Centerfield is the area of a baseball field that covers the middle part of the outfield behind second base. The center fielder is a vital fielding position in baseball, and if you find yourself playing there, one of the first questions you’ll ask is where do center fielders stand?
Center fielders should stand in the outfield, behind second base. Center fielders should stand at a depth that is roughly in the middle of the distance between second base and the outfield fence. Small adjustments can also be made depending on the type of hitter at the plate.
In addition to knowing where to stand, center fielders must also be in a position that allows them to see the bat off the ball. When done incorrectly, the pitcher will be blocking the center fielder’s view. Continue reading to learn more about positioning yourself properly in centerfield.
- How Deep in the Outfield Should the Center Fielder Stand?
- Center Fielders Should Stand Where They Can See the Ball Off the Bat
- Center Fielders Can Shade More for Pull and Push Hitters
- Learn More About How to Play Center Field
How Deep in the Outfield Should the Center Fielder Stand?
Most players know that center fielders need to stand in the outfield behind second base, but one question a lot of players wonder about is just how deep should a center fielder stand. In other words, how far from home base should the center fielder should stand?
In general, center fielders should position themselves at a distance that is roughly towards the middle of second base and the outfield fence. This means the center fielder should stand about 280 feet to 290 feet deep into the outfield for a 400-foot fence.
Centerfield is the deepest position in the outfield so the center fielder must be able to cover the most ground. In order to help cover the most ground, center fielders can sometimes make adjustments to their depth if they know the type of hitter at the plate.
Center Fielders Play Deeper For a Power Hitter
When a center fielder realizes the player at the plate is a power hitter, the center fielder can take a few steps back. Power hitters are generally in the third, fourth, and fifth spots in the batting order on any team.
Power hitters tend to hit the ball further than other players on the team. So a center fielder can make an adjustment by taking 5 to 10 steps back. In fact, there have been a handful of hitters I knew always hit it deep into center field and I would play about 15 feet in front of the warning track.
Playing a few steps back can come in handy because when a power hitter makes contact, there is less chance you have to turn your back to the infield and make an over-the-shoulder catch.
One thing I was taught when playing outfield is that it’s always easier to run forward than it is to run backward. So when in doubt, take a few steps back to lower your chances of having to run back to catch a fly ball.
Center Fielders Play In For a Contact Hitter
On the other end of the spectrum, center fielders should play in a few steps when the person batting is a contact hitter or they know the hitter is unlikely to hit a ball over their head.
Contact hitters can be any hitter in a batting order, but they are most notably the eighth and ninth hitters (or whichever hitters are the last in the order for your type of league).
Contact hitters tend to hit the ball shallower than other hitters on the team so it’s beneficial for center fielders to play in about 5 to 10 steps. By playing in when a contact hitter is at the plate, center fielders give themselves a better chance to catch any shallow hit fly balls.
Center Fielders Should Stand Where They Can See the Ball Off the Bat
When first starting out in center field, it’s tempting to stand in a position that is directly in line with second base and home plate. This is not a terrible position for players to stand, but standing in this position generally means the pitcher’s body will be blocking your vision of the bat hitting the ball.
Center fielders should try to stand just to the left or just to the right of the imaginary line from home plate to second base. Standing just off-center of this imaginary line will allow a center fielder to see the bat hit the ball, which allows the center fielder to get a quicker read on the flight path of the ball.
Typically, I default to standing just off-center to the hitter’s pull-side. This means that I’ll shade towards the left fielder when a right-handed batter is hitting and I’ll shade towards the right fielder when a left-handed batter is hitting.
Center Fielders Can Shade More for Pull and Push Hitters
In order for center fielders to have a better opportunity to catch a fly ball, center fielders can shade even more towards the left fielder or right fielder if they know which direction the batter is likely to hit the ball.
For example, if a center fielder recognizes that a right-handed hitter likes to pull the ball, the center fielder knows the ball is most likely getting hit towards the left fielder. In this scenario, the center fielder can tell the left fielder that they are shading more their way and then the left fielder can shade more towards the foul line.
This allows for both the center fielder and the left fielder to be in a better position to catch a fly ball because they know the ball is more likely to be hit towards left field.
On the opposite side of things, if a center fielder knows a right-handed batter likes to push the ball, they know the ball is more likely to be hit to the right fielder. In this scenario, the center fielder will let the right fielder know they are shading more their way and the right fielder can shade more towards the foul line.
Learn More About How to Play Center Field
This article is one part of a complete guide on how to play center field.
To learn more about how to play center field, read these additional articles:
- What Is a Center Fielder in Baseball?
- Center Fielder Roles and Responsibilities
- 9 Characteristics of Good Center Fielders
- The Dimensions of Center Field in Baseball
- Where to Stand in Center Field?
- Who Is the Cutoff Man for Center Fielders?
- 4 Scenarios Where Center Fielders Should Back Up Teammates
- What Size Glove Should a Center Fielder Wear?
- 9 Reasons Center Field Is a Good Position in Baseball
- The Best 14 Drills for Any Baseball Outfielder