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The shortstop plays a position typically between second base and third base. The shortstop is often the most athletic of the players on the field, having the greatest need for speed, agility, and a strong throwing arm. In the major leagues, persons who can play shortstop can often play other positions well -- but few players can ever make the successful transition to being a shortstop.

Shortstops field most ground balls, infield flies, and line drives hit between second base and third base. The ground balls have typically been hit far into the infield, but the shortstop typically has a more difficult throw than even a third baseman within the infield. If there is a runner on first base and a ground ball is hit toward him, he can usually choose to throw to the second baseman for a force on the runner from first or to first base to get the baserunner. The shortstop often makes a throw to second base so that the second baseman can then throw to first base to get another out at first base and thus a double play.

Less commonly a shortstop makes a throw to home plate or third base to get an out on a runner from third base or second base.

Shortstops are often in plays in which the catcher throws toward second base to catch a baserunner trying to steal second base. If the shortstop applies the tag to the baserunner before that baserunner has reached second base or has over-slid second base and is no longer in contact with it, the baserunner is out. The shortstop is the usual infielder to apply the tag on a baserunner caught stealing second base.

On outfield flies the shortstop often positions himself as the 'cutoff' man who takes the throw from the outfielder and then throws it with added speed and accuracy to the catcher or some infielder to make a play at another base or at home plate should there be a baserunner trying to advance bases or score.