Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "T")
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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.
- A pitch that has a little extra on it to make it fast
- a player placed high in the batting order for his tendency to hit for average and steal bases is said to "set the table" for the power hitters behind him in the lineup.
- an unexpected event early in a ball game, such as a defensive error or a hit batsmen, can be called a "tablesetter" for the outcome of the game.
- To hit the ball hard, typically for an extra-base hit. "McCovey tagged that
one into the gap."
- A tag out, sometimes just called a tag, is a play in which a baserunner
is out because he is touched by the fielder's hand holding a live
ball while the runner is in jeopardy. "Helton was tagged out at
second" implies that a defensive player touched him with the ball
before he reached second base.
- When a batter hits a ball that is caught before touching the ground, he is
out and all base runners must retreat back to their original base. The
act of touching their original base is called "tagging up" after which,
they may legally advance to the next base. If a runner fails to tag
up before he or his original base is tagged by a fielder with the ball,
he is out on appeal.
take a pitch
- When a batter decides not to swing at a pitch, he "takes the pitch." He may
do this following the instruction of a coach who has given him a take
- A sign given by a coach to a batter to not swing at the next pitch — to "take"
the next pitch. Sometimes when a new pitcher or a reliever comes in,
batters are given a general instruction to take the first pitch. Most
often, they are told to take a pitch when the count is 3-0. Poor hitters
are often given the take sign, while better hitters much less often.
off the pitch
- To throw an off-speed pitch or to throw a given pitch slower than
the pitcher usually throws it. "When Washburn took something off
a fastball and left it out over the plate, Bonds lined an RBI double
that rolled to the wall in right field, and the rout was on."
take the bat
out of his hands
- To issue an intentional walk. By doing so, a pitcher reduces the potential
damage from allowing the batter to swing at and hit a pitch. "Buck
Showalter took the bat out of Barry Bonds' hands with an unheard-of
strategy – a bases-loaded intentional walk. Amazingly, the Arizona Diamondbacks
manager got away with it."
take the crown
- To win the championship -- remove the current champions from the throne.
take the field
- When the defensive players go to their positions at the beginning
of an inning the defense takes the field. The pitcher goes to the pitcher's
mound or takes the hill.
take the hill
- When a pitcher moves to his defensive position on the mound he is said to
"take the hill."
- A slide performed for the purpose of hampering the play of the defense.
A runner from first to second base will often try to "take out" the
fielder at the base to disrupt his throw to first base and "break up
the double play." Although the runner is supposed to stay within the
base-paths, as long as he touches second base he has a lot of leeway
to use his body. Runners in this situation usually need to slide in
order to avoid being hit by the throw from second to first; but whether
they do a "take-out slide" or come into the base with their spikes high
in the air depends as much on their personal disposition as it does
the situation. The title of a biography of Ty Cobb — "The Tiger Wore
Spikes" — says something about how he ran the basepaths.
- To hit a slow or easy ground ball, typically to the pitcher: "Martinez tapped it back to the mound." A ball hit in this way is a tapper.
tape measure home run
- An especially long home run. The term originated from a 1956 game
in which Mickey Mantle hit a ball out of Griffith Stadium in Washington,
D.C. The distance the ball flew was measured and the next day a picture
of Mantle with a tape measure was published in the newspaper. A play-by-play
announcer may also call a long home run a tape measure job. Although
fans have always been interested in how far home runs may travel and
in comparing the great home runs of the great and not-so-great home
run hitters, the science of measuring home runs remains inexact.
- A home run. The term started to appear in the 1970s, specifically as "long
tater". The ball itself has been known as a "potato" or "tater" for
generations. A long ball is thus a "long tater", shortened to just "tater"
for this specific meaning.
- To hit the ball very hard, figuratively to put a tattoo from the bat's trademark on the ball.
- Conference on the mound, involving more players than just the pitcher and
catcher, and sometimes coaches and managers. Also a pow wow.
- Easily hittable pitches are likened to stationary baseballs sitting
on batting tees (or possibly golf tees, since this term is also part
of the lexicon of golf), and therefore batters hitting such pitches
are said to be 'teeing off'.
- A pitcher's sending unintentional signals to the hitters about what
kind of pitch is about to be delivered. See tipping pitches. Headline
in Houston Chronicle: "Lidge Was Telegraphing His Pitches."
- A pitcher’s “out pitch” (usually his best pitch; as a result, it is
the pitch upon which he relies to get batters out). Made famous by the
movie Major League II.
- A Texas Leaguer (or Texas League single) is a weakly hit fly ball
that drops in for a single between an infielder and an outfielder. These
are now more commonly referred to as flares. See blooper.
The term originated when Ollie Pickering, a popular Texas League player, made his major league debut and proceeded to run off a string of seven straight bloop hits, to which the game announcers stated, "Well, there goes Pickering with another one of those "Texas Leaguers".
third of an inning
- Line stat credited to a pitcher retiring one out of a full inning. For convenience
in print, however, a pitcher who goes 4 and one-third innings might
be shown in the box score as completing 4.1 innings, as compared with
a pitcher who goes four and two-thirds innings for whom the box score
would show 4.2.
- A triple.
- A triple.
three true outcomes
- The three ways a plate appearance can end without fielders coming
into play: walks, home runs, and strikeouts. Baseball Prospectus coined
the term in homage to Rob Deer, who excelled at producing all three
outcomes. Traditionally, players with a high percentage of their plate
appearances ending in one of the three true outcomes are underrated,
as general managers often overestimate the harm in striking out, and
underestimate the value of a walk.
three up, three down
- To face just three batters in an inning. Having a "three up,
three down inning" is the goal of any pitcher. See also: side retired,
through the wickets
- When a batted ball passes through the legs of a player in the field
it's often said, "That one went right through the wickets."
The term refers to the metal hoops (called wickets) used in the game
of croquet through which croquet balls are struck. Letting the ball
through his legs makes a baseball player look (and feel) inept, and
the official scorekeeper will typically record the play as an error.
See Bill Buckner.
throw a clothesline
- When a fielder throws the ball so hard that it hardly appears to arc
at all, he may be said to "throw a clothesline." Akin to a batter's
line drive being described as a rope or frozen rope.
throw him the chair
- Striking out a batter, causing him to sit down in the dugout.
- A pitcher who throws the ball hard in the direction of home plate
but without much accuracy or command. Distinguished from a "pitcher,"
who may or may not throw the ball as hard but who has command and is
likely to be more successful in getting batters out. "However,
what was special about Martinez during his heyday was that he wasn’t
just a thrower, someone blessed with a great arm who could miss bats
all day. Martinez was a pitcher, someone who changed speeds and had
four good pitches that he could locate and could think his way through
an at-bat, an inning, and a game as well as anyone this side of Maddux."
seeds/throwing the pill
- When a pitcher's fastball is so good it seems as though the baseball is the
size of a seed (or pill), and just about as hittable.
tie him up
- Getting a pitch in on the hitter's hands, making it impossible for him to swing.
- A game. A face-off between competitors, as in a joust. Headline: "Myers,
Phillies beat Mets in key NL East tilt".
- A poor fielding (defensive) player is often said to have a "tin glove," as if his baseball mitt was made of inflexible metal.
- When a pitcher is giving inadvertent signals to the hitters concerning
what kind of pitch he's about to throw, he's said to be "tipping
his pitches" or "telegraphing his pitches." It may be
something in his position on the rubber, his body lean, how he holds
or moves his glove when going into the stretch, whether he moves his
index finger outside his glove, or some aspect of his pitching motion.
Akin to what is called a tell in poker: a habit, behavior, or physical
reaction that gives other players more information about your hand.
A case in point: "Turns out Maine, who was 0-2 with an 8.24 ERA
in September, had been tipping his pitches all month, subtly curling
his glove as he went into his windup for a curveball."
- Coaches and as well as players on the bench make a habit of watching
everything an opposing pitcher is doing, looking for information that
will allow them to forecast what kind of pitch is coming. When pitchers
go through a bad spell, they may become paranoid that they're tipping
their pitches to the opposing batters. A pitcher and coaches are likely
to spend a lot of time studying film of the games to learn what the
pitcher might be doing that tips his pitches.
- Pitchers will try to hide their grip even while delivering the ball.
Rick Sutcliffe used to wind up in such a way that his body concealed
the ball from the batter almost until the moment of release. In contrast,
relief ace Dennis Eckersley, playing a psychological game, would hold
the ball up in such a way that he purposely showed off the type of grip
he had on it, essentially "daring" the batter to hit it.
toe the slab
- To take the mound; to pitch. Literally, to put his toe on the rubber.
the ball out of the catcher's glove
- When a batter swings a bit late, perhaps hitting the ball to the opposite field, a broadcaster may say he "took the ball out of the catcher's glove" (just before the catcher was able to catch it).
took the collar
- Went hitless. See collar.
- To hit a high pitch, perhaps one that's out of the strike zone, so
that the batter may appear to be swinging downwards as if his bat is
a tomahawk. "Things started well for the Blue Jays in their first
at-bat when Stairs tomahawked a Matsuzaka pitch on one bounce into the
stands behind Fenway Park’s famed Pesky’s Pole for a ground-rule double."
- Tools are a position player's abilities in five areas: hitting for average,
hitting for power, running, fielding, and throwing. Baseball scouts
evaluate prospects based on their current skills and likely further
development in each of these areas. The scouts also make an overall
judgment of a player's tools, and they assign an Overall Future Potential
(OFP) score to each player; but the OFP is not computed in any formal
way from numeric assessments of the players in the specific skill areas.
An analogous scouting assessment of pitchers refers to a variety of
pitching skills as well as to the pitcher's OFP. The OFP scale for pitchers
and position players ranges from 20 to 80. A player with an OFP of 50
is thought to have the potential to play at an average major league
level. A score of 60 is also called a "plus," and a score of 70 is also
called a "plus-plus"; thus, plus and plus-plus players are viewed as
having the potential to become above-average major leaguers. This language
can also be applied to the specific tools of a player, as in: "He still
projects as a plus hitter with plus power and plus-plus speed." Or "Verlander
came into his rookie season with a plus change-up, a plus curve, and
a plus-plus fastball."
- Also see 5 tool player.
tools of ignorance
- A catcher's gear.
- A player with a lot of tools who hasn't yet developed into a mature player:
"Granderson is not just a toolsy player trying to learn how to convert
his excellent tools into usable baseball skills. He's already well down
the road of converting them."
Tommy John surgery
- A type of elbow surgery for pitchers named after Tommy John, a pitcher
and the first professional athlete to successfully undergo the operation.
Invented by Dr. Frank Jobe in 1974 and known medically as an ulnar collateral
top of the inning
- The first half of an inning, during which the visiting team bats,
derived from its position in the line score.
tore the cover
off the ball
- Hit the ball so hard that the batter figuratively tore the cover off
the ball. Also used in Ernest Thayer's famous "Casey at the Bat" poem:
"But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all,
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball. . . ".
- When a player or manager is ordered by an umpire to leave a game,
that player or manager is said to have been "tossed". Usually, this
is the result of arguing a ruling by the umpire. Similar to being "red
carded" in the game of soccer. See ejected.
- The sum of the number of bases advanced by a batter/runner on his own safe hits over a specified period of time, where a single = 1 base; double = 2 bases; triple = 3 bases; home run = 4 bases. The quotient of total bases divided by at-bats is slugging average, a measure of a given hitter's power.
touch all the bases
- To "touch all the bases" (or "touch 'em all") is to hit a home run.
(If a player fails to literally "touch 'em all" – if he misses
a base during his home run trot – he can be called out on appeal).
- A pitcher who gives up several hits may be said to have been "touched
up". Headline: "McGraw's Star Pitcher Touched Up for Fourteen Hits."
- A seven run difference, derived from six points for a touchdown in
plus the extra point in American football. For example, a team up 10-3
is said to be "up by a touchdown". Obviously this term is
only used in exceptionially high scoring games. See slugfest.
- Throws right; used in describing a player's statistics, for example: John Doe (TR, BR, 6', 172 lbs.)
- To field a ball, typically a ground ball that a fielder has to travel
some distance to stop or a fly ball that an outfielder has to run far
to catch. "Mike Cameron, Milwaukee Brewers, can track down flies
with the best centerfielders in baseball today."
- When a fielder attempts to catch a batted baseball in the air but
the ball hits the ground just before it enters the fielder's glove,
the fielder is said to have "trapped the ball." Sometimes it is difficult
for the umpire to tell whether the ball was caught for an out or instead
trapped. "Any outfielder worth his salt always makes the catch of the
sinking line drive by rolling over and raising his glove triumphantly.
It does not matter if he trapped the ball. It does not matter that the
replay shows he trapped the ball. What is important is the success of
the deception at that moment so that the umpire calls the batter out".
- A three-base hit.
- In baseball the term Triple Crown refers to:
- A batter who (at season's end) leads the league in three major categories: home runs, runs batted in, and batting average.
- A pitcher who (at season's end) leads the league in three major categories: earned run average, wins, and strikeouts.
- When three outs are made on one play. This is rare. While a typical
game may have several double plays, a typical season only has a few
triple plays. This is primarily because the circumstances are rather
specific -- that there be at least two runners, and no outs, and that
typically one of these circumstances occurs: (1) the batter hits a sharp
grounder to the third baseman, who touches the base, throws to second
base to get the second out, and the second baseman or shortstop relays
the ball to first quickly enough to get the batter-runner for the third
out (also called a 5-4-3 or 5-6-3 triple play, respectively); OR (2)
the runners are off on the pitch, in a hit-and-run play, but an infielder
catches the ball on a line-drive out, and relays to the appropriate
bases in time to get two other runners before they can retreat to their
bases. The latter situation can also yield an extremely rare unassisted
triple play, of which 14 have occurred in the entire history of major
league baseball. A second baseman or shortstop will catch the ball,
his momentum will carry him to second base to make the second out, and
he will run and touch the runner from first before the runner can turn
around and fully regain his momentum back to first.
- To execute a double play. "In the seventh, Cozzi got out of a
bases-loaded jam with one out after the infield turned two, going 5-4-3."
- A double play.
- Winning both ends of a doubleheader.
- An old fashioned term for a pitcher. In the early years, pitchers would often
twirl their arms in a circle one or more times before delivering the
ball, literally using a "windup", in the belief it would reduce stress
on their arms. The terms "twirler" and "twirling" faded along with that
motion. The modern term "hurler" is effectively the substitute term.
- A double.
- A double.
- A fastball held in such a way that it breaks slightly downward as
it crosses the plate. A sinker. A two-seamer. Due to the grip,
the batter sees only one pair of seams spinning instead of two.
- Many college athletes play two sports, but it is rare for someone
to play two major league professional sports well or simultaneously.
Sometimes players have brief major league trial periods in two professional
sports but quickly drop one of them. Some "two-sport" players
who played multiple major league baseball seasons have been Jim Thorpe,
Brian Jordan, Gene Conley, Bo Jackson, Danny Ainge, Ron Reed, Deion
Sanders and Mark Hendrickson. Although Michael Jordan tried to become
a major league baseball player after his first retirement from the National
Basketball Association, he didn't make the big leagues and did not try
to play both baseball and basketball at the same time.
two-thirds of an inning
- Line stat credited to a pitcher retiring 2 outs of a full inning.
For convenience in print, however, a pitcher who goes six and two-thirds
innings might be shown in the box score as completing 6.2 innings, as
compared with a pitcher who goes six and one-third innings for whom
the box score would be shown as completing 6.1.
- A term borrowed from American football to describe either a player
who can pitch and hit well, or a player who can pitch and play another
defensive position well. The most famous Major League ballplayer
who was truly a two-way player was Babe Ruth, who in his early career
was an outstanding pitcher but later played in the outfield — and
was one of the greatest home run hitters of all-time.
- The term is sometimes used to describe a player who is good at
both offense and defense: "Manager Jim Leyland said during the season
that he believes Inge has the potential to become one of the league's
best two-way players."
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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