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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.
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.
To hit a home run. "He parked a three-run homer." The term implies hitting the ball into the parking lot.
See hitter's park.
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.
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)
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.
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."
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."
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.
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 leagues 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.
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." 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".
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." "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."
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.
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.
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.
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, knowledgable 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.
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".
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."
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."
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".
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.
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.
Abbreviation for Players' League, a one-year (1890) major league.
A batter who has skill in controlling where he hits the ball. 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."
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 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.
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.
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.
Hit by a pitch.
When a pitcher begins an inning, faces at least one hitter without recording an out and is removed from the game for a relief pitcher, he is said to have pitched x plus innings, where x is the number of innings he completed in the game. For example if a starting pitcher 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 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."
The term has two usages that are of opposite meanings in terms of batting success and failure.
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.
A left-handed pitcher, so named because "port" refers to the left side of a ship. Synonym: southpaw
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."
pound the strike zone
See attack the strike zone.
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.
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".
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. 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.
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."
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.
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."
Punch and Judy hitter
A hitter with very little power. 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. . . ."
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.
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."
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
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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