Is Right Field More Demanding Defensively Than First Base?

Is Right Field More Demanding Defensively Than First Base?Adrian Gonzalez had the misfortune — or honor, depending on your point of view — of playing the outfield on Tuesday night to accommodate both Kevin Youkilis and Will Middlebrooks in the infield.

While Gonzalez has shown that he is more than capable in the outfield, his Gold Glove from his time at first base practically makes him overqualified to patrol right field.

Or does it? It’s an interesting topic to consider when trying to figure out which position is actually more demanding as far as defense is concerned.

First base certainly has its fair share of challenges, from holding runners on to reacting to hot shots down the line to trying to scoop errant throws from other infielders while staying on the bag. At the same time, it’s also easy to point out that many players are moved to first base when they don’t fit in anywhere else, as many a catcher-turned-first baseman (think Victor Martinez or Scott Hatteberg) can attest.

On the other side of the diamond, the hot corner over at third base also presents a unique challenge defensively. The quick reaction time needed to excel at third is a rare gift, as is the strong arm needed to play the position well. Along with reacting to bunts and the routine plays, third presents a formidable challenge on its own.

The middle infield positions are no walk in the park, either. Second basemen and shortstops share the responsibility of turning double plays, but at least at shortstop you don’t need to turn your back to the runner bearing down on you, like the second baseman does. Although, that throw from deep in the hole at short is no cakewalk.

And of course, the outfield is fraught with difficult plays. While each ball hit into the outfield might allow a player an extra split-second to react before it reaches them, any miscue out there will likely result in extra bases for the batter — or worse.

Catching may be the most demanding physically of the defensive positions, but that may have to do with the constant crouching more than anything else. While collisions at the plate are no joke — and of course, the catcher has to call the game — a backstop can very likely go an entire homestand without needing to make a play beyond catching a foul pop.

In the major leagues, there’s no such thing as an easy position to play, and the hitters at the top level certainly make the lives of the fielders difficult. When all’s said and done, however, which defensive position has got it worst?

Which position is most demanding from a defensive standpoint?

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