Baseball Player Height By Position

I was at a spring training game a few days ago and had an interesting conversation with my dad regarding average height of position players.  We guessed that middle infielders (shortstop and second basemen) are the shortest players on the field.  Being a numbers guy though I wanted to know for sure.  I looked at all MLB players since 1960 who played at least 5 games at a position.  Thus, if a player played 5 or more games at multiple positions, he was counted at each position.  Which position has the tallest players on the field?  Pitchers.  Which position has the shorts players? 2B.

The average height of MLB players is just over 6’1″.  The difference between the tallest players (pitchers) and shortest players (2B) is three inches which relatively seems like quite a bit.  With that in mind, I’ll analyze performance based on height in a post tomorrow, in addition to looking at positions by weight.  Does the graph show what you expected?  What other ways can you look at height within baseball?

Thanks to Sean Lahman’s Baseball1.com database for the information.

29 comments

  • What's most interesting to me are the results at 3B. The corners are traditionallly power positions yet 3B employs the shortest average height of any position other than 2B and SS. Since height often coincides with power, I am a bit suprised that 3B ranks so low.

    Interesting data as always.

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    • Thanks for the comment, G.C. There are a lot of variables beyond height that determine the success of a particular position but I still found the data to be interesting.

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      • 3rd base is usually a more muscle “stocky” posistion

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    • The chart is excellent except for one big thing. 5 games played at the position. Many teams will sub their middle infield sub for defense. Or because of pitching double switches. This would skew the average height of the third baseman, although minimally.

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  • I have to disagree with G.C. in that height has very little to do with power. if that was the case, wouldn’t tall people be the most dominate olympic lifters?

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    • Good point, Pat. My guess (that could be checked with the data) is there is a relationship between height/weight and power. Like you suggest, not all tall people have power, so weight is another variable to consider.

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    • Christopher, I think when he says height coincides with power he means in a baseball swing not overall strength. The taller you are the longer your legs are and the more extension you can get with your arms. However if you are too tall it can be hard to keep a short precise swing, but that is a different topic

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  • Well I’m curious to know my husband is 5’9 and I’m 5’3 so I don’t think my son will be too tall but I don’t know.. He plays 1st base and but will he not make the position if he’s too short even though he’s a great player?

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    • Not saying that you can’t succeed at any height. Primarily showing trends/data but there are always exceptions. Great players will play regardless of height. 🙂

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    • It’s possible your son may break 6′-0″ but if I am a betting man your son will be under 5′-10″.

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  • Great info! My math students (6th) will have fun with these stats during our fall baseball unit.

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  • I’m super late to the party on this thread, but I’m a HUGE fan of numbers and this one pans out just as I’d thought, except for the OFers. CF seems right about where my guess would be, but I thought LF and RF would be much the same, not taller than.

    Those who need “fast feet” seem to be on the shorter side.

    I’m going to go see if I can find your follow up post on performance.

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  • Let me see…I’m less than two months short of my sixty-first birthday,but were I,say,forty years younger,and my current size (five-eight-and-one-half inches,205 lb.,181/4″ biceps) what would MLB scouts and other talent evaluators think of my build?

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  • 5’11” on average for 2nd baseman? I was thinking more 5’9″ or 5’10″…

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  • Being so late to the discussion, it kind of sucks to add to it. I may be wrong and missing some new influx of smaller players, so do not take what I say as definitive. However, I think the real numbers show that the game has become a bigger man’s playground. After the Eckstein, Punto, and Pedroia years it might be an era where there is no short man in the game besides Altuve. It sucks because so many great short players have not only had an impact on the game, but also made history inside of it. The way scouting works now makes it impossible for a short player to even be signed. There is not much hope for boys that aren’t six feet. Even Pedroia was said to be the best player alive at his age and was not drafted until he proved himself on the biggest college stage at Arizona State. Chris Cates is the most extreme example of a tiny ball player that got a limited chance after a great career at Louisville. It really sucks to say it, but no man that is smaller than six feet tall should ever try at this sport for a career anymore. I hope small men still do in spite of the facts, but it is what it is until someone changes this entire trend of MLB having a biased scouting society based on power potential. They do not care about how good a ballplayer is until their sixty yard dash is elite or their power potential is shown. It is what it is, or ain’t what is should be. What a beautiful world it would be if minor league clubs could sign great athletes outside of their MLB potential. They are driving fans away every year just like the NFL. It is sad. I don’t think anyone talking about it can help much. but why not say what is real.

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