Set position

What does Set Position Mean in Baseball?

The set position, also known as the stretch position, is a fundamental aspect of baseball that every aspiring pitcher needs to master. It refers to the stance pitchers assume before delivering the ball, whether to the batter or to a base. Understanding the set position and its technicalities is crucial for pitchers’ success and for maintaining the flow of the game.

In the set position, the pitcher must position their glove side towards home plate and visibly separate their hands. Thier throwing hand (with or without the ball) should be at their side, visible from all three bases. Committing to the set position is essential, as any natural motion associated with the delivery of the pitch obligates the pitcher to complete the pitch without alteration or interruption.

Key Takeaways

  • The set position is critical in baseball, affecting pitchers’ performance and game flow
  • Proper stance and visible hand separation are crucial aspects of the set position
  • Mastery of the set position helps pitchers adhere to rules and enhances their techniques

Set Position Overview

The set position in baseball is a crucial aspect for pitchers when preparing to deliver a pitch. This position offers increased control and precision, as well as a shortened delivery time, making it easier for pitchers to pick off baserunners.

A pitcher is considered to be in the set position when his pivot foot is against the pitching rubber, his shoulders are facing first base (for lefty pitchers) or third base (for righty pitchers) to some degree, and he holds the ball with both hands in front of his body. The pitcher must come to a complete stop in this position before starting the pitch.

There are a few key stages involved in the set position. The initial stage requires the pitcher to stand with his glove side towards home plate. After coming to a complete stop, the pitcher makes a move towards home plate to initiate the time of pitch. During this time, the pitcher can step toward and throw or feign a throw to a base, subject to the balk rules, or disengage the rubber by stepping back with their pivot foot.

In addition to the set position, pitchers can also use the windup position. The windup position is another common delivery method that involves a more elaborate motion. However, the windup may take longer to execute and can leave a pitcher more vulnerable to stolen bases.

To sum up, the set position is an essential part of a pitcher’s arsenal, providing increased control, precision, and quicker delivery while minimizing the risk of baserunner advancements. The correct execution of the set position can have a significant impact on a pitcher’s performance and overall team success in a game.

Set Position Technicalities

Pitcher’s Stance

The set position in baseball refers to a pitcher’s stance when preparing to throw the ball from the pitcher’s mound. In this stance, the pitcher has their pivot foot against the pitching rubber, with both shoulders facing first (for lefty pitchers) or third (for righty pitchers) base to some degree. The pitcher’s stance is essential for maintaining balance and focus while delivering a pitch.

Glove Position

When in the set position, the pitcher must hold the ball with both hands in front of their body. This involves placing the ball in the throwing hand and positioning the glove hand over it. Maintaining proper glove position is crucial for not only concealing the grip on the ball from the batter but also ensuring proper mechanics during the pitch.

Foot Placement

Foot placement plays a significant role in the set position. The pitcher’s pivot foot must be in contact with the pitching rubber, while the other foot should be in front of it, facing the batter. Proper foot placement allows the pitcher to achieve optimal balance and power, as well as enabling them to deliver a pitch accurately and efficiently.

Rules and Regulations


In baseball, a balk occurs when the pitcher violates one or more specific rules during the pitching process, with runners on base. This usually entails sudden or deceptive motions aimed at disrupting the runners. The purpose of balk rules is to prevent the pitcher from unfairly deceiving the base runners. When a balk occurs, all runners on base are awarded one base, moving them closer to scoring.

Here are some common examples of balks:

  • Failing to come to a complete stop in the Set Position.
  • Starting the pitching motion but not completing it.
  • Stepping off the rubber with the pivot foot during the pitching motion.

Illegal Pitches

Illegal pitches are a violation of specific baseball rules. They often involve pitching actions that give the pitcher an unfair advantage over the batter. Identification of illegal pitches is crucial because if the umpire deems a pitch to be illegal, the offense may be awarded a penalty. Here are some examples of illegal pitches:

  • Pitching with an illegal substance on the ball, glove, or hands.
  • Delivering a quick pitch before the batter is set in the batter’s box.
  • Failing to maintain contact with the pitching rubber during delivery.

In the Set Position, a pitcher is considered to be in compliance if they have their pivot foot against the pitching rubber, both shoulders facing first (for lefty pitchers) or third (for righty pitchers) base to some degree, and hold the ball with both hands in front of their body. Additionally, the pitcher must come to a complete stop before delivering the pitch to avoid balk and illegal pitch penalties.

Strategies and Techniques

Holding Runners

The set position in baseball is crucial for holding runners on base, as it allows the pitcher to make quick moves to various bases in an attempt to pick off runners. This is particularly important with runners on first base, as they often attempt to steal second base. By using the set position, the pitcher can effectively control the pace of the game and keep base runners from advancing too far off their respective bases.

Pitch Sequencing

Pitch sequencing plays a significant role in a pitcher’s success from the set position. Varying pitch types and locations keep hitters off-balance and guessing, making it difficult for them to time their swings correctly. A good mix of fastballs, breaking balls, and off-speed pitches can disrupt a hitter’s rhythm and make it easier for the pitcher to retire batters quickly. Implementing effective pitch sequencing helps a pitcher maintain control over the game and keeps the opposing team from gaining momentum.


Deception is another critical aspect of the set position in baseball. By employing subtle changes in pitch grips, arm angles, and release points, a pitcher can effectively disguise their pitch selection and catch the hitter off-guard. Moreover, the set position enables pitchers to vary their leg kicks, arm speed, and delivery time to deceive base runners and limit their ability to steal bases. Mastering the art of deception in the set position can significantly enhance a pitcher’s overall effectiveness and contribute to their team’s success.

Famous Set Position Pitchers

Mariano Rivera is one of the most famous set position pitchers in baseball. Known for his powerful and precise cut fastball, Rivera dominated opposing batters throughout his entire career, leading him to become the all-time Major League Baseball saves leader with 652 saves.

Another iconic set position pitcher is Dennis Eckersley. With a distinctive sidearm release, Eckersley was known for his pinpoint control and unique pitching style. He successfully transitioned from a starting pitcher to a dominant closer in the late 1980s, earning 390 saves across his career.

Aroldis Chapman has also made a name for himself as a powerful set position pitcher. With an incredibly fast fastball that often exceeds 100 miles per hour, Chapman has become one of the most intimidating closers in the game. His ability to consistently deliver high-velocity pitches while utilizing the set position has helped him secure over 300 career saves.

Trevor Hoffman is another noteworthy set position pitcher. As a long-time closer for the San Diego Padres, Hoffman’s success was largely attributed to his deceptive changeup. Known for his consistency and durability, Hoffman retired with 601 saves, making him one of only six pitchers in MLB history to surpass 600 career saves.

These pitchers have all demonstrated the importance of the set position in baseball and the impact it can have on a team’s success. By mastering the set position, these players have left lasting impacts on the game and their legacy within it.