Playing Left Field – Three Essential Tips
How to Play Left Field
Left field is one of the hardest positions to play in baseball. It takes a special skill set to play left field well. You have to be fast, have good range, be able to make really tough plays and have a strong arm. Most fly balls hit to the outfield are hit to left fielders and they are expected to catch almost every ball hit out. Read on to learn how to properly patrol the left side of the outfield.
The first tip to playing left field well is knowing your environment. This means that you have to know where the sun is, which way the wind is blowing, and how the ball bounces in the outfield grass. By doing this you’ll be prepared to make a play on every ball hit to you. You won’t be fooled on any fly ball.
The second tip to playing left field is getting a good read off the bat. “Shoeless” Joe Jackson was said to be so good at getting reads off the bat that he was able to get a running start before the ball was even hit. While likely a myth, he was a great left fielder who had great range. Getting a good read off the bat is essential to being a good left fielder. It will ensure that you’re able to have the best chance possible catching fly balls. Getting a great jump can also make up for a slower than average left fielder. I’d rather take a slower player who gets a good read off the bat than a fast player who doesn’t.
The third tip to playing left field is knowing the batter. You have to know whether he is a pull hitter or an opposite field hitter. Knowing this will determine where to stand in left field. For example, if you are playing left field and a right-handed batter with a tendency to pull the ball is batting, you should be playing him close to the line. It’s unlikely that he will hit one to the left-center gap if he is a pull hitter.
While some people see left field as a place to play kids who aren’t skilled fielders, this certainly should not be the case. It takes a special type of player to play this position. Ted Williams, Barry Bond, Stan Musial, Rickey Henderson, and Joe Jackson are considered some of the best players to ever play baseball. Guess what? They were all versatile left fielders.