Infield Positioning for Baseball Situations

Learn the why, when and where of infield positioning, including double play depth, standard depth, infield in, and no doubles.

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The infield depth at which you can play certain hitters depends on the inning, the score, how fast a runner is, and where runners are on the bases.

When in these depths, play 100% to these depths. If you are playing back don’t worry if the hitter bunts. If you are playing in, its ok if he gets a ground ball by you. Remember often times you are playing the percentages and sometimes they don’t work out.  But don’t be in between, because that is when we make mistakes.

Diagram of Infield Situational Positioning.

Note: Sometimes Depths are classified by numbers:
  1. Standard Depth
  2. Double Play Depth
  3. Half-way Depth
  4. Infield in

diagram for baseball positioning no doubles, infield in, double play depth

Summary: Basic Situational Positioning for Infielders.

  • Bases Empty: Standard Depth (Position 1)
  • Runner At 1st Base: Double Play Depth (position 2) if less than 2 outs. If there are two outs, then back to standard depth positioning.
  • Runners 1st And 3rd Bases: Double Play Depth (position 2) if less than 2 outs. If there are two outs, then back to standard depth positioning.
  • Runner At 1st And 2ndBases: Double Play Depth (position 2) if less than 2 outs. If there are two outs, then back to standard depth positioning.
  • Bases Loaded: Positions 2 , 3 or 4, depending on the situation. Look to the manager for his call.

Normal Depth

The Goal.

You are playing the percentages. The further back you play, the more time you will have to react. Your range increases, making it more difficult for the hitter to hit a ground ball through the infield. The tradeoff is that the throw to first base will be longer, and the play will take more time. You might want to adjust slightly, playing more forward or more back, based on factors such as the speed of the runner, how the hitter is being pitched, and hitter’s tendencies.

The Situation.

Two outs and no bunt is expected. The play at 1st base.

The Setup.

I usually measure this with how far from the outfield grass. The further back you can move, the more range you have and the more balls you can get to.

This depth depends on how comfortable you are with your throw across the infield. The further back, the longer the throw to first base.
This can be 5 to 15 feet in front of the outfield grass, and can be adjusted if needed for faster runners. See #1 on the infield positioning diagram.

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Double play depth

The Goal.

Double Play.

The Situation.

Expect to play at doubleplay depth any time there is less than two outs and first base is occupied. This includes if there are runners at 1st and 2nd, or bases loaded.

The Setup.

Double play depth is different for every second baseman and differs slightly on how fast or slow the runners are or how fast the field plays. I will typically move in about 3 steps closer to the hitter from my normal position and take 3 steps closer to the second base bag. I will tweak my positioning a little depending on if a righty or lefty is hitting and what their tendencies are.

The number one priority is that you can easily get to the second base bag on a ball hit to the pitcher, shortstop, or 3rd baseman with out them having to wait for you. You are giving up a little range to be able to get to the bag easier to complete double plays. Also most pitchers I have played with are trying to get the hitter to hit a ground ball up the middle into our positioning so they would like you to get to the balls up the middle more than the ones in the hole.

See #2 for doubleplay depth on the infield positioning diagram.

Infield In

The Goal.
  • To get an out at home plate
The Situation.
  • Runner at 3rd and less than 2 outs (If there are two outs, play at normal depth and try for the out 1st base.)
  • Anytime you absolutely cannot let the runner score from third base
The Setup.
  • In this position your starting point will be where the infield grass meets the infield dirt. (See #4 on the infield positioning diagram)
  • You can vary this distance a little, usually depending on the speed of runners.

Ultimately, whether you play in or not is the manager/coach’s call, so look for the signal during these situations. Sometimes early in games, the manager may choose allow the runner to score, preferring take the guaranteed out. However, if it is middle to late in the game, and especially if the score is close, you can expect the coach to pull the infield in. See #4 on the infield positioning diagram.

Looking for pro tips for fielding?  Here are a couple tips guaranteed to make you a better infielder.
A Variation to Infield In: Half-way Depth.

Under certain circumstances, you may want to keep more options open to yourself than playing far in allows. This setup differs because you will stand on the baseline, or in other words, a few step off the infield grass. If there is a slow runner at third, then you have more time and can back up. Also, if there are runners at 1st and 3rd and you want to keep your option for turning a double play open. If the ball is hit hard, you will try for the double play. If it is not hit hard enough, you will get the out at home. See #3 on the infield positioning diagram.

No Doubles

The Goal.

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.

The Situation.

This strategy is most likely to be used in the 8th or 9th inning, and if the score is tied, or if your team is leading by 1 or 2 runs.

The Setup.

The corner infielders play at standard depth and closer to the foul line – roughly 5 to 6 feet. Also, the outfield is playing farther back. This means that the shortstop and 2nd baseman have more territory to cover for fly balls.

What to Read Next: More articles on second baseman positioning.

  • 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 and Double-Cut Positioning for Second Baseman. As the second baseman, what is your specific role in various relay situations?
  • Pop-up Priorities. 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.
  • Baseball Hitting Drills for a Batting Tee – This full color book also comes with free videos demonstrating each drill.  20 Major League drills designed to help you hit with more power and consistency.  These batting tee drills are perfect for solo practice or one-on-one coaching.

About Author

Avatar für Doug Bernier

Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 5 organizations (CO Rockies, NY Yankees, PIT Pirates, MN Twins, & TX Rangers) over the past 16 years. He has Major League time at every infield position, and has played every position on the field professionally except for catcher. (You should click to watch this great defensive play by Bernier) Where is he now? After 16 years of playing professionally, Doug retired and took a position as a Major League scout with the Colorado Rockies for 2 years. Currently Doug is the Data and Game Planning Coordinator with the Colorado Rockies


  1. Avatar für Alfred

    High school baseball. Seeing middle infielders pinching middle in all situations regardless if runners are on or not. Short and second basically at double play depth at all times. Trying to understand this philosophy before I use it or not.

  2. Avatar für Steven

    General Question guys… 2 outs, slow runner on second. Ground ball up the middle. Are you sending the runner home?

  3. Avatar für Jason

    Would this positioning be the same for youth baseball, or would it change a bit because of the smaller fields? If it would change, how would it change?

  4. Avatar für Derrick

    Scenario the bases are loaded my team is up 4 runs with one out . I’m the pitcher . A grounder gets hit right back to me and I decide to go home with the ball . The catcher is out of position and we don’t get the out . Our team hasnt turned a double play all year . But they think I should have went for the double play . What do you guys think the best move was ?

    • Avatar für Doug Bernier

      I think the play to throw the ball home was fine. It is important for the defense to be talking before a play happens. Middle infielders should talk amongst themselves and know where they are going if they get the ball or if another infielder gets it. Same with catchers, corner infielders, and pitchers. Use this as a learning aid and next time let whoever you plan on throwing the ball to know your intentions if you get the ball, before the play happens. This will help the other defenders be engaged and hopefully the entire team will communicate better with the others on the field.

  5. Avatar für Jay

    I was in this situation earlier. Up by one run 23 had one out. Last inning. Other team had the tying run on third and the winning run on second base. I wanted to play the infield in to cut off the tying run, but doing so meant that we could not hold the runner at second base and he would score EASILY on a single. What is the best approach in that situation?

    • Avatar für Sam Dedio

      Intentionally walk the batter to get forces all around. I would then play half way and either get a force out at home or DP. With young kids, playing for a force at home best case, worst case trade an out for a run and then hope you can get next batter out for 3rd out.

    • Avatar für Kevin

      Walk batter (hi is pointless at that point) then play corners In and middles at dbl play depth. Corners play to plate…middles is double play.

  6. Avatar für Jim Henricks

    Visiting Team is up 1-0. It’s the bottom of the ninth and the home team has bases loaded with one or no outs… wouldn’t it be premature to pull infield in? Because a hit normally very fieldable by the 3rd baseman (to his left), now becomes a hit due to having all infield “in”. two runs score. If the tying run is on 3rd, wouldn’t it be best to play infield normal and outfield pretty normal as well. This would allow normal fieldable balls hit to infielders to get an out and let the score go tied and now you live to play another out. But instead what happened was that the ball hit to the left of the third basemen and it got through and shallow out to left and two runs score allowing the home team to win the game on a two-run single through the “play-in” gap. Any thoughts????

    • Avatar für Billy

      In this scenario outfield positioning is more important than that of the infield. I’d play the infield at normal or double play depth and have the outfield pulled in. An extra base hit certainly wins them the game, and a single could as well. This is a situation where the percentages are such that it is better to be aggressive and hope to make a catch on what would normally be a single to the outfield; you should be comfortable with the idea that you might (even likely) lose regardless of your strategy and therefore have an especially aggressive mindset and belief that you WILL get the ball and you WILL come up with a bullet throw. Just to run through some scenarios:

      With no outs, if an outfield stays back and a sacrifice fly is hit, the runner on second could make it to third and they might win anyway with one out and a runner on third.

      With one out in this situation you still might end up with a runner on third, the game tied and 2 outs, but all it takes is a passed ball or a single to end the game.

      No outs, outfield in: You might make a catch on a short liner to the outfield that would normally be a single, and runners might not try to advance as it would be a much shorter throw to home, or you might have a good chance at an out at the plate. On a grounder through the infield you might have a chance at home on a brilliant throw, but you would likely be better off getting a force at third (from left or center) or second (from right) and hope to make it to extras. A double play then gets you out of the jam.

      1 out, outfield in: by similar reasoning, if you make a catch on a liner you will possibly hold the runner at third and then have a force anywhere to get out of the inning. If he goes and scores you still have a tied game and runners on first and second, which gives you a good chance of making it to extras.

    • Avatar für Ron 22-year coaching vet
      Ron 22-year coaching vet on

      I agree with your initial thought. Give up the run, get the out and hopefully prevent anyone else from scoring.

      I Have seen more playable balls lose a game with the infield “in” that I never use it anymore.

  7. Avatar für Andrew

    When turning a double play at second base and the second baseman fields the ball should he take the time to line up his feet to underhand toss to short or shovel pass to the shortstop for a quicker play

    • Avatar für Doug Bernier

      Hopefully when turning a double play your feet are lined up and under you properly before you actually field the ground ball so when you do have the baseball you can get rid of it quickly. You need to be quick but not at the expense of making a poor toss. Balls hit harder you can take more time with your feed but balls hit a little softer you need to get rid of it quicker. I personally like the shovel pass, I think it makes playing second base much easier. But make sure you work on both feeds. The more options you have the better. Good Luck


  8. Avatar für Mark

    I have an intelligent 10 year old who likes to read. I want to find a book that covers defensive situations by positions for him to study. He would enjoy it. I have looked but just can’t find anything. Can you please recommend some educational as well as light reading regarding baseball for him?

    Thank you!

      • Avatar für Sarah Bernier

        Jim, like I mentioned to Mark, a number of pro guys have written articles about positioning here on PBI. It’s all arranged by position if you look at the drop menu that says “free baseball instruction” in our menu bar. But I think you guys brought up a great point. Maybe sometime this year we can get all that arranged into a format that would be easier to print or order in book form. Thanks for the suggestion. Good luck with your season! – Sarah

    • Avatar für Sarah Bernier


      That’s awesome that your 10 year old likes to read and learn. A number of pro guys have written articles about positioning here on PBI. It’s all arranged by position if you look at the drop menu that says “free baseball instruction” in our menu bar. But you bring up a great suggestion. Maybe we should put all that into a collection that can be easily printed or kept nearby for reference. Maybe we can work on that project sometime this year. Good luck!

  9. Avatar für Vin

    Do you feel it’s legal/fair to move players out of position, such as moving an infielder from one side of second base to the other, to play a pull hitter? Or moving an outfielder to the infield to lessen the chances of a ground ball getting through the infield? I feel that some of these strategies are a bit unfair to the hitter and it’s hard enough getting a base hit as it is.

    • Avatar für Doug Bernier


      Good question. I think its totally fair to move the defense wherever you want. The natural defensive positioning came about because that is the most common places hitters hit balls. But if a hitter has a tendency I think its perfectly acceptable to move the defense around. This is the mental chess game that goes back and forth between teams all the time. In my opinion this is what makes baseball so fun.


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