Most Is The Important Position In Baseball?

Anyone who has been a committed bleacher bum for Little League knows the pain of watching a game where the pitcher can’t pitch. Instead, runs are walked around the bases until the parents and guardians are raising their eyes to the heavens pleading for rain. Thus, most people believe the starting pitcher is the most important position in baseball. But not everyone agrees.

The starting pitcher is typically considered the most important position in baseball. However, the position with the greatest responsibility and the hardest job is the catcher. Some argue a team can’t reach greatness without a fantastic shortstop. But a defensive team is better than heavy hitters.

Instagram posts and coaches across America like to proclaim, “There is no ‘I’ in ‘team.'” But while Peter, Paul, and Mary’s song, “Right Field,” is endearing, baseball does rely on some positions more than it does on others. The three most crucial positions are pitcher, catcher, and shortstop. Of course, many fans would argue a heavy hitter is essential, but that isn’t always the case despite the glory.

What Is Baseball’s Most Important Position?

The pitcher is arguably baseball’s most important position. When a team is victorious, the pitcher is credited with the win. If there is more than one pitcher, it is typically given to the one that pulls the team into the lead. However, this is only the case if:

  • The reliever made a brief, inconsequential appearance
  • The starting pitcher played five innings or more

Nonetheless, the accolades of a win are handed over to the pitcher. They also touch the ball each play, which is more than any other player aside from the catcher.

The pitcher is also the only fielding position that requires unique raw talent. All MBL players are blessed with inherent athleticism, but pitchers have something special that no amount of practice will create. An outstanding shortstop could be brilliant anywhere you stuck them on the field but one spot, the mound. Hence, pitchers are precious diamonds to a team.  

Who Are Some of MBL’s Pitching Legends?

Baseball fans can argue until they run out of oxygen on who is the best MBL pitcher of all time. It depends on what is being valued, as there is more to pitching than being able to get it over the plate. Nonetheless, some names stand out.

For example, Nolan Ryan holds the record of no-hitters. However, he never did pitch a perfect game. He also holds the record for most seasons a pitcher has ever played. In fact, his 27 seasons make him tied with Cap Anson (a heavy hitter, occasionally catcher, and notorious racist) for the most seasons of any player in MBL history.

But it is Whitey Ford who has the record for World Series wins (ten). Although oddly enough, Ford also holds the record for World Series losses (eight). However, he does not have the record for the most innings pitched in a World Series game. That accolade goes to Babe Ruth, who pitched 14 in 1916. Uniquely, Babe Ruth was a pitcher who could hit, although he spent plenty of time in the outfield too.

However, it would be irresponsible to overlook Jim Abbot. Like outfielder Pete Gray, Abbot only had one hand, yet he pitched in the MBL for ten seasons. He even has a no-hitter to his name.

Why Isn’t An Excellent Pitcher Enough In Baseball?

However, a fantastic pitcher does not guarantee a win. Just ask Ken Johnson, who went down in history as the first pitcher to throw a no-hitter and lose. He lamented that he had pitched “[T]he best game of my life and still lost.”

So while a team can’t cope with a truly horrendous pitcher, an amazing one will not be able to overcome a weak team. Also, even a talented team is pretty useless without direction.

But it isn’t the pitcher or the coaches that truly command the field. Instead, the glue of a baseball team is the catcher. Without a fantastic catcher, a brilliant pitcher is undermined, and the team will be leaderless. Thus, while nobody said being a pitcher is easy, it isn’t the most demanding job in baseball. 

What Is Baseball’s Hardest Position?

The most thankless position in baseball is the catcher, yet it is the hardest. Being a catcher requires skill, constant focus, leadership abilities, and a strong yet accurate arm. Unfortunately, it’s also brutal to a player’s body. Pitching takes its toll on the elbow and shoulder. But the catcher has to worry about that and their aching knees.

It is the catcher who keeps the pitcher calm and focused. The catcher calls the pitch, be it a curve ball, knuckle ball, or a fastball into the inside. The catcher has to block every wild pitch, find the foul balls, and keep an eye on the runners, always trying to steal. They remind the infield to look two, go one while always being on the lookout for the dreaded bunt.

Catchers are the ones having to dive for the midfield’s sorry throws to the top of the diamond, then hang on as the baserunner barrels into home. They also have to act like magicians, popping in and out of their clunky gear every time they’ve got to bat.

Yet, what are catchers remembered for? Their occasional mistake. Consider Mickey Owen, who played 13 seasons in the MBL. In 1941 he only committed four errors for the entire season. Yet, it’s that last one everyone talks about to this day when in Game 4 of the World Series, he dropped the third strike.

Yet it was Hugh Casey that threw the lousy pitch. But there was Owen, kicking himself for not calling time and calming the pitcher down (yes, it’s the catcher that’s put in charge of the pitcher’s emotional state.) Nor do most fans remember who was on the mound that fateful day.

Pitchers may get the win next to their name, but it is catchers that are branded with a loss. Thus, trying to build an excellent baseball team without a fantastic catcher is like trying to erect a house without foundation. You hardly look at that part of a home, yet without it, the whole structure is doomed. Thus, is the life of a catcher.

MBL catching legends include:

Why Do Baseball Teams Need An Excellent Shortstop?

Pitchers and catchers are essential, but it can be argued that a team will never win the World Series without a brilliant shortstop. Shortstops have to be quick and everywhere at once. They’re the third and second baseman while often being the link between the infield and the outfield. Therefore, it is considered the most challenging position after the pitcher and catcher.

In fact, a second or third baseman can still get away with errors with a good shortstop around, as they clean up the other players’ mistakes. Also, like the catcher, the shortstop acts as a coach on the field, directing the other players and boosting morale.

Big names dominating shortstop have included:

Does A Baseball Team Need Fantastic Hitters?

Most fans argue between the value of a heavy, homerun hitter verse a pitcher. But there are many ways to score. Thus, pitchers have lost games despite throwing a no-hitter. All of which shows that while pitchers are essential and hitters are dynamic, they’re pretty useless without some key positions.

However, MBL team owners and anyone trying to get bums on seats love a heavy hitter. These are the folks that attract the crowds. Think of the legendary big names:

Even folks who don’t follow baseball much have heard of most of these celebrated baseball players. These players send crowds into a frenzy every time they smack the ball over the wall. Fans adore home runs.

However, in non-baseball homes, these baseball legends are often unheard of:

The only exception to this is people like Babe Ruth and Yogi Berra. But Babe Ruth was more known for his hitting, and few outside of baseball remember Berra was a brilliant catcher; they just know him for famous nonsensical witticisms, such as “Déjà vu all over again.”

However, it’s an excellent defense that dominates a World Series. As The Atlantic showed, the World Series winners are almost always teams that are ranked in the top 10 for defense. This includes 2004-2010, where a defense dominator won the title for seven straight years.

So, hitters are fantastic and fun, but they can’t pull a weak fielding team through the seasons. Baseball needs defensive, including a solid pitcher, top catcher, and a fast and intelligent shortstop.

Editorial credit: Debby Wong /


Pitching is considered the most important position in baseball. But without an excellent catcher and shortstop, the pitcher cannot make up for a weak team. Nor can a heavy hitter save their team from poor defensive play. Hitters may get the glory, but the team’s actions (or inaction) on the field will make or break a game.


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