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Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "A")

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This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, and their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.

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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.

AAAA player

"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.

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".


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.

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.

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."


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...".

air mail

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 "air mailed" the throw.


(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.

Annie Oakley

A free ticket to attendance at a ballgame or to first base (a "free pass" or base on balls).

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: "Royals Trade Two Young Arms To Seattle For Shortstop Betancourt". "Maybe GM Alex Anthopoulos is just stockpiling arms in an attempt to lure a trade for a nearly ready third baseman".

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 warm. 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 back to the third baseman, who returns the ball to the pitcher. It is not certain why the first baseman is omitted from this process, although 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 for a 5-4-3 double play, which mimics the pattern of throwing around the horn.

aspirin tablet

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.


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.

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.

automatic strike

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".

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Published - February 2011

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