Coleman type way.

Again, if you're sacrificing power at some positions, you better make up for it by hitting for a high average to at least move some runners around the basepaths. Can Willie do that? As you can see, that is debatable. Now, if he has the DESIRE to do that, that's another question in itself.

Great question though!

The way each baseball generation passes, and the further ballplayers continue to develop, I'm sure there is going to be a ballplayer who has 5-tools that can also play a great third base.

Ol' No. 2
01-28-2005, 01:41 PM
The raw skills aren't so different - though you obviously need a stronger arm to play 3B than 2B, but the footwork is much different at the different positions. I don't know the specifics, perhaps someone more knowledgable can fill in the details.The footwork is really related to throwing. The toughest throw in the IF is the SS fielding balls hit to his right. There's a reason your coaches all told you to get behind the ball. Doing the Jose backhand leaves your feet in a poor position for the throw to first. Some of the best footwork I've seen at SS was Royce Clayton. His feet were in the exact proper position every time, which leads to strong, accurate and consistent throws. If your feet are in a different position every time, your throws are going to be inconsistant.

A 2B moving to his right has a difficult play, too, but he's got a shorter throw, so a small variation in angle is less of a problem. Plus, being closer, there's less chance of a short-hop or a bad bounce on a short throw. The shorter throw also allows a 2B to play right at the edge of the OF grass, which gives him more effective range.

A 3B has only a little longer throw than SS, but he's less likely to be moving far to his right, and being closer to the plate, the ball gets to him quicker, so he has more time to set his feet for a good throw. But the longer distance puts more of a premium on accuracy. The 3B has to have the quickest reflexes.

mjharrison72
01-28-2005, 01:49 PM
Not really. You know you have more time at 2B, so you have time to get in position to square up for your throw. Plus, it's a good idea for middle infielders to track hitters and know their tendencies. That way you can take a few steps in either direction to "cheat". It's usually not as prominant as the old "Harold Baines shift", but a good middle infielder will know the hitter's tendencies and look in to see what pitch is going to be thrown, and then "cheat" just after the ball has been released. It makes a difference (with positioning)if there is going to be an off speed pitch or a fastball. The footwork is different from both positions to turn a DP, but I learned both so I am sure it can't be too difficult for a MLB player to learn them.
Interesting you bring up more of the mental aspects of switching. I know when I go out there, I have to think about what I'm doing, and I often make mistakes (throwing to the wrong base, forgetting to cover a base, etc.), but I am just playing for fun. These guys live and breathe the game of baseball... isn't it pretty much second nature for them? I would assume it would require a certian period of adjustment, but every one of these guys "knows" how to play other positions, don't they?

Ol' No. 2
01-28-2005, 01:54 PM
Interesting you bring up more of the mental aspects of switching. I know when I go out there, I have to think about what I'm doing, and I often make mistakes (throwing to the wrong base, forgetting to cover a base, etc.), but I am just playing for fun. These guys live and breathe the game of baseball... isn't it pretty much second nature for them? I would assume it would require a certian period of adjustment, but every one of these guys "knows" how to play other positions, don't they?In addition to IF fielding, each IF has a designated role as a cutoff or backup on anything hit to the OF. Positioning differs depending on where the runners on base are, how many outs and where the ball is hit. While the skills required here aren't different, it does take some learning, and is another reason you don't just switch someone that easily. And it's another reason a good utility IF is like gold. He's got to know ALL of the positioning.

FGarcia34
01-28-2005, 01:56 PM
I play college ball up here in Minnesota and from what I can tell you, for the most part, shortstop is played by the most athletic person on the field. quick, agile, strong armed, and mentally sound. third base is typically a stronger player with very quick hands and a strong arm. second basemen is usually a player that is able to play shortstop as well. they must be able to move to their glove side very well while maintaining good balance. eventhough it is the shortest throw to first base, most of the time it is one of the more difficult ones simply because depending on where the ball is hit, more often than not it is difficult to line up your shoulders and make a good throw. you also have to have an accurate arm with a quick release to make double plays. unlike shortstops, second basemen do not have momentum carrying over to first base. i think the toughest position in the infield to play is shortstop by far. making throws moving away from first base is a very difficult thing to do.

Palehose13
01-28-2005, 02:03 PM
In addition to IF fielding, each IF has a designated role as a cutoff or backup on anything hit to the OF. Positioning differs depending on where the runners on base are, how many outs and where the ball is hit. While the skills required here aren't different, it does take some learning, and is another reason you don't just switch someone that easily. And it's another reason a good utility IF is like gold. He's got to know ALL of the positioning.

Thanks for taking that for me. :wink:

What ON2 said. :D:

I played 2B and SS in college. My roommate playe 3B. I wouldn't know where to position myself on OF balls, or other footwork, etc if I was just thrown in at 3B. However, I am confident that I could learn it if I had a few pactices there. Another thing about the mental aspect..if you are used to playing 2B all the time and then go to SS, your perspective of the field is different and that takes a little getting used to. My coach would have me split time in practice between both positions so that I was fresh for whatever he needed me to do (College softball always plays double headers, so it was not unusual for me to play SS the first game and then 2B the second.)

Ol' No. 2
01-28-2005, 02:08 PM
Thanks for taking that for me. :wink:

What ON2 said. :D:

I played 2B and SS in college. My roommate playe 3B. I wouldn't know where to position myself on OF balls, or other footwork, etc if I was just thrown in at 3B. However, I am confident that I could learn it if I had a few pactices there. Another thing about the mental aspect..if you are used to playing 2B all the time and then go to SS, your perspective of the field is different and that takes a little getting used to. My coach would have me split time in practice between both positions so that I was fresh for whatever he needed me to do (College softball always plays double headers, so it was not unusual for me to play SS the first game and then 2B the second.)The perspective is quite different, which seems odd since the field is symmetrical, but it is. The other thing is that for some reason I always felt I got more predictable bounces playing SS than at 2B. Grounders at 2B used to drive me nuts because you were never sure where they were going to go.

Nellie_Fox
01-28-2005, 02:11 PM
All true, but isn't it harder for a shortstop to switch over to 2B than 3B? 2B requires a very different throwing angle over to 1B, more of a throwing across your body. The throwing angles for 3B and SS are pretty similar. I'd think that reacting to the ball would be harder at 3B, but making the actual throw would be much harder at 2B (as compared to SS).Not that I was any good, but when I was a kid I made the switch from short to second because I didn't have a strong enough arm for short. The throwing across the body thing was a big adjustment. From short you want to come right over the top, from second that would waste time while you turned to face first. You learned to sidearm it across your body. Also, learning the pivot on the double play; you take the toss from short with your back to first as opposed to coming across the bag facing first like a shortstop dies.

ja1022
01-28-2005, 02:49 PM
The perspective is quite different, which seems odd since the field is symmetrical, but it is. The other thing is that for some reason I always felt I got more predictable bounces playing SS than at 2B. Grounders at 2B used to drive me nuts because you were never sure where they were going to go.

More specifically, I always felt that balls pulled on the infield had a truer bounce.
It seemed to me that balls hit the opposite way on the infield often seemed to have some sort of "english" on them whether there were hit to short or 2nd.

Jerko
01-28-2005, 02:54 PM
There's a lot of ways to "hide" your weaknesses no matter what position you play, but I've always found it harder going from 3rd or short over to 2nd for some reason. That being said, I do NOT think Willie could move from 2nd to play 3rd or short at the Major League level. We all have done it in our non-professional careers, but we're talking MLB here. I don't think he has the arm for short or the reflexes (or arm) for 3rd. The positioning, the "knowing the hitter", and the backing up of certain bases is like 2nd nature for these guys, so I don't think that would be a problem, but I would not trust Willie anywhere but 2nd base, and I don't even trust him there.

Jurr
01-29-2005, 03:36 PM
All true, but isn't it harder for a shortstop to switch over to 2B than 3B? 2B requires a very different throwing angle over to 1B, more of a throwing across your body. The throwing angles for 3B and SS are pretty similar. I'd think that reacting to the ball would be harder at 3B, but making the actual throw would be much harder at 2B (as compared to SS).
One other thing that makes it tough to play 3rd base is the bunt. You have to be ready for the bunt, and that usually includes having the ability to barehand the ball, aim, and throw on the run across your body. Tough play, and that alone makes an adjustment hard.

johnny_mostil
01-29-2005, 05:48 PM
In general, good arm + good range = SS; good arm but not range = 3B; good range but not arm = 2B.

This also works for OFers. Good arm + good range = CF. Good arm, poor range=RF. Good range, poor arm=LF. (Poor range, poor arm is also LF but more often 1B/DH.)

johnny_mostil
01-29-2005, 05:50 PM
I don't think he has the arm for short or the reflexes (or arm) for 3rd.

To say nothing of lacking "the bat". I can't think of one even acceptable third baseman in my lifetime who fits Willie's skill set.

mjharrison72
01-31-2005, 05:44 PM
To say nothing of lacking "the bat". I can't think of one even acceptable third baseman in my lifetime who fits Willie's skill set.
I was thinking more in terms of being a passable backup. What's more probable if we need a backup 3B is Uribe would move there and Iguchi would switch from 2B to short on a temporary basis. At least the assumption is there that he played short at one time, so he can probably handle it again. After all this discussion, it sounds like people generally think Willie is no more than a decent 2B and backup OF. Thanks to everyone who chimed in.