Baseball 101 Baseball Terms from A-Z
If you’re a newcomer to baseball, you may find that the announcer on televised games frequently uses terms that mean nothing to you. Here is a brief list that includes some of the more commonly used terms.
Angels – The American League team from Los Angeles. Or is that Anaheim? Either way, it’s in California.
Base Path – The diamond shaped dirt track that connects home plate with first base, second base and third base.
Count – In baseball, the count signifies the number of strikes and balls currently charged to the batter. A full count is when there are three balls and two strikes.
Check Swing – When the batter stops his swing halfway or prior to the half way point. The umpire determines whether the swing was completed or whether it is a check. The batter may appeal, if the pitcher has thrown a “strike” within the strike zone and the home plate umpire calls it a strike because he believes the swing was not a check swing. In such cases, the umpire with the fullest view of the swing will issue a ruling. This is the first base umpire for right handed batters and the third base umpire for left handed batters.
Double Play - A single play in which two outs are created. The classic example is a ground ball the second baseman when there is a runner on first base. The second baseman fields the ball and touches second base, forcing out the runner. He then throws the ball to first base and forces out the batter.
Error - When the fielder fails to make a play that the scorer deems should have been made. This can be a fielding error (e.g. a dropped fly ball) or a throwing error (e.g. overthrowing first base). Errors do not count as hits, but they do count as at bats, so they are charged against the batter the same way an out is charged.
Foul Ball - A batted ball that is hit outside the foul lines that run along the first and third baselines or behind home plate. A foul ball caught on the fly is an out. A foul ball with fewer than two strikes is counted as a strike. A ball that hits the baseline or the foul pole is considered fair. Thus, hitting the foul pole is a home run.
Ground Rule Double - When a ball lands in fair territory before bouncing out of the park, the batter is automatically given second base and all runners who were on base advance two bases. Similarly, a ball that lands in fair territory and becomes lodged in a fence or the catwalks of an indoor stadium are generally ruled a ground rule double.
Hit and Run - This is a play where the base runners begin running on the pitch. It’s essential for the batter to make contact with the ball in order to prevent the runner from being called out. Since the infielders will be on the move to cover second base, this play increases the likelihood that a hit will get through the infield. This is a small ball tactic.
Infield Fly Rule - The infield fly rule may be invoked by an umpire if there are fewer than two outs and there is a runner on first base and another runner on either second or third and a fly ball is hit that the umpire believes is readily caught by an infielder. The umpire will declare the batter is out and at that point, it does not matter whether the ball is caught or not. The purpose of the rule is to prevent a fielder from purposely not catching the ball and manufacturing a double play by throwing to second base.
Jack - To hit a home run.
K - K is the abbreviation for a strike out used on baseball scorecards. As such announcers frequently refer to strike outs as “K’s”. Similarly,
Line Drive - A batted ball with a relatively level trajectory coming off the bat. .
Line Out - A line drive caught on the fly for an out.
Mendoza Line - A player with a batting average below .200 is said to have fallen below the Mendoza Line. This was named after Mario Mendoza, a veteran player whose average tended to hover around .200.
No Hitter - A game in which one of the pitcher has held the opposing team to no hits for the full nine innings. A no hitter in which no runs are scored is referred to as a “no no” because it involved no hits and no runs. Runners may score in a no hitter due to errors, hit batsmen or walks.
Opposite Field - A hitter is said to hit to the opposite field when they are batting right and hit to right field or batting left and hitting to left field. Left handed batters tend to have more power when hitting toward right field and right handed batters when hitting toward left field.
Perfect Game - A no hitter in which no runners reach base.
Pulling the ball - A hitter is said to be “pulling the ball” or “pull hitting” when they are batting right and hit to left field or batting left and hitting to right field. This is where they tend to have more power.
Quality Start - A starting pitcher is credited with a quality start when he pitches at least six innings and allows three or fewer runs.
Run Down – When a base runner is caught off the base in a situation where there is no force out. The fielders with the ball at the next base forces the runner to reverse direction and run back toward his original base, then throws the ball past the runner to the fielder at the original base. This forces the runner to reverse directions. The ball is thrown back and forth and the fielders move closer together until one of them is able to tag out the runner. The runner’s best chance in this situation is for the fielders to commit a throwing or catching error that enables him to reach base safely. As always, if the runner rus outside the basepaths in the attempt to avoud a tag, he is called out for being out f bounds.
Small Ball - This is a style of baseball strategy where the team concentrates on “manufacturing runs” through techniques like bunting, hit and run, and base stealing. These are techniques that sometimes trade an out for advancing the runner or risk an out to move the runner to the next base and potentially set up a run.
Texas Leaguer - A fly ball that lands between the outfielder and infielders. Also called a bloop single.
Utility Player - A player who is able to play multiple positions. Also called a utility infielder or outfielder.
VORP - Acronym for the Value Over Replacement Player statistic. This describes the number of runs a particular player generates over what would be expected of another player promoted from AAA who plays the same position.
Walk-off Home Run - This is a home run by the home team in the bottom of the ninth (or extra innings) that results in the winning coming home. It is called a walk-off because the opposing team walks off the field when it is hit.
X Ray - What players used to get before MRIs.
Yard - A slang term for a ballpark. Also referred to as a ballyard. Used in the term “going yard”, which means hitting a home run.
Zero - The lowest possible batting average. No hits for at least one at bat. It is written as “0.000”.
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