Infield in, No Doubles, and other First Base Positioning

During a fast-paced play is not the time to be trying to figure where on the field you need to be.

Knowing where on the field the first baseman should be for each situation allows the team to work together fluidly in high-pressure, fast-paced situations. Letting the score, situations, and hitter dictate where you need to position yourself is something that is learned. Knowledge of how baseball situations should dictate your defensive positioning at first base will let you use external factors in your favor.

Diagram of Infield Situational Positioning.

Diagram for Infield Positioning: Standard depth, infield in, double play depth, and half way

Note: Sometimes Depths are classified by numbers:
  1. Standard Depth
  2. Double Play Depth
  3. Half-way Depth
  4. Infield in
  5. x = No Doubles

Bases Empty

Position 1, Standard Depth: When there is no one on base, you will normally play deep – that is, 15 to 20 feet behind the base. See #1 on the diagram below.

Keep an eye on the second baseman, just in case he needs to communicate a set up and to make sure you aren’t playing too close together. Your setup will vary a little based on the hitter and the game situation.

Facing a lefty hitter, you want to be back and about ten feet from the foul line.

Facing a righty, you can move further off the line because less there is less of a chance that he will hit a ground ball to first base. This means it is more useful for you to focus on plugging the hole between 1st and 2nd.

Runner At 1st Base

Position: The first baseman will be holding the runner on at first base. If you are unsure of how to do this, click to read more about holding runners on first base.

Runners 1st And 3rd

You will be holding the runner on at 1st base.

Pro Tip for 1st Basemen

Never forget that your first responsibility is to cover the first base baInfield in, No Doubles, and other First Base Positioningg.

The further you move away from the foul line, you should also move closer to the hitter. If you do not do this, you may find yourself further away from the 1st base bag than you intended.

Positioning is flexible as long as you feel confident that you can get back to the 1st in time to receive a throw.

Runner At 1st And 2nd

You will either play behind the runner at 1st base, or if you need to keep a run off the board you may play in front of the runner. From either of these spots you can let the ball dictate whether you are going to come home with the ball, go to 2nd, or just get the out at 1st. The score, inning, and number of outs also play a huge role in your decision.

Bases Loaded

Same as Runners at 1st and 2nd.

No Doubles

Base runners or not, it doesn’t affect this positioning. No Doubles is a the setup sometimes used when the score is tied, or when leading by 1 or 2 runs in the 8th or 9th inning. The idea behind this positioning is if we are going to give up a hit they are only going to get a single and not be able to stretch it into a double.

As a 1st baseman, you will play closer to the 1st base line than normal – roughly 5 to 6 feet. Make sure you are close enough where a ball will not get between you and the foul line. In this alignment you will give up a ground ball in the 3-4 hole but nothing down the line.

  • Cut-off Fundamentals for Infielders. This article discusses the best position possible for taking a throw from an outfielder as a cut off man – where to align yourself, and how to make the relay throw as quickly and accurately as possible.
  • Relay Positioning for First Baseman. As the first baseman, what is your specific role in various relay situations?
  • Pop-up Priorities for First Baseman. This article and diagram shows what territory you are expected to cover when a fly ball is hit, who you have priority over if more than one player is going for the play, and what to do in potential collision situations.
  • Holding Runners on 1st Base.  Tips and technique for holding runners on 1st base and not letting them steal 2nd.

About Author

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

6 Comments

  1. Hi Doug. My name is Tim. I played second and then moved to first late in my ccareer. I am trying to help teach my Grandson some tecchniques for playing first. Since most of my time was at second I am not clear about positioning for a ball thrown wide right up the right field line. I am a right hander. In some situations I would stretch with my right foot on the inside corner towards right field and backhand a low throw or in the dirt. However there were times when I would square up with my left foot on the bag and my right foot stretching towards right field. This would put me in position to field the throw in the dirt using my body to at least block the ball if I couldn’t field it cleanly. What is the proper way to field a throw in the dirt wide right up the right field line? P. S. Maybe you will play sometime against my cousin, Jeff Mathis who was just signed as a free agent catcher from the Marlins to Arizona. Last year was his 10th in the Majors. Hope to maybe see you and him play in the same game!!! Good luck and thanks for your advise and your helpful website!

  2. Doug, thank you for creating this article, I am a senior in high school and never before have I played baseball (I’m a football guy) at 6’3″ 265 the coach wants me to play 1st base I can catch great and I have a cannon arm, but I didn’t know how to play 1st base as my first game starting is tomorrow I’m glad you have this up! Thank you and god bless!!

  3. Doug it’s spilly! I’m in Japan and I have to play first today, I googled first base positioning to make sure I was in the right spot. Found your site. Haha awesome. Hope you are well. Ja-ne

    • Spilly,
      Great to hear from you. I hope all is well in Japan, that usually seems to be a pretty cool experience. I’ve seen you play a little first base, you will have no problems. Im glad you stumbled across the site, we have been working on it for a while. I signed with the twins, I am out in Ft. Myers excited about another season. Good luck this year, hope it is great. Take Care.
      Doug

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