In baseball, batting is the act of facing the opposing pitcher and trying to produce offense for one's team. A batter or hitter is a person whose turn it is to face the pitcher. The three main goals of batters are to become a baserunner, to drive runners home, or to advance runners along the bases for others to drive home, but the techniques and strategies they use to do so vary. Hitting uses a motion that is virtually unique to baseball, one that is rarely used in other sports. Hitting is unique because unlike most sports movements in the vertical plane of movement hitting involves rotating in the horizontal plane.
In general, batters try to get hits. However, their primary objective is to avoid making an out, and helping their team to score runs. There are several ways they can help their team score runs. They may draw a walk if they receive and do not swing the bat at four pitches located outside the strike zone. In cases when there is a runner on third and fewer than two outs, they can attempt to hit a sacrifice fly to drive the runner in by allowing the runner on third to tag up and score. When there are fewer than two outs and runners on base, they can try to sacrifice bunt to advance the runner(s) or, with a runner on first or with runners on first and third, they can try a hit and run play, also designed to advance the runner(s). They might even be hit by a pitch, reach on an error or—if first is empty or there are two outs—on a dropped third strike.
The defense attempts to get the batter out. The pitcher's main role in this is to throw the ball in such a way that the batter either strikes out or cannot hit it cleanly so that the defense can get him or her out.
Batting is often cited as one of the most difficult feats in sports because it consists of hitting a small round ball, usually moving at high velocity, with a thin round bat. In fact, if a batter can get a hit in three out of ten at bats, giving him a batting average of .300 (pronounced "three hundred"), he or she is considered a good hitter. In Major League Baseball, no batter has had over a .400 average at the end of the season since Ted Williams' .406 in 1941, and no batter has ever hit over .367 in a lifetime—Ty Cobb hit .3664. In modern times, the statistic on-base plus slugging (OPS) is seen as a more accurate measure of a player's ability as a batter; this stat combines the player's on-base percentage (a percentage of their plate appearances where the batter gets on base), with the player's slugging percentage (an average of total bases with at-bats). An OPS at or near 1.000 is considered to be the mark of an exceptional hitter. A sustained OPS at or above 1.000 over a career is a feat only a few hitters have ever been able to reach.
Batters vary in their approach at the plate. Some are aggressive hitters, often swinging at the first pitch (as pitchers often attempt to throw a first-pitch strike). Others are patient, attempting to work the pitch count in order to observe all the types of pitches a pitcher will use, as well as tire out the pitcher by forcing him to throw many pitches early. Generally, contact hitters are more aggressive, swinging at pitches within the strike zone, whereas power hitters will lay off borderline strikes in order to get a pitch they can drive for extra bases.
In preparation of hitting, every baseball player has their own particular warm-up routine. Warming up before the game is usually done as a team, at the amateur level, and focuses on helping the hitter get in the correct mindset to hit the ball. The most notable drill used is the "Tee Drill", where you hit a ball off a baseball tee and correct any issues you found during previous games or practices. There are also various hitting devices used during warm up in the "on deck circle" to try and increase the batter's bat velocity. The over weighted supplemental devices include swinging multiple bats, Schutt Dirx (96 oz), Pitcher's Nightmare, Power Fin (14 oz), Standard 23 oz softball bat, heavier 26 oz softball bat, lighter 18 oz softball bat and Doughnut ring (16 oz). Weighted warm-up devices are commonly used because players feel that warming-up with heavier bats will help them increase bat velocity because after the warm-up with a heavier bat, the normal bat feels lighter and they feel they could swing it faster. The effect of these devices is not only mental, but it may also be physical. Heavy warm up loads stimulate the neural system, allowing for increased muscle activation during lighter bat swings. The use of weighted bats is based on the theory of complex training where sets of heavier and lighter resistances are alternated to increase muscle performance. This theory revolves around the idea that muscle contractions are stronger after reaching near maximal contractions. The postactivation potentiation improves motor neuron pool excitability and increases the number of recruited motor units, both leading to greater power output. The additional weight may also help strengthen the muscles of the forearms and wrist thus increasing bat velocity, though some evidence suggests that the effect is psychological rather than biomechanical.
The lineup or batting order is a list of the nine baseball players for a team in the order they will bat during the game. During the game the only way to change the lineup is via substitution, as batting out of turn is not allowed. Once the ninth person in the lineup finishes batting, the first person bats again; this is the top of the order. Lineups are designed to facilitate manufacturing runs. Depending on batters' skills, they might be placed in different parts of the lineup. Of course, when it comes down to it, all batters are attempting to create runs for the team.
The player currently batting in a game is said to be at the plate, at bat, or up to bat (shortened to up). To keep the game moving at an orderly pace, the next batter due up waits to take his turn in a circle (actually marked or imaginary) between his team's dugout or bench and the batter's box, and is said to be on deck, with the circle known as the on deck circle. The player in the batting order after the on deck batter is said to be in the hole.
When baseball was in its beginning years, baseball players made their own bats. This allowed players to experiment with different shapes and sizes of the bats. It did not take long for players to realize that the best bats were those with rounded barrels. Wood bats are rare at most levels other than the pros. The majority of wood baseball bats today are made from northern white ash harvested from Pennsylvania or New York. White ash is used because of its hardness, durability, strength, weight and feel. Trees that provide the lumber for baseball bats are often 50 years old, and of all the lumber harvested, the top 10 percent is saved for pro bats. Recent technology in drying wood has created bats with lower moisture content, which are light enough to make effective baseball bats. Rock or Sugar Maple bats are preferred. Maple bats cost more than white ash, but they often last longer as a result of their high strength.
In addition to the Louisville Slugger, there are many other types of bats that have been used throughout the history of baseball.
|Player and Event||Type of Bat Used|
|Barry Bonds sets all-time home run record||Sam Bat|
|Mike Piazza breaks all-time home run mark for catcher||Mizuno Corporation|
|Sammy Sosa hits 500th home run||Easton (BRG Sports)|
|Mark McGwire sets single-season home run record||Rawlings (company)|
|Babe Ruth hits 3 home runs in one game||Hillerich & Bradsby|
The introduction of aluminum baseball bats in the 1970s forever changed the game of baseball at every level but the professional. Aluminum bats are lighter and stronger than wooden bats. Because of the trampoline effect that occurs when a baseball hit an aluminum bat, aluminum bats can hit a ball significantly farther than wooden bats can.
In light of the increase in power of composite and alloy bats, the NCAA and NFHS have adopted more stringent standards against the use of composite and alloy bats. The NCAA changed standards at the start of the 2011 season, and the NFHS plans to complete the change in the 2012 baseball season.
The design of bats also continues to evolve as manufacturers search for ways to magnify the trampoline effect and increase the size of the bat's “sweet spot.” In aluminum bats, a double-walled bat was introduced in the late 1990s. This design comprises an outer wall of scandium-aluminum, an inner wall of a composite material, and a “filling of rubber or a thick fluid between the two walls.
In baseball, an at bat (AB) or time at bat is a batter's turn batting against a pitcher. An at bat is different from a plate appearance. A batter is credited with a plate appearance regardless of what happens during his turn at bat, but a batter is credited with an at bat only if that plate appearance does not have one of the results enumerated below. While at bats are used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average and slugging percentage, a player can qualify for the season-ending rankings in these categories only if he accumulates 502 plate appearances during the season.
A batter will not receive credit for an at bat if his plate appearance ends under the following circumstances:
He receives a base on balls (BB).
He is hit by a pitch (HBP).
He hits a sacrifice fly or a sacrifice bunt (also known as sacrifice hit).
He is awarded first base due to interference or obstruction, usually by the catcher.
He is replaced by another hitter before his at bat is completed, in which case the plate appearance and any related statistics go to the pinch hitter (unless he is replaced with two strikes and his replacement completes a strikeout, in which case the at bat and strikeout are still charged to the first batter).In addition, if the inning ends while he is still at bat (due to the third out being made by a runner caught stealing, for example), no at bat or plate appearance will result. In this case, the batter will come to bat again in the next inning, though the count will be reset to no balls and no strikes.
Rule 9.02(a)(1) of the official rules of Major League Baseball defines an at bat as: "Number of times batted, except that no time at bat shall be charged when a player: (A) hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly; (B) is awarded first base on four called balls; (C) is hit by a pitched ball; or (D) is awarded first base because of interference or obstruction[.]"Base on balls
A base on balls (BB), also known as a walk, occurs in baseball when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls, and is in turn awarded first base without the possibility of being called out. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, and further detail is given in 6.08(a). It is, however, considered a faux pas for a professional player to actually walk to first base; the batter-runner and any advancing runners normally jog on such a play.The term "base on balls" distinguishes a walk from the other manners in which a batter can be awarded first base without liability to be put out (e.g., hit by pitch (HBP), catcher's interference). Though a base on balls, catcher's interference, or a batter hit by a pitched ball all result in the batter (and possibly runners on base) being awarded a base, the term "walk" usually refers only to a base on balls, and not the other methods of reaching base without the bat touching the ball. An important difference is that for a hit batter or catcher's interference, the ball is dead and no one may advance unless forced; the ball is live after a walk (see below for details).
A batter who draws a base on balls is commonly said to have been "walked" by the pitcher. When the batter is walked, runners advance one base without liability to be put out only if forced to vacate their base to allow the batter to take first base. If a batter draws a walk with the bases loaded, all preceding runners are forced to advance, including the runner on third base who is forced to home plate to score a run; when a run is forced on a walk, the batter is credited with an RBI per rule 10.04.Receiving a base on balls does not count as a hit or an at bat for a batter but does count as a time on base and a plate appearance. Therefore, a base on balls does not affect a player's batting average, but it can increase his on-base percentage.A hit by pitch is not counted statistically as a walk, though the effect is mostly the same, with the batter receiving a free pass to first base. One exception is that on a HBP (hit-by-pitch), the ball is dead. On a HBP, any runners attempting to steal on the play must return to their original base unless forced to the next base anyway. When a walk occurs, the ball is still live: any runner not forced to advance may nevertheless attempt to advance at his own risk, which might occur on a steal play, passed ball, or wild pitch. Also, because a ball is live when a base on balls occurs, runners on base forced to advance one base may attempt to advance beyond one base, at their own risk. The batter-runner himself may attempt to advance beyond first base, at his own risk. Rule 6.08 addresses this matter as well. An attempt to advance an additional base beyond the base awarded might occur when ball four is a passed ball or a wild pitch.Bat flip
In baseball, a bat flip is the throwing of a baseball bat in such a way that it rotates several times before landing. It is typically done by a batter to show off after hitting a home run. This is in contrast to the usual practice of dropping the bat straight down as the batter begins running to first base.Cleanup hitter
In baseball, a cleanup hitter is the fourth hitter in the lineup. They are the ones with the most power in the team and their most important job is to bring runs in, the cleanup hitter “cleans up the bases” meaning that if there are runners on the bases the cleanup hitter scores them in ergo the name. There is a whole theory on how a coach sets up his lineup card before the game so he gets the best outcome of his players during the game.Clutch hitter
A clutch hitter is a baseball player with a knack for coming up with a hit in high pressure circumstances, or in the clutch, sometimes a home run, often coming with two outs, although it can be any hit or play with a significant impact late in a game. However, a clutch hit could come as early as the first inning. Being known as a clutch hitter is a position of high honor and responsibility, as the clutch hitter is recognized as the "go-to guy" for the team. His exploits in pressure situations are celebrated by both fans and players alike and can become a factor (especially in the modern free agency system) in contract negotiations.Contact hitter
In baseball, a contact hitter is a hitter who does not strike out often. Thus, they are usually able to use their bats to make contact with the ball (hence the name contact hitter) to put it in play, and then run fast to reach base. As a result of their focus on putting the ball in play, they usually have fewer home runs than power hitters.
Tony Gwynn is the leading example of a modern contact hitter. Although he had 135 career home runs, Gwynn accurately described himself as a contact hitter who could hit to all fields. He rarely struck out (just 434 times, once every 21 at-bats) and his goal was to put the ball in play and move baserunners over. Gwynn's success as a contact hitter landed him in the National Baseball Hall of Fame.Count (baseball)
In baseball and softball, the count refers to the number of balls and strikes a batter has in his current plate appearance. It is usually announced as a pair of numbers, for example, 3-1 (pronounced as "three and one," or, alternatively, "a three-one count"), with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. An individual pitch may also be referred to by the count prior to its delivery, for example, a pitch thrown with a count of three balls and one strike would be called a "three-one pitch." A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even. Zero is commonly pronounced "oh," although a 0-0 count is rarely expressed as such — the count is typically not mentioned until at least one pitch has been thrown.Fifth infielder
A fifth infielder is the rare instance in baseball when a team may elect to bring in an outfielder to play the infield. This is usually done when the game is tied in the bottom of the ninth or an extra inning, the home team has a runner at 3rd base with fewer than two outs. Normally with a runner on 3rd with less than two outs, a manager will usually have the infield playing in, as to cut down a runner trying to score. Bringing the infield in is a typical strategy used late in games, when a potential tying, go-ahead, winning or crucial insurance run is at 3rd base with less than two outs. In cases like this, if a ball is hit right to an infielder, the infielder usually has a chance to throw out the runner trying to score. However, any ground ball not hit at an infielder will usually have a good chance to score the runner, plus the batter reaching base safely, versus if the infield plays back. When the infield plays back, it does make it more likely for the run to score, but the infielders are more likely to get the batter out via a ground out.
However, in an instance where if the runner at 3rd base scoring ends the game immediately, a team may elect to have a fifth infielder, as to decrease the chances of a groundball getting through. The drawback is that it decreases the chance of an outfielder getting to a potential fly ball that may result in a play at the plate, however, any fair fly ball hit deep enough is good enough to end the game.
For scorekeeping purposes, whatever position a player is listed as in the box score is the number they get assigned. For example, if a left fielder moves in to play the third base position, and a ball is hit to him, and he throws to the catcher to get the out, the play is recorded as 7–2.Grand Slam Single
The Grand Slam Single is the hit that ended Game 5 of the 1999 National League Championship Series between the New York Mets and one of their rivals, the Atlanta Braves. The game was played on October 17, 1999 at Shea Stadium.Lead off
In baseball, a lead or lead off is the short distance that a player stands away from their current base. This term should not be confused with "leadoff hitter", which is the first batter of a game or of an inning.Leadoff hitter
In baseball, a leadoff hitter is a batter who bats first in the lineup. It can also refer to any batter who bats first in an inning.Pinch hitter
In baseball, a pinch hitter is a substitute batter. Batters can be substituted at any time while the ball is dead (not in active play); the manager may use any player who has not yet entered the game as a substitute. Unlike basketball, American football, or ice hockey, baseball does not have a "free substitution rule" and thus the replaced player in baseball is not allowed back into that game. The pinch hitter assumes the spot in the batting order of the player whom he replaces.
The player chosen to be a pinch hitter is often a backup infielder or outfielder. In Major League Baseball (MLB), catchers are less likely to be called upon to pinch-hit, because most teams have only two catchers, while pitchers are almost never used as pinch hitters, because they tend to be worse hitters than other players on the team. The pinch hitter may not re-enter the game after being replaced with another player.
The American League of MLB, the Pacific League of Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB), the KBO League (in Korea), and various other leagues, use the designated hitter rule, such that pitchers seldom bat. This eliminates one possible situation, where a pinch hitter may be more desirable.
For statistical and scorekeeping purposes, the pinch hitter is denoted by PH.Pull hitter
In baseball, a pull hitter is a batter who usually hits the ball to the side of the field from which he bats. For example, a right-handed pull hitter, who bats from the left side of the plate, will usually hit the ball to the left side of the field, termed "left field", from the batter's perspective. The opposite of pull hitting is known as "hitting to the opposite field." Hitters who rarely hit to the opposite field or "up the middle" are often described as dead pull hitters.Sacrifice bunt
In baseball, a sacrifice bunt (also called a sacrifice hit) is a batter's act of deliberately bunting the ball, before there are two outs, in a manner that allows a runner on base to advance to another base. The batter is almost always sacrificed (and to a certain degree that is the intent of the batter) but sometimes reaches base due to an error or fielder's choice. In that situation, if runners still advance bases, it is still scored a sacrifice bunt instead of the error or the fielder's choice. Sometimes the batter may safely reach base by simply outrunning the throw to first; this is not scored as a sacrifice bunt but rather a single.
In the Major Leagues, sacrifice bunts reduce the average runs scored but increase the likelihood of scoring once. However, they can increase the average runs scored in an inning if the batter is a weak hitter.
A successful sacrifice bunt does not count as an at bat, does not impact a player's batting average, and counts as a plate appearance. However, unlike a sacrifice fly, a sacrifice bunt does not count against a player in determining on-base percentage. If the official scorer believes that the batter was attempting to bunt for a base hit, and not solely to advance the runners, the batter is charged an at bat and is not credited with a sacrifice bunt.
In leagues without a designated hitter, sacrifice bunts are most commonly attempted by pitchers, who are typically not productive hitters. Managers consider that if a pitcher's at bat will probably result in an out, they might as well go out in a way most likely to advance the runners. The play also obviates the need for the pitcher to run the base paths, and hence avoids the risk of injury. Some leadoff hitters also bunt frequently in similar situations and may be credited with a sacrifice, but as they are often highly skilled bunters and faster runners, they are often trying to get on base as well as advance runners.
A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner is on third is called a squeeze play.
A sacrifice bunt attempted while a runner on third is attempting to steal home is called a suicide squeeze.
Although a sacrifice bunt is not the same as a sacrifice fly, both fell under the same statistical category until 1954.
In scoring, a sacrifice bunt may be denoted by SH, S, or occasionally, SAC.Sacrifice fly
In baseball, a sacrifice fly (sometimes abbreviated to sac fly) is defined by Rule 9.08(d) :
"Score a sacrifice fly when, before two are out, the batter hits a ball in flight handled by an outfielder or an infielder running in the outfield in fair or foul territory that
is caught, and a run scores after the catch, or
is dropped, and a runner scores, if in the scorer's judgment the runner could have scored after the catch had the fly ball been caught."It is called a "sacrifice" fly because the batter allows a teammate to score a run, while sacrificing his own ability to do so. Sacrifice flies are traditionally recorded in box scores with the designation "SF".Silver Slugger Award
The Silver Slugger Award is awarded annually to the best offensive player at each position in both the American League and the National League, as determined by the coaches and managers of Major League Baseball. These voters consider several offensive categories in selecting the winners, including batting average, slugging percentage, and on-base percentage, in addition to "coaches' and managers' general impressions of a player's overall offensive value". Managers and coaches are not permitted to vote for players on their own team. The Silver Slugger was first awarded in 1980 and is given by Hillerich & Bradsby, the manufacturer of Louisville Slugger bats. The award is a bat-shaped trophy, 3 feet (91 cm) tall, engraved with the names of each of the winners from the league and plated with sterling silver.The prize is presented to outfielders irrespective of their specific position. This means that it is possible for three left fielders, or any other combination of outfielders, to win the award in the same year, rather than one left fielder, one center fielder, and one right fielder. In addition, only National League pitchers receive a Silver Slugger Award; lineups in the American League include a designated hitter in place of the pitcher in the batting order, so the designated hitter receives the award instead.Home run record-holder Barry Bonds won twelve Silver Slugger Awards in his career as an outfielder, the most of any player. He also won the award in five consecutive seasons twice in his career: from 1990 to 1994, and again from 2000 to 2004. Retired former New York Mets catcher Mike Piazza and former New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez are tied for second, with ten wins each. Rodriguez' awards are split between two positions; he won seven Silver Sluggers as a shortstop for the Seattle Mariners and Texas Rangers, and three with the Yankees as a third baseman. Wade Boggs leads third basemen with eight Silver Slugger Awards; Barry Larkin leads shortstops with nine. Other leaders include Ryne Sandberg (seven wins as a second baseman) and Mike Hampton (five wins as a pitcher). Todd Helton and Albert Pujols are tied for the most wins among first baseman with four, although Pujols has won two awards at other positions. David Ortiz has won seven awards at designated hitter position, the most at that position.Slap bunt
Slap bunting is an offensive baseball and softball technique described as "the idea behind the skill is to hit the ball to a place on the infield that's farthest from the place where the out needs to be made".To execute slap bunting, the player is almost always in the back of the left-hand side of home plate, feet slightly open to right field, and choked up slightly on the bat. The moment the pitch is released from the pitcher's hand, the player must rotate his hips toward the pitcher and then cross his back (left) foot over his front foot, moving up to the very front edge of the batter's box. His shoulders should face the pitcher at this point. If the pitch is in the strike zone, the batter should then extend his arms so that the bat is at the correct angle for where he wants to place the ball — the barrel trailing the hands if he wants the ball to go to the left side of the field, and the opposite if he wants it to go to the right.
The technique is quite common in softball because of the difficulty of getting a hit with a pitcher only 40 feet (12 m) away. By already being in the front of the batter's box with the batter's body turned halfway toward first base, the batter already has some momentum toward first base and might be in better position to get a base hit.The technique is often successful in sacrifice circumstances, where the placement of the ball could help advance a runner already on base. It is also often used when batters are having difficulty getting a hit off of a difficult pitcher, or when they have a better opportunity of getting on base because of the slap bunt than a hit, perhaps because of the player's running speed.
Some advanced players might perform a slap hit, which is the same technique except that the player swings to place the ball in an infield hole or over the infielders' heads.Strike zone
In baseball, the strike zone is the volume of space through which a pitch must pass in order to be called a strike, if the batter does not swing. The strike zone is defined as the volume of space above home plate and between the batter's knees and the midpoint of their torso. Whether a pitch passes through the zone is decided by an umpire, who is generally positioned behind the catcher.
Strikes are desirable for the pitcher and the fielding team, as three strikes result in a strikeout of that batter. A pitch that misses the strike zone is called a ball (only if the batter doesn't swing). Balls are desirable for the batter and the batting team, as four balls allow the batter to take a "walk" to first base as a base on balls.Switch hitter
In baseball, a switch hitter is a player who bats both right-handed and left-handed, usually right-handed against left-handed pitchers and left-handed against right-handed pitchers.