Every baseball player needs to know baseball pop fly priorities, i.e. chain of command, so players won’t be fighting over who should catch a fly ball.
Pop Fly Priorities – The approximate area that fielders are expected to cover when a fly ball is hit.
A well-played pop-up is often an easy out. A poorly played one is not only embarrassing for the players, it can lead to errors, runs for the other team, and even dangerous collisions.
Every baseball player needs to know baseball pop fly priorities, i.e. chain of command – so players won’t be fighting over who should catch a fly ball – AND, how to avoid serious injury from on-field collisions.
A side note: Your coverage zone may be more or less than shown on this diagram, because a player’s range differs according to his individual athletic abilities and pre-pitch positioning.
Pop fly priorities broken down for the whole field.
Outfielders have priority over the infielders.
Centerfielder has priority over the left and right fielders.
Shortstop has priority over everyone in the infield.
Middle infielders (SS and 2nd base) have priority over the corner infielders (1st base and 3rd base).
Corner infielders have priority over the pitcher and catcher.
NY Yankee Doug Bernier calls off the other fielders before making the catch. Image by Ed Wolfstein.
“I got it.” The player who makes the catch should yell “I got it, I got it, I got it,” and the person(s) he is calling off will say nothing so there won’t be any misunderstanding on who should catch the ball.
Wave your hands. As an infielder if you are going back on the baseball and you are calling the baseball, along with yelling, wave your hands in the air so the outfielder can see that you are calling it. When there are a lot of people yelling and the infielder is yelling back towards the catcher, often times the outfielder won’t hear anything, but he will see the infielder waving his hands.
Dealing with potential collisions:
If there is a chance of a collision between and infielder and outfielder on a fly ball, the outfielder will slide feet first and the infielder will stay on his feet. This is to prevent a head on collision. A glancing blow is better than a major collision.
–Example 1: Colliding the Dangerous Way
Red Sox’s Johnny Damon was knocked unconscious in a head-to-head collision with second baseman Damian Jackson.
–Example 2: Trip to the Hospital Avoided
In this next example, major injury was avoided because good priority protocol was followed.
Red Sox left fielder, Jacoby Ellsbury, and third baseman, Adrian Beltre, both ran hard after a pop fly. Ellsbury slid just before collision, following proper pop-fly priority protocol for outfielders, and effectively avoided a head-on collision. His quick response likely saved him a concussion and trip to the hospital, if Johnny Damon’s experience is any indication. Click here to watch the video.
I hope this article on baseball pop fly priorities and how to avoid injury helps you play smarter, safer, and more effectively. I invite you to ask questions or leave feedback in the comments section below. Play hard! – Doug
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 11 years. After hitting .361 with the New York Yankees this 2012 spring training where he relieved Derek Jeter at shortstop, Doug spent the 2012 season with the Yankees’ triple A team. Click here to get personal, one-on-one instruction with Doug Bernier