The second baseman or shortstop covers second base on a throw down from the catcher, but there is much more to the play than that.

In fact, the throw down from the catcher to second base is typically one of the most exciting plays in all of baseball. The runner on first base has a huge opportunity to steal second, and if he does so without getting caught, it often leads to a run for his team.

But who covers during a thrown down from the catcher? The second baseman or shortstop?

The answer depends to a large extent on the batter at the plate.

If the batter is right-handed, the second baseman will cover. But if the batter is left-handed, it’s usually up to the shortstop to make that crucial play.

Why the difference?

Because a right-handed batter more likely blocks the catcher’s view of the shortstop, while a lefty hitter makes it more difficulty for the (usually) right-handed-throwing catcher to target the second baseman, who is lined up more to the catcher’s right.

No matter which middle infielder is responsible for this baseball task, the other one needs to back up the play in case of a wild throw or a gaffe by the primary fielder.

The first goal of the fielder covering second base on a throw down from the catcher is to catch or deflect the ball, and then apply tag.

Once the play at second is resolved, the fielder should turn his attention to the other bases to make sure no other plays are developing. If necessary, he can throw to first, third, or home to try to get an out.

Eventually, the ball goes back to the pitcher to get ready for the next pitch.

All of this action usually unfolds in the matter of a few seconds and can leave fans, players, coaches, and even umpires breathless with excitement.