In this post, we’re going to tell you more about what college coaches are looking for at each position. We’ve already covered Relief Pitchers, Starting Pitchers, and First Basemen. Today, we’ll talk about second base.
Second base can be a difficult position to peg at the college level, because unlike shortstops, there is a more diverse range of body types and skill sets that can fill the position adequately depending on how the coach wants to pencil in his line-up. In college, you will occasionally find a second baseman who leads his team offensively and can hit 3-5 in the lineup with power. If that’s you, then that’s great! A lot of your offensive responsibilities will be covered in the next post about third basemen. However, a power bat at second base isn’t typical because most middle of the diamond spots are defense-first positions. While second baseman at the college level are often skill guys at the plate with a lot of different offensive weapons (speed, ability to bunt, control the bat) or high on-base percentage guys, it’s often the defensive skills that lead to them playing the position.
Defensive Skill Set
Defensively, a second baseman is expected to be a master of the routine play. A huge number of plays that come to a second baseman are going to be routine grounders, and for that reason a great glove is a minimum requirement. Increased range or a really good glove often makes up for a lack of arm strength in a second baseman, because the throws are the shortest of any infielder. Even though a college 2B isn’t expected to have shortstop arm strength, the ability to turn the double play is a HUGE plus and a skill that many coaches will look for as a must. You don’t find many college second basemen who can’t spin the back end of a double play at a high level.
A second baseman can also distinguish himself by his preparation and thinking. For instance, a second baseman who recognizes a hitter’s approach, can relay and adjust to the pitch that the catcher calls, and can react quickly and get to first base on a bunt or ball to the right side, can make up for limited range or a weaker arm. The instincts of a good second baseman come from anticipating the play and adjusting in the pre-pitch.
Another big part of a second baseman’s job is to make the first baseman’s defensive assignment easier. As such, having a quality glove extends to balls in the air as well as on the ground. A second baseman can make life easy for a first baseman by being a ball-hog on pop-ups to the right side, by getting to ground balls that would pull a first baseman far off the bag, and hustling to back-up any other infield play that he doesn’t already have an assignment on. With metal bats, range in the air is just as important as range on the ground. Second basemen who can take the tough popup behind first base or get to a flare in the triangle can save a lot of runs. Again, most of these things are determined by pre-pitch preparation and a second baseman’s mindset. A second baseman has to want the ball at all times and think he can make any play on the right side.
Offensive Skill Set
Offensively, a second baseman is usually looked at as a barrel-control guy. This means that he is not relied on for power, but is able to pick up his hits and move runners over on the bases. Normally, these types of hitters will hit at the top or bottom of the order. A second baseman also usually has to have the ability to bunt if they can’t drive the ball. This will depend on the offensive system and strategy of a coach, but bunting can be a huge part of the college game because college defenses don’t handle the bunt as well as professional players. Also, a second baseman has to be able to put the ball in play. Strikeouts do nothing for your team. Power hitters can get away with big strikeout totals because it’s a tradeoff for run production. The typical second baseman doesn’t usually hit for power, and if that’s the case they have to be able to go to all fields, put the ball in play, and be able to pressure the pitchers and defense. Second basemen are table-setters and energy givers. They have to have a grinder mentality to get the job done both on offense and defense. A second baseman who can fill this role is a huge tool to a lineup and can have a big impact on their team’s ability to score runs and keep runs off the board.
If you want to play second base in college, it’s important to know and practice your role, both in the field and at the plate.