Lexicon

slangBaseball, like any specialized area of culture, has its own special vocabulary. Many baseball terms have found their way into the common vernacular, but others may still seem obscure. If you're not fluent, you might find yourself metaphorically scratching your head over something said during a broadcast or written in the newspaper or in a post here on GrandSalami.net. With that in mind, below is a not-all-inclusive-and-ever-evolving list of baseball terminology one might want a reference for.

So, the next time an announcer throws you some chin music that has you behind in the count and feeling as if you wear the tools if ignorance, maybe this page can increase your range factor.


 

  • A-Ball: See Single-A
  • AA: See Double-A
  • AAA: See Triple-A
  • Ace: The top pitcher on a team's starting rotation.
  • AFL: The Arizona Fall League, an instructional league within a club's minor-league organization.
  • Airmail: To badly overthrow a ball when trying to get an out on the bases.
  • ALCS: The American League Championship Series, a best-of-seven playoff series, the winner of which claims the league pennant and plays the National League champion in the World Series. Extant since 1969 (best-of-five format from 1969-1984).
  • ALDS: The American League Division Series, best-of-five playoff series between two division champions or a division champion and a Wild Card team; winners advance to the ALCS. Extant since 1995.
  • Appeal Play: An attempt to get an out call from an umpire after a play has happened; commonly tried after sacrifice flies or if a defensive team thinks a baserunner did not touch one of the bases while advancing.
  • Around the Horn: The route the ball takes when it is thrown from the third baseman to the second baseman to the first baseman, or from the catcher to the third baseman to the second baseman to the first baseman. Commonly done as a ritual after a strikeout and often the path of a double play ball.
  • Arsonist: A relief pitcher who repeatedly gives up several runs. Opposite of fireman.
  • Assist: A defensive statistic for a fielder who throws the ball to another fielder who records an out by tagging a runner or base.
  • Asterisk: Shorthand term for a statistic that is "tainted" or seen by some as illegitimate or controversial. So called because when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's home run record of 60 in one season, it was in the first year (1961) when the American League schedule was 162 games rather then 154, meaning Maris had eight more games in which to hit his total than Ruth did, and was so noted in the record book with an asterisk.
  • At-Bat (AB): Statistic denoting a plate appearance that results in a hit, out, or fielding error with the exception of sacrifices.
  • Backdoor Pitch: A pitch, usually a slider, that misses the strike zone at the front of home plate but crosses the zone on the back portion of the plate.
  • Balk: An illegal pitching motion resulting in runners being awarded advancement to the next base. A balk is committed when the pitcher changes direction while in his pitching motion, does not pause before beginning the pitch, or otherwise engages in deceitful motions with runners on base.
  • Baltimore Chop: A batted ball that bounces high off of home plate or ground immediately in front of it, sometimes done deliberately by fast runners in an attempt to get an infield hit. So called because in the late 1800s, the Baltimore Orioles of the American Association had their grounds crew pack the dirt beneath and in front of home plate densely (rumored to include concrete) to cause high bounces and give their batters a home-field advantage.
  • Bandbox: A ballpark with relatively short outfield distances that results in an inordinate number of home runs.
  • Bang-Bang Play: A close play on the bases when the call of safe or out is made with some difficulty.
  • Barrel Up: To connect on a batted ball with the optimal (thick) part of the bat.
  • Base on Balls (BB): The technical term for a walk.
  • Baseball Annie: A female fan that acts like a "groupie" or otherwise attempts to date players. So called because of 1940s fan Ruth Ann Steinhagen, who became infatuated with and stalked Eddie Waikus, a first baseman for the Cubs and Phillies, whom she shot and nearly killed in 1949. The inspiration for the novel The Natural
  • Basket Catch: A catch of a fly ball made with the glove held palm up in front of the player. A signature habit of Willie Mays.
  • Bat Around/Batting Around: When all nine players in a lineup come to bat in the same inning, they have "batted around."
  • batter's eye
    The large black wall you see in center field at Mariner games is the "batter's eye."
    Batter's Eye: A dark area beyond the center field fence that is in the line of sight of the batter. It is intended to minimize distraction for the batter and optimize his sight of the pitch as it approaches the plate.
  • Batting a Thousand: A perfect record in something, derived from the perfect batting average of 1.000.
  • Batting Average: Measurement of a batter's propensity to get hits. The figure is calculated by dividing total hits by at-bats.
  • Battery: Term for the pitcher and the catcher as a unit.
  • Beanball: A pitch purposely thrown at a batter's head or body.
  • Bench player: A player who does not generally start games but is used in a reserve capacity, available for pinch-hitting/running, defensive substitution, or to take over for an injured player. Generally refers to a player who is used in that capacity for most of the season, but any player not yet used in a particular game is a bench player for that game.
  • Bender: See Curveball.
  • Big Fly: An over-the-fence home run.
  • The Bigs: The Major Leagues.
  • Bleeder: A slowly-hit ground ball that eludes fielders.
  • Blooper: A short-distance fly ball that lands in front of an outfielder/behind an infielder.
  • Blown Save: A statistic noting when a reliever entered the game with a save opportunity and allowed the other team to tie the score or take the lead.
  • Box Score: A compact written record of a game's participating players and their statistics.
  • Breaking Ball/Breaking Pitch: A pitch that does not follow a straight-line path; when the pitch deviates from a straight path it is said to "break" the line. Most commonly a reference to a curveball or slider.
  • Bronx Cheer: Sarcastic applause from a stadium crowd, sometimes heard when, say, a pitcher throws a strike after walking consecutive batters.
  • Brushback Pitch: A pitch thrown high and tight on the batter, intending to move him back away from home plate.
  • Bullpen: (1) The designated areas of a ballpark for relief pitchers to warm up during a game. (2) Collective term for all relief pitchers on a team.
  • Bullpen Game: A game wherein no regular starting pitcher is available and the entire game is pitched by players who are typically relievers.
  • Bunt: A batted ball that is merely tapped by the batter in an effort to force infielders to cover more distance when fielding the ball and allow (a) the batter to reach base safely by outrunning the defensive play, and/or (b) allow existing baserunners to advance unhindered while the defense retires the batter.
  • Butcher Boy: The practice of a batter displaying to the defense that he intends to bunt the pitch, then as the pitch is delivered shifting his stance to swing and hit the ball hard on the ground as the infielders close in to field a bunt.
  • Cactus League: The group of Major League teams that hold spring training in Arizona. See Grapefruit League.
  • Callup: A player that has been promoted from a lower level in the organization, i.e. from Triple-A to the Major League team. Such a player has been "called up" to the higher level.
  • Can of Corn: An easy fly ball to the outfield. So called because the easy catch was analogous to the 19th-century grocer's practice of retrieving canned goods (often corn) from a high shelf by tipping it with a long stick and dropping it into the grocer's apron. 
  • Catcher's Interference (CI): When a catcher reaches into the path of a batter's swing and makes contact with the bat. The batter is awarded first base on catcher's interference.
  • Changeup: A pitch that is thrown with less force than a fastball, but with a similar motion and that still travels a relatively straight-line path. So called because the pitcher has "changed speeds" to disrupt the batter's timing.
  • Check the Runner: The practice of a pitcher or infielder showing a baserunner that he is aware of the runner's presence so as to deter the runner from trying to advance on a pitch or defensive play.
  • Check Swing: An attempt by the batter to stop a swing after beginning the swinging motion.
  • Chin Music: Term for a fastball thrown high and tight to the batter. Similar to brushback pitch.
  • Class-A: See Single-A.
  • Cleanup Batter/Hitter: The fourth batter in a lineup, so called because if the first through third batters reach base ahead of him, he is in position to "clean up" the bases with a home run.
  • Climb the Ladder: A pitching strategy consisting of consecutive fastballs thrown higher and higher to the batter, often effective in provoking a strikeout.
  • Clutch Hitter: A batter who is regarded as productive in high-pressure situations.
  • Comebacker: A ground ball batted back to the pitcher.
  • Complete Game (CG): Pitching statistic denoting a game wherein no relief pitchers are used; the starting pitcher remains in the game for its entirety.
  • Contact Hitter: A batter that rarely strikes out and thus generally makes contact with the ball. Typically a batter without much home-run power.
  • Contact Play: A strategy in which a baserunner at third base begins running home the instant the batter makes contact with the ball, without waiting to see the trajectory of the batted ball or actions of the defense.
  • Cooperstown: Shorthand reference for the Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum, which is located in Cooperstown, New York.
  • Corked Bat: A bat which has had its barrel hollowed out and filled with cork, rubber, or another springy substance to increase the potential distance of a batted ball. Illegal.
  • Crossed Up: When a catcher is expecting the pitcher to throw a particular type of pitch and the pitcher throws another, they are said to have their signals "crossed up."
  • Cup of Coffee: A brief stay in the Major Leagues.
  • Curveball: A pitch thrown with a forward spinning motion that causes it to rise and fall with a pronounced arc.
  • Cutter/Cut Fastball: A variation of the two-seam fastball pitch that is thrown with uneven pressure of the fingers to cause it to break slightly (or "cut") to one side as it reaches the plate.
  • Cutoff Man: A defensive player, generally an infielder, who relays a throw from the outfield to home plate or one of the bases.
  • Dead Ball: A ball is "dead" when play is stopped an runners may not advance; the ball becomes live again when the next pitch is delivered.
  • Dead-Ball Era: The early days of baseball, before the 1920s, when home runs were rare.
  • Dead Red: A batter's anicipatory state when he fully expects the next pitch to be a fastball.
  • Defensive Indifference: Term for when a baserunner advances with no attempt by the defense to hinder him from doing so.
  • Designated Hitter (DH): Position in the lineup for a player who takes a turn at bat in place of the pitcher, but who does not play defense. Not used in the National League. Extant in the American League since 1973. Generally either revered or reviled by fans because of the changes it makes to the strategic elements of the game; middle ground opinions on the rule are atypical.
  • DFA: Designated for Assignment, a protocol for players who are moved off the roster but may not be sent to the minor leagues under contract.
  • Dinger: A home run.
  • Disabled List (DL): An inactive status for players who are injured.
  • Double-A: A minor-league level of play. Major League organizations have one minor league team in their system at the Double-A level.
  • Double Play: A defensive play that results in two outs from one batted ball (or strikeout).
  • Double Steal: When two baserunners steal bases simultaneously.
  • Double Switch: When two players are substituted into the lineup at opposite defensive positions, e.g. when the catcher and third baseman are both replaced and the new catcher bats in the lineup spot formerly occupied by the third baseman and the new third baseman bats in the position formerly held by the catcher. Most often occurs with pitchers in National League games to delay the pitcher's spot in the order from coming to bat.
  • Drag Bunt: A bunt that is hit along the first-base side of fair territory, so called because it appears the runner is "dragging" the ball behind him. Opposite of push bunt.
  • Ducks on the Pond: Colloquialism for all three bases being occupied at the same time.
  • Earned Run (ER): A run that scores without assistance from a fielding error.
  • Earned Run Average (ERA): Pitching statistic that measures the average number of earned runs allowed by the pitcher in every nine innings pitched.
  • Eephus Pitch: A pitch thrown with a high arc at a slow speed. Rare.
  • Error: A misplay by a defensive player that results in a baserunner advancing at least one base that he would not otherwise have achieved on the play.
  • Everyday Player: A player who is in the starting lineup for most games.
  • Evil Empire: The New York Yankees.
  • Expansion Team/Club/Franchise: A team that joined the Major Leagues after the original 16 Major League teams were established. From 1901, when the American League was founded, through 1960, there had been several relocations but no additional teams. Expansion teams have joined one or both of the Major Leagues in 1961, 1962, 1969, 1977, 1993, and 1998, bringing the current number of Major League teams to 30.
  • Extra-Base Hit: A hit that results in the batter reaching second base or beyond without benefit of a fielding error. Doubles, triples, and home runs are extra-base hits.
  • Fan Interference: When a spectator reaches into the field of play and interferes with the path of the ball or a fielder's ability to make a play. Does not apply if a ball has traveled beyond the confines of the field.
  • Farm Team: A minor-league club affiliated with a Major League team, so called because a minor-league system is where Major League players are "grown."
  • Fastball: The simplest pitch in a pitcher's repertoire. Thrown with more force than other pitches and with a basic backspin rotation as to travel in a more-or-less straight line. There are several variations on the fastball that depend on how the ball is gripped when thrown.
  • Fielder's Choice: A defensive play in which a fielder records an out on a baserunner while the batter reaches first base safely.
  • Fireman: A relief pitcher that throws very hard and has earned a reputation for "putting out fires" when his team is in a precarious defensive position.
  • Firewood: The remains of a bat broken when hitting a pitch.
  • Five-and-Ten: See Ten-and-Five Player.
  • Five-Tool Payer: A player who is regarded as highly skilled at all five "tools" for a position player: hitting for average, hitting for power, footspeed, throwing strength, and fielding ability.
  • Flare: See Blooper.
  • Force Play/Forceout: An out recorded at a base by stepping on or tagging the base while in possession of the ball when a baserunner is obligated to advance (i.e. when all bases behind him are occupied).
  • Forkball: A pitch that is gripped with the index and middle fingers splayed far apart as to lessen the force of the throw while showing the batter the same arm motion as a fastball. Has the appearance of dropping suddenly as the pitch nears home plate. Also called a splitter or split-fingered fastball.
  • Four-Seamer/Four-Seam Fastball: The traditional variant of the fastball, gripped with the index and middle fingers together across the "horseshoe" portion of the seam. So called because as the ball spins, the seams appear to be four distinct lines? This is actually a mystery, I think the terminology is simply a way to distinguish it from the two-seam fastball. The baseball of course has but one continuous seam.
  • Free Baseball: Extra innings.
  • Free-Swinger: A batter who swings at most pitches regardless of location.
  • Frozen Rope: A line drive hit.
  • Fungo: A fly ball hit by a batter tossing a ball up slightly and hitting it himself for fielders to practice catching.
  • Golden Sombrero: "Award" for a batter who strikes out four times in a game.
  • Gopher Ball: A home run, particularly one hit on a low pitch with an uppercut swing.
  • Grand Slam: A home run with the bases loaded.
  • Grapefruit League: The group of Major League teams that hold spring training in Florida. See Cactus League.
  • Ground-Rule Double: A hit that leaves the field of play after hitting the ground within it. Typically a batted ball that bounces once in the deep outfield and continues over the outfield wall.
  • Hat Trick: "Achievement" for a batter who strikes out three times in a game.
  • Heat/Heater: A hard fastball.
  • High Cheese: A fastball thrown above the strike zone.
  • Hit: A batted ball that results in the batter reaching base safely without benefit of a fielding error.
  • Hit-and-Run: Strategy in which a baserunner or baserunners begin running as the pitch is delivered and the batter is obligated to make contact with the pitch and put the ball in play.
  • Hit for the Cycle: To hit a single, double, triple, and home run in one game.
  • Hold: Statistic for pitchers indicating a relief appearance in which the lead was not surrendered. Perhaps the least relevant statistic in the sport.
  • Hold the Runner: Practice when an infielder, generally the first baseman, stands close to the base ready to receive a throw from the pitcher so as to keep a baserunner from straying too far off the base when leading off.
  • Homestand: A sequence of games on the schedule that is played in a team's home ballpark.
  • Hot Corner: Third base (as a defensive position).
  • Hot Stove League: Conversation, speculation, gossip, etc. about baseball during the offseason, especially as pertains to the upcoming season.
  • Immaculate Inning: An inning in which the pitcher faces only three batters and strikes them all out on just three pitches to each.
  • Infield Fly Rule: Applied when a fly ball is hit in the infield area and a runner is on first base with 0 or 1 outs. The batter is declared out immediately and the runner(s) may try to advance or not as they choose. The rule is intended to prevent fielders from allowing an easily catchable ball to drop, which would then obligate a baserunner to try to advance, in order to attempt a double play.
  • Inherited Runners: Baserunners who are already on base when a relief pitcher enters the game. Since the previous pitcher allowed the runners to reach base, the new pitcher has inherited them.
  • Inside the Park Home Run: A hit that does not leave the playing field but nonetheless results in the batter circling the bases without assistance from a fielding error.
  • Intentional Walk (IBB): A strategic decision to walk a batter purposely in order to either pitch to a weaker batter in the lineup or to set up a force play on the bases. Previously, to issue an intentional walk the pitcher had to deliver four pitches wide of the strike zone; since 2017, however, the manager can simply signal to the umpire that he's ordering an intentional walk and the batter can immediately go to first base.
  • In the Hole: The batter that follows the on-deck batter in the lineup is said to be "in the hole."
  • Johnny Wholestaff: Euphemism for the names of a large number of pitchers used in a single game. A game in which the starting pitcher was removed early and most or all of the bullpen corps appeared in the game might be said to have been pitched by "Johnny Wholestaff."
  • Juiced: (1) an artificially enhanced piece of equipment or player, e.g. a corked bat or player using performance-enhancing drugs. (2) all bases occupied can be said to be loaded or juiced.
  • Junior Circuit: The American League, which was established more recently than was the National League.
  • Junkballer/Junkball Pitcher: A pitcher who does not throw very hard and gets by on an assortment of comparatively slow-speed pitches.
  • K: Scorecard notation for a strikeout.
  • KBO: The Korean Baseball Organization, the professional league of South Korea.
  • Keystone: Second base.
  • Knuckleball/Knuckler: A pitch gripped with the fingertips or first knuckles that travels with minimal or no spin. Knuckleballs travel more slowly than any other pitch and are generally unpredictable in their flight paths.
  • KWP/KPB: Scorecard notation for reaching base via a strikeout when the catcher does not catch strike three. If first base is unoccupied (or there are two out), a batter may run to first if strike three is swung at or called by the umpire and the catcher does not catch the ball. Can be ruled either a wild pitch or a passed ball (WP or PB), assigning responsibility to either the pitcher or the catcher.
  • Leading Off: (1) The first batter of an inning is said to be leading off the inning. (2) The practice of a baserunner stepping away from the base before a pitch in order to get a head start when running to the next base.
  • Leadoff Batter/Hitter: The first batter in a lineup.
  • Left on Base/LOB: Statistic tallying the number of baserunners remaining when an inning is ended. Also used for the cumulative number of runners left on base for an entire game.
  • Line Drive/Liner: A hard-hit batted ball that travels on the fly without much elevation or arc, i.e. "on a line."
  • Lineup: The list of batters playing for a team in a game, in order of their turn at bat. Also called the batting order.
  • Longball: A home run that clears the outfield wall.
  • LOOGY: A relief pitcher typically tasked with getting a single left-handed batter out. Acronym for "Left-handed One Out GuY."
  • Maddux: A complete-game shutout thrown by the pitcher with fewer than 100 total pitches. So called in reference to Greg Maddux, a Hall of Fame pitcher who threw 13 such shutouts in his career.
  • Magic Number: Number of games a team needs to win or the team immediately behind them in the standings needs to lose in order to secure a playoff berth.
  • Manufacture Runs: To score runs one at a time by means of advancing runners without many base hits, e.g. by stealing bases, sacrifice bunts or flies, etc., rather than with home runs or extra-base hits. See small ball.
  • Meat: A rookie or young payer, as in "fresh meat."
  • Meatball: A pitch in the optimal part of the strike zone and thus comparatively easy for the batter to hit hard.
  • Mendoza Line: A .200 batting average. Named for former Pirates and Mariners infielder Mario Mendoza, a notoriously poor hitter who played in the 1970s and early '80s. The term was coined by Mendoza's Seattle teammates in 1979 as he struggled to reach the .200 mark (he finished the year at .198).
  • NLCS: The National League Championship Series, a best-of-seven playoff series to determine which team wins the league pennant and plays the American League champion in the World Series. Extant since 1969 (best-of-five format from 1969-1984).
  • NLDS: The National League Division Series, best-of-five playoff series between two division champions or a division champion and a Wild Card team; winners advance to the NLCS. Extant since 1995.
  • No-Decision: Statistical designation for a starting pitcher in a game in which he is not credited with either a win or a loss.
  • No-Hitter: A pitching accomplishment in which a starting pitcher throws a complete game without allowing any hits by the opposing team. Differs from a perfect game in that baserunners may still reach via walk, error, catcher's interference, strikeout/wild pitch, or being hit by a pitch.
  • No-No: See No-Hitter:
  • NPB: Nippon Professional Baseball, the Major Leagues of Japan.
  • Obstruction: The act of a fielder impeding the progress of a baserunner when the fielder is not in possession of the baseball.
  • OBP: See On-base percentage.
  • Oh-fer: Shorthand for a string of at-bats in which a batter does not reach base, i.e. "he's 0-for-12 this week."
  • Official Game: Point at which a game counts in the standings and record books. Referenced often in cases of rainouts or rain delays, as a game will not count until it reaches the end of the fifth inning (or middle of the fifth if the home team is ahead) and becomes official. A game ended by weather or other means before this point will be disregarded in the standings and (usually) rescheduled.
  • Off-Speed pitch: A pitch slower than a fastball. Though often used interchangeably with changeup, any pitch slower than a fastball is considered "off-speed."
  • On-Base Percentage (OBP): Statistic measuring a batter's propensity to reach base by any means. To calculate OBP, add hits, walks, sacrifice flies, and hit-by-pitch figures and divide by total plate appearances. Not sure why sac flies are included, as the batter doesn't reach base with one, but they are.
  • On Deck: The batter that follows the current batter in the lineup and is waiting his turn at the plate is "on deck."
  • On the Black: A pitch that only touches the outer edge of the strike zone, referencing the black border around home plate.
  • Opposite Field: The section of the field opposite the batter's position in either the left- or right-handed batter's box, i.e. the right-handed batter's box is on the left-field half of the diamond, thus right field is the batter's "opposite field." See Pull hitter.
  • OPS: On-base-plus-slugging. A shorthand statistic that adds a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage to give a general idea of overall productivity.
  • Paint the Black/Paint the Corners: To locate a pitch on the outer edge of the strike zone. See On the black.
  • Passed Ball: A pitch that eludes the catcher's grasp despite being catchable and results in advancement of a baserunner. See Wild pitch.
  • Pepper: A practice drill consisting of batted balls to nearby fielders, who then toss the ball back quickly and the batter attempts to hit the return throw, repeat.
  • Perfect Game: A complete game by a starting pitcher in which no opposing batter reaches base.
  • Phantom Tag: An attempt to tag a baserunner out that is in the vicinity of the baserunner (or base on a force play) but does not actually touch him.
  • Pinch Hitter: A batter substituting for the batter due up in the lineup.
  • Pinch Runner: A player substituting for a runner on base.
  • Pitchout: A pitch thrown purposely out of the reach of the batter in order to give the catcher a better chance of throwing out a baserunner attempting to steal.
  • Plate Appearance: Any time a player takes his turn in the batter's box, regardless of outcome. Differentiated from at-bat as at-bats do not include walks or sacrifice flies/sacrifice bunts.
  • Platinum Sombrero: "Award" given to a player who strikes out five times in a game.
  • Platoon Player: A position player who typically plays regularly against left- or right-handed pitchers only. A team may have two left fielders, say, who are "platoon partners," one of whom plays against left-handed pitching and the other against right-handers.
  • PTBNL: Player to be Named Later. Trades between teams will sometimes include a PTBNL, either because the team has a choice among two or three minor-league players to include and has yet to decide, or more commonly a player has been agreed upon but has not completed enough service time to be traded yet; such a player will be "named" and switch clubs after the service time threshold has been passed, or a cash figure may substitute if both clubs agree at that point.
  • Productive Out: A batter who makes an out but advances a baserunner is said to have made a "productive out."
  • Pull Hitter: A batter who has a tendency to hit to the "pull field," i.e. the same side of the field that he bats on (confusingly for this purpose, the left-handed batter's box is on the right-field side of the diamond and vice-versa, making right field the lefty batter's "pull" field). See Opposite field.
  • Punchout: A strikeout.
  • Push Bunt: A bunt that is directed to the third-base side of the infield, so called because it is directed away from the batter's motion. Opposite of drag bunt.
  • Quadruple-A Player: A level of skill that is "in between" the top level of the minor leagues, Triple-A, and the Majors. A player who has good success at the Triple-A level but doesn't do well in the Major Leagues may be said to be a "Quadruple-A player." The level of play in NPB is often said to be at "Quadruple-A" level.
  • Quality Start: Statistic denoting a starting pitching performance of at least six innings with three or fewer earned runs allowed.
  • Rainmaker: An exceptionally high fly ball.
  • Rally Cap: Superstitious wear of a baseball cap in a non-traditional manner (e.g. inside-out, backward, etc.) in order to ignite a rally by a team in need of runs.
  • Range Factor: Sabermetric measure of a player's ability to cover ground defensively.
  • RBI/"Ribby": Statistic denoting a run batted in, when a baserunner scores due to the action of the batter.
  • Rembrandt: A pitcher with pinpoint control known for painting the black.
  • RISP: Runners in Scoring Position.
  • Run: The scoring quantifier in a game. A baserunner that successfully completes a circuit around the bases has scored a run. Analogous to "points" in some other sports, but don't ever call it that.
  • Run-and-Hit: A strategy wherein a baserunner begins running toward the next base as soon as the pitch is delivered and the better has the option of taking the pitch or swinging at it. Lack of batter obligation distinguishes it from the hit-and-run.
  • Rundown: When a baserunner is caught between bases and is chased by fielders to be tagged out.
  • Sabermetrics: The range of "modern" baseball statistics that have come into use in recent years. So called because they have been popularized by members of the Society for American Baseball Research, or "SABR."
  • Sacrifice Bunt/Sac Bunt: An bunted ball intended to advance a baserunner while allowing the batter to be thrown out.
  • Sacrifice Fly/Sac Fly: A batted fly ball that is caught for an out but which allows a baserunner to score from third base.
  • Safety Squeeze: A sacrifice bunt with a runner on third base, where the runner breaks for home plate after determining the path of the bunted ball. Variant of the Squeeze Play.
  • Save: Statistic for a relief pitcher who is (a) the final pitcher of the game for a team, (b) entered the game with his team leading and the potential tying run no further away than the on-deck position (or pitches at least three full innings), and (c) finished the game without surrendering the lead. Used as a measure of reliever effectiveness at securing wins in tight games.
  • Scoring Position: A baserunner on second or third base is said to be in scoring position, as from there most runners can score on a typical base hit.
  • Screwball: A pitch thrown with a kind of corkscrew motion to generate a forward spin that breaks sharply. Throwing a screwball is extremely hard on the elbow and is thus rarely done. The last Major Leaguer to regularly throw a screwball was Fernando Valenzuela in the 1980s.
  • Seeing-Eye Single/Hit: A ground ball that is not particularly well-hit but is placed in between fielders and sneaks through to the outfield.
  • Senior Circuit: The National League, which was founded in 1876 and thus senior to the American League (established in 1901).
  • Shift: A defensive alignment where fielders cluster toward one side of the field while leaving the other largely undefended.
  • ballpark dimensions
    "Short porches" and other ballpark dimensions
    Short Porch: The nearest outfield wall to home plate, particularly one that doesn't expand the distance much for a significant stretch as it rounds the outfield.
  • The Show: The Major Leagues.
  • Single-A: Low minor league level. There are distinctions between Class-A leagues (low-A, high-A, short-season-A); many freshly-drafted players begin their professional careers in a Single-A league of some kind.
  • Slap Hitter: A batter who tends to have little home-run power but hits to all fields or prefers to hit to the opposite field.
  • Slash Line: The statistics batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage displayed together and separated by a slash, e.g. “.300/.350/.625."
  • Slider: A pitch thrown with less velocity than a fastball but harder than a curveball or changeup that spins sideways to create a break to one side, down, or (usually) both.
  • Slugging Percentage: Statistic measuring a batter's propensity for extra-base hits. To get one's slugging percentage, divide total bases by at-bats.
  • Small Ball: The strategy of scoring runs one at a time by means of singles, walks, sacrifice bunts, stolen bases, etc.; a lack of emphasis on home runs and extra-base hits.
  • Snow Cone: A catch made by a fielder with the very end of his glove, with a portion of the ball visible beyond the glove's webbing.
  • Southpaw: A left-handed player, usually in reference to a pitcher. So called because the typical layout of a baseball diamond has home plate on the southwest corner to minimize visibility issues from the setting sun, making the pitcher's orientation such that his left side points south.
  • Splitter/Split-Finger Fastball: See Forkball
  • Splits: A subset of a player's statistics, generally broken down as home game stats/road game stats, day games/night games, vs. left-handers/vs. right-handers, stats by month, or other such breakdown.
  • Spray Hitter: A batter without a strong tendency to hit to one area of the field and thus just as likely to hit in any direction.
  • Squeeze Play/Squeeze Bunt: A strategy in which a runner from third base breaks for home plate immediately upon the release of the pitch, while the batter bunts the ball on the ground. A successful squeeze play has the runner scoring before a fielder can make a play on the bunted ball and the defensive team forced to get the batter out instead. The risk in the strategy is if the batter fails to make contact with the pitch or bunts the ball in the air to be caught by a fielder.
  • Station-to-Station: When baserunners advance one base at a time they are said to move station-to-station.
  • Stolen Base: Advancement by a baserunner to the next base without assistance from action by the batter or defense. A speedy baserunner can steal a base in the time between when the pitcher starts his pitching motion and the catcher receives the pitch and throws to an infielder at the base.
  • Straight Steal: A stolen base attempted without any other strategy playing a part, e.g. a hit-and-run or run-and-hit.
  • Stuff: Catchall term for a pitcher's power and effectiveness. A pitcher who throws harder than most may be said to have excellent "stuff."
  • Suicide Squeeze: See Squeeze Play
  • Sweep: Victories by one team in every game in a given series.
  • Swingman: A pitcher who is used both as a starter and a reliever.
  • Switch-Hitter: A batter who can bat either left-handed or right-handed.
  • Tablesetter: A batter at or near the top of the lineup who is tasked with getting on base ahead of a more powerful hitter in the middle of the lineup, typically the cleanup hitter.
  • Tater: A home run.
  • Ten-and-Five Player: A player who has ten years of Major League service time, the last five or more of them with the same team. Such players have veto power over any trades they may be involved in.
  • Texas Leaguer: A bloop single. So called because such hits are weakly hit and involve a degree of luck, making them "less than" a Major League hit, more suited to the Double-A Texas League.
  • Tommy John Surgery (TJ Surgery): Reconstructive surgery of the ulnar collateral ligament, wherein a portion of tendon is transplanted form elsewhere in the body to the medial elbow to effectively create a new UCL to replace one that has been ruptured. Increasingly common in pitchers, who stress their UCLs with the pitching motion. So called because the first pitcher to successfully undergo the procedure was the Los Angeles Dodgers' Tommy John in 1974. Recovery time from Tommy John surgery is generally 12-18 months for pitchers (6-9 months for non-pitchers).
  • Tools of Ignorance: Catcher's protective equipment (mask, chest protector, knee and shin guards), so called after a jest that catchers don't know what kind of abuse they're in for.
  • Trapped Ball: A fly ball that hits the ground a split second before being caught by a fielder.
  • Triple-A: The highest level of the minor leagues. Each Major League club has one Triple-A affiliate in their minor-league system.
  • Triple Crown: Collective term for either batting or pitching statistics—for hitters, the categories are batting average, home runs, and runs batted in. For pitchers, the categories are wins, strikeouts, and earned run average. When one player finishes a season with the league's top marks in all three categories he has won the Triple Crown. Thus far, there have been 17 batting Triple Crown winners in the Major Leagues and 38 pitching Triple Crown winners.
  • Twin Killing: A double play.
  • Two-Seamer/Two-Seam Fastball: A pitch thrown with high force, gripped with the index and middle fingers slightly apart and along the seams of the baseball at their closest point. The two-seamer typically is slightly slower and less perfectly straight than a four-seam fastball.
  • Two-Way Player: A player adept at both pitching and hitting.
  • Uncle Charlie: A curveball.
  • Walk: Informal term for reaching base via taking four balls during a plate appearance.
  • Walk-Off: A hit that scores the winning run of a game in the last inning for the home team, ending the game immediately.
  • WAR: Wins Above Replacement. A Sabermetric measure of a player's value determined by comparing his productivity to that of a readily available "replacement-level" player at his position. (Replacement-level is measured as the average ability of a bench player or top Triple-A player.) A WAR figure of 3.0 would indicate that a player is worth three more victories for his team over the course of a full season than if a substitute player was in his place. Not a true statistic in that the formula is somewhat subjective.
  • Warning Track: The 15-foot-wide dirt section of the outfield at the base of the outfield wall. The warning track extends around the perimeter of the field, but is most commonly thought of as an outfield feature. Its function is to provide a non-visual warning to an outfielder (or other fielder) moving back on a fly ball that he is approaching the wall. Oddly, many modern artificial turf fields, including the two in the Major Leagues (Toronto and Tampa Bay), have "warning tracks" that are strictly visual, denoted by turf painted brown or by a white line denoting its edge, offering no help whatsoever to an outfielder.
  • Waste Pitch: A pitch thrown deliberately out of the strike zone, generally on an 0-and-2 count.
  • WBC: The World Baseball Classic, an international tournament that serves as an analogue to soccer's World Cup. Extant since 2006 and played every four years (previously every three years). The WBC was created in part as a response to baseball being removed from the summer Olympics in 2005. Of the four tournaments payed to date, two have been won by Japan, one by the Dominican Republic, and one by the United States.
  • Wheel Play: A defensive strategy in which, in anticipation of the batter attempting a bunt, the third baseman moves toward home plate, the shortstop moves to cover third base, and second baseman moves to cover second base.
  • Wheelhouse: A pitch located in a batter's favorite hitting area is said to be "in his wheelhouse."
  • WHIP: Pitching statistic tallying Walks plus Hits divided by Innings Pitched.
  • Wild Card: A playoff position given to the best team in a league that is not a division winner. Extant since 1995. Since 2012, the two teams with the best non-division-winning records are dubbed Wild Card teams and must play each other in a one-game playoff to gain entrance to the rest of the postseason playoff tournament. The change was made to address complaints that finishing first was not sufficiently more desirable than simply winning a Wild Card berth.
  • Wild Pitch: A pitch that cannot be caught by the catcher and results in the advancement of a baserunner.
  • The Yips: Malady that affects fielders, causing them to be unable to make accurate throws. Sometimes called "Steve Blass disease," after the pitcher of that name who lost the ability to throw strikes, or "Steve Sax disease," after a second baseman who became unable to throw out runners at first base.

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