The three outfielders play deep in the field, well behind the infield cutout. Defensively, the outfielders are primarily responsible for catching deep fly balls and line drives and for fielding ground balls that make it past the infielders. The outfielders are named for their normal positions in the field as seen by an observer looking out to the field from home plate. The left fielder plays in the area behind the third baseman and shortstop, the center fielder plays well behind second base, and the right fielder plays in the area behind the second baseman and first baseman.
Outfield play is very different from infield play. Outfielders are neither required to make as many quick starts and stops as infielders nor to field as many ground balls, but they must run longer distances and often field more fly balls than infielders. Throws from the outfield are also different from throws from the infield because they're much longer and take a different trajectory. The outfield positions are generally considered to be easier to play than the infield positions and tend to be dominated by good hitters.
Center field is usually considered the hardest outfield position. The centerfielder has a larger area to cover than the other outfielders and the center fielder needs a strong arm to be able to make throws from deep center field to the infield. The right and left fielders have about the same amount of field to cover, but the right fielder needs to make the long throw from right field to third base far more often than the left fielder needs to throw to first base, so teams usually put the fielder with a stronger arm in right field.
- Jason Aronoff: Going, Going... Caught!: Baseball's Great Outfield Catches as Described by Those Who saw Them, 1887-1964, McFarland, Jefferson, NC, 2009.
- Columbia University Society for Baseball Research: "Optimizing Outfield Positioning: Creating an Area-Based Alignment Using Outfielder Ability and Hitter Tendencies", in Baseball Research Journal, SABR, Vol. 50, Nr. 1 (Spring 2021), pp. 92-103.
- Ted Knorr: "The Greatest Outfield?", in Cecilia M. Tan, ed.: Steel City Stories, The National Pastime, SABR, 2018, pp. 45-48.
|Outfielders:||Left field | Center field | Right field|
|Infielders:||3rd base | Shortstop | 2nd base | 1st base|