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The position of the left fielder

A left fielder (LF), is an outfielder in the sport of baseball who plays defense in left field. Left field is the area of the outfield to the left of a person standing at home plate and facing towards the pitcher's mound. In the numbering system used to record defensive plays, the left fielder is assigned the number 7.

Contents

Position description

Outfielders must cover large distances, so speed, instincts, and quickness in reacting to the ball are key. They must be able to catch fly balls above their head and on the run. They must be able to throw the ball accurately over a long distance to be effective; they must also learn to judge whether to attempt a difficult catch and risk letting the ball get past them, or to instead allow the ball to fall in order to guarantee a swift play and prevent the advance of runners. Left fielders must also familiarize themselves with the varying configurations of different ballparks' foul territory, and prevent balls hit down the foul lines from getting past them into the left field corner. Amateur players may find it difficult to concentrate on the game, since they are so far from the action. Emphasizing the correct position will give outfield players something to concentrate on at each pitch. Hits to left field tend to curve toward the left field foul line, and left fielders must learn to adjust to that.

Of all outfielders, the left fielder often will have the weakest arm, as they generally do not need to throw the ball as far to prevent the advance of any baserunners. The left fielder still requires good fielding and catching skills, and tends to receive more balls than the right fielder because right-handed hitters tend to "pull" the ball into left field. The left fielder also backs up third base on pick-off attempts from the catcher or pitcher and bunts, when possible. Also if a runner is stealing third base the left fielder must back up the throw from the catcher. Left fielders must also back up third base when a ball is thrown from right field, and back up center field when a pop fly is hit into the pocket.

Notable left fielders

Here is a list of renowned left fielders who were inducted into the Hall of Fame (*), and/or were winners of the Gold Glove Award (GG). Players active as of 2007 are in bold type.

     

Other popular left fielders (currently active players in bold type) include:

         

Out of left field

The phrase "out of left field" is popular vernacular (first attested in 1961)[1] meaning "wildly unrelated to the subject being discussed", and "out in left field" means "a little crazy". One theory is that this refers to the popularity of seats in right field at Yankee Stadium while Babe Ruth was playing that position; buying a seat in left field would have been "stupid".[2] Another theory is that this arose at Chicago's second West Side Park, home of the Chicago Cubs from 1893 to 1915. After the Cubs moved to what is now Wrigley Field, the West Side Park property eventually became the home of the University of Illinois College of Medicine. The U of I built its Neuropsychiatric Institute building in what had been left field.[2][3] A third theory comes directly from experience of players. A runner attempting to score at home has his back to the left field, thus a throw to the plate coming from left field can arrive as a surprise to the runner.

References

  1. ^ Oxford English Dictionary
  2. ^ a b Dickson, Paul. 1999. The New Dickson Baseball Dictionary. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, page 361. ISBN 0-15-100380-7
  3. ^ Waak, Jason: "The Roots of Student Center West and Baseball", University of Illinois at Chicago, December 2005. [1]

See also

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