Baseball Wikipedia Glossary
Terms in this set (1144)
0-1 ("oh and one")
(also "1-0", "0-2", "1-1", "2-0", "1-2", "2-1", "3-0", "2-2", "3-1", "3-2") The possible instances of the "count," the number of balls and strikes currently tallied against a batter. Traditionally, the first number in the count corresponds to balls, and the second, strikes; however, Japanese and Korean baseball leagues use the opposite order (strikes followed by balls).
Scorekeepers assign a number from 1 to 9 to each position on the field in order to record the outcome of each play in a more or less uniform shorthand notation. The number 1 corresponds to the pitcher.
Also, a fielder may shout "One!" to a teammate to indicate that he should throw the ball to first base.
Finally, in the context of pitching, the number 1 is a common sign (and nickname) for the fastball.
An inning in which a pitcher faces only three batters and whereas none of those batters successfully reaches base. Also named "Three up, three down".
1-2-3 double play
A double play in which the pitcher (1) throws the ball home to the catcher (2) to retire a runner advancing from third. The catcher then throws back to the first baseman (3) to retire the batter-runner. This play most often occurs with the bases loaded, in which situation a force play exists at both home plate and first base, but it is possible for this double play to be executed with a tag of a runner at home.
The scorekeeper uses such shorthand to record the result of every play. In this case, he makes a notation that the runner at third base was retired "1-2", but then makes a notation showing that the batter-runner was retired "1-2-3", to account for every player who handled the ball on the play.
1-6-3 double play
A double play in which the pitcher (1) throws the ball to the shortstop (6), who in turn throws to the first baseman (3). Typically, the shortstop and first baseman each retire a baserunner (often on a force play) after receiving the ball.
The scorekeeper uses such shorthand to record the result of every play. In this case, he makes a notation that the runner at first base was retired "1-6", but then makes a notation showing that the batter-runner was retired "1-6-3", to account for every player who handled the ball on the play.
The catcher, in scorekeeping shorthand. Also, a shout of "Two!" indicates that the ball should be thrown to second base.
The number 2 is also a common catcher's sign for a curveball or other breaking pitch.
2-2-2 (2 balls, 2 strikes, 2 outs). When a batter faces a 2-2 count with 2 outs during any inning, many superstitious players will rub the side of the bill of their hat with 2 fingers until the pitcher releases the pitch. More commonly seen in college and high school baseball. Many variations include removing the cap and extending toward the batter as the pitch approaches the plate, or during a 3-2 count with 1 out (3-2-1), and even a 1-1 count with 1 out (1-1-1).
The first baseman, in scorekeeping shorthand. Also, a shout of "Three!" indicates that the ball should be thrown to third base.
The number three is also a common sign for a slider, changeup, or other pitch (generally, the pitcher's third best pitch).
3-2-3 double play
A relatively rare double play in which the first baseman fields a batted ball and throws to the catcher to retire a runner advancing from third. The catcher then throws back to the first baseman to retire the batter-runner. This play most often occurs with the bases loaded, in which situation a force play exists at both home plate and first base, but it is possible for this double play to be executed with a tag of a runner at home.
The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner at third base was retired "3-2", and the batter-runner was retired "3-2-3".
One notable example of this play occurred in Game 7 of the 1991 World Series, when catcher Brian Harper and first baseman Kent Hrbek of the Minnesota Twins retired the Atlanta Braves' Lonnie Smith at home plate and Sid Bream at first. This play prevented the Braves from scoring any runs in that inning and maintained a scoreless tie.
3-6-1 double play
A fairly common double play in which the first baseman fields a batted ball and throws it to the shortstop at second base to retire a runner advancing from first. The shortstop then throws back to the pitcher covering first (because the first baseman is out of position due to fielding the ball) to retire the batter-runner.
The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner at first base was retired "3-6", and the batter-runner was retired "3-6-1".
3-4-3 double play
Played and scored exactly the same as the 3-6-3 below, but the second baseman receives the catch at second base. Considerably more rare since the second baseman is most often moving towards the ball on a ground ball to first base, while the shortstop is moving towards second base in anticipation of the 3-6-3 or 4-6-3.
3-6-3 double play
A fairly common double play in which the first baseman fields a batted ball and throws it to the shortstop at second base to retire a runner advancing from first. The shortstop then throws back to the first baseman to retire the batter-runner.
The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner at first base was retired "3-6", and the batter-runner was retired "3-6-3".
The second baseman, in scorekeeping shorthand. Also, a shout of "Four!" indicates that the ball should be thrown to home plate.
The number four is a less common pitch sign or, when used in conjunction with waggled fingers, can indicate a change-up or palmball.
4-6-3 double play
A very common double play in which the second baseman fields a batted ball and throws to the shortstop, who retires a runner advancing to second base (usually a force play). The shortstop then throws to the first baseman, who completes the play by retiring the batter-runner (again, usually a force play). The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner at first base was retired "4-6", and the batter-runner was retired "4-6-3".
A home run, so-called because of the four bags (bases) that the hitter touches after hitting a home run, although the fourth "bag" is actually a plate. Also spelled four-bagger.
The line between home plate and first base that begins 45 feet down the first base line and extends past first base. The rules state that if the batter-runner is in the path of a throw that originates near home plate and is outside the area created by the base line and the 45-foot line, he shall be called out if the umpire believes he interfered with the play. If he remains within the line, he cannot be called out for interference. This rule is designed to allow catchers and pitchers the ability to field bunts and throw the batter-runner out without having to worry about the batter-runner intentionally or unintentionally interfering with the throw.
This line is also used to decide whether a pick off move is legal or a balk. If the pitcher steps with his lead foot towards the base he intends to throw to it is considered legal; the 45-foot line determines whether that step is towards the base or towards homeplate. This only comes into play when the pick off move is to the base the pitcher naturally faces (3rd for a right-handed pitcher 1st for a left-handed pitcher), because otherwise the pitcher must turn around to make the throw negating the necessity to determine where the step was directed.
4 wide ones
A base-on-balls. Four pitches that are wide of the strike zone. "Erskine summarized his strategy of pitching to Musial as 'I throw him four wide ones and try to pick him off at first'."1
The third baseman, in scorekeeping shorthand.
The space between the third baseman and shortstop on the field. San Diego Padres icon Tony Gwynn made hitting balls through the 5.5 hole routine.
5-4-3 double play
A relatively common double play in which the third baseman fields a batted ball and throws to the second baseman, who retires a runner advancing to second base (usually a force play) and throws to the first baseman, who completes the play by retiring the batter-runner (usually a force play). The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner on first was retired "5-4" and the batter-runner "5-4-3". This is sometimes referred to as the "'round the horn" double play.
5 tool player
Main article: Five-tool player
The ideal position player (non-pitcher); an athlete who excels at hitting for both high average and power, possesses good footspeed and baserunning skills, has a strong and accurate throwing arm, and plays above-average defense. Major league scouts and instructors observe and evaluate the development of these "tools" in their "prospects" (aspiring Major League ballplayers).
Some well-known "five-tool" players are Joe DiMaggio, Willie Mays, Alex Rodriguez, Roberto Clemente, Torii Hunter and Ken Griffey Jr..
The shortstop, in scorekeeping shorthand.
6-4-3 double play
A very common double play in which the shortstop fields a batted ball and throws to the second baseman, who retires a runner advancing to second base (usually a force play) and then throws to the first baseman, who completes the play by retiring the batter-runner (usually a force play). The scorekeeper makes a notation that the runner on first base was retired "6-4" and the batter-runner "6-4-3". 6-4-3 and 4-6-3 are the two most common double plays, with 6-4-3 predominating because right-handed batters, who are more prevalent than left-handed batters, tend to pull the ball toward left field.
This is the double play performed by "Tinker to Evers to Chance", the fabled Chicago Cubs' infielders of the early 20th century.
The leftfielder, in scorekeeping shorthand.
7-2, 8-2, or 9-2 double play
A fairly common double play. After a fly ball is caught by an outfielder, a runner attempting to tag up and score from third base is tagged out by the catcher receiving the throw at home plate.
The centerfielder, in scorekeeping shorthand.
In the National League, the batter in the 8th position has the task of batting in front of the pitcher. This batter perhaps carries an added burden as the pitcher is typically not a strong hitter, and so opposing teams may try to "pitch around" the 8-hole hitter in order to face the pitcher batting 9th. Tony La Russa, former manager of the St. Louis Cardinals, occasionally avoids this problem by having the pitcher bat 8th and another fielder bat 9th; however, this puts the #7 hitter in the position that, on most NL teams, the #8 hitter faces.
The rightfielder, in scorekeeping shorthand.
A curve ball, the motion of which evokes the hands of clock. The ball starts high (at "12-o'clock") and drops sharply as it reaches the strike zone ("6-o'clock"). Also known as "12-to-6 Downers" or a "12-to-6 Drop". Pitchers whose curveballs exhibit this motion include Barry Zito, Nolan Ryan, AJ Burnett, and Ivan Nova.
Main article: 30-30 club
Players who hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases in the same season.
Main article: 40-40 club
Players who hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in the same season.
A pejorative term for a pitch that bounces before it reaches the plate. The name derives from the fact that the pitch falls short of the 60' 6" between the pitching rubber and the plate.
When a runner advances one base, he "moves up 90 feet" — the distance between successive bases on a professional baseball diamond. "Baseball is still what it always has been and always will be, basically a 90-feet-at-a-time game".2
AA or A.A.
▪ "Double-A" (AA) is the second-highest level of minor league baseball (below AAA), and includes the Eastern League, the Southern League, and the Texas League.
▪ "AA" is also the abbreviation for the American Association, which has been the name of numerous professional baseball leagues: a short-lived major league of the 19th century, a minor league for much of the 20th century, and more recently an independent (i.e., not affiliated with a Major League club) minor league all used this name at various points in baseball history.
"Triple-A" is the highest level of minor league baseball. This level includes the Pacific Coast League, the International League, and the Mexican League.
"Four-A player" (alternatively, "Quadruple-A player") is a term for a minor-league player who is consistently successful in the high minor leagues (i.e., AAA), but cannot translate that into success at the major-league level. Often poor management is responsible.3
A-Ball or "Single-A"
"Single-A" is the second-lowest grouping of modern affiliated minor league baseball, with sub-categories of "High-A," "Low-A," and "Short-Season A." The California League, Florida State League, and the Carolina League are categorized as "Single-A".
Main article: Arizona Fall League
Arizona Fall League: a short-season minor league in which high-level prospects from all 30 MLB clubs are organized into six teams, on which they have the opportunity to refine and showcase their skills for evaluation by coaches and executives.
AL or A.L.
Abbreviation for the American League, the newer of the two existing Major Leagues.
ALCS or A.L.C.S.
Main article: American League Championship Series
Abbreviation for the American League Championship Series, a best-of-seven playoff series that determines which American League team will advance to the World Series. The ALCS (and the NLCS) came into being for the 1969 series. The team that wins the ALCS wins the American League pennant and the title of American League Champions for that season. The winners of the American League Division Series have met in the ALCS since 1995.
ALDS or A.L.D.S.
Main article: American League Division Series
Abbreviation for the American League Division Series, the first round of the league playoffs. The winners of the three divisions and the second-place team with the best record are paired off in two best-of-five series, the winners of which advance to the ALCS.
On base. When there are runners safely on base, there are runners aboard - as if they had boarded a train or some other vehicle. "For someone who sucks at baseball, the pitcher has remarkable poise with runners aboard."4
The best starting pitcher on the team.
advance a runner
To move a runner ahead safely to another base, often the conscious strategy of a team that plays small ball. Even if a batter makes an out, he may be regarded as having a less negative outcome to his plate appearance if he advances a runner into scoring position or from second to third, thereby increasing the chances of that runner scoring a run later in that inning compared to those chances had that runner not advanced while that out is made. In certain situations, batters deliberately bunt for an out and thereby sacrifice themselves in order to advance a runner to second or third base.
ahead in the count
A term that signifies whether the batter or pitcher possesses the advantage in an at-bat. If a pitcher has thrown more strikes than balls to a batter in an at-bat, the pitcher is ahead in the count; conversely, if the pitcher has thrown more balls than strikes, the batter is ahead.
If the pitcher is ahead in the count, the batter is in increasing danger of striking out. If the batter is ahead, the pitcher is in increasing danger of walking him.
See also: count
aim the ball
Sometimes when a pitcher tries a bit too carefully to control the location of a pitch, he is said to "aim the ball" instead of throwing it. This is a different meaning of "aim" from the situation in which a pitcher aims a pitch at a batter in an effort to hit him.
Q: "I am managing a little league team, and in my reading about coaching I have seen twice in the last week the admonition to pitchers, 'Don't aim your pitches.' But in neither case did they explain what that means. They can't possibly mean, 'Don't pay any attention to where you want the ball to go'". A: "I think they are referring to pitchers who try and place the ball as opposed to just letting it go. If you consciously try to aim a pitch it rarely goes where you want it to anyway and you end up taking the speed off the ball. Reaching back and letting it fly will get you the speed you need and you can learn to control the pitch at the same time. Try to aim a pitch and it ends up right in the middle of the strike zone ready to be launched out of the park...".5
Slang for a fielder's errant throw that sails high over the player to whom he intended to throw it. For example, if the third baseman were to throw the ball over the first baseman's head and into the stands, he is said to have "airmailed" the throw. "But Chandler airmailed her throw to third into the dugout allowing Cupka to score, giving Walsh a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first".6
(Also "gap" or "power alley".) The space between the leftfielder and the centerfielder, or the rightfielder and centerfielder. If a batter hits the ball "up the alley" with enough force, he has a stronger chance of advancing beyond first base and being credited with an extra-base hit (double, triple). Typically, this is an appropriate term for describing a line drive or ground ball; fly balls that hit the wall are not normally described this way.
A free ticket to attendance at a ballgame or to first base (a "free pass" or base on balls).7
Main article: appeal play
A play in which the defense has an opportunity to gain a favorable ruling from an umpire by addressing a mistake by the offense or seeking the input of another umpire. Some notable examples:
1. Since baserunners must touch all bases in order when advancing or in reverse order when retreating (tagging up), the defense may appeal if it appears a runner missed a base and continued on to the next one. This appeal must be made during a live ball and before the next pitch; typically, the pitcher will step off the rubber and throw the ball to a teammate, who will then touch the appropriate base and verbally notify the umpire of his appeal. If the umpire saw the runner miss the base, he will rule that runner out. Any errors made during this time will be considered "in play" and runners can advance at their own peril. The defense making a play or attempting to make a play on another runner will remove the possibility of an appeal.
2. Because runners may not advance on a fly ball until it is touched, an appeal may be made in the same manner as above if a runner leaves his base too early or fails to return to it.
3. If a player bats out of order, the opposing team may bring it to the attention of an umpire. If the improper batter is still at bat, the proper batter assumes the count and finishes the at bat. If the improper batter reaches base, the proper batter is called out and all action on the play is negated. The batting order resumes after the proper batter thus declared out.
4. If a batter "checks" (stops) his swing at a pitch which is called a ball by the home plate umpire, the defense may appeal to either the first base umpire (for a right-handed batter) or the third base umpire (for a left-handed batter). If the umpire feels that the batter "offered at the pitch," the pitch is ruled a strike. This is called an appeal, but is not an appeal "play."
Appeals involve the defense literally making an appeal to an umpire. At no time before the appeal do umpires announce that, for example, a runner failed to touch a base.
A pitcher. Headline: "A's Trade Two Young Arms To Kansas City For Outfielder DeJesus".8 "Maybe GM Alex Anthopoulos is just stockpiling arms in an attempt to lure a trade for a nearly ready third baseman".9
around the horn
Not to be confused with Around The Horn.
The infielders' practice of throwing the ball to each other after recording an out (provided that there are no runners on base). The purpose is as much traditional as anything else, but it serves to keep the infielders' throwing arms active. Typically, if an out is made at first base, the first baseman will throw to the second baseman, who throws to the shortstop, who throws to the third baseman, who returns the ball to the pitcher. Patterns vary from team to team, but the third baseman is usually the last infielder to receive a throw, regardless of the pattern.
Throwing the ball around the horn is also done when there are no baserunners after a strikeout. The catcher will throw the ball to the third baseman, who then throws it to the second baseman, who throws it to the shortstop. The shortstop then throws the ball to the first baseman, who returns the ball to the pitcher. Some catchers, notably Ivan Rodriguez, prefer to throw the ball to the first baseman, who then begins the process in reverse. Some catchers determine whom they will throw to based on the handedness of the batter (to first for a right-handed batter because the line to the first baseman is not "blocked" and vice versa) or whether the team is in an overshift, when the third baseman would be playing close to where the shortstop normally plays and would require a harder throw to be reached.
An additional application of this term is when a 5-4-3 or 6-4-3 double play has occurred, which mimics the pattern of throwing the ball around the horn.
An old-fashioned word referring to the baseball bat, which is typically made of wood from an ash tree. "McGraw, probably more than any other manager, changes the line-up of his offensive at critical moments. With one run needed to win in the ninth inning of a game, the shrewd little manager substitutes a fast runner for a slow one, and sends in a pinch hitter when the man he takes out is just as good with the ash as the man he sends in".10
Slang for a fastball that is especially hard to hit due to its velocity and/or movement. See also "pill". To batters who are in a slump, a pitched ball may appear to be much smaller than its actual size.1112
Main article: assist (baseball)
The official scorer awards an assist (A) to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball (after it has been hit by the batter) prior to a putout, even if the contact was unintentional. For example, if a ball strikes a player's leg and bounces off him to another fielder, who tags the baserunner, the first player is credited with an assist.
A fielder can receive only one assist per out recorded. A fielder also receives an assist if a putout would have occurred, had not another fielder committed an error.
at 'em ball
Slang for a ball batted directly at a defender.
Main article: At bat
A plate appearance in which the batter a) hits safely, b) is retired except on a sacrifice fly or sacrifice bunt, c) reaches on an error other than catcher's interference by a fielder except on a sacrifice fly or bunt, d) reaches base on a fielder's choice, e) is called out due to batter's interference, or f) reaches base after striking out on a passed ball or wild pitch.
At-bats (or "times at bat") are used for the calculation of a player's batting average and slugging percentage.
at the letters
A pitch that crosses the plate at the height of the letters of the team's name on the shirt of the batter's uniform is said to be "at the letters" or "letter-high" or "chest-high."
ate him up
Slang expression of the action of a batted ball that is difficult for a fielder to handle.
ate the ball
See eat the ball.
attack the strike zone
Slang for pitching aggressively by throwing strikes, not by trying to trick hitters into swinging at pitches out of the strike zone or trying to nibble at the corners of the plate. Equivalent phrases are pound the strike zone and challenge the hitters.
When a batter takes a pitch, typically when the count is 3-0, the pitcher may groove a strike with confidence that the batter won't even swing at it - leading to an "automatic strike."
▪ Slang for "outs". If there are two out in an inning, players may say there are "two away".
▪ Games played at an opponent's home field are "away games".
▪ The visiting team is sometimes called the "away" team.
▪ A pitch outside the strike zone, on the opposite side of the plate as the batter, is noted as being away. This is the opposite of a pitch thrown between the plate and the batter, which is known as "inside".
backdoor breaking ball
A breaking pitch, usually a slider, curveball, or cut fastball that, due to its lateral motion, passes through a small part of the strike zone on the outside edge of the plate after appearing it would miss the plate entirely. It may not cross the front of the plate but only the back and thus have come in through the "back door." A slider is the most common version, because a slider has more lateral motion than other breaking pitches.
Main article: Backstop (baseball)
▪ The fence behind homeplate, designed to protect spectators from wild pitches or foul balls.
▪ Catcher, sometimes "backstopper".
Consecutively. When two consecutive batters hit home runs, they are said to hit back-to-back homers. Or a pitcher may issue back-to-back walks, and so forth.
A batter who excels at hitting pitches that are outside the strike zone. Notable bad ball hitters include Yogi Berra and Vladimir Guerrero.
A ball that bounces in front of an infielder in an unexpected way, often as a result of imperfections in the field or the spin on the ball.
A base. Also, a two-bagger is a double or two-base hit; a three-bagger is a triple or three-base hit; a four-bagger is a home run.
▪ A batter who sees a pitch coming toward his head may "bail out" (hit the deck).
▪ When two fielders are converging on a fly ball, one of them may "bail out" to avoid running into the other.
▪ A relief pitcher may come into the game with men on base and bail the previous pitcher out of a jam.
While the first two examples are analogues to bailing out of a plane via parachute, the last one is akin to bailing out a boat that's on the verge of being swamped, or perhaps bailing somebody who is in trouble out of jail.
Main article: balk
A ruling made by an umpire against a pitching motion that violates rules intended to prevent the pitcher from unfairly deceiving a baserunner. When a balk is called, each runner can freely advance one base. In professional baseball, a balk does not instantly result in a dead ball. If a pitch is thrown and all runners advance one base due to a hit, play continues and the balk is ignored. This rarely occurs because when the balk is called the pitcher normally stops his delivery and the umpire declares the ball dead and awards the bases. In non-professional baseball (high school and college), a balk instantly results in a dead ball and the runners are awarded their bases. The rules specify which pitching movements are illegal. Commonly called balks are failure for the pitcher to come to a set position (or coming set multiple times) or failure to step in the direction of the base he is throwing toward. The spirit of a balk is that certain movements mean that the pitcher has begun the pitch, so the runner cannot then be picked off. Some balks result from errant or unsuccessful motions, such as when the ball slips out of the pitcher's hand. Far more rare is a catcher's balk, when the catcher moves from behind the area of the plate before the pitcher starts his delivery, which only applies during an intentional walk.
ball in play
In sabermetrics, "ball in play" and "batting average on balls in play" (BABIP) have specific technical definitions that are used to determine pitchers' ability independently of the fielding defense of a team. In this definition, a home run is not a ball in play. See Defense Independent Pitching Statistics. Also see in play.
Main article: Baltimore chop
A short downward swing intended to make the ball rebound off home plate or the packed dirt immediately in front of the plate. The goal is to produce a bounce high enough so that, even if the ball can be fielded by an infielder the batter will reach first for a base hit. This was a tactic of the Baltimore Orioles of the National League in the 1890s. John McGraw is supposed to have had the earth in front of home plate compacted for this purpose. When it happens in the modern game, it is more often simply a result of poor contact that just happens to aid the batter-runner.
A ballpark with small dimensions that encourages offense, especially home runs. A crackerbox.
▪ A baseball player's term for cancelling a game because of bad weather: "I thought we were gonna get banged but we got in 5 innings."
▪ To hit the ball hard, especially to hit a homer. "Utley banged the game-tying home run."
▪ Players who are banged up are injured, though may continue to play. Example: "Banged up Braves ready for playoff rematch with Astros."
▪ A bang-up game is an exciting or close game. Example from a sports headline: "A Real Bang-Up Finish."
▪ A bang bang play is one in which the runner is barely thrown out, a very close call, typically at first base. Perhaps reflecting the "bang" of the ball in the first-baseman's glove followed immediately by the "bang" of the baserunner's foot hitting the bag.
▪ bang it inside is when a pitcher throws on the inside of the plate, and the batter can't get his arms extended enough to hit the ball, which goes "bang" into the catcher's mitt. "It was an unbelievable feeling and a feeling I'll never forget," Giavotella said. "Scherzer was trying to come in on me all day. He was banging me inside and I couldn't get my hands extended. I guess he missed over the plate that time and I got my hands inside and barreled it up and it flew out of the park"'13
A batter who lacks power. A banjo hitter usually hits bloop singles, often just past the infield dirt, and would have a low slugging percentage. The name is said to come from the twanging sound of the bat at contact, like that of a banjo. See also Punch and Judy hitter.
Refers to when a fielder catches a ball with the hand not covered by his glove.
Main article: base hit
A single. Also see knocks.
Female "groupie" known to "be easy" for baseball players. Susan Sarandon played such a role as the character Annie Savoy in the 1988 American film "Bull Durham."
Main article: bases loaded
Runners on first, second, and third base. Also known as "bases full," "bases packed," "bases jammed," "bases juiced," "bases chucked" or "bases polluted, bases drunk".
Last place, bottom of the standings. Also cellar.
Main article: baserunner
A baserunner (shortened as "runner") is a player on the offensive team (i.e., the team at bat) who has safely reached base.
Catching a fly to the outfield with open glove near belt level. The signature catch of Willie Mays. It was also used in the movie Major League where Willie Mays Hayes makes a basket catch and as he approaches the dugout his manager says " Nice catch Hayes, don't ever (expletive) do it again!"
Main article: baseball bat
▪ A baseball bat is a smooth contoured round wooden or metal rod used to hit the ball thrown by the pitcher. A bat's diameter is larger at one end (the barrel-end) than at the other (the handle). The bottom end of the handle is the knob. A batter generally tries to strike the ball in the sweet spot near the middle of the barrel-end of the bat, sometimes referred to as the fat part of the bat or the meat end of the bat.
▪ The player who uses it to strike the ball — a batter, hitter, or batsman — can be said to bat the ball.
▪ A player known as a good hitter might be said to have a good bat. Headline: "Shortstop mixes golden glove with solid bat".14 A player who is adept at both hitting and fielding might be said to have a good bat and good glove. The headline "Wesleyan shortstop Winn has bat and glove"15 does not mean that the player simply owns a bat and a glove but instead that he is very skilled at both hitting and fielding.
▪ A team with many good hitters might be said to have a lot of "bats" (referring to the players not the instrument). "It's an awesome thing when we all get going like that," Murphy said. "We've got so many bats in our lineup that we're hard to beat if we keep hitting".16
When each of the nine players in the lineup makes a plate appearance during a single inning.
bat the ball
To hit the ball with the bat -- whether into fair territory or foul.
Main article: batting (baseball)
The player who is at bat and tries to hit the ball with the bat. Also referred to as the "hitter" or "batsman."
Main article: batter's eye
A solid-colored, usually dark area beyond the center field wall that is the visual backdrop for the batter looking out at the pitcher. It allows the batter to see the pitched ball against a dark and uncluttered background, as much for the batter's safety as anything. The use of a batter's background has been standard in baseball (as well as cricket where they are called "sight screens") since at least the late 1800s.
One example of a batter's background is the black area in center field of Yankee Stadium. At one time, there were seats where the black area is now, but because of distractions the seats were removed and the area painted black.
Main article: batter's box
A rectangle on either side of home plate in which the batter must be standing for fair play to resume. A foot and a hand out of the box are not sufficient to stop play (although pitchers will usually respect a batter's wish to step out of the box). The umpire must grant the batter a timeout before play is stopped.
Main article: battery (baseball)
▪ The pitcher and catcher considered as a single unit. Henry Chadwick coined the term, drawing from the military sense of the term artillery battery. It also suggests a play on words, as its activities center on the batter. "Surprisingly, it was more stressful for the fielders than it was for either member of the battery, Verlander and his catcher, Alex Avila".17
A pitcher and catcher from the same team. See "battery".
Main article: batting average
Batting average (BA) is the average number of hits per at-bat (BA=H/AB). A perfect batting average would be 1.000 (read: "one thousand"). A batting average of .300 ("three hundred") is considered to be excellent, which means that the best hitters fail to get a hit in 70% of their at-bats. Even the level of .400, which is outstanding and rare (last achieved at the major league level, by a batting champion, in 1941), suggests "failure" 60% of the time. This is part of the reason OBP is now regarded by "figger filberts" as a truer measure of a hitter's worth at the plate. In 1887, there was an experiment with including bases-on-balls as hits (and as at-bats) in computing the batting average. It was effectively an early attempt at an OBP, but it was regarded as a "marketing gimmick" and was dropped after the one year. It eventually put Cap Anson in limbo regarding his career hits status; dropping the bases on balls from his 1887 stats, as some encyclopedias do, put his career number of hits below the benchmark 3,000 total.
The period, often before a game, when players warm up or practice their hitting technique. Sometimes the term is used to describe a period within a game when one team's hitters have so totally dominated a given pitcher that the game resembles a batting practice session. Referred to colloquially as well as abbreviated as BP.
When a hitter works the count, by being patient, perhaps by deliberately fouling off pitches that he can't get good wood on, he's said to be "battling."
A strong throwing arm. A gun, a cannon, a rifle.
▪ A line drive hit so hard that a fielder has trouble catching up to it. The reference is to being shot from a BB gun.
▪ "BB" is scorer's shorthand for a walk, otherwise known as a "base on balls". Walks are recorded under the "BB" column of a box score.
Main article: beanball
A pitch intentionally thrown to hit the batter if he does not move out of the way, especially when directed at the head (or the "bean" in old-fashioned slang). The word bean can also be used as a verb, as in the following headline: "Piazza says Clemens Purposely Beaned Him."18
When a runner gets to first base before the throw, he beats the throw or beats it out. Akin to leg out. "Greene's throw to first base pulls Gonzalez off the bag and Norris Hopper is fast enough to beat it out before Gonzalez can get his foot back on the bag."19
beat the rap
Occurs when a batter hits the ball on the ground with a runner on first and less than two outs. If the play has the potential of being a double play, the batter can beat the rap if he reaches first base before the throw from the fielder that recorded the putout at second base. The result of the play becomes a fielder's choice.
behind in the count
Opposite of ahead in the count. For the batter: when the count contains more strikes than balls. For the pitcher: vice versa.
If the pitcher is behind in the count, he is in increasing danger of walking the batter. If the batter is behind, he is in increasing danger of striking out. "While he only allowed three hits, he walked five and pitched from behind in the count."20
▪ To hit a ball hard to the outfield or out of the park, fair or foul. "Jones belts that one deep to left . . . but just foul."
▪ The actual belt worn by a player as part of the uniform, usually mentioned in reference to the location of a pitch or a ball in play. "Benard takes a fastball, outside corner at the belt, called a strike," or "Grounded sharply into the hole at short--ranging to his right, Aurilia fields the belt-high hop and fires on to first; two away."
▪ "The bench" is where the players sit in the dugout when they are not at bat, in the on-deck circle, or in the field.
▪ "The bench" may also refer to the players who are not in the line-up but are still eligible to enter the game. "LaRussa's bench is depleted because of all the pinch hitting and pinch running duties it's been called on to perform tonight."
Main article: Bench jockey
A player, coach or manager with the talent of annoying and distracting opposition players and umpires from his team's dugout with verbal repartee. Especially useful against those with rabbit ears.
Coming close to an important accomplishment. "Russell Branyan hit a home run in the ninth inning as the San Diego Padres broke up Carlos Zambrano's no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning."21
big as a grapefruit
When a hitter sees the pitch so well that it appears to be larger than its actual size, he may describe the ball as being "as big as a grapefruit." "After hitting a 565-foot home run, Mickey Mantle once said, 'I just saw the ball as big as a grapefruit'. During a slump, Joe 'Ducky' Medwick of the St. Louis Cardinals said he was 'swinging at aspirins.'"22
A long home run.
The opposite mentality of small ball, if a team is thinking "big inning" they are focusing on scoring runs strictly through base hits and home runs, as opposed to bunts or other sacrifices. More generically, a "big inning" is an inning in which the offense scores a large number of runs, usually four or more.
A nickname for Major League Baseball
The big leagues, major leagues, "the Show." If you're in the bigs you're a big leaguer, a major leaguer.
A single. A base hit that ends up with the hitter on first base. "Brown tried to stetch the bingle into a double, and was out, Monte Irvin to Frank Austin."23 (A rare usage nowadays.)
A home run, normally one that is well hit.
Main article: bleacher
Bleacher seats (in short, bleachers) are uncovered seats that are typically tiered benches or other inexpensive seats located in the outfield or in any area past the main grandstand. The term comes from the assumption that the benches are sun-bleached. "Bleachers" is short for the term originally used, "bleaching boards". Fans in the bleacher seats are sometimes called bleacher bums or bleacher creatures.
A weakly hit ground ball that goes for a base hit. A scratch hit. "Dunn walked to bring up Morra, who jumped on the first pitch he saw and hit a bleeder that didn't leave the infield, driving in Gradwohl."24
A ball that is hit so hard that it seems to generate its own heat may be said to have been blistered. "Chapman then blistered a ball toward left-center, and Knoblauch raced back, moving smoothly, and made the catch with his arm outstretched."25
block the plate
A catcher who puts a foot, leg, or whole body between home plate and a runner attempting to score, is said to "block the plate." Blocking the plate is a dangerous tactic, and may be considered obstruction (Official Rules of Baseball, Rule 2.00 (Obstruction)).
▪ A blooper or bloop is a weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder. Also known as a bloop single, a dying quail, or a duck snort.
▪ A fielding error. Headline: "Red Sox roll White Sox after Contreras blooper".26
▪ An odd or funny play, such as when a pitcher throws the ball to the catcher after the batter has stepped out of the batter's box and timeout has been called -- perhaps hitting the catcher in the head with the pitch.27
▪ To blow a game is to lose it after having the lead. "We had the game in hand and we blew it."
▪ To blow a pitch by a hitter is to throw a fastball that that batter is unable to catch up to.
▪ To blow a save is to lose a lead or the game after coming into the game in a "save situation." This has a technical meaning in baseball statistics.
▪ A hit, typically a home run: "Ortiz's Blow Seals Win."
▪ A blow-out is a game in which one team wins by many runs. Headline: "Zito Shines as the Giants Blow Out the Dodgers."
blow open the game
To gain a large lead in a game, perhaps after the game has been very competitive or the score has remained tied or close. "Pirates Score Late To Blow Open Close Game Against Stony Brook."28
A blown save (BS) is charged to a pitcher who enters a game in a save situation but allows the tying run (and perhaps the go-ahead run) to score. If the pitcher's team does not come back to win the game, the pitcher will be charged with both a loss and a blown save. The blown save is not an officially recognized statistic by Major League Baseball. But analysts and sportscasters count blown saves to characterize the "record" of closers in a way that's analogous to won-loss records of starters. "Jones has made 31 out of 34 saves" or "Jones has 31 saves and 3 blown saves."
A lopsided win, a laugher.
Rhymes with "closer". A closer who seems to get more blown saves than saves.
A term commonly used by players to address an umpire, referring to the typical dark blue color of the umpire's uniform. A derogatory term in professional baseball. Usually when complaining about a call: "Oh, come on, Blue!"
A home run.
A bonehead play or "boner" is a mental mistake that changes the course of a game dramatically. A play where there is an obvious loss of focus and a bad choice was made when the alternative was clear.
▪ See "Merkle's boner".
Main article: Bonus Rule
A young player who received a signing bonus.
Extra innings. Also called "bonus cantos" by Yankees announcer Michael Kay.
Made an error, kicked it - typically referring to a misplay on a ground ball. "Miguel Cabrera hit a ground ball to Alex S. Gonzalez, who booted the ball. Had Gonzalez fielded the ball properly, the Cubs could have ended the half-inning with a double play."29
bottom of the inning
The second half or "last half" of an inning, during which the home team bats, derived from its position in the line score.
bottom dropped out of it
Sometimes said of a sinker or drop ball, implying that a pitch suddenly moved downward as if it fell through a trap door. "Ideally, a pitcher would like to throw the pitch with the same arm speed at the same release point only to have the bottom drop out at the last instant leaving the batter wondering what happened."30
▪ The vicinity of the pitcher's mound. Baseball announcers will sometimes refer to a batted ball going back through the pitcher's mound area as having gone through the box, or a pitcher being removed from the game will be said to have been knocked out of the box. In the early days of the game, there was no mound; the pitcher was required to release the ball while inside a box drawn on the ground. Even though the mound has replaced the box, this terminology still exists.
▪ Also, the batter's box, the area within which the batter stands when hitting. The batter must be in the box for the pitcher to pitch.
Main article: box score (baseball)
The statistical summary of a game. The line score is an abbreviated version of the box score, duplicated from the field scoreboard. Invention of the box score is credited to Henry Chadwick.
▪ batting practice.
▪ Devotees of baseball research also sometimes refer to Baseball Prospectus as BP.
Bats right; used in describing a player's statistics, for example: John Doe (TR, BR, 6', 172 lbs.)
brand new ballgame
When a team that has been behind in runs ties up the game, it's sometimes said to be a brand new ballgame. This does not mean that the game starts over from the first inning; it means only that neither team is ahead, and the game continues.
bread and butter
A player's greatest or most reliable skill. For example: "The curveball is this pitcher's bread and butter pitch." From the more general expression, "bread and butter", denoting any person's most basic source of nourishment and strength.
The Break or the All-Star Break is the 3-day period roughly halfway through the regular season during which no games are held except for the All-Star Game, held on the second of the three days, giving other players a break from the 162-game schedule where normally the longest break is one day off between stretches of seven to ten or more games. It is also a common reference point for comparing a player's statistics: before the break vs. after the break; the first half vs. the last half of the season (even though the "last half" is shorter than the "first half" — about 45% of the games remain to be played).
Main article: Breaking ball
Any pitch that markedly deviates from a "straight" or expected path due to a spin used by the pitcher to achieve the desired effect. Some examples are the curveball, the slider and the screwball.
break one off
To throw a curveball.
When a player first reaches or enters a league or level of baseball, such as breaking into professional baseball or AAA-ball or the major leagues. "Ruth was 19 years old when he broke into the big leagues on July 11, 1914, with the Boston Red Sox".31 "Gibson broke into organized baseball as a precocious youngster in 1930".32
break open the game
When a team gains a multiple-run lead, perhaps in a single rally that expands their lead, the game may be said to be "broken open." "The Padres broke the game open with five runs in the fifth, thanks to three errors by the Cubs, who have dropped 12 of 14."33
To pitch; often used for a fastball: bring the gas, bring the heat, bring it.
Main article: New York Yankees
A nickname for The New York Yankees.
A batter who strikes out looking, especially if the batter did not move his bat at all. This term is mainly used by sports commentators.
Main article: brushback pitch
A pitch intentionally thrown close to a batter to intimidate him, i.e., to "brush him back" from the plate. Also a purpose pitch or chin music. Archaic usage: "a blowdown."34
buck and change
A player batting between .100 and .199 is said to be batting "a buck and change" or, more specifically, the equivalent average in dollars (bucks) and cents (change). Example: A batter batting .190 is said to be batting "a buck ninety". Major leaguers with a batting average this low will very likely be demoted down to AAA for seasoning or even released outright. See also Mendoza line.
Bugs Bunny change-up
A change-up pitch that appears to arrive at homeplate so slowly that a batter can make three swings and misses on a single pitch. Whiff-whiff-whiff, three strikes and the batter is out. The reference is to Bugs Bunny, the animated cartoon character. "As Hoffman's changeup evolved into an all-world weapon, his pitching teammates were in awe of it, much like many hitters were. They liked it so much, they gave it a nickname. They called it the Bugs Bunny Pitch. 'You could swing at it three times and it still wouldn't be in the mitt,' Ashby said, bringing up the image of the famous cartoon. 'I swear, he could tell them it's coming and they still couldn't hit it'."35
Main article: bullpen
▪ The area used by pitchers and catchers to warm up before taking the mound when play has already begun. This area is usually off to the side along either the left or right base line, or behind an outfield fence. It is almost never in fair territory, presumably due to the risk of interference with live action. A rare exception was at New York's Polo Grounds where the bullpens were in the deep left and right center field quarter-circles of the outfield wall.
▪ A team's relief pitching corps (so named because the relievers are in the bullpen during games).
There are varying theories of the origin of the term, discussed in more detail in the main article.
bullpen by committee
▪ A strategy by which a club does not assign relief pitchers to specific roles such as "closer," "set-up," or "long relief," and instead may use any reliever at any given time. At the major league level, this strategy is commonly used when the club's closer is unavailable.
Main article: bunt (baseball)
To deliberately bat the ball weakly to a particular spot on the infield by holding the bat nearly still and letting the ball hit it. Typically, a bunt is used to advance other runners and is then referred to as a sacrifice or a sacrifice hit or a sacrifice bunt. When done correctly, fielders have no play except, at best, to throw the batter-runner out at first base.
Speedy runners also bunt for base hits when infielders are playing back. In such a situation, left-handed hitters may use a drag bunt, in which they start stepping towards first base while completing the bunt swing. Even the great slugger Mickey Mantle would drag bunt once in a while, taking advantage of his 3.1 second speed from home to first base. Currently, Ryan Zimmerman of the Nationals is notable in that he is a right-handed hitter who uses drag bunts successfully.
A slang term used to describe play that is of minor league or unprofessional quality. The "bushes" or the "sticks" are small towns where minor league teams may operate, the latter term also used in the acting profession, famously in the Variety headline of July 17, 1935, "Sticks nix hick pix", meaning small towns reject motion pictures about small towns. A "busher" refers to someone from the "bush leagues": see subtitle of Ring Lardner's first book, "You Know Me Al: A Busher's Letters".
A day game on a weekday.
bust him in
To throw a fastball in on the hitter's hands. Also: tie him up, in the kitchen.
A very poor fielder.
A strategy where the hitter first shows he intends to bunt, pulls back the bat when the pitcher begins the delivery, and takes a quick swing at the pitch. Generally used by weaker hitters such as pitchers. Greg Maddux was known for employing this tactic effectively in the early part of his career with the Chicago Cubs and Atlanta Braves.
buzz the tower
To throw a high fastball up-and-in to a hitter, typically with intent to back the hitter off the plate or make a statement. Also see brushback and purpose pitch.
Main article: Cactus league
The group of teams that conduct their pre-season spring training exhibition games in Arizona where the cactus grows in abundance. See also Grapefruit League.
A caddy's sole function is to come in as a substitute in the late innings of a lopsided game to act as a defensive replacement for an aging power hitter or to pinch run.
A reference to Babe Ruth's Called Shot home run in the fifth inning of Game 3 of the 1932 World Series, held on October 1, 1932 at Wrigley Field in Chicago.
A Major League team may call up or promote a player from the minor leagues during the season to take a spot on its roster, often to replace a player who has been sent down to the minor leagues or else placed on the disabled list. Players who have been in the major leagues previously (and were sent down) may be said to be recalled rather than called up. After August 31st, several minor leaguers may be called up to take a spot on the expanded roster.
A season. The "2006 campaign" is the 2006 Major League season. "Johan Santana has never had a losing record against the Tigers in a season, but he could have one in 2007 if he doesn't win this game. He's 1-2 with a 3.12 ERA against Detroit, after going 10-2 against them prior to this campaign."36
can of corn
A high, easy-to-catch, fly ball hit to the outfield. The phrase is said to have originated in the nineteenth-century and relates to an old-time grocer's method of getting canned goods down from a high shelf. Using a stick with a hook on the end, a grocer could tip a can so that it would fall for an easy catch into his apron. One theory for use of corn as the canned good in the phrase is that a can of corn was considered the easiest "catch" as corn was the best selling vegetable in the store and so was heavily stocked on the lowest shelves. Another theory is that the corn refers to the practice in the very early days of baseball of calling the outfield the "corn field," especially in early amateur baseball where the outfield may have been a farm field. Frequently used by Chicago White Sox broadcaster Ken "The Hawk" Harrelson. Also, a phrase used to refer to something that is not challenging. Informally, can of corn may be used as a phrase to describe mild excitement, personal acknowledgement or recognition of significance.
A manager who often takes a pitcher out of the game at the first sign of trouble. Sparky Anderson was perhaps the best example of a "Captain Hook" at the major league level. See hook.
When a pitcher quickly dispatches a batter with three or four pitches that the batter only whiffs at, the pitcher may be said to have "carved up the batter" - like a chef carving up a turkey. Headline: "How Buehrle carved up Tampa Bay with just one 90-m.p.h. pitch".37
To knock in a runner who is already on base. "Lauren Rorebeck then cashed both runners in with a home run over the left field fence to tie the game at 7-7 with two innings to play".38
Main article: Catbird seat
A desirable or auspicious situation. Popularized by Red Barber, longtime broadcaster for the Brooklyn Dodgers. James Thurber wrote in his short story of the same title: "Sitting in the catbird seat" means sitting pretty, like a batter with three balls and no strikes on him. The catbird is said to seek out the highest point in a tree to sing his song, so someone in the catbird seat is high up.
catch up to a fastball
As if a batter were running a footrace with a fastball, he's said to "catch up" to a fastball if his reaction time and bat speed are quick enough to hit a fastball by a power pitcher. "Our scouting reports indicate he can still hit and still catch up to a fastball. As long as he can catch up to a fastball, he's going to get the money."39
Main article: Interference (baseball)
It is catcher's interference when the catcher physically hinders the batter's opportunity to swing at a pitch. In professional baseball, play continues and after continuous playing action ceases, the umpire calls time. The penalty is that the batter is awarded first base; any runner attempting to steal is awarded that base and all other runners advance only if forced. The manager of the offensive team has the option of keeping the result of the play. He will not be given the option by the umpires and must explicitly declare it before the play continues after awarding bases. The catcher is charged with an error. This is one of many types of interference call.
From Open-site.org: A term used when the third strike is called on a batter without the batter attempting to swing at the pitch.
A baserunner who is tagged out because he wasn't paying attention to what the defensive players were doing is "caught napping." Often this involves a pickoff play in which the infielder sneaks up behind the runner and takes a throw from the pitcher or, less often, the catcher.
Last place, bottom of the standings. A team that spends too much time in last place, especially over a stretch of years, tends to acquire the unflattering title of cellar dweller. SYNONYM: basement.
A baseball pitched with the intent to break out of the strike zone that fails to break and ends up hanging in the strike zone; an unintentional slow fastball with side spin resembling a fixed-axis spinning cement mixer, which does not translate.
Specifically regarding a batter: A seat on the bench, as opposed to reaching base or remaining in the batter's box. As in, "throw him the chair." The expression is an encouragement to the pitcher to strike out the batter, sending him back to the dugout, thus "throwing him the chair" — forcing him to sit down.
challenge the hitter
When a pitcher is aggressive and throws strikes, perhaps his best fastball, he may be said to "challenge the hitter." Akin to pounding the strike zone or attacking the strike zone. "Jared has outstanding stuff," Mee said. "The one thing I would like to see him do is throw more strikes and challenge the hitters. He has a lot of ability and when he is ahead in the count he's a very difficult guy to hit off of".40
change the eye level
A pitcher "changes the eye level" of a hitter by thowing pitches at different heights in the strike zone. This is intended to keep the hitter off-balance or uncomfortable, so that he can't easily line up the next pitch. "Changing the eye-level of a hitter is important because as you advance, it'll become more difficult for you to get a hitter to move his feet in the batters box - even by pitching inside - so the next option is to move the hitter's eyes".41
Main article: changeup
A changeup or a change is a pitch meant to look like a fastball - but with less velocity - short for change of pace. A variety of this pitch is the circle change, where a circle is formed using the thumb and index finger on the last third of a ball. This causes the ball to break inside and down to right-handed batter from a right-handed pitcher, frequently resulting in ground balls. Also, a straight change - made famous by Pedro Martínez - can be utilized. The grip requires all fingers to be used in holding the ball, resulting in more friction, thus slowing the ball down tremendously.
charging the mound
Main article: Charging the mound
▪ Charging the mound refers to a batter assaulting the pitcher after being hit by a pitch. The first incident of a professional charging the mound has not been identified but the practice certainly dates back to the game's early days. Charging the mound is often the precipitating cause of a bench-clearing brawl and will most likely result in the batter's ejection.
▪ In the famous Pine Tar Game, George Brett charged home plate to protest the umpire's ruling that his apparent 2-run home run was hit with an illegal bat. Brett was tossed from the game.
▪ To chase (or chase after) is to swing at a pitch well outside of the strike zone.
▪ A pitcher who is removed from the game by the manager because he gave up too many runs is said to have been "chased from the game" or "chased from the mound" by the opposing batters. "Pettitte was chased from the game in the seventh inning following an RBI single by Willy Taveras and a two-RBI triple by Kazuo Matsui."42
▪ A player or coach who is ejected from the game by an umpire can be said to be chased. "Martin was tossed by umpire Lee Weyer in the fourth game of the 1976 Series, seven years after Weaver was chased by Shag Crawford in the fourth game in 1969."43
To verbally challenge or taunt to distract the opposing batter. Fans and players alike participate in chatter. "Heybattabattabatta" is an example of common baseball chatter.
A run that comes about from luck or with little effort by the offensive team. Headline: "A Cheap Run for the Rays." Story: "Carl Crawford got lucky with that blooper down the line; wasn't a bad pitch from Jamie Moyer.44
check the runner
When the pitcher looks in the direction of a runner on base and thereby causes him to not take as large of a lead as he would otherwise have taken.
Main article: Checked swing
A batter checks a swing by stopping it before the bat crosses the front of home plate. If he fails to stop it in time, the umpire will call a strike because he swung at the pitch. Often the umpire's view of the swing is obstructed. If the umpire calls the pitch a ball, a defensive player such as the catcher or pitcher can ask the home plate umpire to ask another umpire whether the batter swung at the pitch. In such a case, the home plate umpire always accepts the judgment of the other umpire.
A fastball, particularly one that reaches the mid- to upper-90s in velocity. Also high cheese.
A high and tight, up and in pitch meant to knock a batter back from home plate to avoid being hit on the chin. Also known as a brush-back or purpose pitch.
A blooper; a dying quail; a bleeder.
A chopper refers to a batted ball that immediately strikes the hardened area of dirt directly in front of home plate. This causes the ball to jump high into the infield air. Batters who are fast runners can convert such choppers into base hits. Also a batted ball that bounces several times before either being fielded by an infielder or reaching the outfield. Former Braves broadcaster Skip Caray often whimsically called bouncers to third base when Atlanta was on defence as "a chopper to Chipper" in reference to long-time Braves third baseman Chipper Jones.
A batter "chokes up" by sliding his hands up from the knob end of the bat to give him more control over his bat. It reduces the power and increases the control. Prior to driving in the Series-winning hit with a bloop single in the 2001 World Series, Luis Gonzalez choked up on the bat. Thus he came through, and did not "choke" in the clutch.
Throw. A pitcher is sometimes referred to as a chucker or someone who can really chuck the ball. In San Francisco, sometimes the fans are referred to as battery chuckers, referring to an incident a few years ago where many fans threw batteries onto the field.
The on-deck circle, officially known as the next batter's box.
An outstanding catch, usually when a fielder has to leave his feet or go through contortions to make, resembling a circus acrobat in the process.
When a batter hits a ball through the infield without it being touched by a fielder, he may be said to have a "clean hit." Similarly, if a batter hits a ball over an outfielder's head, he may have a "clean hit." "Tris truly loved to hit and would always get a thrill when getting a 'clean' hit that travelled over an outfielder's head."45
When a team pitches and plays defense without mental or physical errors or allowing the other team to score runs or advance runners easily. "I want to see clean innings," Cooper said. "This is a time when we should be seeing them -- crisp, clean innings. Yet we're hitting guys that are trying to bunt, walking guys on four pitches. . . . This is not young kids doing this stuff. This is ridiculous. I don't care who it is. It shouldn't be happening. We've got to clean it up. I'd like to see some clean innings sooner or later. We should be throwing strike one, strike two, make some pitches. We're all over the place. We're not even close to the strike zone."46
Main article: Batting order (baseball)
The fourth batter in the lineup, usually a power hitter. The strategy is to get some runners on base for the cleanup hitter to drive home. In theory, if the first three batters of the game were to load the bases, the No. 4 hitter would ideally "clean up" the bases with a grand slam.
clear the bases
A batter who drives home all the runners on base is said to "clear the bases." "Dikito's base-clearing triple sent the pro-Falcon crowd into a frenzy."47
climbing the ladder
A tactic where a pitcher delivers a succession of pitches out of the strike zone, each higher than the last, in an attempt to get the batter to swing at a pitch "in his eyes."
A really long inning where a team gives up a lot of runs to the opposing team.
Main article: Closer (baseball)
A relief pitcher who is consistently used to "close" or finish a game by getting the final outs. Closers are often among the most overpowering pitchers, and sometimes even the most erratic. Alternatively, they might specialize in a pitch that is difficult to hit, such as the splitter or the cut fastball.
See "throw a clothesline".
A team's locker room, which may also include eating, entertainment, and workout facilities, especially at the highest professional level. The term "clubhouse" is also frequently used in the sports of golf and thoroughbred horse racing.
Main article: Clutch hitter
Good performance under pressure when good performance really matters. May refer to such a situation (being in the clutch) or to a player (a good clutch hitter, or one who "can hit in the clutch"); or to specific hits ("that was a clutch hit"). Most baseball fans believe that clutch hitting exists, but there is significant disagreement among statheads whether clutch hitting is a specific skill a player can possess or instead just something that good hitters in general do. An old synonym for clutch is pinch, as in Christy Mathewson's book, Pitching in a Pinch.
Symbol of going hitless in a game, suggested by its resemblance to a zero, along with the implication of "choking"; to wear the collar: "If Wright doesn't get a hit here, he'll be wearing an 0 for 5 collar on the day." Also, to take the collar: "Cameron Maybin took the collar in his major league debut, striking out twice."48
A ball batted directly back to the pitcher.
The ability of a pitcher to throw a pitch where he intends to. More than just the ability to throw strikes, it is the ability to hit particular spots in or out of the strike zone. Also see location.
Main article: Complete game
A complete game (denoted by CG) is the act of a pitcher pitching an entire game himself, without the benefit of a relief pitcher. A complete game can be either a win or a loss. A complete game can be awarded to a pitcher even if he pitches less than (or more than) nine-innings, as long as he pitches the entire game.
Main article: Contact hitter
A hitter who does not strike out often. Thus, he's usually able to make contact with the ball and put it in play. This doesn't mean he's necessarily a pitty-patty slap hitter. He may hit for power, but typically with more doubles/triples instead of home runs. Pete Rose and Wade Boggs are both excellent examples of contact hitters.
See pitch to contact.
Main article: Contact play
When a runner at third base is instructed by a coach to attempt to score as soon as he hears the bat make contact with a pitch, not waiting to learn what kind of contact has been made (fair ball or fall ball, fly ball or ground ball). In such a case, the runner is told to "run on contact". This play would typically occur when the game is close or the bases are loaded. More generally, "Baserunners 'run on contact' when there are two outs, since there is nothing to lose if the ball is caught or the batter is thrown out".49
Main article: Control pitcher
A pitcher who gives up very few bases on balls or has excellent command of his pitches. Also known as a control pitcher.
A pitch that's easy to hit. "Conversely, in the case where the first pitch is a strike and the second pitch a ball, the second pitch may be the result of a pitcher missing his spot. The pitcher responds by throwing a cookie on the subsequent pitch in an attempt to regain his control".50
Main article: Corked bat
A bat in which cork (or possibly rubber or some other elastic material) has been inserted into the core of the wooden barrel. Although modifying a bat in this way may help to increase bat speed or control by making the bat lighter, contrary to popular belief it does not impart more energy to the batted ball.51 A batter could achieve a similar effect by choking up on the bat or using a shorter bat. A player who is caught altering his bat illegally is subject to suspension or other penalties. The last such case in Major League Baseball involved the slugger Sammy Sosa.52
The left fielder and right fielder are corner outfielders.
A third baseman.
Main article: Count (baseball)
The number of balls and strikes a batsman has in his current at bat. Usually announced as a pair of numbers, for instance "3-0" (pronounced "three and oh"), with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. A 3-2 count - one with the maximum number of balls and strikes in a given at bat - is referred to as a full count. A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even, although the pitcher is considered to have the advantage on a 2-2 pitch because he can still throw another ball without consequence, whereas another strike means the batter is out. A batter is said to be ahead in the count (and a pitcher behind in the count) if the count is 1-0, 2-0, 2-1, 3-0, or 3-1. A batter is said to be behind in the count (and a pitcher ahead in the count) if the count is 0-1, 0-2, or 1-2.
"He hit the ball a country mile." He hit the ball a long way -- a long home run. Sometimes also used to describe outs: "He was out by a country mile" means the runner was nowhere close to being safe.
A pitcher who is easy for a particular batter to hit.
covering a base
Main article: Covering a base
▪ Part of the infielders' job is to cover bases. That is, they stand next to a base in anticipation of receiving the ball thrown from another fielder, so that they may make a play on an opposing baserunner who is approaching that base. On a force play or an appeal play, the fielder covering the base stands with one foot on that base when he catches the ball.
▪ When a fielder goes to make a play at a base that is not his position (usually because the fielder for that base is unavailable to catch the ball at that base because he is busy fielding the batted ball). A common example is when the first baseman fields a batted ground ball, but is too far from the base to put the runner out. The pitcher runs over to "cover" first base to take the throw from the first baseman (play would be scored as "31", meaning first baseman to pitcher).
crack of the bat
The sound of the bat hitting the ball. The term is used in baseball to mean "immediately, without hesitation." For example, a baserunner may start running "on the crack of the bat," as opposed to waiting to see where the ball goes.
Outfielders often use the sound of bat-meeting-ball as a clue to how far a ball has been hit. As physicist Robert Adair has written,"When a baseball is hit straight at an outfielder he cannot quickly judge the angle of ascent and the distance the ball will travel. If he waits until the trajectory is well defined, he has waited too long and will not be able to reach otherwise catchable balls. If he starts quickly, but misjudges the ball such that his first step is wrong (in for a long fly or back for a short fly), the turn-around time sharply reduces his range and he will again miss catchable balls. To help his judgment, the experienced outfielder listens to the sound of the wooden bat hitting the ball. If he hears a 'crack' he runs out, if he hears a 'clunk' he runs in."53
Similarly, with metal bats, the outfielders have to learn to distinguish a "ping" from a "plunk".
A small baseball field considered to be friendly to power hitters and unfriendly to pitchers. A bandbox.
A player or team with power and exceptional skill.
Another term for a control pitcher. Greg Maddux was a crafty pitcher.
To hit a ball for extra bases, typically a home run. "Jeter cranked a homer to left to make it 6-5."54 Also, a turn of the century (19th century) euphemism for baseball spectators, referring to the cranking of the turnstiles as they pass into the ballpark.
crawl back into the game
▪ When one team is far behind the other, and it's about to be given up for dead, it may "crawl back into the game" by scoring a run or two and reviving hope that it might eventually bring off a victory. "The Red Sox crawled back into the game in the fourth inning, with four singles by Kevin Youkilis, David Ortiz, J. D. Drew and Álex González cutting the Toronto lead to one run."55 This phrase is used in other sports as well.
▪ Also creep back or crept back into the game.
A number other than a zero or a one, referring to the appearance of the actual number. A team which is able to score two or more runs in an inning is said to "hang a crooked number" on the scoreboard or on the pitcher.
A home run that is clearly going out as soon as it is hit. It is referred to in this manner because it is disturbing to the pitcher like some type of creature.
▪ When a catcher calls for the pitcher to throw one type of pitch (e.g., a fastball) but the pitcher throws another (e.g., a curveball), the catcher has been crossed up. This may lead to a passed ball, allowing a runner on base to advance. "Barrett's passed ball allowed the last of three runs to score in the fifth as the Reds increased their lead to 7-2. Williams' pitch crossed him up. 'I was looking for a sinker and it cut away from me,' Barrett said. 'I had a play at the plate, but my shin guard stuck in the grass. It was a frustrating day.'"56
▪ When a batter has been set up to expect a certain type of pitch but instead receives a different one, he may be crossed up, perhaps leading to a weakly hit ball or a swing and a miss.
Main article: crosstown rivalry
When two teams have their homes in the same metropolitan area. Examples include the Chicago White Sox (American League) and Chicago Cubs (National League), the Los Angeles Dodgers (National League) and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (American League).
crowd the hitter
When a pitcher throws the ball toward the inside part of the plate, he may be trying to "crowd the hitter" by making it difficult for him to extend his arms and get a full swing at the pitch.
crowd the plate
When a batter sets his stance extremely close to the plate, sometimes covering up part of the strike zone. This angers pitchers and, if done repeatedly, can lead to a brush-back pitch or even a beanball being thrown at the batter to clear the plate. "I am fully aware that when you crowd the plate, you're going to get a high heater."57
crush the ball
A batter who hits a ball extremely hard and far might be said to crush the ball, as if he had destroyed the baseball or at least changed its shape. Related expressions are crunched the ball or mashed the ball. Indeed, a slugger is sometimes described as a masher. Illustration: "Though the 25-year-old has impressed with two homers in five games, he's more of a pure hitter than a masher".
Other types of baseball destruction include knocking the stuffing out of the ball and knocking the horsehide cover off the ball.
cue the ball
When a ball is hit off the end of the bat, the batter may be said to have "cued the ball" (as if he hit it with a pool cue). "Kendrick took third on a broken-bat ground-out and scored on a cued grounder to first base by Ryan Shealy. . . ."58
cup of coffee
Main article: Cup of coffee
A short time spent by a minor league player at the major league level. The idea is that the player was only there long enough to have a cup of coffee. It can also be used to describe a very brief stay (less than a season) with a major league club.
Main article: Curtain call
A player who has excited the fans because of a great play or hit may come back onto the field or out of the dugout to wave or tip his cap to the crowd. A term obviously derived from the theater.
Main article: Curveball
A pitch that curves or breaks from a straight or expected flight path toward home plate. Also called simply "a curve".
▪ A swing of the bat.
▪ To be removed from the roster or from the team.
Main article: Cutter (baseball)
A cut fastball or cutter is a fastball that has lateral movement. A "cut fastball" is similar to a slider that is more notable for its speed than its lateral movement.
cut down on his swing
When a batter reduces the amplitude of his swing, either by choking up on the bat or just by starting his swing less far behind his head, he "cuts down on his swing," thereby helping him to get his bat around faster. Also "shorten his swing." "Guerrero swung so hard during an 0-for-5 night Tuesday he looked as if he might come right out of his spikes. So, Hatcher suggested Wednesday that Guerrero widen his stance slightly, a move that forces hitters to cut down on their swing a bit."59
cut the ball off
When a ball is hit in the gap between outfielders, a fielder often has to make a choice whether to run toward the fence to catch or retrieve the ball or to run toward the ball and try to field it before it gets by him and reaches the fence. In the latter case, he's said to "cut the ball off" because he's trying to shorten the path of the ball. "When Granderson drifted towards left-center field on Carlos Pena's fifth-inning line drive, he wasn't heading that direction to make a catch. He was preparing to field it on the bounce. "I was actually getting into position to cut the ball off," Granderson said after the Tigers' 11-7 loss to the Rays Monday afternoon. "I didn't think I was going to have a chance to catch it."60
A defensive tactic where a fielder that moves into a position between the outfielder that has fielded the batted ball and the base where a play can be made. This fielder is said to "cut off" the throw or to be the "cut-off man". This tactic increases accuracy over long distances and shortens the time required to get a ball to a specific place. It also gives the cut-off man the choice of putting out a trailing runner trying to advance on the throw if he thinks it impossible to make the play at home. Missing the cut-off (man) is considered a mistake by an outfielder (though not scored as an error) because it may allow a runner to advance or to score.
A fielder that "cuts off" a long throw to an important target. Often the shortstop, second baseman, or first baseman will be the "cut-off man" for a long throw from the outfield to third base or home plate. "Hit the cut-off man" is a common admonition from a coach.
Main article: Hit for the cycle
See hit for the cycle.
Old-fashioned term for a hard-hit ground ball, close enough to the grass to theoretically be able to lop the tops off any daisies that might be growing on the field.
The term used to describe the erratic movement that defines a well-thrown knuckleball. "Hopefully his knuckler doesn't dance, and hangs a little, or we're in trouble."
A pitch that is difficult to see, much less hit. "Throw him the dark one," is an encouragement to the pitcher, typically given with two strikes, to throw a strike past the batter.
When a normally effective or dominant pitcher seems unable to throw as hard as he usually does, he may be said to have a "dead arm". "If you have watched the radar gun when Carlos Zambrano has pitched this month, you know something's not right. The problem, the Cubs right-hander said Saturday, is that he's going through a 'dead arm' phase."61
Main article: Dead ball (baseball)
The ball becomes "dead" (i.e., the game's action is stopped) after a foul ball and in cases of fan or player interference, umpire interference with a catcher, and several other specific situations. When the ball is dead, no runners may advance beyond bases they are entitled to, and no runners may be put out. The ball becomes "live" again when the umpire signals that play is to resume.
Dead Ball Era
Main article: Dead-ball era
The period between 1903 and 1918, just prior to the Live Ball Era, when the composition of the baseball along with other rules tended to limit the offense, and the primary batting strategy was the inside game. In this case the ball literally was "dead", relatively speaking. Hitting a home run over the fence was a notable achievement.
dead pull hitter
A pull hitter is a batter who generally hits the ball to the same side as which he bats. That is, for a right-handed batter, who bats from the left side of the plate, will hit the ball to left field. Hitters are often referred to as dead pull if they rarely do anything other than pull the ball. A contemporary example of a dead pull hitter is Jason Giambi.
If a batter is "sitting/looking dead red" on a pitch, this means he was looking for a pitch (typically a fastball), and received it, usually hitting a home run or base hit.
▪ Delivery of a pitch, commonly used by play-by-play announcers as the pitcher releases the ball, e.g., "Smith deals to Jones".
▪ Pitching effectively, e.g., "Smith is really dealing tonight".
▪ A player trade, or exchange (a common term to all American team sports). Also sometimes used as a verb: "The Yankees dealt Sheffield to the Tigers."
deep in the count
When a pitcher gets to a 3 balls-0 strike, 3 balls-1 strike, or 3 balls-2 strike count with a batter, a situation that tends to favor the batter. "In his fourth start after missing two months following elbow surgery, Robertson (2-2) went deep in the count against many hitters but allowed just five hits and two earned runs in five innings."62
Main article: Defensive indifference
When the defense allows a baserunner to advance one or more bases. The runner then does not get credit for a stolen base because the base was "given" not "stolen." The defense may allow this in the ninth inning with a large lead, where the focus is on inducing the final batters to make outs.
▪ To deliver is to pitch. Announcer: "Koufax delivers. . . . Strike three!!!"
▪ Delivery refers to the basic arm angles of pitchers, e.g., overhand delivery, sidearm delivery. This is in contrast to cricket, in which the term "delivery" is akin to type of pitch in baseball.
Main article: Designated hitter
In the American League, the designated hitter (DH) is a player who permanently hits in the place of a defensive player (usually the pitcher) and whose only role in the game is to hit. The National League does not usually use designated hitters. However, in interleague play, when American League and National League teams face off against one another, the DH rule is used by both teams when the game is played in an American League ballpark, and by neither team when the game is played in a National League ballpark.
▪ A curveball, because the catcher's sign is usually made by extending the first two fingers.
▪ A double play.
From playing cards, where the "2" card is conventionally called the "deuce".
When a large quantity of the number "2" appears on the scoreboard at the same time: 2 baserunners, 2 outs, 2 balls and 2 strikes on the batter. Derived from poker term "deuces are wild". Often used by Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully.
An abbreviation of the term "designated for assignment".
dial long distance
To hit a home run. Headline: "Sox Sluggers Dial Long Distance — Ramirez, Ortiz Each Crank Two-Run Homers."63 The phrase is sometimes stated as "Dial 9 for long distance."
Main article: Baseball field
The layout of the four bases in the infield. It's actually a square 90 feet (27 m) on each side, but from the stands it resembles a parallelogram or "diamond".
didn't mean to
When a batter tries not to swing at a pitch (to "hold up on his swing") but the ball hits the bat and rebounds into fair territory, he makes a "didn't mean to" swing, perhaps even a "didn't mean to hit." Mark Grace will also refer to this as an "Oooops" or excuse me swing.
dig it out
▪ To field a ball on or near the ground. Usually a first baseman taking a low throw from another infielder. To "dig it out of the dirt."
▪ To run hard through first base on a close ground ball play in an attempt to beat the throw.
A home run.
Another term for home run.
To trip or fall in the outfield or on the base paths. A blown save may also be referred to as a dirt-nap.
Main article: Disabled list
Major league teams may remove injured players from their active roster temporarily by placing them on the "disabled list." Another player can then be called up as a replacement during this time.
▪ Home plate. "The catcher settles in behind the dish."
▪ A pitch, particularly a good one. "Here comes the dish" (the pitch), or "He's really dishing it tonight" (pitching well).
diving over the plate
When a batter tends to lean in toward the plate so that he can more easily hit a ball that's on the outside of the strike zone, he's said to be "diving over the plate" or "diving for the pitch." To protect the strike zone, a pitcher may respond to this by pitching the ball inside, perhaps with a "purpose pitch". "Now Glavine has an equalizer with his cutter. He can bore it into the hands of righthanders to keep them from diving over the plate with impunity at his sinker and changeup."64
The disabled list. Sometimes used as a verb, as in "Wood was DL'ed yesterday."
doctoring the ball
Applying a foreign substance to the ball or otherwise altering it in order to put an unnatural spin on a pitch. Examples: By applying Vaseline or saliva (a spitball), or scuffing with sandpaper, emery board (an emery ball), or by rubbing vigorously to create a shiny area of the ball (a shineball). All of these became illegal beginning in the 1920 season, helping to end the Dead Ball Era. ((Official Rules of Baseball, Rule 8.02(a)). In practice, there are ambiguities about what kinds of things a pitcher can legally do.65
A number of famous cases of doctoring the bat have also occurred in the Major Leagues. See corked bat.
Main article: Double (baseball)
A hit where the batter makes it safely to second base before the ball can be returned to the infield. Also a two-base hit.
When a fielder - usually an infielder or a catcher - draws his arm back twice before throwing he's said to "double clutch." This hesitation often leads to a delayed or late throw, allowing runners to advance a base. A term borrowed from a method of shifting gears on an automotive vehicle.
A pitcher who is getting a lot of quick outs. Implies that he has parked his car illegally and is trying to get back to it and avoid a ticket, and this is why he is keen to get outs quickly.
Main article: Double play
▪ A play by the defense where two offensive players are put out as a result of continuous action resulting in two outs. A typical example is the 6-4-3 double play.
▪ The double play combination (or DP combo) on a team consists of the shortstop and the second baseman, because these players are the key players in a 6-4-3 or 4-6-3 double play. They are also sometimes called sackmates, a reference to the fact that they play either side of second base (also known as second sack).
double play depth
Main article: Baseball positioning
A defensive tactic that positions the middle infielders to be better prepared for a double play at the expense of positioning for a hit to the third-base side.
Two runners attempt to simultaneously steal a base. Typically this is seen when runners who are on first and second make an attempt to steal second and third. Another common example is when a runner on first steals second, enticing the catcher to throw down to second so that the runner on third can then steal home.
Main article: Double switch (baseball)
The double switch is a type of player substitution that allows a manager to make a pitching substitution and defensive (fielding) substitution while at the same time improving the offensive (batting) lineup of a team. This is most effectively used when a pitcher needs to be replaced while his team in on defense, and his turn to bat is coming up in his team's next offensive try. Rather than replace the pitcher with another pitcher, a position player (one who recently batted in his team's last offensive try) is replaced with a new pitcher, and the outgoing pitcher is replaced by a player able to play the position of the outgoing position player. The two subs then trade to their natural defensive roles, but keep the batting order positions of those they replaced, so when the team next comes up to bat, it is the newly subbed position player who hits during the turn of the vacated pitcher, and the new pitcher does not have to hit until the old position player's turn comes up again. The double switch is primarily used by the National League and Japan's Central League, which do not use the designated hitter rule.
▪ When a runner becomes the second out in a double play, he may be said to have been doubled up (or doubled off). This could be a batter who has hit into a double play or a runner who is caught off base when a fielder catches a ball and throws behind the runner to a fielder who touches the base to complete a double play (hence "doubling up" the runner).
▪ A team that wins a doubleheader may be described as doubling up the opponent: "Royals double up Blue Jays".66
Main article: Doubleheader (baseball)
When two games are played by the same two teams on the same day. When the games are played late in the day, they are referred to as a "twilight-night" or "twinight" doubleheader. When one game is played in the afternoon and one in the evening (typically with separate admission fees), it is referred to as a "day-night" doubleheader. A doubleheader can also be referred to as a Twinbill. In minor league baseball, doubleheader games are often scheduled for 7 innings rather than the 9 innings that is standard for a regulation game.
According to the Dickson dictionary, the term is thought to derive from a railroading term for using two joined engines (a "double header") to pull an exceptionally long train.
A gap hitter.
Put out. "One down" means one out has been made in the inning (two more to go in the inning). "One up (and) one down" means the first batter in the inning was out. "Two down" means two outs have been made in the inning (one more to go). "Two up (and) two down": the first two batters of the inning were retired (made outs). "Three up, three down": side retired in order.
down the line
On the field near the foul lines, often used to describe the location of batted balls.
down the middle
Over the middle portion of home plate, used to describe the location of pitches. Also referred to as down the pipe, down Main Street, down Broadway, and, in Atlanta, down Peachtree. Very different from up the middle.
down the stretch
When a team is approaching the end of the season in pursuit of the pennant or championship, it is heading down the stretch. Perhaps this derives from horse racing or automobile racing in which competitors come out of the final turn of the track and are heading down the home stretch toward the finish line. "Detroit provided more than enough offense for Fister, who was terrific down the stretch after the Tigers acquired him in a trade with Seattle shortly before the July 31 deadline".67
A slang term for a shortstop and second baseman combination, as primary executors of double plays. They are also occasionally referred to as sackmates. Generally speaking, only the best sets of middle infielders get called DP combos.
A bunt in which a left-handed hitter lays down a bunt out of the reach of the pitcher and toward the right side of the infield, in hopes that he will safely reach first base. Often such a bunt has an element of surprise to take advantage of the batter's speed and the fact that the first baseman and second basemen are playing their positions back. The batter may even take a stride toward first base as he bunts the ball, thereby appearing to drag the ball with him as he runs toward first base.
A batter who gets called balls is sometimes said to have "drawn a ball" or "drawn a walk." The term may derive from card games, in which a player draws a card from the deck. "After a brief pause to put specially marked baseballs in play, Bonds drew ball one and ball two - with boos raining down on VandenHurk - before a called first strike. Then, the 96 mph fastball was gone - a drive estimated at 420 feet."68
▪ When the outfield plays closer to the infield to prevent fly balls from dropping between them and the infielders, they are said to be "drawn in." This typically happens when the game is close in the final inning, and with less than two outs, and the defensive team wants to prevent the offense from getting base hits that might score the winning run (while conceding that a long fly ball might score a run even if the ball is caught in the outfield).
▪ The infield may also be drawn in if there is a runner on third base with less than two outs, so that the infielders may field a ground ball and attempt to throw out the runner at the plate.
▪ A single infielder, typically the third baseman or the first baseman may also play "in" when it's anticipated that a batter may attempt to make a sacrifice bunt.
Hit by a pitch, plunked.
▪ A line drive (noun).
▪ To hit a line drive (verb). "Magglio drove the ball to center."
▪ To make hits that produce RBIs. "Tejada drove him home from second." "Ramirez drove in three."
▪ To lose a game. "Tigers drop fourth in a row in loss to Blue Jays".69
▪ To beat another team is also to drop them. Headline: "Dodgers one win from clinching playoff berth after dropping Nationals".70
▪ A sinkerball. Also known as a dropper or el droppo.
▪ Some extreme 12-to-6 curveballs are also referred to as "drop balls," since they start high and dive as they reach the plate.
drop off the table
Used to describe a pitched ball, usually a curveball, that breaks extremely sharply.
dropped third strike
Main article: Dropped third strike
A dropped third strike occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch which is a third strike (either because the batter swings and misses it or because the umpire calls it). The pitch is considered not cleanly caught if the ball touches the dirt before being caught, or if the ball is dropped after being caught. On a dropped third strike, the strike is called (and a pitcher gets credited with a strike-out), but the umpire indicates verbally that the ball was not caught, and does not call the batter out. If first base is not occupied at the time (or, with two outs, even with first base occupied), the batter can then attempt to reach first base prior to being tagged or thrown out. Given this rule, it is possible for a pitcher to record more than three strike-outs in an inning.
▪ A long string or streak of at bats or games in which a batter goes hitless; or a string of starts in which a pitcher goes winless.
▪ Any other streak when a team goes winless or fails to reach the playoffs or win a World Series. "The Red Sox drought of eighty-six years was often attributed to the Curse of the Bambino" (see 1918 World Series).
A softly hit ball that goes over the infielders and lands in the outfield for a hit. Originally called a "duck fart," the term was popularized by White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson to make it more family friendly.
ducks on the pond
Runners on second or third base, but especially when the bases are loaded. "His batting average is .350 when there are ducks on the pond."
A batter is said to be "due" when he's been in a hitting slump, but he usually hits for a fair or better average. Example: "Joe Mauer is 0-for-3 today, he's due for a hit." This is a baseball version of the Gambler's fallacy.
Main article: Dugout (baseball)
The dugout is where a team's bench is located. With the exception of relief pitchers in the bullpen, active players who are not on the field watch the play from the dugout. The term dugout refers to the area being slightly depressed below field level, as is common in professional baseball. There is typically a boundary, often painted yellow, defining the edges of the dugout, to help the umpire make certain calls, such as whether an overthrown ball is considered to be "in the bench" or not. The rule book still uses the term bench, as there is no requirement that it be "dug out" or necessarily below field level. The original benches typically were at field level, with or without a little roof for shade. As ballpark design progressed, box seats were built closer to the field, lowering the height of the grandstand railing, and compelling the dugout approach to bench construction.
A player who bunts the ball may be said to dump a bunt. "Polanco dumped a bunt down the third base line." See also lay down.
duster, dust-off pitch
A pitch, often a brush-back, thrown so far inside that the batter drops to the ground ("hits the dust") to avoid it. Somewhat contradictorily, on the same play the pitcher may be said to have "dusted off" the batter.
A batted ball that drops in front of the outfielders for a hit, often unexpectedly (like a shot bird). Also known as a blooper, a chinker, a bleeder, or a gork.
Main article: Eephus
A very slow pitch with a high arcing trajectory. Invented by 1930s Pittsburgh Pirates hurler Rip Sewell, it is a part of Phillies pitcher Jose Contreras' repertoire; thrown very rarely to fool a hitter's timing. It is best used sparingly, because it can be very easy to hit without the element of surprise. Ted Williams said that the game-winning home run that he hit off of Sewell in the 1946 All-Star Game was his greatest thrill in baseball.
The first three innings of a regulation nine-inning game.
An earned run. "The unlucky loser was Carson Wheeler, who gave up six earnies in one plus innings of work."71
Main article: Earned run
Any run for which the pitcher is held accountable (i.e., the run did not score as a result of a fielding error or a passed ball). Primarily used to calculate the earned run average. In determining earned runs, an error charged to a pitcher is treated exactly like an error charged to any other fielder. Some pitchers, notably Ed Lynch, referred to earned runs as "earnies."
earned run average
Main article: Earned run average
The average number of earned runs allowed by a pitcher per nine innings pitched. Abbreviated as ERA.
eat the ball
The action of fielding (usually cleanly or almost so) but holding on to a batted ball rather than attempt to make a throw to a base to retire a runner, a phrase usually reserved only to describe the action of an infielder, catcher, or pitcher. "That slow roller didn't get past a diving Scutaro, but he decided to eat the ball rather than risk a throw to nip the quick-running Gardner." Also commonly used in the past-tense. "The charging third baseman Cabrera ate the ball after that great bunt from Juan Pierre."
Main article: Ejection (sports)
A player or coach who is disqualified from the game by an umpire for unsportsmanlike conduct. SYNONYMS: tossed, thrown out, banished, chased, given the thumb, given the (ol') heave-ho, kicked out, booted, run, sent to the clubhouse.
When the lining of a player's pockets are sticking out of the pockets.
When a pitcher who is normally a reliever or in the minor leagues is called on to start the game on short notice because the originally scheduled starter is injured or ill. Illustration: "With Chan Ho Park sidelined indefinitely by what was diagnosed as anemia, Mike Thompson is expected to get the call yet again as the emergency starter, arriving via Portland, where he has spent the past 10 days with the Triple-A Beavers".72
Main article: Earned run average
See earned run average.
A baseball that has been scuffed by an emery board. A method for a pitcher to doctor the ball; illegal since 1920.
A runner who is already safely on a base is "erased" by being thrown out.
Main article: Error (baseball)
▪ An error is an act, in the judgment of the official scorer, of a fielder misplaying a ball in a manner that allows a batter or baserunner to reach one or more additional bases, when that advance could have been prevented by ordinary effort by the fielder. An error is also charged when a fielder fails to catch a foul fly ball that could have been caught with ordinary effort. The term error can also refer to the play in which an error was committed. Because the pitcher and catcher handle the ball so much, some misplays by them are called "wild pitch" and "passed ball", and are not counted as errors.
▪ SYNONYMS: bobble, blooper, muff, miscue, flub, kick or boot ("Lopez kicked the grounder"; "Johnson booted it").
1-1 or 2-2. See count.
▪ A position player, as opposed to a pitcher who may play only every few days. Sometimes a talented prospect who is a good pitcher but an outstanding hitter will be encouraged to focus on playing another position and thereby become an everyday player to take advantage of his hitting.
▪ A position player who's a regular in the starting line-up in virtually every game, as opposed to either:
▪ a platoon player who plays only against pitchers of the opposite hand.
▪ a substitute who begins most games on the bench or only occasionally starts games to spell the regular starting player at his position. Sometimes these players are referred to as bench players or role players. They may also take on pinch hitting or pinch running assignments.
A common nickname for the New York Yankees due to its wealth and winning by far the most championships. This nickname is used especially by fans of the Boston Red Sox and by fans of other teams to a lesser extent. Even some Yankees fans have been known to call themselves and their team the "Evil Empire" as a badge of honor.
excuse me swing
When a batter inadvertently makes contact during a check swing. Contrast with swinging bunt.
expand the strike zone
When a pitcher gets ahead in the count, he "expands the strike zone" because the hitter will be more likely to swing at a pitch that's at the edge or out of the strike zone or in some other location where he can't hit it. "Ideally, a pitcher is going to try and get ahead in the count and when this happens the pitcher has effectively "expanded the strike zone" since the batter is now on the defensive and will be more prone to chase pitches outside the strike zone".73
A major league term for the larger roster of players that can be used under specific circumstances, such as when major league rosters can expand from 25 to up to 40 players on September 1.
Main article: expansion team
A team that is added when a league increases the number of teams in the league.
Main article: Extra base hit
Any bases gained by a batter beyond first base on a hit. So doubles count for one "extra base", triples for two, and home runs for three. These kinds of hits are referred to as "extra base hits" and improve a batter's slugging percentage.
Main article: Extra innings
Additional innings needed to determine a winner if a game is tied after the regulation number of innings (nine at the college/professional level, seven at high school level, six in Little League). Also known as bonus baseball or free baseball because paying spectators are witnessing more action than normal. It is sometimes, but not commonly, referred to as "overtime" as a play on other team sports.
See extra innings. Also see frame.
When a team makes a mistake on a defensive play that ordinarily should lead to an easy out, the team is said to give its opponent an "extra out." "'There were a couple of innings where we gave them extra outs,' Wedge said. 'They may not be errors, but we're not making plays.'"74
The World Series -- the championship series of Major League Baseball, in which the champion of the American League faces off against the champion of the National League. Typically, this series takes place in October, so playing in October is the goal of any major league team. Reggie Jackson's moniker "Mr. October" indicates that he played with great distinction in the World Series for the Yankees. Another Yankee, Derek Jeter, picked up the nickname "Mr. November" after he hit a walk-off home run in Game 4 of the 2001 World Series just after midnight local time on November 1. By comparison, Yankees owner George Steinbrenner's dubbing another of his players (Dave Winfield) "Mr. May" expressed his disappointment with that player's performance in the Fall Classic.
The one time the Fall Classic was actually played in the summer was 1918, when the season was curtailed due to World War I and the Series was played in early September.
The one time the Fall Classic extended in to November was in 2001. Jeter's walk-off homer was the first plate appearance in the month of November in MLB history; the 2001 season had been delayed for several days following 9/11, eventually pushing the start of the World Series into the last week of October - and the end of the Series in to November.
fall off the table
A pitch is said to "fall off the table" when it starts in the strike zone or appears hittable to the batter and ends low or in the dirt. This term is mainly used for change ups and split-fingered fastballs, and occasionally for an overhand curveball.
▪ Fan (person) Main article: Fan (person) A strong supporter of a player, a team, or the game in general. This term originated in 19th century England as "the fancy" to refer to those who followed or "fancied" boxing. "The fancy" was shortened to "the fance," then "the fans" was adopted into baseball (replacing the 19th century term "kranks" or "cranks"). Its use was reinforced by its apparent connection to the word "fanatics."
▪ To "fan" a batter is to strike him out, especially a swinging strike three.
Main article: Interference (baseball)
When a fan or any person not associated with one of the teams alters play in progress (in the judgment of an umpire), it is fan interference. The ball becomes dead, and the umpire will award any bases or charge any outs that, in his judgment, would have occurred without the interference. This is one of several types of interference calls in baseball.
If a fan touches a ball that is out of the field of play, such as a pop fly into the stands, it is not considered to be fan interference even if a defensive player might have fielded the ball successfully. So the infamous case in Game 6 of the NLCS in which a Chicago Cubs fan, Steve Bartman, attempted to catch a ball in foul territory thereby possibly preventing Cubs leftfielder Moisés Alou from making a circus catch, was not a case of fan interference.
Main article: Farm team
A farm team is a team or club whose role it is to provide experience and training for young players, with an expectation that successful players will move to the big leagues at some point. Each Major League Baseball team's organization has a farm system of affiliated farm teams at different minor league baseball levels.
Main article: Fastball
A pitch that is thrown more for high velocity than for movement; it's the most common type of pitch. Also known as smoke, a bullet, a heater (you can feel the heat generated by the ball), or a hummer (the ball can't be seen, only heard).
A count in which the pitcher would be ordinarily expected to throw a fast ball, such as 3-1, 3-2, or 2-1, as fast ball are usually easiest to locate in the strike zone. Occasionally a pitcher will pull the string by throwing an off-speed pitch.
When a pitcher relies too much on his fastball, perhaps because his other pitches are not working well for him during that game, he's said to be "fastball happy." This can get a pitcher into trouble if the batters can anticipate that the next pitch will be a fastball. "Andy is at his best when he trusts his breaking stuff and doesn't try to overpower guys. When he gets fastball happy he gets knocked around".75
A pitch that is located exactly where the hitter is expecting it. The ball may look bigger than it actually is, and the batter may hit it a long way.
▪ To throw the ball carefully to another fielder in a way that allows him to make an out. A first-baseman who has just fielded a ground ball will "feed the ball" to the pitcher who is running over from the mound to make the force out at first base. An infielder who has fielded a ground-ball will feed the ball to the player covering second base so that the latter can step on the base and quickly throw to first base to complete a double play.
▪ To draw energy from the fans. A newly-hired manager might say "I really think we can feed on the excitement that's already here."
▪ A baseball field or baseball diamond upon which the game of baseball is played.
▪ A ballfield, ballpark, or stadium (e.g., Dodger Stadium, Wrigley Field, Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome).
▪ To field the ball is to capture or make a play on a ground ball or to catch a fly ball.
▪ To take the field means that the defensive players are going to their positions, while the other team is on the offense or at bat. "The Reds have taken the field, and Jose Reyes is leading off for the Mets."
▪ Any defensive player (as opposed to a batter).
▪ Often, defensive players are distinguished as either pitchers or position players. Position players are further divided into infielders and outfielders.
Main article: Manager (baseball)
The head coach of a team is called the manager (more formally, the field manager). He controls team strategy on the field. He sets the line-up and starting pitcher before each game as well as making substitutions throughout the game. In modern baseball the field manager is normally subordinate to the team's general manager (or GM), who among other things is responsible for personnel decisions, including hiring and firing the field manager. However, the term manager used without qualification almost always refers to the field manager.
Main article: Fielder's choice
A fielder's choice (FC) is the act of a fielder, upon fielding a batted ball, choosing to try to put out a baserunner and allow the batter-runner to advance to first base. Despite reaching first base safely after hitting the ball, the batter is not credited with a hit but would be charged with an at-bat.
An old-fashioned and more colorful way of saying "numbers nut", for a fan with a near-obsessive interest in the statistics or "figures" of the game. The first true "figger filbert" was probably Ernest Lanigan, who was the first historian of the Baseball Hall of Fame and prior to that was one of the first, if not the first, to publish an encyclopedia of baseball stats, in the 1920s. In the modern era, Bill James could be said to be the iconic "figger filbert". He is also a founding father of the field of baseball research called sabermetrics.
fight off a pitch
When a batter has two strikes on him and gets a pitch that he cannot hit cleanly, he may be said to "fight off the pitch" by fouling it off. "Langerhans fought off one 3-2 pitch, then drove the next one to the gap in left-center to bring home the tying and winning runs."76
find a hole
To get a base hit by hitting the ball between infielders. "The 13th groundball that Zachry allowed found a hole".77
find his bat
When a batter has been in a slump perhaps for no evident reason, but then starts getting hits, he may be said to "find his bat." "With the Tigers having found their bats for a night, they reset the series and put themselves in position to all but lock up the AL Central."78
find his swing
When a batter has experienced a slump, he may take extra practice or instruction to "find his swing." Perhaps he has a hitch in his swing, or his batting stance has changed. Having "lost his swing," now he must "find it." This phrase is also used in golf.
find the seats
As if a ball leaving the bat is in search of a place to land, a ball that "finds the seats" is one that leaves the field of play and reaches the stands. It may either be a home run or a foul ball (out of the reach of the fielders).
A pitcher who throws extremely high-velocity fastballs, in excess of 95 miles per hour. A flamethrower.
A team's top relief pitcher who is often brought in to end an offensive rally and put out the fire. The term has been attributed to New York Daily News cartoonist Bruce Stark, who in the 1970s first depicted relievers for the New York Mets and Yankees as firemen coming in to save their teams from danger.79
A player, often one of small stature, who is known for his energy, extroversion, and team spirit -- sometimes perhaps more than for his playing ability. "Morgan defied this mold by outworking everybody and employing his moderate athletic gifts to become one of the best all-around players of his era. He hit for power, he hit for average, he stole bases and manufactured runs and he was one of the toughest, smartest defensive second basemen the game has ever seen. He was a relentless fireplug, respected by opposing players and hated by opposing fans."80
A hitter who likes to hit the first pitch in an at bat, especially if the hitter often gets a hit on the first pitch.
When a batter swings at a pitch that is inside and the ball hits the bat close to his fists (hands). "Following the top half of the first, the Bulls offense struck early when junior leftfielder Junior Carlin fisted a pitch back up the middle on a 1-0 count".81
five and dive
A derogatory term referring to a starting pitcher who is unable to go beyond 5 innings before wearing out. In the current era in which managers are increasingly aware of the risk of injury to pitchers who have high pitch counts, and in which relief pitching has become a critical part of the game, starters achieve fewer and fewer complete games. Headline: "Vasquez Disputes Five-and-Dive Label".82
five o'clock hitter
A hitter who hits really well during batting practice, but not so well during games. These were formerly known as "ten o'clock hitters" or "two-o'clock hitters" back when there were no night games.
Main article: Five-tool player
A position player who has great skill in all of the tools or basic skills: hitting for average, hitting for power, base running and speed, throwing, and fielding. See tools for how baseball scouts rate these skills.
FL or F.L.
Abbreviation for Federal League, a major league that existed from 1914 to 1915. This would be the last "third Major League" to come into existence.
To catch or knock down a line drive, as if flagging down a speeding train. "Cody Ross, who singled and moved to second on a ground-out, was stranded when Ramirez's scorched liner . . . was flagged down by a diving Jones."83
A fly ball hit a short distance into the outfield. "Pudge hit a flare just out of the shortstop's reach."
flashing the leather
Making an outstanding or difficult defensive play. A player who regularly makes difficult defensive plays may be described as a "leather flasher". See leather.
A game played in the bullpen by relief pitchers. There are multiple rules and strategies that can be used. Also the act of softly tossing the ball to a fielder that is too close to make a full, hard throw to.
A knuckleball. A pitch that may appear to the batter to float or bob up and down on its way to the plate.
A base hit that results from a weakly batted ball or one that takes an odd bounce.
A knuckleball, a floater.
A ball hit high in the air. See also pop fly, infield fly, and ground ball.
▪ An out that results from an outfielder catching a fly ball.
▪ Used as a verb, a batter whose fly ball is caught in the outfield is said to "fly out." ""Rodriguez flied out to center fielder Suzuki."
Main article: Force play
When a runner must advance to another base because the batter becomes a runner and, as such, must advance to first base. In this situation, the base the runner is being forced to needs to be touched by the fielder with the ball and is considered a "force out." A play when a fly ball is caught and a fielder touches a base prior to the runner tagging up is not a force play, but an appeal play.
A type of split-finger fastball or splitter in which the fingers are spread out as far as possible. The ball drops sharply and typically out of the strike zone, maybe even into the dirt.
Two straight lines drawn on the ground from home plate to the outfield fence to indicate the boundary between fair territory and foul territory. These are called the left-field foul line and the right-field foul line. The foul poles on the outfield walls are vertical extensions of the foul lines.
Despite their names, both the foul lines and the foul poles are in fair territory. Any fly ball that strikes the foul line (including the foul pole) beyond first or third base is a fair ball (and in the case of the foul pole, a home run).
Note that while the foul lines in baseball are in fair territory, just like the side- and end-lines of a tennis court, in basketball or American football the sidelines are considered out of bounds. In other words, hitting the ball "on the line" is good for the offensive player in baseball and tennis, but stepping on the line is bad for the offensive player in basketball and American football. The situation is slightly different in international football (American "soccer"): the sideline and the goal line are inbounds, and the ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the side line (touch line) or the goal line, whether on the ground or in the air.
Purposely batting a pitch foul with two strikes in order to keep the at-bat going, in part to tire the pitcher and in part to get another, different pitch that might be easier to hit. Luke Appling was said to be the king of "fouling them off." Such a hitter might also be said to be battling or working the pitcher.
A pole located on each foul line on the outfield fence or wall. The left-field foul pole and right-field foul pole are used by umpires to determine whether a batted ball is a home run or a foul ball. The foul pole is a vertical extension of the foul line. The term "foul pole" is actually a misnomer, because the "foul pole" (like the foul line) is in fair territory and a fly ball that hits the foul pole is considered to be a fair ball (and a home run).
A batted ball that is hit sharply and directly from the bat to the catcher's mitt and legally caught by the catcher. It is not a foul tip, as most announcers and journalists mistakenly use the term, if the ball is not caught by the catcher. In this case, it is simply a foul ball. It is also not considered a foul tip if it rebounds off something, like the ground, catcher's mask, the batter, etc. after being struck by the bat but before touching the catcher's mitt. A foul tip is considered in play, not a foul ball, and also counts as a strike, including the third strike (and is also considered a strikeout for the pitcher). The purpose of this rule is to prevent this type of play from being an automatic out for the batter (as a caught foul ball would be) and instead simply a strike, as if he swung and missed the ball. It is signaled by the umpire putting his right hand flat in the air and brushing his left hand against it (singling the ball hitting the bat) and then using his standard strike call.
A home run. Never mind that the 4th "bag" is actually a plate.
An intentional walk.
A standard fastball, which does not necessarily break though a good one will have movement as well as velocity and location that makes it difficult to hit. The batter sees the four parallel seams spin toward him. A four-seamer. See two-seamer.
▪ As a noun, a frame is a half of an inning (either the top or the bottom). Announcer: "Two hits, and two runs scored so far in this frame." A bowling term, and suggested by the resemblance of an inning-by-inning scoreboard to a bowling scoresheet.
▪ As a verb, to frame a pitch is to adjust the position of a catcher's mitt to mislead the umpire into thinking that the ball was caught within the strikezone.
Slang for extra innings. The fans get to see extra innings "for free."
A base on balls. "Free" because the batter doesn't have to hit the ball to get on base. Also referred to as a "free ticket" and an Annie Oakley.
freeze the hitter
To throw a strike that is so unexpected or in such a location that the batter doesn't swing at it. "As Cashman spoke, Pettitte fired a strike on the corner, which froze the hitter."84 "But the right-hander reached in her bag of tricks and threw a tantalizing changeup that froze the hitter for the final out.85
A hard-hit line drive. Also a strong throw from the outfield.
Main article: Full count
A count of 3 balls and 2 strikes; another strike will result in a strikeout, while another ball will result in a walk.
▪ Three of a kind (3 balls), and two of a kind (2 strikes): a full count. From the term used in poker. Sometimes called full boat. Instead of holding up fingers indicating the count, the umpire may hold up closed fists, implying "full".
▪ Capacity crowd; all seats filled in the stadium. From the theatrical term.
Main article: Fungo
A fly ball hit for fielders to practice catching. It is not part of the game, but is accomplished by a batter tossing the ball a short distance up in the air and then batting it himself.
A lightweight bat with a long, skinny barrel used to hit fungoes. It is not a legal or safe bat to use in a game or even in practice with a live pitcher, because it is too light.
A player who plays particularly hard (especially with a willingness to sacrifice his body for the play) and is prone to making the right play at the right time, often in big games. Also used to refer to an excellent piece of equipment, such as a glove or mitt.
The space between outfielders. Also alley. A ball hit in the gap is sometimes called a flapper or a gapper. "He's swinging the bat right now better than he has all year, and I'm hoping now some of them turns into gappers," Leyland said.86
Hits with power up the alleys and tends to get a lot of doubles. A doubles hitter.
A fastball. "Give him , the batter, the gas"; as in stepping on a car's gas pedal to accelerate.
The gross ticket prices paid by all the customers who passed through the entrance gates for a game or a series. Also referred to simply as "the gate." "There's a big gate awaiting the champions. . . ."87
Abbreviation for game ending double play.
Main article: General manager (baseball)
The general manager (GM) runs the organization of a baseball team (personnel, finance, and operations). Normally distinct from the field manager and the club owner.
A very well pitched game, almost always a win, in which the pitcher allows few if any hits and at most a run or two. Headline: "Mulder Shakes Off Injury to Pitch Gem".88
get a good piece of it
When swinging a round bat at a round ball, the batter hopes to hit the ball solidly in the center. When he does, he's said to "get a good piece of the ball." "'When you hit in the middle of the order, those are the situations you want,' said Cabrera, who leads the major leagues with 116 RBIs. 'He threw me a fastball, and I got a good piece of it'."89
get on one's horse
When a fielder (usually an outfielder) runs extremely fast towards a hard hit ball in an effort to catch it.
get good wood
To hit a ball hard. A batter who "gets good wood on the ball" or who "gets some lumber on the ball" hits it hard.
get off the schneid
To break a scoreless, hitless, or winless streak (i.e., a schneid). According to the Dickson Baseball Dictionary, the term "schneid" comes to baseball via gin rummy, and in turn comes from German / Yiddish "schneider," one who cuts cloth, i.e., a tailor.
Main article: Grounded into double play
Statistical abbreviation for grounded into double play.
Main article: Baseball glove
▪ A baseball glove or mitt is a large padded leather glove that players on the defensive team wear to assist them in catching and fielding balls hit by a batter or thrown by a teammate. Different positions require different shapes and sizes of gloves. The term "mitt" is officially reserved to describe the catcher's mitt and the first-baseman's mitt. By rule, fielders other than the first-baseman and the catcher can only wear conventional gloves (with individual finger slots), not mitts. There is no rule requiring fielders to wear a glove or mitt, but the nature of the game normally renders it a necessity. A fielder may have to catch a ball bare-handed, if he loses his glove in pursuit of a ball, or otherwise finds himself at the wrong angle to use it. A video clip from 1989, that was included in several "amazing plays" videos, showed Kevin Mitchell of the San Francisco Giants catching a ball over-the-shoulder and barehanded.
Most batters nowadays wear leather batting gloves to improve their grip on the bat and provide a small amount of padding. This practice began in the 1960s when some batters began wearing golf gloves. Hawk Harrelson pioneered this practice. Additionally, some base-stealing artists, especially those who practice the head-first / hands-first slide, will wear specialized sliding gloves. All-time base-stealing record holder Rickey Henderson often used sliding gloves.
Players will generally keep batting and sliding gloves in their pants pockets when not in use, and set their fielding gloves on a shelf or other convenient place in the dugout. At one time, it was common practice to leave the fielding glove on the playing field. After that practice was outlawed due to risks to other fielders and possible interference with a live ball, players would sometimes carry their gloves in their pants pockets. That fact illustrates (1) how much larger and baggier the uniforms were at the time and (2) how much smaller the gloves were. The old adage "two hands while you're learning" was a necessity in the early years, when the glove was mostly used simply to absorb the shock of the hit or thrown ball. The glove has since evolved into a much more effective "trap", so the rules have very specific limitations on the size and shape of gloves. One-hand catches are now commonplace, although the occasional fielding gaffe by one-handers brings the old adage to mind.
Jokes used in movies and cartoons notwithstanding, throwing the glove to try to "catch" or slow down a batted ball is forbidden by the rules. When the umpire calls it, the batter is awarded an automatic triple (meaning that all runners ahead of him are allowed to score freely) and it is also a live ball, so the batter-runner has the option of trying for home if possible. Similarly, it is against the rules to take off one's cap to use it as an alternate "glove", as "All the Way Mae" (Madonna) was shown doing in A League of Their Own.
▪ A player who is very skilled at playing defense is said to have a good glove.
An abbreviation for general manager.
The run which puts a team which was behind or tied into the lead. Used particularly with runners on base (e.g., "The Phillies have Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino on base down 4-2; Victorino represents the tying run and Chase Utley is the go-ahead run at the plate.").
▪ To hit a home run. "Richie Sexson and Kenji Johjima also went deep for the Mariners."90
▪ A starting pitcher who pitches past the 6th inning is said to "go deep into the game." "Against the White Sox on Thursday, Morrow's command wasn't there. He walked six batters in 5 2/3 innings, and despite coming one out shy of recording a quality start, he didn't prove yet he's able to pitch deep into games."91
▪ When a team fails to mount a strong offense, such as going 1-2-3 in an inning, it may be said to have "gone quietly." "Outside of a walk to Mantle after Tresh's clout and a ninth-inning single by Pepitone, the Yankees went quietly the rest of the way."92
▪ A player who retires without a lot of fanfare or complaining may be said to "go quietly."
go the distance
See go the route.
go the route
A pitcher who throws a complete game "goes the route."
To "go yard" is to hit a home run, i.e., to hit the ball the length of the baseball field or "ball yard". Sometimes said to be derived from Camden Yards, the home park of the Baltimore Orioles.
Main article: Gold Glove
The major league player chosen as the best in his league at fielding his position is given a Gold Glove Award.
Main article: Golden sombrero
One who strikes out four times in one game is said to have gotten a "Golden Sombrero". Three strike outs is called the "Hat Trick" and the rare five strike outs is called the "Platinum Sombrero".
Swinging at an obviously low pitch, particularly one in the dirt. Also used to describe actual contact with a pitch low in the zone.
▪ A ball hit over the wall, a home run. Announcer: "That ball is gone." That's a reduction of the timeless phrase, "Going . . . going . . . gone," and of the way famed Detroit Tigers announcer Ernie Harwell would say it: "That ball is loooong gone." It wasn't necessary to pronounce the words "home run". Long-time Cincinnati Reds TV announcer George Grande would exclaim as the ball went over the wall, "It's gonna be... gone!"
▪ Conversely, a batter who has just been struck out, especially by a power pitcher. Used frequently by Chicago White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson, as in, "He gone!"
▪ An announcer may simply announce "one gone" or "two gone" to indicate how many outs have been made in the inning. This has the same meaning as "one away" and "two away."
A hitter who has excellent awareness of the strike zone, and is able to lay off pitches that are barely out of the strike zone, is said to have a "good eye." "Ortiz and Ramirez are a constant threat, whether it's swinging the bats or taking pitches," Cleveland third baseman Casey Blake said. "They have a couple of the best swings in the game and a couple of the best eyes in the game. . . ."93
good hit, no field
Said to have been the world's shortest scouting report, and often quoted in reference to sluggers such as Dick Stuart and Dave Kingman, who were notoriously poor fielders.
Goodbye Mr. Spalding!
Exclamation by a broadcaster when a batter hits a home run. First uttered by an unknown broadcaster in the film "The Natural." Spalding is a major manufacturer of baseballs.
A zero on the scoreboard.
A gopher pitch (or gopher ball) is a pitch that leads to a home run, one that the batter will "go for". Illustration from an on-line chat: "He was always that guy who'd go in and throw the gopher pitch in the first inning and he'd be two down." A game in which several home runs have been hit by both teams may also sometimes be described as "gopher ball."
got a piece of it
When a batter hits a foul ball or foul tip, perhaps surviving a two strike count and remaining at bat, a broadcaster may say "He got a piece of it".
An expression from a player or a broadcaster that's short for "got him out." This may be used when a pitcher gets a batter to strike out or when a defender throws out a runner who's trying to get safely on first or advance to another base. "He fouled one off this time, straight up in the air that caught on the backstop. I was glad it did because I wanted to whiff him again. I got him with a beautiful pitch. I set him up with a fast ball right in close on the letters that he chopped at like somebody's grandmother."94
A variation of "Got Him" coined by San Francisco closer Brian Wilson. The term can also be used to celebrate offensive accomplishments, defensive accomplishments, and successes off of the baseball field.
got under the ball
When a hitter swings slightly under the center of the pitched ball, thereby leading to a high fly ball out instead of a home run, he's said to "get under the ball."
grab some pine
Go sit on the bench, used as a taunt after a strikeout. Popularized by Giants sportscaster Mike Krukow.
got to him early
When a team's batters gets several hits and runs off of the opposing starting pitcher in early innings the batters are said to "get to him early."
Main article: Grand slam (baseball)
Home run hit with the bases loaded. A "grand salami" or a "grand ol' ding dong."
Main article: Grandstand
Showing off for the fans in the grandstands. Also called grandstanding. Not only players, but managers, owners, and politicians often play to the crowd to raise their public image.
An example: "Tellem weighed in with a thoughtful back-page article in this Sunday's New York Times regarding the recent Congressional and mainstream media grandstanding over steroids."95
A grand slam homerun. "Torii Hunter's game-winning grand slam was his 10th career granny and third career walk-off homer".96
Main article: Spring training
The group of major league teams that conduct Spring Training in Florida, where grapefruit trees grow in abundance.
A sarcastic term for seats high in the bleachers, a long way from the playing field. The phrase was popularized by Bob Uecker in a series of TV commercials.
Permission from the manager for a batter or runner to be aggressive. Examples include permission for the batter to swing away on a 3-0 count or for a runner to steal a base.
An example: "Instead of the bunt sign, Tigers manager Jim Leyland gave Rodríguez the green light and he hit a three-run homer off Riske to give the Tigers a 3-2 win over Kansas City on Sunday."97
groove a pitch
When a pitcher throws a pitch down the middle of the plate ("the groove"). The result may be predictable.
An example: "But in the third, with two out and a man at second and the Cards ahead 2-1, Verlander grooved a pitch that Pujols clobbered for a home run."98
Main article: Types of batted balls in baseball
A ball that is hit on the ground so that it bounces in the infield. Also grounder. A bunt is not considered a "ground ball."
ground ball with eyes
A ground ball that barely gets between two infielders for a base hit, seeming to "see" the only spot where it would be unfieldable. Also seeing-eye single.
ground ball pitcher
A pitcher who tends to induce more ground balls than fly balls from the hitters. Often a manager will bring a ground ball pitcher in as a relief pitcher when there are men on base and less than two outs in hopes that the next batter will hit a ground ball that leads to a double play.
Under standard ground rules, there are conditions under which a batter is awarded second base automatically due to ground rules, such as it getting caught in the ivy at Wrigley Field. If a ball hit in fair territory bounces over a wall or fence without being touched by a fielder, it is likely to be declared an automatic double, often mistakenly referred to as a ground rule double. If a ball hit into fair territory is touched by a fan, the batter will be awarded an extra base, typically leading to advancing that runner automatically to second base.
Main article: Ground rules (baseball)
Rules that are specific to a particular ballpark (or grounds) due to unique features of the park and where the standard baseball rules may be inadequate. See ground rules for some examples.99
A hitter who may not be the best at reading what kind of pitch is coming toward him so he guesses what the next pitch is going to be.
▪ A strong arm. Also, a cannon.
▪ To throw strongly. Announcer following a play in which the shortstop fields a ground ball and throws hard to first: "Guillen guns and gets him."
To throw out a runner. "Valentin was erased when he tried to steal second, though, and Posada gunned him down."100
Main article: Gyroball
A type of curveball with a severe break. Boston Red Sox pitcher Daisuke Matsuzaka is said to throw a gyroball. It was designed by a couple of Japanese scientists to reduce arm fatigue in pitchers. The result was a way to throw the ball with an extreme break. Whether such a special pitch really exists remains the subject of great controversy among experts of various pedigrees.101
To swing awkwardly at the ball. "As his son stood in the batter's box and hacked away, Wolpert came up with the idea of opening his own batting cage in Manhattan."102 Sometimes said of an aggressive hitter who would swing at any pitch within reach, whether high, low, inside, or outside. "An unrepentant free swinger who hacked at anything in the same area code as the strike zone, Puckett drew just 23 walks that year."103
Hall of Fame
Main article: National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum
The Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. Abbreviated HOF.
▪ To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. "Aaron hammered that pitch."
▪ The nickname of Henry Aaron — Hank "The Hammer" Aaron — second all-time in Major League career home runs.
▪ A curve ball, usually of the 12 to 6 variety.
▪ A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder may be difficult for him to get his hands up in time to grab. He may appear to be handcuffed in that situation.
▪ A pitch thrown high and inside may handcuff a batter because he can't get his hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat.
Often it's said of a player who has not fielded a batted ball cleanly that he "couldn't find the handle on it." This suggests the fanciful notion that the baseball would be easier to hold onto if there were a handle attached to it.
▪ A breaking ball that does not break, and so is easy to hit. A hanging curveball.
▪ A pitcher may be hung with a loss if he is responsible for his team falling behind in runs and the team never recovers the lead.
▪ A runner may be hung up if he is caught in a rundown.
▪ A runner may be hung out to dry if he gets picked off at first base, or if a hitter misses a hit-and-run sign and the runner is easily tagged out at second base. A player may be hung out to dry if his team treats him in an unexpected or disappointing way. (Story: "The Mets got what they needed from pitcher Al Leiter yesterday. Unfortunately, Leiter was hung out to dry again, done in by his team's anemic offense.")
When a pitcher uses a particular type of pitch so much that he becomes less effective, he's sometimes said to be "happy" with the pitch - fastball happy or curveball happy, for example. "This article is a response, in part, to a Boston Globe sports rumor asserting that Josh Beckett has become 'Curveball Happy' and has changed his release point".104
A tendency to mishandle fielded balls. Also stone fingers.
Baseball, as opposed to softball.
Main article: Hat-trick#Baseball
To strike out three times. Used jokingly, as the same term means to score three times in hockey and other sports.
Hit By Pitch.
head of lettuce
The event when a player breaks their bat after hitting the pitch, that results in the main portion of the bat (the barrel) to land within the infield. The broken portion can be intact or splintered into many pieces. If the main portion of the broken bat lands either in foul territory or outside of the established infield, as determined by the base path between 1st & 2nd and 2nd & 3rd bases, it is not considered to be a "Head of Lettuce". This term pays homage to other great food related baseball terms such as "Can of Corn", "High Cheese", "In a Pickle", etc. The original use of the term dates to 2006 at a Greenville Drive game where Joshua Githens first noted after such an event the likeness to striking a head of lettuce with the bat. "That bat exploded like a head of lettuce!' said Josh Githens, 10 May 2006.
A pitcher who has a reputation for throwing beanballs.
heart of the plate
Middle of home plate. "Looking to go up the ladder, Hughes instead missed right over the heart of the plate just below belt high with a 95-mph fastball. As good hitters do, Guerrero made him pay with a single up the middle".105
Also heater. A fastball.
A power hitter. A player who hits a lot of home runs or other extra base hits. A batter with a high slugging percentage. A slugger. A term shared with the sport of boxing, referring to a fighter who scores a large number of knockouts.
help his own cause
Said of a pitcher who knocks in runs as a hitter, thereby helping himself to earn credit for a win.
A pitcher with an unusual or awkward wind-up or motion, as if he's not in full control of his legs and arms, may be said to have a herky-jerky motion.
A pitcher who pauses in his wind-up, perhaps at the top of the wind-up, may be said to have a hesitation pitch. If this is part of his regular motion, it may be effective in throwing off the timing of the batter. If it's an occasional motion and used when there are runners on base, the pitcher is at risk of being called for a balk.
hidden ball trick
Main article: Hidden ball trick
A very rare feat in which a fielder has the ball and hides it from a runner, trying to trick him into believing that some other fielder has it or that it has gotten away from them. One example would be if the pitcher throws to first to force a runner back to the base, and the first baseman pretends to throw the ball back to the pitcher. If the runner starts to lead off again right away, he could be tagged out. Another example would be for the fielder to spin around, "looking" for a hit or thrown ball that has "eluded" him, while actually carrying it in his glove. There is no rule against this kind of deception. The exception is that once the pitcher toes or stands astride the rubber, he must have the ball in his possession, or else a balk will be called. Any baserunner victimized by a hidden ball trick play is liable to be ribbed endlessly by his teammates for having been caught napping.
high and tight
A location pitch thrown above the strike zone and close to the batter.
A fastball thrown high in the strike zone.
high hard one
A fastball thrown high in, or above the strike zone.
A strike thrown high in the strike zone.
The pitcher's mound.
Main article: Hit (baseball)
▪ The act of safely reaching first base after batting the ball into fair territory. Abbreviated as H, this meaning is synonymous with base hit. See also single, double, triple, home run, extra base hit, error, fielder's choice.
▪ The act of contacting the ball with the bat. "The batter hit the ball right at the second baseman."
▪ When a batter is touched by a pitch. See hit by pitch
▪ The term sacrifice hit is used by scorekeepers to indicate a sacrifice bunt. It is typically an out, not a base hit (unless the batter beats the throw to first).
hit a bullet
To hit the ball very hard, typically a line drive.
hit and run
Main article: Hit and run (baseball)
An offensive tactic whereby a baserunner (usually on first base) starts running as if to steal and the batter is obligated to swing at the pitch. Contrast this to a run and hit, where the runner steals, and the batter (who would normally take on a straight steal) may swing at the pitch.
After a batter has attempted but failed to lay down a bunt, or in a situation in which he might ordinarily be expected to bunt, he may instead make a normal swing at the ball on the next pitch. In such a case he is said to "hit away" or "swing away." "Smoltz swung away, fouling it off for strike one. Knowing that the bunt had been given away on the first pitch, Braves manager Bobby Cox took off the bunt sign this time."106
hit behind the runner
An offensive tactic where the batter intentionally puts the ball in play to the right side with a runner on second. The intent is to advance the baserunner to third, where a sacrifice fly by the next hitter can score a run.
hit by pitch
Main article: Hit by pitch
When a pitch touches a batter in the batter's box, the batter advances to first base. Abbreviated as HBP. Colloquially, a batter who is hit by a pitch may be said to be plunked, drilled, nailed, plugged, or beaned. If the pitch is a strike or hits him while he is swinging at the pitch, it is considered a strike and the batter is not awarded a base. In addition, if the umpire feels that the batter didn't make an effort to avoid getting hit by the pitch, the umpire can simply call the pitch a ball and not award the batter the base.
hit 'em where they ain't
Said to be the (grammatically-casual) response of turn-of-the-20th-century player Willie Keeler to the question, "What's the secret to hitting?" in which "'em" or "them" are the batted balls, and "they" are the fielders.
hit for average
Contrary to what might be literally implied, a player who "hits for average" is one who achieves a high batting average.
hit for the cycle
Main article: Hit for the cycle
When a given player hits a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. To accomplish this feat in order is termed a "natural cycle." Hitting for the cycle is a rare enough occurrence that Major League Baseball keeps special statistics on it.107
hit it where the grass doesn't grow
Hit the ball into the stands for a home run.
hit on Christmas Day
When a player seems to have a natural aptitude to get hits in all situations. "Magglio can hit Christmas Day," Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's an old saying, and he's one of those guys who can. There's nothing fancy. He sees it, hits it and does it pretty damned good".108
hit the ball on the screws
To hit the ball even center with measured force, often resulting in a loud crack of the bat. A slumping batter might be comforted by "hitting the ball on the screws" when not getting a hit. The phrase apparently derives from golf, referring to "a well executed shot. In the good ol' days, when woods were made of wood, club makers fitted a plastic insert into the club face as a safeguard against premature wear. These inserts were fastened to the club with screws. When a golfer would hit a good shot, he would say, 'I hit it on the screws'."109
hit the deck
When a batter drops or dives to the ground to avoid being hit by a pitch. "The third kind of pitch is the one that is coming right at your head. This one you don't even have time to think about. Some part of you sees the ball as it leaves the pitcher's hand, and something about the fact that the ball is coming straight toward your eye makes it almost disappear into a blind spot. You hit the deck before you even know you've done it."110
hit the dirt
To slide. Sometimes used also as equivalent to hit the deck.
hitch in his swing
When a batter does not swing the bat in a single motion - perhaps he lifts the bat or moves his hands or hesitates before swinging - he may be said to have a "hitch in his swing." Having a hitch may slow down how quickly or powerfully he swings at the pitch. "All winter, Green worked on eliminating a hitch from his swing. He did it by setting up a video camera at a batting cage near his home in Irvine, California, taping swing after swing, and comparing it with video from his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers."111
a person who hits a ball with a bat in baseball.
When a batter is way ahead in the count (3-0, 3-1, 2-0) he's likely to anticipate that the next pitch will be thrown down Broadway — in the middle of the plate. See count.
A baseball park in which hitters tend to perform better than average. This may be a result of several factors, including the dimensions of the park (distance to the outfield fences, size of foul territory behind the plate and down the lines), prevailing winds, temperature and relative humidity, and altitude. Whether a park is a hitter's park or a pitcher's park (in which hitters perform worse than average) is determined statistically by measuring Park Factors, which involves comparing how well hitters perform in a given park compared with how they perform in all other parks. This measure is regularly reported and updated for Major League Baseball parks by ESPN.com.17 Baseball Reference 18 and other baseball research organizations also report park factors for major league parks. Baseball Prospectus 19 and other baseball researchers calculate park factors for minor league parks to help in adjusting the statistics of baseball prospects.
Whether a park is a hitter's park or pitcher's park may change from day to day. For example, when the wind is blowing "out" at Wrigley Field, it is typically rendered a "hitter's park", and double-digit scores for one or both teams are not unusual.
A physical and/or mental state where a player is seeing pitches well and his timing is on, so that observers or the player himself feel he has a good chance at getting a hit. Often used by players and sportscasters. "It's like Charley Lau used to tell us, used to tell me: 'You look very hitterish up there. You look hitterish, you look like you're going to hit the ball hard,'" Brett said in camp.112
Main article: Hold (baseball)
A hold (abbreviated as H) is awarded to a relief pitcher if he enters in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game without having relinquished that lead. To receive a hold, the pitcher must not finish the game (thus becoming the closing pitcher) or be the winning pitcher.
Unlike saves, more than one pitcher can earn a hold in a game. It is also not necessary for the pitcher's team to win the game in order to achieve a hold; they merely have to be in the lead at the time the pitcher exits.
The hold was invented in 1986 to give credit to non-closer relief pitchers. Holds are most often accredited to setup pitchers, as they usually pitch between the starter and the closer. Holds are not an official Major League Baseball statistic, but are recognized by the MLB in its rules.
hold the runner on
When a runner is on first base, the first baseman might choose to stand very close to first base rather than assume a position behind first base and more part-way toward second base (a position better suited to field ground balls hit to the right side of the diamond). When he does this he's said to "hold the runner on (first)" because he's in a position to take a throw from the pitcher and thereby discourage the runner from taking a big lead-off.
hold up on a swing
When a batter begins to swing the bat at a pitch but stops swinging before the bat makes contact with the ball or the bat passes the front of the plate, he may be said to "hold up on his swing".
▪ One of the 9 places in the batting lineup. The lead-off hitter in the first inning is the player in the "one hole." In the four hole, the cleanup hitter is hoping to get to the plate in that inning.
▪ Also see in the hole.
hole in his glove
A tendency to drop fly balls, usually after they hit (and seem to go through) the fielder's glove.
hole in his swing
A scouting report phrase describing a batter who can't hit strikes in a particular location. "Howard became a star after fixing a hole in his swing."113
hole in the lineup
A team that has one or more weak hitters in its 9-person batting order has a "hole in the lineup" that opposition teams can take advantage of. "There are no holes in that lineup, so to say you're going to pitch around one batter might not be the best thing."114 "If the team that Shapiro has constructed is going to overtake the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees or any of the other contenders in the American League, it can't afford another season with a hole in the middle of the lineup that Hafner was from May through the playoffs last season".115
Home plate. For a runner to reach home safely is to score a run. Getting a runner who is on base home is the goal of any batter.
▪ When a player for the home team gets a favorable or generous call from the official scorer, the players may refer to the scorer's call as "home cooking". For example, the scorer may credit a batter for a base hit on a batted ball that a fielder bobbled briefly and then failed to make a putout.
▪ "Home cooking" is sometimes used synonymously with home field advantage". The reference may be to the home team having the advantage of living at home, not just to being able to play in its own stadium.
home field advantage
Main article: Home advantage
Teams playing home games have a small advantage over visiting teams. In recent decades, home teams have tended to win about 53.5% of their games.116 Because teams play the same number of games at home as they do away during the regular season, this advantage tends to even out. In play-off series, however, teams hope to gain from home-field advantage by having the first game of the series played in their home stadium.
Main article: Home team
A game played at the home stadium or ballpark of a baseball club. When the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, they're playing a home game. The team that is hosting the game is referred to as the home team. In rare instances, the home team plays in a stadium that is not their own. In 2005, the Houston Astros played a "home" series against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park in Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, because their home stadium, Minute Maid Park, was rendered temporarily unusable because of Hurricane Rita. In 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays played a "home" series against the Philadelphia Phillies at the Phillies' home park, Citizens Bank Park, because of security concerns due to the G-20 summit being held in Toronto. Despite being in Philadelphia, the Blue Jays wore their home white uniforms and batted last. Also, despite Citizens Bank Park being a National League field, the designated hitter was used in the series.
The second or bottom half of the inning, in which the home team is at bat. See inning.
Main article: Baseball field#Home plate
See also plate.
Main article: Home run
A home run (or homer) is a base hit in which the batter is able to circle all the bases, ending at home plate and scoring a run himself.
home run trot
When a batter, after seeing that a ball that he's hit is about become a home run, slows from a run to a celebretory trot. "Well, I've been saying it all year, and it finally happened tonight: David Ortiz became the first player in the 2010 season to take more than 30-seconds to trot around the bases after a home run. With four of the top five slowest home run trots of the year already - all four of which were clocked in at 28.95 seconds or slower - it seemed inevitable that he would be the first to break the half-minute barrier".117
Sometimes a player mistakenly slows down, however, when the wind or a superb play by an outfielder, turns a homerun into a double or single off the outfield wall, or to a long out, or to another odd outcome, as the following case illustrates:
"Unfortunately for his personal power totals, Milledge was bamboozled into believing his liner in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night had cleared the left-field fence at PNC Park for his first career grand slam. Dead certain he had gone deep, Milledge raised his fist rounding first base, put his head down and went into a trot. Cool. Double-dog certain because the fireworks guy at PNC set off the pyrotechnics that explode every time a Bucs player goes deep. Music also began to blare. What a glorious moment for the Bucs! . . . Only, the ball had not cleared the fence. It hit the top and stayed in the field of play.
As Bucs announcer Bob Walk said, "Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, uh oh — we got a problem here". Milledge was not quite midway between second and third base when he realized the Cubs had him in a rundown. And, yeah, um, he was tagged out. Score that a two-run double and a big ol' base-running blunder".118
A series of home games. See also road trip.
Main article: Home team
The "home team" is the one in whose stadium the game is played against the "visiting team." The home team has the advantage of batting in the second or bottom half of the inning. In case a game is played at a neutral site, the "home" team is usually determined by coin toss.
▪ A home run.
▪ Also, a derisive term for a dedicated, almost delusional, fan. Especially used for a broadcaster, in any sport, whose team "can do no wrong". Johnny Most of the Boston Celtics was a notorious "homer". In a somewhat more humorous example, Bert Wilson used to say, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's the Cubs!" A common "homer" saying is, "My two favorite teams are (my team) and whoever's playing (my team's rival)."
▪ When a manager leaves the dugout with the obvious intention of replacing the pitcher with a reliever, he may be said to be carrying a hook. "Here comes Sparky, and he's got the hook." Such a usage may have come from the large hooks that were sometimes used in Vaudeville to yank unsuccessful acts off the stage if they were reluctant to leave on their own. When he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Sparky Anderson's heavy reliance on relief pitching earned him the nickname "Captain Hook", a reference both to the standard usage and to the Peter Pan villain.
▪ A pitcher is said to be "on the hook" when he leaves the game with his team behind because of runs that he gave up — a hook on which he may be hung with the loss.
▪ A curveball.
When the batter pulls the ball down the line, starting fair but ending foul, resulting in a foul ball. See also slice foul.
A batted ball that takes several bounces in the infield or perhaps just a single "high hop" after it hits the ground just in front of home plate. Also see "short hop".
▪ The ball (a baseball) used in the game of baseball.
▪ The leather cover on the baseball (which is now usually made of cowhide, not horsehide). A slugger may be said to "knock the horsehide off the ball." Horsehide was the cover of choice for decades, as it was less prone to stretching than cowhide. This was necessary in part because in the early days, they tried to play the entire game with a single ball, or as few as possible. That became moot in the 1920s, but horsehide continued to be used until the 1980s or so, when horsehide became prohibitively expensive and cowhide was finally adopted as the standard cover for a baseball.
A strong arm, said typically of an outfielder. To "be hosed" is to be thrown out on the bases, typically from the outfield.
A batter who is having a hitting streak or a team having a winning streak is said to be "hot." "'Today was pretty impressive,' Scioscia said. 'Hitters, they have their times. When they're hot, they're hot. You can't do anything about it'."119
The area between two fielders during a rundown.
The area around third base and the third baseman, so called because right-handed batters tend to hit line drives down the third base line. The third baseman is sometimes called a "cornerman."
Hot stove league
Main article: Hot stove league
An old fashioned term for a "Winter league" with no games, just speculation, gossip, and story-telling during the months between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring training, presumably conducted while sitting around a hot stove. One of Norman Rockwell's well-known baseball paintings is a literal illustration of this term.
A very strong arm. A cannon. A gun. Usually applied to an outfielder. Named after the Howitzer artillery piece. Headline: "Roberto Clemente: A Howitzer for an Arm, An Ocean for a Heart".120
human rain delay
A derisive term for a player who is very deliberate in his play, such as a pitcher who takes a long time between pitches or a batter who constantly steps out of the batter's box. "The Seattle Mariners will announce a new manager today — Mike Hargrove. Hargrove bears a great nickname —" The Human Rain Delay." As a player, Hargrove would take about 15 minutes for every plate appearance. He would step out of the batter's box, fidget with his gloves, his helmet, his pants. He drove the pitcher nuts, but that was his plan."121
A term frequently used to describe a ball hit deep in the infield that has a trajectory in between that of a fly ball and a line drive. They would often fall in for hits, but the extra topspin on the ball makes them take a dive before they can get to the outfield. While not the hardest hit, these types of balls can be hard for infielders to get to if they are not in double-play depth.
ice cream cone
Colorful term used to describe the appearance of a baseball caught in the tip of the webbing of a glove. The partially protruding white ball contrasted with the tan-colored glove resembles a large waffle cone. Also occasionally referred to as a "snow cone."
Main article: Pitchers who have struck out three batters on nine pitches
A half-inning in which the pitcher strikes out all three batters he faces on exactly nine pitches; that is, throwing nothing but strikes.
in the batter's eyes
A high fastball, usually at or near the batter's eye level. Above the strike zone, so a ball, and hard to hit, but also hard to lay off.
Infield fly rule
Main article: Infield fly rule
The umpire calls the batter out when (a) there are less than two outs in the inning, and (b) the batter hits a fly ball that can be caught with ordinary effort by an infielder in fair territory, and (c) there are runners on first and second or the bases are loaded.
The batter is automatically called out in this situation whether or not a fielder attempts to catch the fly ball, but assuming that the ball stays in fair territory. The rule states that the umpire is supposed to announce, "Infield fly, if fair". If the ball will be almost certainly fair, the umpire will likely yell, "Infield fly, batter's out!" or just "Batter's out!"
This rule is intended to prevent the fielder from intentionally dropping the ball and getting force outs on the runners on base. The rule is a little mystifying to casual fans of the game, but it has been a fundamental rule since 1895, allegedly to prevent the notoriously tricky Baltimore Orioles from intentionally dropping the ball.
Main article: Infielder
First baseman, second baseman and third baseman, plus the shortstop, so called because they are positioned on the infield dirt. The pitcher and catcher are typically not considered infielders, but instead as the battery. However, for purposes of implementing the Infield Fly Rule, the catcher, pitcher, and any player stationed in the infield when the pitch is delivered are included as infielders.
Main article: Inherited runners
If a relief pitcher enters a game with runners already on base, he inherits runners. If those inherited runners later score, the runs are attributed to the previous pitcher or pitchers for purposes of calculating statistics such as earned runs allowed or earned run average.
In general, a baserunner is in jeopardy at any time the ball is live and he is not touching a base, unless he overran first base on a fair ball or is advancing to a base he was awarded, e.g., on a base on balls or hit batsman. A baserunner who is in jeopardy may be tagged out by a fielder at any time while in jeopardy.
A baserunner is also in jeopardy, regardless of whether or not he is touching a base, if the ball is live and any of the following conditions apply:
▪ He is touching a base that he was forced to vacate, i.e., if his teammate hits a fair ball;
▪ He failed to tag up on a caught fly ball;
▪ He failed to touch a base when he last passed it, or failed to touch the bases in order; or
▪ He is touching a base that a preceding baserunner is also touching.
Main article: Innings
An inning consists of two halves. In each half, one team bats until three outs are made. A full inning consists of six outs, three for each team; and a regulation game consists of nine innings. The first half-inning is called the top half of the inning; the second half-inning, the bottom half. The break between the top and bottom halves is called the middle of the inning. The visiting team is on offense during the top half of the inning, the home team is on offense during the bottom half. Sometimes the bottom half is also referred to as the home half.
A pitcher who may or may not be a starter or a closer but who can be relied on to pitch several innings either to keep his team in contention or sometimes when the game is no longer close, is an "innings eater".
Headline: "Appetites never diminish for 'innings-eating' pitchers":
"The success of most pitchers is based on statistics such as won-loss record, ERA or saves, but the unsung "innings eater" is judged by how many innings he pitches and the impact his work has on the rest of the staff.
"'I don't have a whole lot of goals going into the season. I don't shoot for a certain ERA or a certain strikeout number or certain number of wins,' says Blanton, entering his second full season. 'I try to go out and get a quality start every time, six innings or more, and not miss any starts. I feel if I can do that, I'll get my 200 innings in a year and everything else falls into place with that' ".122
Main article: Inside Baseball (strategy)
The inside baseball is an offensive strategy that focuses on teamwork and good execution. It usually centers on tactics that keep the ball in the infield: walks, base hits, bunts, and stolen bases. This was the primary offensive strategy during the Dead Ball Era. Inside baseball is also a common metaphor in American politics to describe background machinations. The equivalent modern term is small ball.
inside-the-park home run
Main article: Inside-the-park home run
A play where a hitter scores a home run without hitting the ball out of play.
A run that is scored in the late innings when the leading team is only ahead by one or two, providing a margin of safety against a rally.
Same as intentional walk.
Main article: Intentional base on balls
A walk given by the pitcher throwing (normally) four straight balls well outside of the strike zone (though occasionally a pitcher will start an at-bat by pitching around the hitter, and if he gets into a hitter's count he will "give in" and intentionally walk the hitter). The catcher must stand in the catcher's box and will usually extend a hand away from the batter as an obvious sign. (Although the pitcher's "intention" is to walk the batter, if he does not take care to pitch far enough outside, the batter may still be able to hit the ball safely, which would be rare but legal.) Often an "intentional walk" will occur with first base open since then the walk doesn't dramatically benefit the offense, and opens the possibility of a double play. An "intentional walk" is seen as both a compliment to the batter being walked, and an insult to the batter on deck, who is considered to be an easy out. See also pitch around.
Main article: Interference (baseball)
Interference is an infraction where a person illegally changes the course of play from what is expected. Interference might be committed by players on the offense, players not currently in the game, catchers, umpires, or fans; each type of interference is covered differently by the rules. See the Wikipedia article on interference for details on the varieties of interference calls.
Main article: Interleague play
Interleague play is the term used to describe regular season Major League Baseball games played between teams in different major leagues. This has allowed some teams that are natural rivals or crosstown rivals with one another but in different leagues to play some games during the regular season, not just in the play-offs.
Internet baseball awards
While Major League Baseball calls on the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWA) to name the most valuable player, rookie of the year, and Cy Young Award winner each year, since 1997 Baseball Prospectus has conducted an on-line poll to make Internet Baseball Awards in those categories as well as manager of the year.123
A term used to describe a batting average below .200. A player with a batting average of .195 is said to be on I-95, a reference to the numbering on the Interstate Highway System. See also the Mendoza Line.
in the books
The game is over. "This game's in the books the records."
in the hole
▪ The spaces between the first baseman and second baseman and between the shortstop and the third baseman, one of the usual places where a ground ball must go for a hit. Infielders try to field balls hit into the hole. "Ozzie went deep in the hole to get that one" does not mean that Ozzie went under ground to get the ball. Despite Ozzie's best efforts, the ball may "find a hole" through the infield and into the outfield. See also up the middle and down the line.
▪ Due up to bat after the on-deck batter. Probably derived from boating, where it was originally "in the hold," the place prior to being "on deck."
▪ Used to describe an unfavorable count. A pitcher would be "in the hole" 3-0 and a batter would be "in the hole" 0-2.
in the (his) kitchen
Another term used to describe pitching in on the hitter's hands.
▪ A game is in play when the umpire declares "play ball" at the beginning of the game or after a time-out.
▪ Any batted ball is "in play" until either the play ends, the umpire calls the ball foul, or there is fan interference or some other event that leads to a dead ball. A ball hit into foul territory but in the air is in play in that a fielder may attempt to catch the ball for an out and a runner may attempt to advance after such a catch, but if it then falls to the ground or hits the fence in foul territory it would then be called foul and no longer be in play.
▪ In sabermetrics, a special definition of "ball in play" is used to calculate a "batting average on balls in play" (BABIP), which excludes home runs even though they are fair balls.
▪ Also see play.
A home run or to hit a home run. "Hitting a jack" or "Jacking one out of here."
Half-hearted or lazy effort by a player, i.e. "He jaked that play."
▪ To pitch far enough inside that the batter is unable to extend while swinging. "The pitcher jammed the batter". The batter was "handcuffed" or "shackled" by the pitch.
▪ When runners are in scoring position with less than two outs and good hitters coming up. "The pitcher is in a jam."
▪ "Bases are jammed" means "bases are full." There are runners on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd bases. Sometimes referred to as a "jam sandwich."
When a batter is fooled by a pitch (normally an off-speed or curve ball heading at an unusual angle) and departs from a good batting stance. "His curve ball . . . it jelly-legs you." - Phillies First Baseman Jim Thome, referring to Barry Zito's curve.124
To hit the ball hard, typically used to refer to pulling the ball over the fence for a home run. "Lee jerked one of his patented doubles into the left-field corner against Mets lefty Johan Santana."125
A Punch and Judy hitter who hits with little power.
▪ "Bases juiced" means bases loaded.
▪ A player who is said to be juiced is thought to be taking performance enhancing drugs. "It is now assumed, of course, that Bonds may well have been juiced on steroids at the time; the previous year he had set the all-time single-season record of 73 home runs, and his musculature was almost freakishly swollen."126
▪ A baseball that is said to be juiced is doctored or manufactured in some way that makes it travel farther when a batter hits it. "Spectacular increases in home runs have often raised the question: Has the ball been juiced up to travel farther, in order to increase the number of home runs?"127
▪ A fielder is said to get a good jump on the ball when he anticipates or reacts quickly to a batted ball and is thereby able to make a good play by fielding or catching it.128 Also see crack of the bat.
▪ A baserunner gets a good jump when he is able to leave the base well before the pitch reaches the plate. "Upsetting the timing of the baserunner can effectively prevent him from getting a good jump.... Base runners often read a pitcher's look and get their jump, or start, based on the pattern the pitcher establishes."129
The American League, so-called because it is the younger of the two major leagues. The American League was founded in 1901, while the National League - the Senior Circuit - was founded in 1876.
▪ breaking balls and knuckleballs, pitches that are difficult to hit due to movement rather than velocity. The term is also used to describe a "junk pitcher" or a junkball pitcher. "I couldn't believe he threw me a fastball because he had me down 1-2," Thames said. "He's usually a junk pitcher and he tried to sneak a fastball past me, and he left it up."130 See also: Eephus pitch
A pitcher who throws predominantly junk, usually due to a weak (or slow) fastball. A junkballer or a junk artist: "Like all junk artists, Trujillo will have to prove himself at the higher levels before getting a shot at a major league job."131 See also: Eephus pitch
Main article: Strikeout
The traditional abbreviation for a strikeout. A backwards K is often used to denote a called strikeout. Invented by Henry Chadwick by taking the "most prominent" letter of "struck" and reinforced by inference of "knockout" or "K.O." That connotation still exists, when the announcer says the pitcher "punched out" the batter, a play on words that also refers to "punching" a time clock and the punching motion that the home plate umpire usually makes on a called third strike.
keep off the boards
Also singular, "keep off the board." Keep a team from scoring, and hence off the scoreboard. "Bumgarner has kept runs off the board at a better rate than Carpenter."132 "After loading the bases with one down in the fourth, the Gators were kept off the board by Barham."133
keep the hitter honest
A pitcher needs to mix up his pitches and thereby "keep the hitter honest" by making it difficult for the hitter to anticipate the type, speed, and location of the next pitch. Sometimes this means throwing a brushback pitch to keep the batter from leaning over the plate to reach a pitch on the outer part of the plate. "Partially with Boston in mind, Wang focused this spring on expanding his repertoire to keep hitters honest and move them off the plate."134
keep the line moving
A reference to a series of batters getting on base safely and advancing runners on base, alluding to an assembly line. "Beltran's popout tore apart a rally that had shaken the Hall of Fame-bound Rivera, molding a game out of what moments before had been a five-run rout. Instead, Beltran couldn't keep the line moving, leaving an eager David Wright awaiting on deck."135
Second base. Like the keystone of an arch, second base is the key to both scoring (a runner on the base is in scoring position) and defense (with strength up the middle).
Together the shortstop and second baseman - the two players who play nearest to second base, often combining on double plays - are sometimes referred to as the keystone combination.
A player who makes an error fielding a ground ball may be said to have "kicked the ball" or "kicked it."
▪ A batter who hits the ball very far may be said to have "killed the ball."
▪ A pitcher who stifles a rally by the opposing team may be said to have "killed the rally."
A breaking ball (usually a curveball) that breaks very sharply, so much so that it freezes the hitter. Also refers to a breaking ball that starts out directly at the batter—so that his or her knees buckle out of fear from the belief that the pitch will hit him or her—but which then drops in the strike zone.
▪ Knock in: To score an RBI. "Kenny Lofton knocked in the go-ahead run with a 10th-inning single Thursday afternoon as the Cleveland Indians beat Detroit, 3-1."136
▪ A hit: as in "a two-base knock".
▪ Knocks: Hard hits or extra base hits, not necessarily producing RBIs or referring to a specific type of hit. "Curtis had some solid knocks today".
▪ Knocked around: A pitcher who gives up a lot of hits and gets removed from the game is said to have been knocked around or knocked out of the box or knocked out of the game. Example headline: "Toronto 7, Detroit 4: Phil Coke knocked around; Tigers' bats don't respond".137
▪ Knock down: an infielder who stops a line drive from getting through the infield "knocks it down," perhaps then picking up the ball and throwing the runner out.
▪ Knock off: to knock off an opponent is to win the game. "Hawai'i knocks off Santa Clara."138
▪ Knock the cover off the ball: to hit a baseball extremely hard. See also tore the cover off the ball.
Main article: Knuckleball
A pitch thrown with no spin, traditionally thrown with the knuckles, but also with the fingertips. It tends to flutter and move suddenly and erratically on its way to the plate. Also refers to a batted ball that flutters "like a knuckleball." SYNONYMS: knuckler, flutterball, butterfly ball, floater, bug.
To hit the ball very hard, typically a line drive. "Monroe laced it to left field."
An acronym for League Average Inning Muncher. A LAIM is generally a starting pitcher who can provide around 200 innings over the course of a season with an ERA (Earned Run Average) near the league average. A LAIM is counted on to consume innings, keeping his team in the game but not necessarily shutting down the opposition. The term was coined by baseball blogger Travis Nelson, but is used by other writers as well.139
A batting performance with a high number of base hits, particularly line drives.
The seventh, eighth and ninth innings of a regulation nine-inning game.
A game in which one team gets a large lead, perhaps early in the game, and it appears that the other team has no chance at all of catching up. With nothing to worry about, the manager and team can relax. An easy win; a romp; a blowout.
To hit a long fly ball, as if launching a rocket. "Orso, who recently signed with Alabama Southern to play college baseball next season, launched several rocket shots and by far hit the furthest home runs of anyone in the competition. . . ."140
A term for a ballpark in which many home runs are hit.
A (rare) 1-2-3 double play ("...and a one, ana 2, ana 3"). A reference to pop orchestra director Lawrence Welk.
A player who bunts the ball is said to lay down a bunt. Also see dump.
If a batter decides not to swing at a pitch, especially if he deliberately avoids swinging at certain types of pitches, he may be said to "lay off" a pitch. Pitchers tempt hitters to swing at pitches that they cannot hit; batters try to lay off such pitches. "Batters can't seem to lay off his slider, just as his parents can't seem to lay off his carrot cake — they're nearly addicted to it."141
▪ When a baserunner steps off a base before a pitch is thrown in order to reduce the distance to the next base he takes a lead.
▪ The player who is first in the batting order for a given team in any given inning is said to lead off the inning.
▪ The first batter listed on a team's line-up card (in the 1-hole or the "leadoff spot" on the line-up card). When the announcers read the starting line-up they might say, "Leading off, and playing short-stop, is Sammy Speedyrunner. Batting second, playing second base, Carlos Contacthitter. Batting third, in the pitcher's spot, is designated hitter Burt "Biggie" Brokenleg. Batting clean-up, playing left field, Thor Thunderbat. . . ."
▪ The first batter in an inning (who could be in any hole on a team's line-up card). If that batter gets a single, or a home run, or a walk, the announcer would say he has a "leadoff single," a "leadoff home run," or a "leadoff walk."
A baserunner is said to be "caught leaning" or "leaning the wrong way" when he is picked off a base while shifting his weight toward the next base.
▪ Referring to a fielder's glove, a player with good leather is a good defensive player (typically an infielder).
▪ Flashing the leather means making an outstanding defensive play.
▪ A leather player refers to a player who is outstanding on defense but only average or even less on offense. Ron Karkovice is one example of a "leather player".
Although baseball bats are symmetrical in shape, and thus there is no such thing as a left-handed baseball bat (or a right-handed baseball bat), in colloquial language a hitter who bats left-handed may be referred to as a "left handed bat" or "left-hand bat". Headline: "Giants look to acquire left-handed bat".142
Also "left-hand hitter." A batter who, paradoxically, bats from the right-side of the plate. Typically, an individual who is left-handed in most activities, including throwing a baseball, stands in the right-hand batter's box, the one closest to first base.
Main article: Left-handed specialist
A left-handed relief pitcher specializing in getting one out, often in critical situations. See also LOOGY.
left on base
Main article: Left on base
Baserunners that are still on base when the third out is made. The total number for a team and a player is usually published in the box score. Abbreviation: LOB.
To run hard to get safely on base or to advance a base: "Podsednik legged out an infield hit, stole second and scored when Everett legged out a double."143
A letter-high pitch is one that crosses the plate at the height of the letters on the batter's chest. Also see at the letters. Equivalent term: "chest high." "Dietrich fouled off a couple of pitches before Porcello put him away with a letter-high fastball at 94."144
To remove a player from the lineup in the middle of a game. "Casey was lifted for a pinch runner."
A pitcher who so dominates the hitters that the game is effectively over once he takes the mound — so they can turn out the lights and go home. The pitcher retires the batters in order without allowing a single run. "Putz pitched lights-out baseball once he took over the job for good from Guardado."145
Main article: Line drive
▪ A line drive or liner is a batted ball that is hit hard in the air and has a low arc. See also rope.
▪ A line drive may also be said to be "hit on a line."
▪ A batter may be said to have "lined out" if the liner was caught by a fielder.
The batting order, which also lists each player's defensive position. An announcer reading the starting lineup for a game will typically begin something like this: "Batting first, playing second base. . . ."
▪ A form kept by each manager listing the starting players and all other players who are on the active roster and available to play in the game. Typically this form will be taped to the wall inside the dugout for the manager and coaches to consult when they need to make substitutes during a game.
▪ Before the game starts the manager hands a line-up card of the starting players to the home plate umpire. This line-up will change throughout the game as players starting players are removed and substitutes inserted.
A strong arm, usually describing a pitcher who has a great deal of velocity on his pitches. "That pitcher has a live arm."
Live Ball Era
Main article: Live-ball era
The time since 1919 or 1920 when several rule changes favored the strategy of the power game over the time-honored inside game, ending the Dead Ball Era.
lively fastball/life on the ball
A fastball that seems to be not just fast but also hard to hit because it may have some movement on it or it may appear to speed up as it gets closer to the plate. "'His fastball has got more life to it,' Jays cacther Rod Barajas said. 'It's finishing. What I mean by that is the last 10 feet to home plate, it seems that it picks up speed.' According to Barajas, that has particularly helped Ryan against right-handed hitters. 'They end up being late, because that last 10 feet, it seems like it picks us a couple miles per hour, Barajas said".146
load the bases
A succession of plays that results in base runners on first, second, and third bases. See also bases loaded or bases full.
Abbreviation for left on base.
A pitcher's command is reflected in his ability to locate the ball - to throw it to an intended spot. A pitcher with "good location" not only has command but makes the right choices about where to throw the ball against particular batters.
lock him up
▪ To sign a player to a long-term contract, thereby keeping him off the free-agent market. "Come on Uncle Drayton, you have to lock this guy up for a few years. He is one of the best in the league and along with Berkman, is the new face of the Astros".147
▪ To throw a pitch that keeps the hitter from making any effective swing. For example, when a left-handed pitcher throws a roundhouse curve or an inside fastball to a left-handed hitter, the hitter may appear to freeze in place. "We had him 0-2. We were trying to go in with a fastball, hopefully lock him up."148 Also see "freeze the hitter".
A soft, straight pitch with a lot of arc.
A home run. A team is said to "win by the long ball" after a walk off home run or the team hits several home runs to win. Headline: "Phillies Use the Longball To Take Game 1 from the Dodgers".149
Home runs. "He ravaged Pacific Coast League pitching for seven more long ones before being recalled by the Reds later the same month."150
A ball that's hit deeply into the outfield and is caught by the fielder is a "long out."
Main article: Long reliever
A type of relief pitcher. Long relievers enter early in a game (generally before the 5th inning) when the starting pitcher cannot continue, whether due to ineffective pitching, lack of endurance, rain delay, or injury.
A foul ball which finishes particularly close to being fair, often where a fair ball would have been a home run. So named as despite the good effort of the hitter, the result is a strike against him.
Main article: Left-handed specialist
A mildly derogatory nickname for a left-handed specialist. An acronym for "Lefty One Out GuY," a left-handed pitcher who may be brought into the game to pitch against just one or two left-handed batters to take extreme advantage of platoon effects.
look the runner back
▪ When there is a runner on first base, a pitcher who has already gone into the stretch may step off the rubber and either threaten a throw toward first base or just stare at the runner to encourage him to step back toward first. In either case he's said to "look the runner back" to first (rather than throwing over to first in an effort to pick the runner off).
▪ When there is a runner on second or third base (but not first) with fewer than two outs, an infielder fielding a sharp ground ball briefly stares at the runner to discourage him from trying to advance. The fielder then throws to first to force out the batter.
A softly hit Texas leaguer that drops in between the infielders and outfielders. Also blooper. A fielder may make a superior defensive play, however, and turn a looper into an out. "Sacramento's Lloyd Turner ended the fourth with a sprinting, sliding snag of Alvin Colina's looping liner to left that sent the stands into a frenzy."151
A slang term for a "12-to-6" curveball. Similar to Uncle Charlie.
lose a hitter
When a pitcher gives up a walk, especially when he gets ahead in the count or has a full count but gives up a walk, he is said to have "lost the hitter."
During the regular season, the team lost more games than it won. For a modern Major League team, this means a team lost at least 82 games out of 162 games played in what is called the losing season.
A series of consecutive losses.
An entire team receives a "loss" on its record if it scores fewer runs than the opposing team. The pitcher gets pinned with the loss (an L) on his record is the pitcher that allowed the base-runner whom eventually scored the ultimate lead. See win.
lost his swing
See find his swing.
lost the ball in the sun
When a player attempting to catch a fly ball is temporarily blinded by the glare of the sun in his eyes, he may "lose the flyball in the sun."
When a batter hits a long fly ball that is caught in the outfield, perhaps when a crowd reacts loudly thinking it will be a HR, the announcer may say the batter made a "loud out." "Home runs are already overrated. A home run in one park is a loud out in another."152 "Long, loud out as Garciaparra takes Green to the warning track. But the former Dodger makes the catch easily and we're in the bottom of the third."153
A baseball bat. Sometimes used in reference to a powerful offensive showing, "The Yankees busted out the lumber tonight with a 10-0 victory." Also timber.
Main article: Magic number (sports)
A number that indicates how close a front-running team is to clinching a division or season title. It represents the total of additional wins by the front-running team or additional losses by the rival team after which it is mathematically impossible for the rival team to capture the title.
Specific words directed towards an umpire that are almost certain to cause immediate ejection from the game.
make a statement
When a player does something to catch the attention or make an impression on the other team, he may be said to "make a statement." Perhaps he makes a spectacular fielding play, hits a home run, slides hard into second base, or throws a brushback pitch. This phrase is also used in other sports when a team seeks to show up or to demonstrate its power against an opponent. "There were a lot of times where we could have given up, but no one gave up. We made a statement here tonight".154
make the pitcher work
When an offensive team tries to make the opposing pitcher throw a lot of pitches and tire him out by working the count, or taking pitches or fouling off pitches, it is said to be making the pitcher work. "We've got a lot of good hitters up and down this lineup, but the key is to make the pitchers work," Laird said. "Tonight we made Saunders work. Then we got to their bullpen and were able to string some key hits together."155
When an umpire makes a bad call on a pitch, he may implicitly acknowledge it on a later pitch by making another bad call to "make up" for the first. For example, say an umpire mistakenly calls a strike on a pitch that is out of the strike zone; he may later call a ball on a pitch that's in the strike zone so that the hitter gets back what was initially taken away. Umpires typically, and understandably, deny that there is any such thing as a "make-up call".
When a game is canceled because of a rainout or for some other reason, a make-up game is usually scheduled later in the season. Late in the regular season if the outcome of that game would not affect which teams would reach the play-offs, then the game might not be made up.
Main article: Manager (baseball)
See field manager. Different from the general manager.
Producing runs one at a time, piece by piece, component by component by means of patience at the plate, contact hitting, advancing runners, taking advantage of errors, alert baserunning including stealing a base or advancing on an out or a mistake by a fielder. In other words: small ball.156
A home run hitter. See crush the ball.
A string of 1's on the scoreboard (the shape of matchsticks), indicating successive innings in which 1 run was scored. Also referred to as a picket fence.
▪ A rookie, popularized by the baseball movie, Bull Durham; implying more brawn than brain.
▪ An easy out, typically evident during a strikeout.
▪ A baserunner easily thrown out at a base.
▪ A fielder's throwing hand, typically used for the pitcher; "Glavine started to reach for the ball with his meat hand but then thought better of it."
meat of the bat
On the barrel or fat end of the bat, but not too close to the end, is the "meat of the bat" where a hitter tries to make contact with the pitched ball.
An easy pitch to hit — down the middle of the plate.
Main article: Mendoza line
A batting average of .200. Named (most likely) for Mario Mendoza, a notoriously poor hitter but decent shortstop who managed to have a 9-year major league career from 1974 to 1982 with a life-time batting average of .215.157
men in blue
metal bat swing
A long swing that does not protect the inside part of the plate. Generally used to describe college players adjusting to professional ball and wooden bats.
The second baseman and shortstop.
The fourth, fifth and sixth innings of a regulation nine-inning game.
middle of the inning
The time between the top half and bottom half of an inning when the visiting team takes the field and the home team prepares to bat. No gameplay occurs during this period and television and radio broadcasts typically run advertisements. See also seventh-inning stretch.
middle of the order hitter
A batter who hits with power, and who thus may be suited to be in the third, fourth, or fifth slot in the batting order. "I think Brett Jackson looks a lot more like a top of the order guy right now than a middle of the order guy, and he seems like a viable leadoff hitter based on his performance as a professional".158
A relief pitcher who is brought in typically during the middle-innings (4, 5, and 6). Since he's typically in the game because the starting pitcher allowed the opponents a lot of runs, the middle reliever is expected to hold down the opponents' scoring for an inning or two in hopes that his own team can close the gap.
Used during the early days of integration to refer to any African-American player.
An error. A word from billiards, when the cue stick slips or just brushes the cue ball thereby leading to a missed shot.159
miss some bats
A pitcher who is good at getting batters to strike out may be said to "miss some bats," that is, to make the batters swing and miss. A relief pitcher who is good at missing bats may be brought into a game when the other team already has runners in scoring position.
miss some spots
A pitcher who does not have good command of his pitches and is not able to throw the ball where he intends to is said to "miss some spots." "Angels Manager Mike Scioscia agreed. 'He missed some spots on a couple of hitters,' Scioscia said, 'and they didn't miss their pitches'."160
A "mistake" is poor execution, as distinguished from an error. It could be throwing to the wrong base, missing the cut-off, running into an obvious out, or throwing a pitch into the batter's "hot zone" instead of where the catcher set up for it.
There may be such a thing as a mistake hitter, a mediocre hitter who occasionally gets a pitch that he can drive. But a "mistake pitcher" doesn't usually last long in the big leagues.
When asked how the mighty Yankees lost the 1960 World Series, Yogi Berra remarked, "We made too many wrong mistakes."
A batter who isn't adept at hitting good pitches that are located well but can take advantage of a pitcher's mistakes.
Main article: Baseball glove
"Mitt" (derived from "mitten") can refer to any type of baseball glove, though the term is officially reserved to describe the catcher's mitt and the first-baseman's mitt. Those mitts (like a mitten) have a slot for the thumb and a single sheath covering all the fingers, rather than the individual finger slots that gloves have. By rule, mitts are allowed to be worn only by the catcher and the first baseman. See the entry on glove.
mix up pitches
To be successful, most pitchers have to use a variety of pitches, and to mix them up tactically (not randomly) to keep hitters off balance. "Jackson was overwhelming. 'I was just trying to come out and be aggressive and mix my pitches up,' he said. 'I've seen them in the past and I know what they can do. You have to mix it up to keep them honest'."161
Main article: Major League Baseball
Commonly-used abbreviation for Major League Baseball, the organization that operates the two North American major professional baseball leagues, the American League and the National League.
A pitcher's best pitch or a one that he throws as the most critical times in a game. He's said to earn his pay - his money - with that pitch. Headline: "The Outlawed Spitball Was My Money Pitch".162
A man who is good in the clutch. Someone you can count on (or bet on) when it really matters. Sometimes the term used is simply "money", as in "Alex has really been money these last few games".
Main article: Moneyball
An often misused term. It refers to Michael Lewis's 2002 book. "Moneyball player" most often refers to one who has a high on-base percentage, and does not steal a lot of bases. However, the essence of the book is about running an organization effectively by identifying inefficiencies and finding undervalued assets in a given market. As an example, the so-called Moneyball teams have shifted their focus to defense and speed instead of OBP which is no longer undervalued. "Moneyball" is often seen as the antithesis of "smallball", where teams take chances on the basepaths in an attempt to "manufacture" runs. In more traditional baseball circles, evoking Moneyball to describe a player or team can be a term of derision.
▪ A home run hit so high and deep that it is said to travel toward the moon.
▪ When the Dodgers first moved out to Los Angeles and played in the L.A. Coliseum, home runs hit by Wally Moon over the short left-field fence (251 feet down the left-field line, a 42-foot high fence) were also headlined in the newspapers as "Moon Shots."163 Moon didn't hit many home runs in the Coliseum. That these were opposite-field home runs, however, brought more attention to them.
A mop-up pitcher or "mop-up man" is usually the bullpen's least effective reliever who comes in after the outcome of the game is all but certain. Sometimes other position players also come in to mop up in the last inning in order to gain playing experience as well as give the regulars a rest. "La Russa said Hancock's final outing was typical of a reliever whose role frequently called for mop-up duty."164
A player who gets an extra-base hit, or who is on base when a teammate gets one, is sometimes said to "motor" for an additional base - to continue running without hesitation. "This allowed Loehrke to score, and then a miscue by Ranger right fielder Drew Orbergfell allowed Lounsbury to motor to third base".165
"Pinch runner Brandon Varnell used his blazing speed to motor down the third base line on the fielding error by Memorial reliever Garrett Hill and slide head first into home plate to tie the game at 5-5".166
Main article: Baseball field
The pitcher's mound is a raised section in the middle of the diamond where the pitcher stands when throwing the pitch. In Major League Baseball, a regulation mound is 18 feet (5.5 m) in diameter, with the center 59 feet (18.0 m) from the rear point of home plate, on the line between home plate and second base. The front edge of the pitcher's plate or rubber is 18 inches (45.7 cm) behind the center of the mound, making it 60 feet 6 inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. Six inches (15.2 cm) in front of the pitcher's rubber the mound begins to slope downward. The top of the rubber is to be no higher than 10 inches (25.4 cm) above home plate. From 1903 through 1968 this height limit was set at 15 inches, but was often slightly higher, especially for teams that emphasized pitching, such as the Los Angeles Dodgers, who were reputed to have the highest mound in the majors.
Deviations from the expected flight of a pitch that make the ball harder to hit. Can be used to refer to both fastballs and breaking balls.
mow them down
A pitcher who dominates the opposing hitters, allowing few if any to get on base, is said to have "mowed them down" as if they were just so much hay being cut down by a mower.
To make an error, typically on an easy play. "He muffed it. The ball went right through his legs."
Main article: Murderers' Row
Murderers' Row was the nickname given to the New York Yankees baseball team of the late 1920s, in particular the 1927 team. The term was actually coined in 1918 by a sportswriter to describe the 1918 pre-Babe Ruth Yankee lineup, a team with quality hitters such as Frank "Home Run" Baker and Wally Pipp that led the A.L. in home runs with 45. In subsequent years, any line-up that has a series of power hitters who represent a daunting challenge to opposing pitchers might be dubbed by the press as a "murderer's row."
Refers to a high amount of velocity on a throw or pitch. A player may be exhorted to "put some (extra) mustard on it," with "it" usually referring to a pitcher's fastball or fielder's throw.
Abbreviation for Most Valuable Player. At the end of every season, the Baseball Writers Association of America chooses an MVP from each Major League. Typically an MVP is also chosen for each major play-off series, the World Series, and the All-Star Game.
NA or N.A.
National Association. This may refer to the
▪ (NABBP) - the 1857-1870 first governing body of baseball, the National Association of Base Ball Players
▪ (NA) - the 1871-1875 first professional league (in any sport), the National Association of Professional Base Ball Players
▪ (NAPBL) - the 1901-to-date trade association of minor leagues, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues — officially renamed Minor League Baseball in 1999 20.
The second meaning for "NA" is most common by far, as suggested by the nonexistence of the more complete abbreviation "NAPBBP" outside the Wikipedia. There are two reasons why the 1871-1875 league is most common. First, in that sense NA is a league abbreviation akin to NL and AL, and there is far more baseball writing and talk about leagues than about higher associations. Second, the league is included in most major league baseball encyclopedias, digital and print, despite that MLB does not recognize the NA as a major league.
A close game. Nervous fans may be biting their nails.
▪ Hit by a pitch, drilled, plunked.
▪ The last pitches or last play of a winning game nail down the win or put the nails in the coffin of the opposing team.
▪ To throw a runner out. "Sizemore nailed him at the plate."
A relief pitcher who is as "tough as nails" or very effective at nailing down a win is sometimes said to be "nails." "As the season has progressed, you can see that he looks forward to that 9th inning and he has been nails lately."167 "'This guy has been nails for us'," Cardinals manager Tony La Russa said".168 Phillies and Mets center fielder Lenny Dykstra was known as "Nails" for his all-out style of play.
next batter's box
The official name of either of the two on-deck circles. Each team has its own circular area, 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, which is designated for unencumbered use by the on-deck batter (the next batter due to bat after the current batter); the on-deck batter may wish to stretch, run in place, or take practice swings immediately prior to taking his turn in the batter's box (which actually is rectangular in shape). Especially during finals and semifinals, each circle is typically painted with the corresponding team logo. The location of the next batter's box is specifically defined in MLB rules, and the most common method to locate it was granted a patent.169
When a pitcher focuses on pitching just at the left or right edges of home plate rather than throwing a pitch over the heart of the plate where a batter can get the meat of the bat on the ball, he's said to nibble at the edges. "Tigers manager Jim Leyland praised Scherzer for his aggressiveness against such a powerful lineup: 'The one thing you can't do against the Yankees is get behind in the count. If you do, they'll just sit on pitches and hit a lot of them hard. Max went after them. He understood he couldn't nibble around the edges of the plate, and he did a heckuva job'."170
A slider. Also used to mean an average or possibly "hanging" slider. Hitters look at the spin on a ball when it is released by the pitcher, so the "dot" (circle which is created from the pitcher's rotation on the ball that the batter sees to identify a pitch as a slider out of the pitcher's hand) is said to be "nickel sized." Also, it could be used to mean a pitch with more lateral movement (closer to a slurve than to a slider) rather than velocity.
The second game of a doubleheader.
To strike out a batter on three pitches. Alternatively, to strike out on three pitches.
NL or N.L.
Abbreviation for National League, the older of the two major leagues.
NLCS or N.L.C.S.
Main article: National League Championship Series
Abbreviation for National League Championship Series: the final, best 4 out of 7, playoff series to determine the National League champion. The winners of the National League Division Series play in this series. The winner of the NLCS is the winner of the National League pennant and advances to the World Series against the pennant winner from the American League.
NLDS or N.L.D.S.
Main article: National League Division Series
Abbreviation for National League Division Series: the first round of the league playoffs, to determine which two teams advance to the National League Championship Series (NLCS). This round pits the winners of each of the three league divisions plus the winner of the wild-card slot (the team that wins the most games in the regular season without winning a division) in two pairings, each of which plays a best 3 out of 5 game series to determine who advances to the NLCS.
Any starting pitcher who earns neither a win (W) nor a loss (L) is said to have a "no decision." A "no decision" has no special meaning in official baseball statistics. But regardless whether a pitcher earns a W, a L, or a "no decision," it has become conventional in recent years to note how well a starting pitcher performed by recording whether he made a quality start.
Main article: No-hitter
A game in which one team does not get any hits, a rare feat for a pitcher, especially at the major league level. Also given the nickname "No-No" in the case that no runs are scored. (Acually, this statement is incorrect. A no-no has nothing to do with whether or not runs are scored. It is simply a colloquial term for no-hitter, and means the exact same thing.) batter If no batter reaches base safely by any means (walk, error, etc.) the pitcher is said to have pitched a perfect game, which is much rarer than a "normal" no-hitter.
It is a superstition that when a pitcher is working on a no-hitter (or perfect game), his teammates stay far away from him (sometimes even a whole bench length) and will not say anything to anyone about the no-hitter. Some play-by-play on-air announcers will also avoid mentioning the no-hitter until either an opposing batter gets a hit or the no-hitter is completed; others however will mention one in progress and are sometimes blamed for jinxing no-hitters.171
no man's land
▪ The area of the outfield between the middle infielders and outfielders, where a flyball can fall for a hit (a Texas leaguer).
▪ A baserunner caught in a pickle is said to be in "no man's land".
▪ The portion of a ballpark's spectator area, usually the front row of seats, where a fielder may legally reach into to catch a fly ball, while a spectator or other personnel may legally touch same fly ball even if it interferes with the fielder's attempt to catch it. A ball touched by a spectator in this manner is not spectator interference.
no room at the inn
Sometimes said by a play-by-play announcer when the bases are loaded and the pitcher cannot afford to walk the batter. All the spaces are taken.
A no-hitter and a shut-out. Thus no hits, no runs. Headline: "Start of something good: Verlander's no-no may foreshadow future greatness."172
A right-handed pitcher. See southpaw.
A Non-Roster Invitee (NRI) is a player invited to Spring training who is not yet on a Major League team's 40-man roster. He may be a young prospect, a veteran who has been released from or retired from a previous contract with a team, perhaps someone who left baseball after an injury. If he performs well, he has a chance to be placed on the roster and assigned to a minor league team or even join the major league team.
Main article: Obstruction (baseball)
When a fielder illegally hinders a baserunner, the fielder is guilty of obstruction. The only time a fielder need not "get out of the way" of a baserunner is when the fielder is fielding or in possession of the ball.
Main article: On base percentage
See on base percentage.
A batter who goes hitless in a game, as in "0 for 4" (spoken as "oh for four"). Also wears the collar.
Main article: Official game
A game that can be considered complete. If more than half the game has been played before being called by an umpire, it is considered "official" and all records from the game are computed in the players' and teams' statistics. For a 9-inning game, five innings need to be played, or four-and-a-half if the home team is in the lead. A game that cannot be considered complete can either be suspended or replayed from the first inning.
Main article: Official scorer
The official scorer is a person appointed by the league to record the events on the field and to send this official record to the league offices.173 The official scorer never goes on the field during a game (but typically watches from the press box). The official scorer's judgments do not affect the progress or outcome of the game but they do affect game and player statistics. For example, only umpires call balls and strikes, whether a batted ball is fair or foul, whether a hit is a home run, and whether runners are safe or out. But it's the official scorer who determines whether a pitch that gets by the catcher is a wild pitch or a passed ball or whether a batted ball is a hit or an error (or a combination of the two), and who gets credited with an error, put-out, or assist.
▪ A day when a player performs below his normal level, whether due to illness, bad luck, or other factors. "Bonderman had an off-day and didn't have good command of his breaking pitches."
▪ A day when a team does not have a game scheduled. During the regular season, Major League Baseball teams almost always have games scheduled on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, and they may need to travel between series. Off-days tend to occur on Mondays and Thursdays.
Main article: Off-speed pitch
A pitch that is significantly slower than a given pitcher's fastball. Typically, a curveball or a change-up.
Overall Future Potential (OFP) is a scouting assessment of a young player's potential as a future major leaguer, scored from 20 to 80. The criteria are different for pitchers and position players. See also tools.
Ol' Number One
The fastball. From the sign the catcher gives for that pitch.
When a batter strikes out five times in a game. This same dubious achievement may also merit a Platinum Sombrero.
on a line
When an outfielder throws the ball directly to an infielder or the catcher without relaying it or bouncing it, he's said to "throw the ball on a line." Usually used when a strong throw beats the runner and gets him out. "Jack Barry, however, made a running stab to grab the ball and threw on a line to McInnis for an out."174
On base percentage (OBP)
Main article: On base percentage
Percentage of at-bats where a batter reaches base for any reason other than an error or a fielder's choice or being hit by a pitch.
Main article: On deck
The next batter due to bat after the current batter. The area designated for the on-deck batter is a circle 5 feet (1.5 m) in diameter, officially called the "next batter's box" and commonly called the "on-deck circle." Ironically, the on-deck batter rarely stands in the on-deck circle.
on his horse
Running at full speed, especially in reference to an outfielder tracking down a fly ball.
on the black
▪ The edge of home plate, derived from the black border of the plate that is buried when the plate is correctly installed.
▪ A pitch that just nicks the edge of the zone for a called strike.
on the board
A team is "on the board" (i.e., the scoreboard) when it has scored one or more runs. "After being shut out for 6 innings, the Sox are finally on the board." White Sox announcer Hawk Harrelson also uses the phrase as part of his home run call: "You can put it on the booooard... YES!"
on the farm
When a player is playing in the minor leagues, he is said to be spending time "on the farm." It refers to a team's farm system.
on the interstate
A player batting between .100 and .199 is said to be "on the interstate." The term refers to the fact that a batting average in the .100s can resemble an interstate name (e.g. .195 resembles I-95), especially on older scoreboards where the numeral "1" appears identical to the uppercase letter "I" (with no serifs). A hit to put an average above .200 gets a batter "off the interstate." A batter whose average is below .100 is sometimes said to be "off the map". See also Mendoza line. Players in the majors who spend too much time "on the interstate" will most likely be demoted to AAA for seasoning.
on the ropes
When a pitcher appears to be tired or lost command of his pitches, he may be said to be "on the ropes" and about to be replaced by another player. The term likely derives from the sport of boxing, in which a fighter who is being beaten up or dominated by his opponent may lean against the ropes to keep from falling to the mat.
on the rug
A player is said to be "on the rug" while playing a ball in the outfield on artificial turf.
on the throw
▪ A defensive attempt to put out a baserunner attempting to reach more bases than the type of hit would typically allow, such as a runner on first attempting to advance to third on a single.
▪ Also refers to the successful advance of a baserunner while such a play is being attempted on his teammate. See also: fielder's choice.
▪ A batter who safely reaches first base but is tagged out attempting to reach a subsequent base on the same play is credited with a hit for the number of bases he safely reached, but is said to be out on the throw.
▪ Example: With Abel on first base, Baker hits a base hit to center field. Abel easily reaches second and tries to advance to third, but the throw from the outfield is in time and he is tagged out by the third baseman. Meanwhile, Baker has safely reached second base. Abel is out at third base on the throw. Baker has a single and advanced to second on the throw. The next batter, Charlie, hits a double to the center field wall, allowing Baker to score from second. Charlie safely rounds first and second base and attempts for third, but the throw from center field is in time and Charlie is tagged out at third base. Charlie is credited with an RBI double, but is out at third base on the throw.
A player who appears in just one major league game, plays respectably, and then is either demoted to the bench or the minor leagues.
A game in which one team was limited to one hit, a great feat for a pitcher. Batters may have reached base via walks, errors, or being hit by a pitch. See also no-hitter and perfect game.
Side retired in order. Three up, three down.
opposite field hit
Main article: Opposite field
A hit to the "opposite" side of the field from the direction of a player's natural swing, i.e., a left-handed batter who hits to left field or a right-handed batter who hits to right field. Also known as going the other way. See pull hitter.
OPS (On-base Plus Slugging)
Main article: On-base plus slugging
A term recently invented by statheads to measure of a batter's ability to produce runs. Obtained by adding slugging average and on-base percentage.
Defined in MLB Rule 2 as "the effort that a fielder of average skill at a position in that league or classification of leagues should exhibit on a play, with due consideration given to the condition of the field and weather conditions." A defensive player's ordinary effort is considered by the official scorer in making certain judgment calls, such as errors, wild pitches, the infield fly rule, etc.
The type of pitch that a pitcher relies on to get a batter out. This is often the pitcher's best pitch. Headline: "Angels Notebook: Rodriguezdisambiguation needed embraces change as out pitch".175
Main article: Outfielder
An outfielder is a player whose position is either left field, center field, or right field. See position.
The location of a strike that travels over the far edge of home plate from the batter.
overpower the hitter
To throw a pitch that is so fast the batter cannot catch up to it with his swing. "And eight runs were more than enough offense to back Wolfe, as he continually overpowered hitters with his blazing fastball. Santa Clara hitters just couldn't catch up to it.176
▪ When a fielder throws the ball so high that it sails over the head and out of reach of an infielder. "Sean Halton struck out, but the catcher couldn't hold onto the pitch, and then overthrew first base, which allowed both Martin and Greene to score".177
▪ If a thrown ball goes over the head or wide of the infielder and sails off the field of play into the dugout or the stands, the umpire will rule an overthrow and allow the runner to advance one base.
▪ A pitcher who throws the ball too hard to control it well is said to be "overthrowing the ball". "Gardenhire said Crain, demoted to Class AAA Rochester earlier this season, is pitching with more confidence and, most importantly, he's not trying to overthrow the ball".178
To throw pitches at the edges of the strike zone. A pitcher who can "paint" consistiently may be referred to as Rembrandt or Picasso, and can be said to paint the black or paint the corner.
A fly ball, perhaps driven into a strong wind, that appears to drop straight down into the fielder's glove.
To hit a home run. "He parked a three-run homer." The term implies hitting the ball into the parking lot.
Main article: Batting Park Factor
See hitter's park.
Main article: Passed ball
A catcher is charged with a passed ball (abbreviated PB) when he fails to hold or control a legally pitched ball which, in the opinion of the official scorer, should have been held or controlled with ordinary effort, and which permits a runner or runners to advance at least one base; and/or permits the batter to advance to first base, if it's a third strike (with first base unoccupied and/or 2 out). A run that scores because of a passed ball is not scored as an earned run. Neither a passed ball nor a wild pitch is charged as an error. It is a separately-kept statistic.
To hit the ball hard. Often used in the past tense: "He pasted the ball."
Doesn't do a lot of first-pitch swinging, swinging at pitches out of the strike zone, or even swinging at strikes that he can't hit because of their location and/or type. Generally gets a lot of walks.
▪ An outfielder may be said to be "patrolling the outfield" (like a good soldier or police officer patrolling his assigned territory),
▪ A catcher who keeps runners from stealing bases is said to be good at "patrolling the basepaths."
If after the pitcher from one team tries to bean or otherwise hit a batter, the opposing pitcher retaliates by trying to hit a batter from the first pitcher's team, it's a "payback." Such retaliation often happens when it is one of a team's stars who is the initial target; in such a case the opposing pitcher is likely to target the star player on the other team when he gets his first opportunity. Umpires may issue a warning if they think a pitch is intentionally thrown at a batter, and if such an attempt happens again by either team's pitcher, the pitcher is likely to be ejected from the game.
The decisive game in a series, such as the third game in a three-game series in which each team has already won one game.
A pitch thrown with a full count. The implication is that much effort has gone into reaching this point (this is at least the sixth pitch of the at-bat), and the pitch will either pay off for the pitcher (a strikeout) or the batter (a hit or a walk). However, a foul ball can extend the at-bat. The term is most often used when a hit will score a run and a strikeout will end the inning.
PCL (Pacific Coast League)
Main article: Pacific Coast League
A AAA minor league that formerly had "open" classification (between AAA and major league) from 1952-57.
A pitched ball thrown at high speed. "Clem can really fling that pea."
Slang for a baseball.
A brand new baseball.
A hard line drive batted back at the pitcher.
Main article: PECOTA
A system for forecasting pitcher and hitter performance developed by Nate Silver of Baseball Prospectus. A player's "PECOTA" may be the forecasted range of his performance on a variety of indicators for the current or future seasons.
The batter trying to see the catcher's signals to the pitcher.
To throw the ball to one of the bases. "The fielder pegged the ball to first."
The competition to win the regular season championship in a baseball league. To win the pennant or flag, a major league baseball team must first win enough of the 162 games in the regular season to reach the playoffs. Then it must win the league division series (LCS) and the league championship series (LDS). See American League Division Series (ALDS), American League Championship Series (ALCS), National League Division Series (NLDS), and National League Championship Series (NLCS). "The New York Yankees have won the American League Pennant 39 times. Each of these pennants have earned them an appearance in the World Series where they have come away with 26 World Champion titles".179 Also see List of American League pennant winners and List of National League pennant winners.
Main article: Pepper (baseball)
Pepper is a common pre-game exercise in baseball, where one player bunts brisk ground balls and line drives to a group of fielders who are standing close by. The fielders try to make a play on the ball, and throw it back as quickly as possible. The batter then attempts to hit the return throw, and so on. A good contact hitter may sometime seem to be playing pepper with the opposing pitcher during a game: "Polanco is a good hitter," Blanton said. "He just kind of stands up there and plays pepper. He's a guy you really can't strike out. He's going to put the ball in play. He's the kind of guy who seems to place it out there."180
Term used to describe when a first and second place team are separated by less than 1/2 a game in the standings. For example, if Team A is in first place by less than half a game over Team B, Team B is said to be "within percentage points" of Team A.
Main article: Perfect game
A special, very rare no-hitter where each batter is retired consecutively, allowing no baserunners via walks, errors, or any other means. In short, "27 up, 27 down." A "perfect game" could involve multiple pitchers with one pitcher relieving another, but in the major league they all have been completed by a single pitcher.
An inning in which a pitcher allows no runners to reach base.
A commonly used acronym for Pitchers' Fielding Practice. A session in which pitchers practice fielding bunts and other ground balls, throwing to a base, and covering first base and home plate.
Main article: Phantom ballplayer
Someone who is incorrectly listed in source materials as playing in a Major League Baseball game, although they did not actually play.
an erroneous call by an umpire in which a baserunner is ruled as having been tagged out when in fact the fielder never legally tagged the runner
pick it clean
To field a sharply hit ground ball without bobbling it. "One of the fastest guys that we have hit a ball down the line at third and Zimmerman came in, picked it clean and threw across the diamond like it was nothing."181 Sometimes just expressed as "pick it", as in: "There was a time when baseball teams were happy with a third baseman who could reach double digits in homers and pick it with the glove".182
pick me up
When one player makes a mistake or fails to do something he tried to do, he may ask another, "Pick me up." Or said in praise of his offensive teammates by a pitcher who allowed more runs than he wished: "The guys picked me up with a lot of runs today. I'll have to improve on that outing and get better."183 "I just told him, 'Great win for us and thanks for picking me up,' Jones said. Jones had inherited a three-run lead for the ninth -- and allowed four runs to put the Tigers a run down. But with one out in the Tigers' ninth, and with runners on first and second, Cabrera ripped the first pitch from left-handed closer Brian Fuentes far up the rightfield gap."184
pick up the pitch
A batter's ability to see what kind of pitch is being thrown. "The Tigers are having a hard time picking up Saenz's slider." When they don't pick up the pitch, batters are likely to swing and miss.
A series of 1's on the scoreboard, resembling a picket fence. After the 3rd inning of the final game of the 2007 ALCS, broadcaster Tim McCarver reported that the Red Sox, who had scored one run in each of the first three innings, had a "picket fence" on the scoreboard. Also referred to as matchsticks.
Main article: Pickoff
A quick throw from the pitcher (or sometimes the catcher) to a fielder covering a base when the ball has not been hit into play. Normally done to catch a runner off-base, it may also keep the runner's lead in check. The pitcher must either first step off the pitching rubber with his push-off foot, or clearly step towards the base he is throwing at with his lifted leg in order for the move to not be ruled a balk.
Acting ostantatiously or showboating to gain the attention or approval of the fans. One form of showboating is home run pimping. "In the seventh inning, when Guillen smashed a ball into the right-field seats, he lingered in the batter's box to admire his handiwork and pointedly flipped his bat, a strictly prohibited form of grandstanding known as home-run pimping".185 See also grandstand play.
Main article: Pinch hitter
A substitute batter. Often brought in during a critical situation (a "pinch") to replace a weak batter (usually the pitcher, in the National League). In other circumstances it may be a situational substitute.
Main article: Pinch runner
A substitute baserunner. Often brought in during a critical situation (as with a pinch hitter), typically to replace a slower runner in hopes of stealing a base. Herb Washington's 1975 Topps card is the only baseball card that uses the "pinch runner" position label.
A fan of a team who is perceived to be merely "jumping on the bandwagon" as opposed to a more loyal, knowledgeable fan (of either gender). This term comes from the alternate pink caps that are sometimes worn by female fans. A "pink hat" is not necessarily a female fan, nor do they all literally wear pink hats.186
A sticky substance used by batters to improve their grip on the bat.
▪ See also George Brett's famous 1983 Pine Tar Incident.
A pitcher who is able to throw the ball to a precise spot in the strike zone may be said to have "pinpoint control'. Also a control pitcher or finesse pitcher. Headline: "Ryan Hoping to Regain Pinpoint Control".187
Main article: Pitch (baseball)
A baseball delivered by the pitcher from the pitcher's mound to the batter as defined by the Official Rules of Baseball, Rule 2.00 (Pitch) and Rule 8.01.
Not throwing a batter a hittable pitch, but also not walking him intentionally and hoping to get him to chase bad pitches. Typically this might be done when the batter is one of the best in a team's lineup and is followed in the batting order by a comparatively weak hitter. "There are no holes in that lineup, so to say you're going to pitch around one batter might not be the best thing."188
Main article: Pitch count
The total number of pitches a pitcher has thrown in a given game. 100 is considered the point at which a starter who has been pitching well may start to lose his effectiveness, often dramatically. 100 pitches will get an effective starting pitcher through the 7th or 8th inning, a moderately effective one through five or six, and an ineffective one may use his hundredth pitch during the fourth inning or even earlier.
pitch to contact
A pitcher who doesn't try to strike out batters but instead tries to get them to hit the ball weakly, especially on the ground, is said to pitch to contact. "Schilling has gone on the record as saying he'd like to pitch to contact more this season in an effort to reduce his pitch count and go deeper into games. Such an effort is likely to reduce the number of strikeouts he gets but in theory might provide quicker innings and faster games."189
Main article: Pitcher
The fielder responsible for pitching the ball. Defensive position 1. The term "pitch" (which literally means "to place") comes from the early days when an underhand delivery was required, as with "pitching" horseshoes. The original rules specified that the ball was to be "pitched, not thrown to the bat." Overhand throwing by the pitcher has been legal since 1884, but the term pitcher and its variants remain in the language of the game.
pitcher of record
The pitchers who receive the win (W) and the loss (L) are the "pitchers of record." When used during a game, "pitcher of record" refers to a pitcher who would be the winning or losing pitcher if the game were to end at that point. The pitchers of record are designated by the official scorer in accordance with the scoring rules. Also see win.
pitcher's best friend
A nickname for a double play.
A low-scoring game in which the starting pitchers on both teams allow few hits and at most one or two runs.
The mound, or colloquially the hill or the bump. The rule book will state the exact dimensions of the mound including the distance and incline to home plate.
A park in which pitchers tend to perform better than they perform on average in all other parks. This in the inverse of being a hitter's park. See hitter's park and park factor for further information.
For example, when the wind is blowing "in" at Wrigley Field, it is typically rendered a "pitcher's park", and low scores for one or both teams are not unusual. Under those circumstances, no-hitters also become possible at a park many fans normally think of as a "hitter's park".
Because of its large foul area (recently shrunk to add more seating), symmetrical outfield walls, and small "corners" near the foul poles, Dodger Stadium is traditionally known as a pitcher's park, especially at night, when fly balls tend to die more quickly than they do during the day.
"That's the pitch the pitcher wants you to swing at and hit because he knows that even if you hit it, it will most likely result in an out".190
In games where the designated hitter rule is not in effect, or in DH rule games where a team has forfeited its DH, this term refers to the pitcher's turn in the batting order; its usage usually implies that there is some possibility that the pitcher will not actually take his turn batting and instead will be replaced by a pinch hitter and by rule a relief pitcher.
pitching from behind
When a pitcher frequently falls behind in the count, he finds himself pitching from behind.
Main article: Pitchout
A defensive tactic used to pick off a baserunner, typically employed when the defense thinks that a stolen base play is planned. The pitch is thrown outside and the catcher catches it while standing, and can quickly throw to a base.
Generally refers to the second baseman. A second baseman often has to turn or pivot on one foot in order to complete a double play. A short-stop also sometimes pivots to complete such a play.
PL or P.L.
Main article: Players' League
Abbreviation for Players' League, a one-year (1890) major league.
A batter who has skill in controlling where he hits the ball.191 George Herman (Babe) Ruth wrote, "The place hitter is the chap who can take a ball which ordinarily he would hit to left, he would hit to right, or vice versa."192
Main article: Home plate
▪ As a noun, plate usually connotes home plate. There is also a pitcher's plate, but it is more commonly referred to as the rubber.
▪ As a verb, plate means to score a run. "In the fourth our defense continued to hold and we managed to plate a couple of runs in the bottom half of the inning to tie the game at 3."193
Main article: Plate appearance
Any turn at bat is considered a plate appearance for computing stats such as on base percentage, and for determining whether a batter has enough of them (minimum 3.1 X number of scheduled games) to qualify for the batting average championship. Plate appearances consist of standard at-bats plus situations where there is no at-bat charged, such as a base on balls or a sacrifice. However, if the batter is standing in the batter's box and the third out is made elsewhere (for example, by a caught-stealing or by an appeal play), then it does not count as an appearance, because that same batter will lead off the next inning.
A batter shows "plate discipline" by not swinging at pitches that are out of the strike zone or at pitches that are in the strike zone but not located where he can get the bat on the ball. Such a batter might be described as a patient hitter.
A batter who strikes out five times in one game is said to have gotten the Platinum Visor. Alternatively, he may be awarded Olympic Rings.
Also referred to as Platinum Sombrero.
Main article: Platoon system
▪ The practice of assigning two players to the same defensive position during a season, normally to complement a batter who hits well against left-handed pitchers with one who hits well against righties. Individual players may also find themselves marked as a platoon player, based on their hitting against righties vs. against lefties. Casey Stengel brought some attention to the system by using it frequently during his New York Yankees' run of five consecutive World Series champions during 1949-1953.
▪ The term "platooning" sometimes refers to the in-game strategic replacement of batters in the line-up based on the handedness of a newly inserted relief pitcher, or conversely the strategic insertion of a relief pitcher to face a batter of the same hand. This is the logic behind having a LOOGY on the roster, for example. The LOOGY is to pitching what a pinch-hitter is to batting: put into the line-up for short-term strategic advantage.
play by the book
To follow the conventional wisdom in game strategy and player use. For example, when to bunt or when to bring in the closer.
▪ Any small sequence of events during a game, (never lasting long enough to contain more than one pitch), during which at least one offensive player could advance, or score a run, or tag up, etc., or could be put out. (This includes, e.g., a pop foul, during which it is possible that the batter could be put out, but advancing is not possible, and neither is scoring.) This term, "play", is mentioned (appears) in the article about the definition of an error.
▪ Where the action is focused at a given time, in particular where a runner is about to reach a base or reach home, and the defense is attempting to get him out. An announcer might declare "There's a play at home," for example, if a runner is attempting to score and the catcher is about to receive a throw and attempt to tag the runner out.
▪ Also see In play.
player to be named later
Main article: Player to be named later
When two baseball clubs make a trade, part of the publicly announced deal may involve an unspecified "player to be named later" who is not one of the headline players in the deal. In some cases, the PTBNL is simply a financial payment equal to the annual salary of a base-level major league baseball player ($300,000 as of 2007).
A manager who is close to his players and who the players may consider a peer and a friend. The knock on players' managers is that they tend not to be tough disciplinarians and that out of concern for losing the sympathy of the players they may find it difficult to make tough decisions that are in the best interests of the team. Thus, the term is not always complimentary. Many managers find they must maintain some aloofness in order to be effective. Joe Torre is often referred to as a player's manager; his approach can be effective with mature players who take their responsibilities seriously. Casey Stengel used to say that the secret to managing was "to keep the guys who are neutral about you away from the guys that hate your guts."
When the infield is shallower than normal in order to attempt to throw out a runner on third-base on a ground ball. This does not allow the infielders to cover as much ground however, and can turn a routine ground ball into a base hit.
The usual position depth taken by infielders when they're not anticipating a bunt or setting up for a double play.
▪ All the series played after the end of the 162-game regular season. This includes the American League Division Series, National League Division Series, American League Championship Series, National League Championship Series, and the World Series.
▪ Any short set or series of games played after the regular season to determine a division or league champion. Also called the "post-season". Technically speaking, if a one-game playoff is required to determine who wins the regular season or the wild card (and thereby qualifies for the post-season)) is counted as part of the regular season.
Hit by a pitch.
The plus sign (+) is an indicator that a starting pitcher began an inning and faced at least one hitter without recording an out. In the box score, he is said to have pitched x+ innings, where x is the number of innings he completed in the game. For example if the starter gives up two walks to lead off the sixth inning and is pulled for a reliever, he has pitched "5+" innings.
A pitch that is better than above average when compared to the rest of the league. Often the strikeout pitch.
plus plus pitch
A pitch that is among the best of its type in the league and is essentially unhittable when thrown right. Often a breaking pitch.
A player with above-average major league skills. A term from baseball scouting and player evaluation. See tools.
A hit. Referring to an extra-base hit or home run, a fan or announcer might exclaim, "That was quite a poke." A reporter might record a line drive as "Cameron pokes a shot into left field."194
The term has two usages that are of opposite meanings in terms of batting success and failure.
▪ A pop-up is a batted ball that is hit very high and stays in the infield. Called a pop-foul when it falls or is caught in foul territory.
▪ "Rondini popped it foul out of play" implies that Rondini hit a pop-up or pop-foul that went into the stands where a defender couldn't reach it.
▪ Brendan C. Boyd and Fred C. Harris, in their impish commentary in The Great American Baseball Card Flipping, Trading and Bubble Gum Book, discussed a player who was known for hitting sky-high popups and said that "he could have played his career in a stovepipe".195
▪ The term "high pop" is short for "high pop-up".
▪ However, a batter with "pop" has exceptional bat speed and power.
▪ "Reggie popped one" implies that Reggie hit a home run.
▪ "Ian Kinsler Proves He Has Pop to Center".196
There is the unrelated meaning of "pop" as a beverage sold in mass quantities at the ballpark on hot summer days; also known as "soda pop", "soda", "sodie", etc.197
A left-handed pitcher, so named because "port" refers to the left side of a ship. Synonym: southpaw
Main article: Baseball positions
▪ One of the nine defensive positions on a baseball team, consisting of (in scorekeepers' numerical order): (1) pitcher, (2) catcher, (3) first baseman, (4) second baseman, (5) third baseman, (6) shortstop, (7) left fielder, (8) center fielder, (9) right fielder. Positions 3 through 6 are normally called infield positions. Positions 7, 8, and 9 are outfield positions. The pitcher and catcher are the battery. However, for purposes of implementing the Infield Fly Rule, the pitcher and catcher are counted as infielders, and such a broader definition of infielders is commonly used, if only to differentiate them from outfielders. Players in positions 2 through 9 — all positions except the pitcher — are position players.
▪ A defensive player also positions himself differently — sets up in a different location on the field while playing his position — depending on who is pitching, who is at bat, whether there men on base, the number of outs, and the score of the game.
Main article: Position player
Any defensive player other than the pitcher.
pound the batter inside
To pitch the ball over the inside of the plate, in on his hands. Typically with a fastball. "Scouts say Ortiz still is vulnerable up and in, but only against pitchers with above-average fastballs. The way to pitch Ortiz, one scout says, is to pound him inside, back him off the plate, then get him to chase down and away."198
pound the strike zone
See attack the strike zone.
Main article: Power hitter
A powerful batter who hits many home runs and extra base hits, but who may not have a high batting average, due to an "all or nothing" hitting approach. Dave Kingman is perhaps the best example of a "all power, low batting average" slugger. See also slugger and slugging percentage.
When batters who normally have a high slugging average or hit a lot of home runs suddenly seem to lose that ability, they may be said to have a "power outage" - just like electrical power may be lost during a storm. "Barring a rainout on Sunday, the Phillies will have played 30 games in 31 days. This may have played a role in their early June power outage as it took them until June 8th to hit their first home run this month".199
Main article: Power pitcher
A pitcher who relies heavily on his fastball to get hitters out, typically by getting a lot of strike-outs. Distinguished from a control pitcher or a contact pitcher who rely on the variety and location of their pitches to be effective.
A hitter with a good power stroke is one who is capable of hitting for extra bases. Headline: "Catcher leads league in hitting, but has developed power stroke this year".200
A meeting on the mound between a coach and players to discuss strategy. Based on the more general meaning of Pow-wow as a gathering of North American indigenous people. Also called a tea party.
Used to refer to both major and minor leagues, especially on baseball cards. For example, "Complete Professional Record" would include both minor and major league seasons while "Complete Major League Record" would include only major league seasons. Minor league players consider it an insult when asked when they'll "get to the pros".
A pitcher who is scheduled to start the next game or one of the next few games is often described as a "probable pitcher".
When a batter makes an out but advances one or more runners in the process, he has made a productive out. In contrast, a strikeout or other out in which no runners advance is unproductive.201 An at bat that is productive is often said to be a "good at bat", even if a batter doesn't get safely on base. Statistically speaking, however, although a given out may be associated with scoring a run (such as via a sacrifice fly, a fielder's choice, or even a double play), an out reduces the number of future runs that are likely to be scored in the inning and game, when compared with a base hit or base-on balls that puts another runner on base who can potentially score.202
A scouting term for a young player with excellent tools who appears likely to develop into a productive or more powerful player in the future. "I don't think he's going to be a big home run hitter, but his pop to the gaps has improved this year, and his speed and on-base skills are impressive. His youth stands out, and he's athletic and still physically projectable."203
A manager may protest a game if he believes that an umpire's decision is in violation of the official rules. An umpire's judgment call (i.e., balls and strikes, safe or out, fair or foul) may not be protested. A protested game is reviewed and adjudicated by the league president, who may order a game replayed from the point of the protested decision only if he finds the umpire's decision to be a violation and that the decision had a direct impact on the protesting team's ability to win the game. A well-known example of a protested game that was replayed is the 1983 Pine Tar Game.
Public Enemy Number One
A good curve ball or it can refer to a player who is hitting well in that game.
▪ To pull a pitcher is to take him out of the line-up and substitute a relief pitcher in his place. This is the same meaning as to yank a pitcher or use the hook.
▪ To pull a hitter is to substitute a pinch hitter for the next at-bat.
▪ To pull the ball is to hit the ball toward the side of the field that is usually associated with the batter taking a full swing and hitting the ball hard. A right-handed hitter pulls the ball toward the left-side of the diamond; a left-handed hitter pulls the ball toward the right side of the diamond. Some players are known as pull hitters. Others are spray hitters or opposite field hitters especially in opportune situations such as when a right-handed hitter hits the ball to the right side behind a runner who is on first or second base, making it easier for that runner to advance even on a ground ball.
A batter who often hits the ball ("pulls") towards the "natural" side of the field (e.g., a right-handed hitter hitting to left field).
pull the string
To throw a pitch that breaks sharply and perphaps late. A pitcher has only "pulled the string" if the batter is fooled into swinging where the pitch was going, not where it ends up, therefore striking him out. The image is of a marionette jerking to one direction as a string is pulled hard. It could also be referring to a simple changeup that causes a batter to swing and miss. This is to say it's as if the ball is attached to a string and the pitcher is yanking the ball away as the batter swings at it.
punch a hit
To hit the ball to the opposite field. The term implies that instead of taking a full swing, the hitter took a short swing at the ball. "With speedster Willy Taveras pinch running at first, Berkman punched a hit to right."204
Punch and Judy hitter
A hitter with very little power. Akin to banjo hitter. The first use of the term is attributed to former L.A. Dodgers manager Walter Alston who, when asked about a home run by Giants' slugger Willie McCovey, said: "When he belts a home run, he does it with such authority it seems like an act of God. You can't cry about it. He's not a Punch and Judy belter." In current usage, a hitter may be referred to simply as "a Judy." Illustration: "The other day when Future Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn was touring Cooperstown in advance of his Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, Tony referred to himself as a "Judy" (in reference to the phrase "Punch and Judy Hitter"). At the time I felt that Tony was being Tony, and he was downplaying the fact that he was called a "Judy." Though Tony did not take offense, I did. I felt that regardless of the title "Judy," Tony set the modern standard for hitters in this era of baseball. . . ."205
A strikeout. Named such because the umpire will typically make a punching-like signal on the third strike, especially if the batter does not swing at the pitch. Punch out is also used as a verb: "Another thing I noticed early on was the flair that the homeplate umpire was exhibiting. His calls were flamboyant and spirited. The highlight of his performance was the calls he would make when a batter would strike out looking. He would drop his arms to his sides, walk about 5-6 steps to his right and then punch out the hitter emphatically. Early on I thought he was about to walk into the stands and punch us in the face. We loved it. If only MLB umpires displayed the artistic panache this Cuban umpire did then the game would be so much more entertaining".206
A brushback, intended to make the batter move away from home plate. A batter targeted by such a pitch is sometimes said to get a close shave. 1950s pitcher Sal Maglie was called "the Barber" due to his frequent use of such pitches. A sportswriting wag once stated that its "purpose" was "to separate the head from the shoulders".
A right-handed batter who hits the ball toward the right side of the diamond may be said to push the ball. The best situation for a push bunt is runners at first and third with 1 out. A successful push bunt in this situation will result in a run scored, a runner on second, and two outs. This is opposite to the situation when a right hand-hitter pulls the ball to the left side. "Jacqueline Wetherbee pushed a leadoff base hit through the right side and Cagney Davis took her spot on the basepath."207
put a charge on the ball
It hit the ball very hard, typically a home run. Probably derived from the idea of giving the ball extra energy like an electric charge or shock.
put a hurt
▪ To hit the ball extremely hard. "Known as "The Big Hurt" (because he puts the hurt on the ball), Frank Thomas is known for his strength and batting eye."208
▪ To beat another team, especially by a decisive score. Headline: "Dodgers Put the Hurt on Angels."209 This usage is common to other sports.
▪ A fielder who catches a fly ball, or who tags a runner may be said to "put away" his opponent. Similarly, a pitcher may "put away" a batter by striking him out.
▪ A team may "put away" its opponent by making a decisive play or out, or by breaking open the game and gaining a substantial lead on its opponent.
quality at bat
An at bat in which the batter is productive in a way that fits the situation, whether that involves advancing the runner with a sacrifice bunt or even a ground ball out, getting on base, or making the pitcher throw a lot of pitches. Thus a quality at bat is not measured simply by the standard batting statistics such as batting average, on-base percentage, or slugging average. Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer: "Seeing a lot of pitches, fighting bad pitches off - basically, just waiting for a pitch you can handle. Whether you're a power guy, or more of a slap hitter guy, if you find a pitch you're comfortable in handling, that's a quality at-bat. If you get on base or drive a ball up the gap, you pretty much know you had a good plate appearance. But it's mostly about making sure you get your pitch."210
Main article: Quality start
When a starter pitches at least 6 complete innings and allows 3 or fewer earned runs -- even in a loss. A pitcher can perform well yet not be involved in the win-loss "decision". This statistic was developed by sportswriter John Lowe to capture an aspect of pitcher performance that is not part of the standard statistics collected by Major League Baseball.211 It is catching on among baseball players and management, but also has some skeptics. Former Houston Astros manager Jimy Williams was said to hate this statistic. "Quality start?" he would harumph. "Quality means you win."212
Main article: Quick pitch
An illegal pitch where the ball thrown is before the batter is set in the batter's box. (Official Rules of Baseball, Rule 8.05(e))213 If there is no one on base, the pitch is called a ball, but if there are any number of runners on base, it is ruled a balk. The ruling of a quick pitch is always up to the umpire.
When a pitcher prevents the opposing hitters from getting a lot of hits, or big hits, he's said to have "quieted some bats." "Iowa's starting pitcher, Jarred Hippen was able to quiet the Spartans' bats the rest of the way to seal the victory".214 Headline: "Miscues, Quiet Bats, Cost D-Backs".215
A batter who holds his head, hands, and bat very still while awaiting the pitch may be said to have a quiet swing. "Hideki Matsui's quiet swing and stance are a big part of the reason why he is able to hit for both power and average.216
Indicates a participant in the game who hears things perhaps too well for his own good. A player who becomes nervous or chokes when opposing players or fans yell at or razz him is said to have rabbit ears. Also, an umpire who picks up on every complaint hurled at him from the dugouts is described this way.
A player, typically a pitcher, with a weak arm. "I hope the Cardinals did not give up an actual Major League player for this rag-arm home-run machine."217
To run into and knock over the catcher when running home from third base, or to run into a first-baseman when running from home to first. In either case, neither the catcher nor the first baseman may be able to duck out of the way because he must play the ball and stay in position in order to make an out.218
Rain delay refers to situations when a game starts late due to rain or is temporarily suspended due to rain. A game that is suspended after it has begun may be resumed either the same day or at a later date. A game that never begins, or that is canceled after it begins due to rainy weather is a rainout and in most cases will be rescheduled for a later date - a make-up date. In the event of a non-tie game past the 5th inning with heavy inclement weather, the game may be called (finalized) with the winner being the team that was winning at the end of the last completed inning.
A curveball with a high arc in its path to the plate.
Main article: Rainout (sports)
A rainout refers to a game that is canceled or stopped in progress due to rain. Generally, Major League Baseball teams will continue play in light to moderate rain but will suspend play if it is raining heavily or if there is standing water on the field. Games can also be delayed or canceled for other forms of inclement weather, or if the field is found to be unfit for play. If a game is rained out before play begins, a make-up game is rescheduled for a later date. If a game is called after play begins but before 4½ innings have been completed (if the home team is ahead) or five innings have been completed (if the visitors are ahead or the game is tied), the game is not an official game. The umpire declares "No Game," the game is played in its entirety at a later date, and statistics compiled during the game are not counted. Games that are stopped after they become official games count in the standings (unless the game is tied, in which case it is replayed from the beginning), and statistics compiled during the game are counted.
To really hit the ball hard, all over the park. When you're raking, you're hitting very well. "Mike Gosling allowed one run on five hits over 6⅓ innings and Louisville raked Pawtucket pitching for 14 hits as the Bats defeated the Red Sox, 7-1, in an International League game Wednesday."219
To come back from a deficit. This typically occurs in the final innings of a game.
Main article: Rally cap
A cap worn backwards, sideways, or inside-out by fans or players to bring a rally. Said to have originated by fans of the New York Mets during the 1985 baseball season, when the Mets captured several dramatic come-from-behind victories, and spread to the players themselves some time during the 1986 season. It rose to national awareness during the 1986 World Series. The Mets were down three games to two and losing the deciding game to the Red Sox, when in the seventh inning, television cameras showed some of the New York Mets players in the dugout wearing their caps inside-out. The team rallied to win the game and the series.
A fielder's ability to move from his position to field a ball in play.
Main article: RBI
▪ An RBI or "run batted in" is a run scored as a result of a hit; a bases-filled walk or hit-by-pitch or awarding of first base due to interference; a sacrifice; or a single-out fielder's choice (not a double play).
▪ Official credit to a batter for driving in a run.
Runners in scoring position.
Another term for catcher. Also backstop, signal caller.
The 162 game schedule that all Major League Baseball teams usually complete. However, if a special one-game playoff is required to determine which team goes to the league division championship series (the ALDS or the NLDS), this 163rd game is also counted as part of the regular season. All team and player statistics from this game are also counted as regular season statistics. For example, if a pitcher wins his 20th game in the 163rd game played in the one-game playoff, he would be a "20 game winner" for the season. Similarly, a batter's performance in that extra game might determine whether he wins the title for best batting average or most home runs in the season.
On occasion, teams do not complete every game of the regular season, specifically when playing a make-up game owing to the previous suspension or cancellation of a game due to weather or some other factor would require scheduling hardships and when the outcome of that game would not affect which teams might make the playoffs.
A standard baseball game lasts nine innings, although some leagues (such as high school baseball) use seven-inning games. The team with the most runs at the end of the game wins. If the home team is ahead after eight-and-a-half innings have been played, it is declared the winner, and the last half-inning is not played. If the home team is trailing or tied in the last inning and they score to take the lead, the game ends as soon as the winning run touches home plate; however, if the last batter hits a home run to win the game, he and any runners on base are all permitted to score.
If both teams have scored the same number of runs at the end of a regular-length game, a tie is avoided by the addition of extra innings.220 As many innings as necessary are played until one team has the lead at the end of an inning. Thus, the home team always has a chance to respond if the visiting team scores in the top half of the inning; this gives the home team a small tactical advantage. In theory, a baseball game could go on forever; in practice, however, they eventually end (although see Longest professional baseball game). In addition to that rule, a game might theoretically end if both the home and away team were to run out of players to substitute.
A defensive technique where the ball is thrown by an outfielder to an infielder who then throws to the final target. This is done because accurate throws are more difficult over long distances and the ball loses a considerable amount of speed the farther it must be thrown. Also cut-off. Also the second throw during a double-play. As in "They were only able to get the lead runner because the relay was not in time."
Main article: Relief pitcher
A relief pitcher or reliever is a pitcher brought in the game as a substitute for (i.e., "to relieve") another pitcher.
A relief pitcher or reliever is a baseball or softball pitcher who enters the game after the starting pitcher is removed due to injury, ineffectiveness, ejection from the game or fatigue.
retire the batter
To get the batter out.
retire the runner
To throw the runner out at a base.
retire the side
See side retired.
An argument or fight in a baseball game. Hence, Rhubarb, a novel by H. Allen Smith.
Slang for a run batted in (RBI).
▪ A very strong arm. A cannon, a bazooka, a gun. Also used as a verb, "He rifled the ball home to catch the runner."
▪ A batter can also be said to rifle a ball when he hits a hard line drive. "Griffey rifles the ball . . . foul, just outside first base".
Although baseball bats are symmetrical in shape, and thus there is no such thing as a right-handed baseball bat (or a left-handed baseball bat), in colloquial language a hitter who bats right-handed may be referred to as a "right handed bat" or "right-hand bat". Headline: "Can That Right Handed Bat Play Third Base?"221
Also "right-hand hitter." A batter who, paradoxically, bats from the left-side of home plate. Typically, an individual who is right-handed in most activities, including throwing a baseball, stands in the left-side batter's box, the one further from first base.
ring him up
A strikeout. The phrase is probably drawn by analogy to cashiers who ring up the total on the cash register when a customer is ready to pay up. It also comes from the "cha-ching" motion that plate umpires use to signal a strikeout.
▪ To hit a hard line drive, as in "He ripped a single through the right side."
▪ A hard swing, usually one that misses the ball: "Reyes took a good rip at that pitch."
Acronym for Runners In Scoring Position. See Runner In Scoring Position.
A game played away from a baseball club's home stadium. When a team plays away from home, it's on a "road trip" and is the "visiting team" at the home stadium of another team.
A series of road games or away games occurs on a road trip, a term derived from the days when teams indeed traveled from one town to another by roadway or railroad.
▪ When a fielder makes a spectacular play the denies the batter a hit or a home run, the batter may be said to have been "robbed" by the fielder -- as if the fielder had taken away something that belonged to the hitter. Headline: "A-Rod robbed of HR, Joba will join rotation."222
▪ When a questionable call is made by an umpire that leads to losing a game, the losing team or its fans may complain that the team was "robbed". "Braves Robbed of a Win . . . was Beltran Out at 3rd in the 9th?"223
A slightly derogatory acronym for a right-handed relief specialist. Stands for "Righty One Out GuY".
Conventionally, rookie is a term for athletes in their first year of play in their sport. In Major League Baseball, special rules apply for eligibility for the Rookie of the Year award in each league. To be eligible, a player must have accumulated, prior to the current season:
▪ Fewer than 130 at bats and 50 innings pitched in the major leagues or
▪ Fewer than 45 days on the active rosters of major league clubs (excluding time on the disabled list or any time after rosters are expanded on September 1).
A ball hit directly to a fielder such that he hardly has to move to get it.
A spinning ball rolling on wet grass that kicks up a line or tail of water behind it.
A hard line drive. Also see "frozen rope". Sometimes used as a verb, "He roped one up the middle."
The official list of players who are eligible to play in a given game and to be included on the lineup card for that game. Major League Baseball limits the regular-season active roster to 25 players during most of the season, but additional players may be on the disabled list, and the roster can be expanded to as many as 40 active players after August 31st by bringing up players on the 40-man roster.
Main article: Starting pitcher
A starting pitcher in professional baseball usually rests three or four days after pitching a game before pitching another. Therefore, most professional baseball teams have four or five starting pitchers on their roster. These pitchers, and the sequence in which they pitch, are known as "the rotation." In modern baseball, a five-man rotation is most common.
Often a manager identifies pitchers by their order in the rotation, "number 1," "number 2," etc. "Discussions over whether Jason Schmidt or Brad Penny is more deserving to occupy the No. 2 spot in the starting rotation behind Derek Lowe can cease, as least temporarily."224
An offense has "roughed up" the opposing pitcher when it hits his pitches hard and scores several runs. Akin to beating somebody up. Headline: "Hill Roughed Up in Loss to Pirates."225
A curveball that instead of breaking sharply makes a more gradual loop. "One Boston writer in the late-'40s summed up Joe Dobson's roundhouse curveball this way: 'It started out somewhere around the dugout and would end up clipping the outside corner of the plate. There are curveballs, and there are curveballs.'"226
A home run. The analogy is to a commuter who buys a round-trip ticket from home plate to second base and back again to home.
The rubber, formally termed the pitching plate, is a white rubber strip the front of which is exactly sixty feet six inches (18.4 m) from the rear point of home plate. A pitcher will push off the rubber with his foot in order to gain velocity toward home plate when pitching.
A pitcher is said to have a "rubber arm" if he can throw many pitches without tiring. Relief pitchers who have the ability to pitch consecutive days with the same effectiveness tend to be known as "rubber arms."
A term used for the last game of a series or match when the two teams have evenly split the previous games. Originally a card-playing term.227
Main article: Run (baseball)
▪ A player who advances around all the bases to score is credited with a run. The team with the most runs wins the game.
▪ A manager "runs his players" when he calls on them to steal bases and to be generally aggressive in trying to advance extra bases when the ball is in play.
▪ A player or coach may be "run" by an umpire by being ejected from a game.
run on contact
See contact play.
Main article: Rundown
A play in which a runner is stranded between two bases, and runs back and forth to try to avoid fielders with the ball. The fielders (usually basemen) toss the ball back and forth, to prevent the runner from getting to a base, and typically close in on him and tag him. Also called a hotbox or a pickle. Sometimes used as a baserunning strategy by a trailing runner, to distract the fielders and allow a leading runner to advance.
To be ejected from the game.
runners at the corners
runners on 1st and 3rd, with 2nd base open.
runners in scoring position
Runners on 2nd or 3rd base are said to be in scoring position, i.e., a typical base hit should allow them to reach home. Batting Average with Runners in Scoring Position (RISP) is used as an approximation of clutch hitting. Game announcers are apt to put up and comment on the latter statistic during a broadcast to set the stage for an at bat. A good hitter is expected to have a higher batting average when there are runners in scoring position.
A home run that travels very far. After famous slugger Babe Ruth.
Main article: Sabermetrics
Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective evidence, especially baseball statistics. The term is derived from the SABR - the Society for American Baseball Research. The term was coined by Bill James, an enthusiastic proponent and its most notable figure.
▪ Synonymous with bag — 1st, 2nd, or 3rd base.
▪ A player who plays a particular base might be called a sacker. Most often this term is used to describe the second sacker (second baseman). Together the second sacker and the short-stop may be referred to as sackmates because they often coordinate or share the coverage or play at second base. See double play.
Main article: Sacrifice bunt
A sacrifice bunt (also called a sacrifice hit or simply a "sacrifice") is the act of deliberately bunting the ball in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base, while the batter is himself put out. If the sacrifice is successful, the batter is not charged with an at bat (AB). But he is credited with an SAC or S or SH.
Main article: Sacrifice fly
When a batter hits a fly ball to the outfield which is caught for an out, but a runner scores from 3rd base after tagging up or touching the bag following the catch. The batter is credited with an RBI and is not charged with an at bat. Also referred to as "sac fly," abbreviated as SF.
safe hit (aka) safety
A base hit or "base knock." Getting "safely on (first) base" after hitting the ball without the interposition of a fielding error.
A squeeze play in which the runner on third waits for the batter to lay down a successful bunt before breaking for home. Contrast this with the suicide squeeze.
An easily handled pitch.
A grand slam home run.
The South Atlantic League ("SAL"), a Class A minor baseball league with teams located mainly in the southeastern United States.
Main article: Major League Baseball Draft
In the Major League Baseball Draft, a round of drafts that occurs between the first and second rounds, and again between the second and the third, comprising solely compensatory drafts granted to teams that failed to sign their first or second round draft picks of the year before.
Main article: Save (baseball)
In baseball statistics the term save (abbreviated SV, or sometimes, S) is used to indicate the successful maintenance of a lead by a relief pitcher, usually the closer, until the end of the game. A save is credited to a pitcher who fulfills the following three conditions:
1. The pitcher is the last pitcher in a game won by his team;
2. The pitcher is not the winning pitcher (For instance, if a starting pitcher throws a complete game win or, alternatively, if the pitcher gets a blown save and then his team scores a winning run while he is the pitcher of record, sometimes known as a "vulture win.");
3. The pitcher fulfills at least one of the following three conditions:
1. He comes into the game with a lead of no more than three runs.
2. He comes into the game with the potential tying run being either on base, at bat, or on deck.
3. He pitches effectively for at least three innings after entering the game with a lead and finishes the game.
If the pitcher surrenders the lead at any point, he cannot get a save, even if his team comes back to win. No more than one save may be credited in each game.
If a relief pitcher satisfies all of the criteria for a save, except he does not finish the game, he will often be credited with a hold.
The third rule can be contentious, as it is subject to the judgment of the official scorer.
The last criterion in that rule can lead to ludicrous results. On August 22, 2007, the Texas Rangers beat the Baltimore Orioles by a score of 30 to 3. The winning pitcher, Kason Gabbard, pitched 6 innings, and left the game with a 14-3 lead. The Rangers' relief pitcher, Wes Littleton, pitched three scoreless innings, while his team went on to score another 16 runs, including 6 runs in the 9th inning. In return for protecting his team's lead for the last three innings, Littleton was awarded a "save."228
Generally, a save situation is when a pitcher enters the game with a lead of three runs or fewer and finishes the game, or with the potential tying run in the on-deck circle. Most of the time, the saving pitcher pitches one or more innings. Also called a save opportunity.
When a pitcher gets a batter to hit the ball on the handle, and the batter hits the ball weakly or even breaks his bat, the pitcher may be said to have sawed off the bat. "If the bat handles are getting "sawed off" in players' hands or shattering into splinters, it's because players are ordering bats too thin to withstand the impact of a 90 mile-per-hour fast ball."229
Main article: scoring position
A runner on 2nd or 3rd base is in scoring position, as he is presumed to have a good chance to score on a base hit to the outfield.
A weakly hit ground ball that eludes the infielders and leads to a base hit. A bleeder.
screaming line drive
Also a screamer. A line drive that is hit extremely hard, perhaps hard enough to knock the glove out of the hand of a fielder or to be so hard that the pitcher cannot get out of the way before he is hit by the ball. "I distinctly remember watching the game where Jon Matlack was hit in the head by a screaming line drive off the bat of Marty Perez and it bounced off his head. I also remember watching the night Cal Ripken hit a screamer right into Andy Pettitte's mouth. Both were a nauseating sight but this one must have been much worse. Baseball can be a dangerous game for the players and also the spectators."230
Main article: Screwball
A pitch that curves to the same side as the side it was thrown from. For a right-hand pitcher, the ball would break to the pitcher's right — it would break "in" to a right-hand hitter. SYNONYMS: reverse curve, fadeaway, fader, screwgie, scroogie, reverse curveball.
seal the win
To finish off the opposing team and end the game. "Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon nearly blew the game with a walk and an error, so he had plenty to celebrate when he then whiffed the dangerous Tampa Bay trio of Carlos Pena, B.J. Upton and Carl Crawford to seal the win".231 See also nailed and shuts the door.
▪ 2 seamer - a "two seam fastball" where the ball is held by the pitcher such that, when thrown, its rotation only shows two seams per revolution
▪ 4 seamer - like a 2 seamer, but the rotation shows 4 seams per revolution of the ball. Batters count the number of visible seams to help judge the kind of pitch by its rotation.
Main article: Major League Baseball schedule
The period from the first to the last scheduled game of a year. Typically, the major league baseball season runs from about April 1 til the end of October, including the "regular season" 162 games that each team plays and the play-offs, including the World Series. Baseball team and player records are also kept on a "seasonal" basis. "Sandy Koufax ended his career with four of the best seasons in history".232
The time-period when a struggling major-league player is temporarily sent down to the minors (most likely AAA) in the hope that the player can improve his skills enough to return to the major-league club. This can also refer more broadly to the time that a team keeps a young up-and-coming player in the minor-leagues, so as to give the player time to continue to develop their skills, before they are brought up to the major leagues.
Term used to describe any hit that is hit so hard it barely has an arc on it. See rip. Also refers to any thrown ball with the same characteristic, typically in the infield.
A batted ground ball that just eludes capture by an infielder, just out of infielder's range, as if it could "see" where it needed to go. Less commonly used for a ball that takes an unusual lateral bounce to elude an infielder. Sometimes called a seeing-eye single. See ground ball with eyes.
The National League, so-called because it is the older of the two major leagues, founded in 1876. As opposed to the Junior Circuit, the American League, which was founded in 1901.
A major league player may be sent down or demoted to a minor league team either before or during the season. When this occurs during the season, another player is usually called up or promoted from the minor leagues or placed on the active roster after being removed from the disabled list.
sent to the showers
When a pitcher is removed from the lineup, he is sometimes said to be "sent to the showers" because his work for the day is done. Theoretically it is possible for him to be removed as pitcher and kept in the lineup as a designated hitter or even as a position player. But this is a very rare occurrence in the professional game, and is more frequent in the amateur game, especially in NCAA competition.
A set of games between two teams. During the regular season, teams typically play 3- or 4-game series against one another, with all of the games in the series played in the home park of one of the teams. The set of all games played between two teams during the regular season is referred to as the season series. For games played between teams in a single league, the regular season series includes an equal number of games in the home parks of each team. Its purpose is to minimize travel costs and disruptions in the very long major league baseball season.
In the playoffs, series involve games played in the home stadiums of both teams. Teams hope to gain from having a home field advantage by playing the first game(s) in their own ballpark.
To throw a pitch that gets hit hard, typically for a home run, as if the pitcher were intentionally giving the batter an easy pitch to hit. Question in a baseball history quiz: "Who served up Tino Martinez' Game One Grand Slam in the 1998 World Series?".233 "The Sultan reports that Weaver is only the fourth pitcher in the DH era to serve up three gopherballs in one year to his fellow pitchers."234
set the table
To get runners on base ahead of the power hitters in the lineup.
A relief pitcher who is consistently used immediately before the closer.
Main article: Seventh-inning stretch
The period between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, when the fans present traditionally stand up to stretch their legs. A sing-along of the song "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" has become part of this tradition, a practice most associated with Chicago broadcaster Harry Caray. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks in the United States, "God Bless America" is sometimes played in addition to, or in lieu of, "Take Me Out to the Ball Game" in remembrance of those who lost their lives in the attacks, especially at home games of the New York Yankees and New York Mets. This occurs on Opening Day, Memorial Day, July 4, Labor Day, September 11th, Sundays and during the All-Star Game, and post-season including the World Series. In Milwaukee fans often sing "Roll Out the Barrel" after the traditional song.
A player (usually an outfielder) who positions himself slightly away from his normal spot in the field based on a prediction of where the batter might hit the ball he is said to "shade" toward right or left.
Main article: Shagging (baseball)
Catching fly balls in the outfield when not involved in actual baseball games. "While the other pitchers looked bored just shagging flies, he was busting a few dance moves to the music coming over the loudspeakers."235
A pitcher who is giving up numerous hits, especially extra base hits, is said to be getting shelled - as if under siege by enemy artillery.
▪ A player, typically a pitcher, who has a bad game or series, may be said to be trying to shake off the experience and regain his usual performance level. Detroit News headline: "Miner Tries to Shake Off Poor Start."
▪ A pitcher who disagrees with the catcher's call for the next pitch may shake off the sign by shaking his head "no," thereby telling the catcher to call for a different pitch. If the pitcher shakes off several signs in a row, the catcher may call time out and walk to the mound to talk to the pitcher.
Where all infielders and/or outfielders position themselves clockwise or counter-clockwise from their usual position. This is to anticipate a batted ball from a batter who tends to hit to one side of the field. Also shade. In the case of some batters, especially with left-handed batters and the bases empty, managers have been known to shift fielders from the left side to the right side of the diamond. The most extreme case was the famous "Ted Williams shift" (also once called the "Lou Boudreau shift"). Cleveland Indians manager Boudreau moved 6 of 7 fielders (including himself, the shortstop) to the right of second base, leaving just the leftfielder playing shallow, and daring Teddy Ballgame to single to left rather than trying to "hit it where they ain't" somewhere on the right side. Williams saw it as a challenge, a game within The Game, and seldom hit the ball to left on purpose in that circumstance.
One way for a pitcher to doctor the ball is to rub one area of the ball hard to affect the ball's flight toward the plate.
When a fielder, usually an outfielder, catches a ball just before it hits the ground ("off his shoetops"), and remains running while doing so.
A ball that bounces immediately in front of an infielder. If the batter is a fast runner, an infielder may intentionally "short hop the ball" (take the ball on the short hop) to hasten his throw to first base. Balls may be short-hopped to turn a double play, but it may backfire sometimes. For example, Carlos Guillen had a ground ball that bounced to him, and he short hopped it, however, it went off his glove and went high in the air.
When one of the outfield walls is closer to home plate than normal, the stadium may be said to have a short porch. For example, Yankee Stadium has long had a short porch in right field.
shorten his swing
See "cut down on his swing".
shorten the game
A team that has a strong staff of relief pitchers is sometimes said to have the ability to shorten games: "The Tigers will be fearsome postseason opponents because of their bullpen's ability to shorten games."236 If the team gets ahead in the first six innings, its bullpen can be counted on to hold the lead; thus the opponent needs to grab an early lead to still have a chance in the last few innings to win the game.
▪ A home run, as in "Ryan Howard's 2-run shot gives him 39 home runs for the year."
The major leagues. Particularly "in the Show." Or in "the Bigs" (big leagues, major leagues).
When a batter changes his stance so that he appears ready to bunt the ball, he's said to "show bunt". Sometimes this move is intended to make the infielders creep in toward home plate, but the hitter swings away instead. And sometimes it's intended to cause the pitcher to change his pitch. See also butcher boy.
"It's a great way to get a fastball," Krukow said. "Pitchers are always taught that the fastball high is the hardest one to bunt. You show bunt on the first pitch and a pitcher often-times will come back on a 1-0 count and he'll give you a fastball. Bruce Bochy knows this, lets him swing away and (Sanchez) finds a hole".237
Main article: Shutout
According to the Dickson dictionary, the term derives from horseracing, in which a bettor arrives at the window too late to place a bet, due to the race already having started, so the bettor is said to be "shut out" (this specific usage was referenced in the film The Sting).
▪ A team shuts out its opponent when it prevents them from scoring any runs in a given game.
▪ "Santana shut out the Royals with a 3-hitter" means that the Royals went scoreless as Santana pitched a complete-game shutout. The pitcher or pitchers on the winning team thus get statistical credit for an individual shutout or a combined-to-pitch-shutout, respectively.
shuts the door
Term used to describe when a pitcher, generally the closer, finishes the ballgame with a save or makes the last out (or fails to do so): "No one from the Brandeis bullpen was able to shut the door in the top of the ninth in Tuesday's game."238 Also used more generally to describe a victory: "Thomas, Halladay slam door shut on Dodgers."239
When the third out of an inning is called, the "side is retired" and the other team takes its turn at bat. A pitcher or a defensive team can be said to have "retired the side." The goal of any pitcher is to face just three batters and make three outs: to "retire the side in order," have a "one-two-three inning," or have "three up, three down."
Main article: sidearm
A pitcher who throws with a sidearm motion, i.e., not a standard overhanded delivery.
▪ A catcher is said to call the game by sending signs to the pitcher calling for a particular pitch. After he moves into his crouch, the catcher gives the sign by placing his non-glove hand between his legs and using his fist, fingers, wags, or taps against his inner thigh to tell the pitcher what type of pitch to throw (fastball, curve, etc.) as well as the location. A pitcher may wave off (shake his head "no" to) the initial sign or nod in agreement when he receives the sign that he wants before going into his windup. If there is a runner on second base, a catcher may change the location of his glove (from his knee to the ground, for example) to signal the pitcher that he is using an alternate set of signs so that the runner won't be able to steal the sign.
▪ A coach sends signs to players on the field, typically using a sequence of hand movements. He may send signs to offensive players, including batters and runners, about what to do on the next pitch — for example, to sacrifice bunt, to take or to swing away at the next pitch; to steal a base; or to execute a hit-and-run. He may send signs to the catcher to call for a pitchout or to intentionally walk the batter.
A one-base hit.
Main article: sinker (baseball)
A pitch, typically a fastball, that breaks sharply downward as it crosses the plate. Also see drop ball.
sitting on a pitch
A batter who is waiting for a particular type of pitch before swinging at it. He may be sitting in waiting for, say, a curveball or a change-up, or a pitch thrown in a certain location, and he won't swing at anything else even if it's down the middle of the plate. Sometimes hitters who know a pitcher's pattern of pitches, or what type of pitch he likes to throw in a given count, sit on that particular pitch. This approach stems from the advice Rogers Hornsby gave to Ted Williams, telling him that the secret to hitting was simply to "wait for a good pitch to hit".
When a batter changes his strategy depending on the game situation: the inning, number of outs, number of men on base, or the score. He may not swing for the fences or even try to get a base hit, but instead make a sacrifice bunt or try to get a sacrifice fly or make contact with the ball in some other way.
A team that is on the skids is having a losing streak, perhaps a severe one that threatens to ruin their chances at the playoffs or to drop them into the cellar. Headline: "Yankees Remain on the Skids".240 Also used in the singular, skid, for a losing streak or hitless streak: "Peralta's single in the fourth ended an 0-for-26 skid."241
skipper or skip
A manager. Taken from the boating term skipper, the captain or commanding officer of a ship.
Used as a verb: to hit a fly ball. "Sizemore skies one. . . .Caught by the right fielder."
A very high fly ball. Sometimes referred to as a "rainmaker" because it is so high it may touch the clouds.
A pitch. This is now a rare usage. Headline in New York Times: "Pfeffer's Slants Bewilder Quakers - Brooklyn Moundsman Shows Form That Made Him Famous and Phillies Lose, 5 to 0".242 "Brooklyn garnered only seven safeties off the slants of Johnny Antonelli and two relievers."243
A hitter who sacrifices power for batting average, trying to make contact with the ball and "hit it where they ain't". Prime examples: Willie Keeler, Ty Cobb, Tony Gwynn, Pete Rose, Rod Carew, and Ichiro Suzuki.
When a fly ball or line drive starts out over fair territory, then curves into foul territory due to aerodynamic force caused by spinning of the ball, imparted by the bat. A slice curves away from the batter (ie: it curves to the right for a right-handed batter and to the left for a left-handed batter).
Main article: Slide (baseball)
▪ A slide is when a player drops to the ground when running toward a base, to avoid a tag and (in the case of second or third base) as a means of stopping, so as not to overrun the base and risk being put out. Players also sometimes slide head-first into first base. If former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and Hall of Famer Dizzy Dean had seen something like that, he'd probably have said the player never should have "slud into first".
▪ A team having a losing streak is in a slide or on the skids.
Main article: Slider
A relatively fast pitch with a slight curve in the opposite direction of the throwing arm.
To hit with great power.
An exceptionally high scoring game, typically one in which both teams score a lot of runs. The opposite of a slugfest is a pitcher's duel.
Any person who commonly hits with great power. A batter with a high slugging percentage.
Main article: Slugging percentage
A measure of the power of a hitter, calculated as total bases divided by at bats. Often abbreviated as SLG or SA. Just as a "perfect" batting average would be 1.000 (read "one thousand") a "perfect" slugging average would be 4.000 (read "four thousand"). Also referred to as "slugging percentage".
Main article: slump (baseball)
An extended period when player or team is not performing well or up to expectations. A dry spell or drought.
Main article: slurve
A pitch that's a cross between a slider and a curve.
Main article: Small Ball
A strategy by which teams attempt to score runs using station-to-station, bunting and sacrifice plays; usually used in a situation where one run will either tie or win the game; manufacturing runs; close kin to inside baseball. "It's important for us to think small ball and hit behind runners, and also score with base hits, doubles, sacrifices — there are many ways to score," Rodriguez said. "Later on, when it counts the most, it's hard only to score by home runs".244
▪ A pitcher who throws smoke throws the ball so hard that the batter is likely only to see the ball's (imaginary) smoke trail.
▪ To smoke the hitter inside is to throw an inside fastball that batter is unable to hit.
▪ When a play-by-play reporter exclaims That ball was smoked! he implies that it was hit so hard that all you could see of the ball is its (imaginary) smoke trail.
A type of foul ball in which the batter grazes ("snicks") the ball with the bat. The ball continues toward the catcher, with a slightly modified trajectory, making it a difficult catch.
Descriptive of a catch made with the ball barely caught in the tip of a glove's webbing. Variant on "ice cream cone".
A fielder's ability to cradle the ball well in his glove. Contrast hard hands. "I was teaching the players to field the ball out front and 'give in' with the ball and bring it up to a throwing position. The analogy I used was to pretend the ball is an egg and give in with it. I consider this to be 'soft' hands."245
When a coach or teammate from a position adjacent the hitter throws a ball under-hand to allow the hitter to practice hitting into a net or fence.
A pitcher who doesn't have a really fast fastball. "Jones, a soft tosser when compared to the Tigers' other hard throwers, struck out Posada, retired Cano on a soft fly, and got Damon to fly out."246
solo home run
A home run hit when there are no runners on base, so the batter circles the bases solo. It is the only thing that can take away a perfect game, no-hitter, and shutout with one swing of the bat.
Main article: Sophomore jinx
The tendency for players to follow a good rookie season with a less-spectacular one. (This term is used outside the realm of baseball as well.) Two of the most notorious examples are Joe Charboneau and Mark Fidrych. The statistical term for the sophomore jinx is "regression to the mean".
Main article: Southpaw
Left-hander, especially a pitcher. Most baseball stadiums are built so that home plate is in the west and the outfield is in the east, so that when the sun sets it is not in the batter's eye. Because of this, a left-handed pitcher's arm is always facing south when he faces the plate. Thus he has a "southpaw."
▪ To hit the ball, typically a line drive to the opposite field.
▪ To win a game handily or decisively. Headline: "Tigers Spank KC 13-1. Did the Royals Wave the White Flag?"247
A fireplug. A player known for his aggressive, never-say-die attitude (though perhaps modest ability) who may help to spark his team into a rally or a win. "Versalles was the sparkplug that led the 1965 Twins to their first World Series."248
A fast player, often collecting stolen bases, bunt singles and/or infield hits.
A fast runner.
A runner can "spike" an infielder by sliding into him and causing an injury with the spikes of his shoes.
Main article: Spitball
A spitball pitch in which the ball has been altered by the application of spit, petroleum jelly, or some other foreign substance.
Main article: Fastball#splitfinger fastball
A fastball that breaks sharply toward the ground just before reaching the plate due to the pitcher's grip; his first two fingers are spread apart to put a downward spin on the ball. Also called a forkball, splitter or Mr. Splitee.
A player's splits are his performance statistics broken down or split into categories such as batting average against right-handed vs. left-handed pitchers, in home games vs. away games, or in day games vs. night games. When statistics are split in such a way they may reveal patterns that allow a manager to use (perhaps to platoon) a player strategically where he can be most effective. Sabermetricians may use such splits to investigate patterns that explain overall performance, including topics such as whether a pitcher may have doctored the ball during home games.249
spoil a pitch
When a pitcher throws a strike over the plate that at first seems good enough to strike the batter out but the batter fouls it off, the batter may be said to "spoil the pitch". The usage is similar to that of "fighting off a pitch".
A pitcher who starts an occasional game (perhaps only one game) who is not a regular starter in the rotation. This is a pitcher who is already on a team's roster and usually works as a relief pitcher. In contrast to a spot starter, who is already on the roster, an emergency starter is typically a player who is brought up from the minor leagues on very short notice because a regular starter is injured. Sometimes, however, even a player who is already on the roster may be referred to as an emergency starter if his starting role arises because the regularly scheduled starter has been injured.
A batter who hits line drives to all fields. Not a pull hitter. "I'll say that I could dominate those hitters who tend to pull the ball. The thing is, I had very good command, and those hitters kept trying to pull the ball, even though I was pitching in the outside corner, on the black, as we say in baseball. On the other hand, my worst headaches were the players that pushed the ball the other way, or used the whole field. The spray hitters. That's a very tough kind of hitter for a pitcher with good command as it was my case" — Pitcher Juan Marichal.250
Main article: Spring training
In Major League Baseball, spring training consists of work-outs and exhibition games that precede the regular season. It serves the purpose of both auditioning players for final roster spots and giving players practice prior to competitive play. The managers and coaches use spring training to set their opening-day 25-man roster.
When a batter turns his stance from being sideways to the pitcher's mound to facing the pitcher's mound. This is typically done when a batter prepares to bunt a ball, in particular when he intends to do a sacrifice bunt. "Whether you square around or pivot, you want to make sure you are in a comfortable and athletic position to bunt the ball. Your knees should be bent and your bat should be held out in front of your body. The barrel of the bat should be at the same height as your eyes and at the top of the strike zone".251
To get a good swing at the ball and hit it hard near the center of the ball. "It makes a big difference because you work hard to square a ball up, but they catch it or make a good play," Pierre said. "It takes the wind out of you a little bit and it makes him (Verlander) probably feel better, too".252
Main article: Squeeze play (baseball)
A tactic used to attempt to score a runner from third on a bunt. There are two types of squeeze plays: suicide squeeze and safety squeeze. In a suicide squeeze, the runner takes off towards home plate as soon as the pitcher begins his throw toward home plate. In a safety squeeze, the runner waits until the batter makes contact with the ball before committing himself to try to reach home.
squeeze the zone
When an umpire calls balls and strikes as if the strike zone is smaller than usual, he's said to "squeeze the zone". "I don't think Chapman is getting treated any different than any other rookie. I've noticed over the years that umps squeeze rookies. I don't think they should, a strike is a strike, but those are the realities".253
A nubber. A batted baseball that is either off the end of the bat or with the batter swinging very late. This puts a side spin on the ball as it rolls typically to the first baseman. The ball is difficult to catch and can be trouble for the infielder to make a play.
The "pitching staff," the pitchers on the team's roster, who nowadays typically number 11 or 12 of the 25 men on the active roster.
Usually used in conjunction with the word "double" or "triple", as in "a stand-up double"; this refers to an extra-base hit in which the runner reaches base easily without needing to slide (hence, he remains standing up as he touches the bag).
▪ When a hitter steps into the batter's box, he typically stands a few inches from home plate with one shoulder facing the pitcher's mound. His particular manner of bending his knees or holding his bat is referred to as the batter's stance or hitting stance.254
▪ A catcher typically crouches or squats behind home plate, holding his glove up as a target for the pitcher. This is referred to as a catcher's stance.255
▪ A pitcher's stance or pitching position involves how and where he stands on the mound, how his back foot toes the rubber, his windup, and his delivery.
An inning. "In that stanza, however, the Tigers . . . clawed their way back into the ballgame."256
Main article: Starting pitcher
The starting pitcher (or "starter") is the first pitcher in the game for each team. A starter is expected to pitch at least five innings, in contrast with relievers who often pitch just three, two or one or even fractional innings. In fact, by the scoring rules, a starter must complete five innings in order to qualify as the winning pitcher in the game, though he need face only a single batter to become the losing pitcher if his team immediately falls behind and stays behind for the remainder of the game.
A player's assigned defensive position.
Oddly enough, this term can mean completely different things. It can be referred to as a close relative of inside baseball, where hit-and-runs and base-stealing are frequent. It can also mean its exact opposite, where a team takes fewer chances of getting thrown out on the bases by cutting down on steal attempts and taking the extra base on a hit; therefore, the team will maximize the number of runs scored on a homer.
Statheads use statistical methods to analyze baseball game strategy as well as player and team performance. They use the tools of sabermetrics to analyze baseball.
Short for "statistics", the numbers generated by the game: runs, hits, errors, strikeouts, batting average, earned run average, fielding average, etc. Most of the numbers used by players and fans are not true mathematical statistics, but the term is in common usage.
When a batter who already has two strikes swings at but fouls off a pitch, he may be said to have "stayed alive." He (or his at bat) will live to see another pitch. Similarly, when a team that is facing elimination from the playoffs wins a game, it may be said to have "stayed alive" to play another game. "Milwaukee stays alive in the playoffs with a 4-1 win over Philadelphia in Game 3 of their National League Division Series from Miller Park."257
When a batter shows that it is easier to get him out with a certain type of pitch, he may receive a "steady diet" of that type of pitch thrown. Headline: "Phillies' Howard Gets a Steady Diet of Curveballs".258
RBIs. Derived from the common pronunciation of RBI as "ribbie", which was apparently once pronounced as Rib-eye.
See stolen base
When a team that is at bat tries to see the sign the catcher is giving to the pitcher (indicating what type of pitch to throw), the team is said to be stealing signs. This may be done by a runner who is on base (typically second base) watching the catcher's signs to the pitcher and giving a signal of some kind to the batter. (To prevent this, the pitcher and catcher may change their signs when there is a runner on second base.) Sometimes a first-base or third-base coach might see a catcher's signs if the catcher isn't careful. In unusual cases, the signs may be read through binoculars by somebody sitting in the stands, perhaps in center field, and sending a signal to the hitter in some way.
When a hitter is suspected of peeking to see how a catcher is setting up behind the plate as a clue to what pitch might be coming or what the intended location is, then the pitcher will usually send the hitter a message: stick it in his ear.
stepping in the bucket
A phrase for an "open" batting stance, in which the hitter's leading foot is aligned away from the plate (toward left field for a right-handed batter). The stance reduces power in the swing and slows the hitter's exit toward first base, however, many players believe it allows them to see the pitch better, and more naturally drive the ball to the opposite field. Babe Ruth criticized a young ballplayer in the 1931 short "Slide, Babe, Slide," for "stepping in the bucket."
stick it in his ear
"Stick it in his ear!" is a cry that that may come from fans in the stands, appealing to the home team pitcher to be aggressive (throw the ball at the opposing batter). The line is attributed originally, however, to Leo Durocher.
Main article: Stolen base
In baseball, a stolen base (or "steal") occurs when a baserunner successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is delivering the ball to home plate. In baseball statistics, stolen bases are denoted by SB. If the catcher thwarts the stolen base by throwing the runner out, the event is recorded as caught stealing (CS). Also see uncontested steal.
The successful advancement of a batter to first base following an uncaught third strike. While the base has been "stolen" in practical terms, statistics do not actually register the incident as a "stolen base".
A player who misplays easy ground balls. Also see hard hands. Pittsburgh Pirates first-baseman Dick Stuart was given the label "Stone Fingers" (a reference to the James Bond movie Goldfinger) as well as the nickname "Dr. Strangeglove" (a reference to the movie Dr. Strangelove).
This term originally referred to a team's best starting pitcher, who would be called upon to stop a losing streak. It can also refers to a team's closer.259 Headline: "Tigers ace Verlander again stellar in stopper role".260 "Jose Valverde - The Stopper. Despite him giving us a few heart-attacks this season, Papa Grande has not blown a save this year, not a one".261
strand the runner
To leave a runner on base, especially in scoring position, is to "strand the runner." This phrase is often used when a runner reaches base with no outs or one out but the rest of the offense fails to get him home. A lead-off hitter who hits a triple but does not score is one of most disappointing examples of stranding a runner. The odds favor his scoring in this situation. On average when a team has a runner on third with no outs, it scores 1.5 runs, and the team scores at least 1 run 86% of the time.262263
▪ A series of consecutive wins (a winning streak) or losses (a losing streak). Also, a string, especially if referring to a series of wins.
▪ A series of games in which a batter gets a hit (hitting streak) or fails to get a hit (hitless streak), or accomplishes some other feat of interest (e.g, gets a stolen base or hits a home run).
Main article: Pitching position
▪ To pitch from a stretch is to begin the pitching motion by facing sideways relative to home plate, raising one's arms at the elbow and bringing the glove hand and pitching hand together in a full stop, then hurling the ball toward the plate. This is the usual pitching motion when there are men on base, so that the pitcher can check on the runners before throwing home. Sometimes, however, pitchers use a stretch even when the bases are empty.
▪ For other uses of the word "stretch," see stretch a hit, stretch run, down the stretch, and seventh inning stretch.
stretch a hit
▪ To stretch a hit is to take an additional base on a hit, typically by aggressive running. "Damon stretched that single to a double with his hustle." "Glaus got caught trying to stretch a double to a triple".
▪ For another use of the term "stretch" see seventh inning stretch.
stretch the lineup
▪ To stretch the lineup is to have strong hitters after the 3rd, 4th, and 5th places in the batting order, which are normally where the power hitters are found. "Victor goes out there every day and shows you why he is a professional hitter - he's never afraid to just take a base hit when that's what there for him," Leyland said. "Carlos lets us stretch our lineup with another professional hitter, and also a switch-hitter".264
The last part of the regular baseball season when teams are competing to reach the playoffs or championship. Perhaps derived from the term "home stretch" in horse racing or car racing when the horse (or car) comes out of the final turn and is racing toward the finish line. Headline: "Tigers eyeing help for stretch run"265 (The Tigers are seeking additional players as they approach the end of the season).
▪ When a batter swings at a pitch, but fails to hit it, when a batter does not swing at a pitch that is thrown within the strike zone, when the ball is hit foul and the strike count is less than 2 (a batter cannot strike out on a foul ball, however he can fly out), when a ball is bunted foul, regardless of the strike count, when the ball touches the batter as he swings at it, when the ball touches the batter in the strike zone, or when the ball is a foul tip.
▪ A particularly hard, accurate throw by a fielder attempting to put out a baserunner (or a particularly hard, accurate pickoff attempt by the pitcher) is sometimes referred to as throwing a strike. This is an unofficial usage, employed primarily by broadcasters and writers. "Racing to his left on the crack of the bat, Ichiro Suzuki reached Albert Pujols' line drive in the corner, wheeled and fired a strike to Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter to cut down the Cardinal at second."266
Main article: Strikeout
▪ The throwing of three strikes in one plate appearance. This normally retires the batter, and counts as one out. However, it is possible to strike out and still reach base, if the catcher drops the strikeout pitch.
1. The last pitch of a strikeout; the third strike.
2. The type of pitch (specific to each pitcher) that he or she prefers to use as the last pitch of a strikeout. This is almost always a breaking pitch - a pitch that moves out of the strike zone, increasing the chance that the batter will swing and miss.267
strike em out/throw em out
A double play in which a batter strikes out and the catcher then immediately throws out a baserunner trying to steal.
strike out the side
Main article: Striking out the side
A pitcher is said to "strike out the side" when he retires all three batters in a half inning by striking them out. However, "all three batters" may mean that only three batters came to the plate during that half inning and all three went down on strikes. But "all three batters" may instead mean all three batters who made outs were out on strikes, no matter what other batters did in that half inning. Major League Baseball announcers are not in agreement on this point. Some baseball announcers (e.g., Vin Scully) use it in the latter sense such that multiple runs may score in the half inning on various hits including home runs, but if all three outs were strike outs, the pitcher "struck out the side."
Main article: Strike zone
An imaginary box used to call strikes (see image here). The Rules Book definition is that the strike zone "is that area over home plate the upper limit of which is a horizontal line at the midpoint between the top of the shoulders and the top of the uniform pants, and the lower level is a line at the hollow beneath the kneecap. The strike zone shall be determined from the batter's stance as the batter is prepared to swing at a pitched ball." When, in the plate umpire's judgment, the ball passes through the strike zone and the batter does not swing, one strike is called (a called strike as opposed to a swinging strike).
The formal definition of the upper limit of the strike zone is sometimes reduced to "the letters", i.e., the area of the uniform shirt where the team's name usually appears; or, as some plain-speaking types say, "the nipple line". (Taking the anatomical comparisons further, the ever-earthy Ted Williams used to describe certain good pitches to hit as being "at cock level").
Despite the formal rules, umpires differ in the strike zones that they recognize.268 Major League Baseball has experimented in recent years with the QuesTec system, which uses laser light technology to standardize the zone and to measure umpires' personal strike zones. But balls and strikes are still called by umpires, not machines. Whether a pitch is a ball or a strike is typically the focal point of arguments during a game. The rules prohibit managers from leaving the dugout to protest ball-and-strike calls, the penalty for which is ejection.
▪ A series of consecutive wins. A winning streak.
▪ Any other series of consecutive events, such as strike-outs or scoreless innings. Headline: "Lincecum runs scoreless innings string to 23".269
struck out looking
A batter called out on strikes without swinging on the third strike is said to have "struck out lookin'." Labeled with a backwards "K" by some scorecard keepers. Sports commentators have also been known to use the slang term "just browsing" when showing a batter that's "struck out looking" on Sportscenter or other related shows.
struck out swinging
A batter called out on strikes when swinging at the third strike is said to have "struck out swinging." Usually labeled with the traditional forward "K" on scorecards.
A pitcher's "stuff" is an overall evaluation of how effective his pitches are; it is "good stuff" when the pitches are difficult to hit, and usually just "stuff" or sometimes even "lousy stuff" when the pitches are poor. Many factors, including location, velocity, movement, delivery, and intangibles like weather and rest, influence the quality of a pitcher's stuff on any given day.
Main article: Submarine (baseball)
A pitcher who throws with such a severe sidearm motion that the pitch comes from below his waist, sometimes near the ground. (A submariner does not throw underhanded, as in fastpitch softball.) See submarine.
Main article: Subway Series
When two teams from the same city or metropolitan area play a series of games, they are presumed to be so near to one another that they could take the subway to play at their opponent's stadium. Mets vs. Yankees would be (and is) called a subway series; a Cubs vs. White Sox series would be an "L" series; and a series between the Oakland A's and the San Francisco Giants would be (and was) the "BART" series. However, a series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim would not be a subway series, because there is no subway or other rail service between Dodger Stadium and Angel Stadium of Anaheim (not even the fabled but fanciful line between "Anaheim, Azusa and Cuc...amonga").270 Instead such a series is referred to as a freeway series.
Main article: Sunday Funday
After winning a weekend series in college baseball, the team will party Sunday night. This is because college teams play five nights a week and have no free time to party except on Sundays, because they can rest on their required Monday off day.
Main article: Squeeze play (baseball)
A squeeze play in which the runner on third breaks for home on the pitch, so that, if the batter does not lay down a bunt, then the runner is an easy out (unless he steals home). Contrast this with the safety squeeze.
The Major League Baseball All-Star Game, also known as the Mid-Summer Classic. These annual games pit the all-stars of the National League against the all-stars of the American League. A game designed only to acknowledge and showcase the achievements of the best players in each league. Since 2003 it has been a bit more important than an exhibition game, however, because the winning league gets home-field advantage in the World Series.
To win all the games in a series between two teams, whether during the regular 162-game season or during the league championships or World Series. During the regular season, pairs of teams typically square off in several 3- or 4-game series at the home parks of each team. It is also thus possible for one team to sweep a 3- or 4-game series, the "home series" (all the games a team plays at its home field against another given team), the "road series," or the "season series" between two teams. ("Sweep" was also used to mean winning both games of a doubleheader. Sweeps are also used for a college baseball team who wins all three games of a weekend series.)
Main article: Sweet spot (sports)
A location that's perfect for the batter to swing at and hit a pitch very hard on the meat of the bat.271 "Batters know from experience that there is a sweet spot on the bat, about 17 cm from the end of the barrel, where the shock of the impact, felt by the hands, is reduced to such an extent that the batter is almost unaware of the collision. At other impact points, the impact is usually felt as a sting or jarring of the hands and forearm, particularly if the impact occurs at a point well removed from the sweet spot".272273 " 'I was ready for a fastball early in the count, because I knew he would go to his other stuff later," Santiago said. "I got one, and I just wanted to hit it on the sweet spot' ".274
When a batter is instructed by the coach to swing hard at the ball instead of bunting when there are men on base, he's said to "swing away".
swing for the downs
To swing mightily trying to hit a home run - an all-or-nothing swing. See swing for the fences. Swing for the hills.
swing for the fences
Try to hit a home run. Sometimes batters who swing for the fences rather than just trying to get a base hit only end up whiffing on the ball. "And Ruth was able to hit more homers than some teams because he played the game differently - he swung for the fences every at bat. Most players played 'fundamental' baseball - choke up on the bat, move the runner over, bunt, make contact, etc."275
swing from the heels
To swing very hard at a pitch in an effort to get an extra base hit. "They swing from the heels at all times, and . . . simply refuse to go with a pitch and be satisfied with a groundball through the infield for a base hit."276
A pitcher with relatively good stamina who can function as either a long reliever or a starting pitcher, depending on his teams needs at a particular time. An example would be Justin Masterson during his time with the Boston Red Sox.21
Main article: Switch hitter
A player who can hit from both sides of the plate, i.e., he bats both left-handed and right-handed. The reason many natural right-handers learn to either bat left-handed exclusively or to switch-hit is to give them an advantage at the plate, due to (1) the fact that most pitchers (like most humans) are naturally right-handed and (2) it can boost their ability to hit for power. A right-handed pitcher's natural throwing motion tends to bring the ball "in" toward a left-hand batter, and "away" from a right-hand batter. Thus, a player who hits well in general, and about equally well either way, is considered an asset because he is not subject to platooning of left-hand vs. right-hand pitchers. Most, if not all, switch-hitters are natural right-handers. (Notice also that a left-handed batter is closer to 1st base than a right-handed batter would be.)
One of the best-known "singles-hitting" switch hitters was Pete Rose, although later in his career the naturally right-handed Rose became exclusively a left-hand batter. Probably the most famous switch-hitting slugger was the natural right-hander Mickey Mantle, whose power at the plate was especially notable batting opposite (left) handed. In contrast, there is the old joke told by Joe Garagiola, about a nameless switch-hitter who could bat "three ways: right-handed, left-handed... and seldom!"
A pitch that has a little extra on it to make it fast
▪ a player placed high in the batting order for his tendency to hit for average and steal bases is said to "set the table" for the power hitters behind him in the lineup.
▪ an unexpected event early in a ball game, such as a defensive error or a hit batsmen, can be called a "tablesetter" for the outcome of the game.
▪ To hit the ball hard, typically for an extra-base hit. "Yanks Tag Price but Rays rally with five-run 6th".
▪ A tag out, sometimes just called a tag, is a play in which a baserunner is out because he is touched by the fielder's hand holding a live ball while the runner is in jeopardy. "Helton was tagged out at second" implies that a defensive player touched him with the ball before he reached second base.
When a batter hits a ball that is caught before touching the ground, he is out and all base runners must retreat back to their original base. The act of touching their original base is called "tagging up" after which, they may legally advance to the next base. If a runner fails to tag up before he or his original base is tagged by a fielder with the ball, he is out on appeal.
A cather's butt. In the phrase, "he didn't keep his tailgate down," a baseball announcer means that a pitched ball that was very low or even hit the dirt went through the legs of the catcher. The analogy is to a latch at the bottom of a gate on the back of a truck or van, which if it's left open might allow things to fall out of the back of the vehicle.
take a pitch
When a batter decides not to swing at a pitch, he "takes the pitch." He may do this following the instruction of a coach who has given him a take sign.
A sign given by a coach to a batter to not swing at the next pitch — to "take" the next pitch. Sometimes when a new pitcher or a reliever comes in, batters are given a general instruction to take the first pitch. Most often, they are told to take a pitch when the count is 3-0. Poor hitters are often given the take sign, while better hitters much less often.
take something off the pitch
To throw an off-speed pitch or to throw a given pitch slower than the pitcher usually throws it. "When Washburn took something off a fastball and left it out over the plate, Bonds lined an RBI double that rolled to the wall in right field, and the rout was on."277
take the bat out of his hands
To issue an intentional walk. By doing so, a pitcher reduces the potential damage from allowing the batter to swing at and hit a pitch. "Buck Showalter took the bat out of Barry Bonds' hands with an unheard-of strategy - a bases-loaded intentional walk. Amazingly, the Arizona Diamondbacks manager got away with it."278
take the crown
To win the championship -- remove the current champions from the throne.
take the field
When the defensive players go to their positions at the beginning of an inning the defense takes the field. The pitcher goes to the pitcher's mound or takes the hill.
take the hill
When a pitcher moves to his defensive position on the mound he is said to "take the hill."
A slide performed for the purpose of hampering the play of the defense. A runner from first to second base will often try to "take out" the fielder at the base to disrupt his throw to first base and "break up the double play." Although the runner is supposed to stay within the base-paths, as long as he touches second base he has a lot of leeway to use his body. Runners in this situation usually need to slide in order to avoid being hit by the throw from second to first; but whether they do a "take-out slide" or come into the base with their spikes high in the air depends as much on their personal disposition as it does the situation. The title of a biography of Ty Cobb — "The Tiger Wore Spikes" — says something about how he ran the basepaths.279
To hit a slow or easy ground ball, typically to the pitcher: "Martinez tapped it back to the mound." A ball hit in this way is a tapper.
tape measure home run
An especially long home run. The term originated from a 1956 game in which Mickey Mantle hit a ball out of Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. The distance the ball flew was measured and the next day a picture of Mantle with a tape measure was published in the newspaper. A play-by-play announcer may also call a long home run a tape measure job. Although fans have always been interested in how far home runs may travel and in comparing the great home runs of the great and not-so-great home run hitters, the science of measuring home runs remains inexact.280281
A home run. The term started to appear in the 1970s, specifically as "long tater". The ball itself has been known as a "potato" or "tater" for generations. A long ball is thus a "long tater", shortened to just "tater" for this specific meaning.
To hit the ball very hard, figuratively to put a tattoo from the bat's trademark on the ball.
Conference on the mound, involving more players than just the pitcher and catcher, and sometimes coaches and managers. Also a pow wow.
Easily hittable pitches are likened to stationary baseballs sitting on batting tees (or possibly golf tees, since this term is also part of the lexicon of golf), and therefore batters hitting such pitches are said to be 'teeing off'.
A pitcher's sending unintentional signals to the hitters about what kind of pitch is about to be delivered. See tipping pitches. Headline in Houston Chronicle: "Lidge Was Telegraphing His Pitches."282
A pitcher's "out pitch" (usually his best pitch; as a result, it is the pitch upon which he relies to get batters out). Made famous by the movie Major League II.
A Texas Leaguer (or Texas League single) is a weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder. These are now more commonly referred to as flares, bloopers or "bloop single." See blooper.
The term is said to have originated when Ollie Pickering, a popular Texas League player, made his major league debut and proceeded to run off a string of seven straight bloop hits, leading fans and writers to say, "Well, there goes Pickering with another one of those "Texas Leaguers".citation needed
third of an inning
Line stat credited to a pitcher retiring one out of a full inning. For convenience in print, however, a pitcher who goes 4 and one-third innings might be shown in the box score as completing 4.1 innings, as compared with a pitcher who goes four and two-thirds innings for whom the box score would show 4.2.
three true outcomes
The three ways a plate appearance can end without fielders coming into play: walks, home runs, and strikeouts. Baseball Prospectus coined the term in homage to Rob Deer, who excelled at producing all three outcomes. The statistical result of the three true outcomes on a player's slash line is a low batting average, as well as an unusually high on-base percentage relative to the batting average. Traditionally, players with a high percentage of their plate appearances ending in one of the three true outcomes are underrated, as general managers often overestimate the harm in striking out, and underestimate the value of a walk.
three up, three down
To face just three batters in an inning. Having a "three up, three down inning" is the goal of any pitcher. See also: side retired, 1-2-3 inning.
through the wickets
When a batted ball passes through the legs of a player in the field it's often said, "That one went right through the wickets." The term refers to the metal arches(called wickets) used in the game of croquet through which balls are hit. Letting the ball through his legs makes a baseball player look (and feel) inept, and the official scorekeeper will typically record the play as an error. See Bill Buckner.
throw a clothesline
When a fielder throws the ball so hard that it hardly appears to arc at all, he may be said to "throw a clothesline." Akin to a batter's line drive being described as a rope or frozen rope.
throw him the chair
Striking out a batter, causing him to sit down in the dugout.
A pitcher who throws the ball hard in the direction of home plate but without much accuracy or command. Distinguished from a "pitcher," who may or may not throw the ball as hard but who has command and is likely to be more successful in g