Baseball Terms Glossary
(Starting with "W")
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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 home run. "What a wallop!"
- Also used as a verb: "Albert Pujols walloped that pitch."
walk-off home run
- A game-ending home run by the home team. So called because the losing
team (the visiting team) then has to walk off the field. The term "walk-off"
can also be applied to any situation with two outs or less in the last
at-bat of the home team (such as the walk-off single, wild pitch, etc.)
where the game ends as the winning run scores. For example, a bases
loaded base on balls in the bottom of the last inning has been described
as "a walk-off walk". In reference to a home run, the older
term is "sudden death", or, as touted by national broadcaster
Curt Gowdy, "sudden victory".
- The dirt and finely-ground gravel (as opposed to grass) area bordering
the fence, especially in the outfield. It is intended to help prevent
fielders from inadvertently running into the fence. 1950s and 60s broadcaster
Bob Wolff used to call it the "cinder path". The first "warning
tracks" actually started out as running tracks in Yankee Stadium
and Cleveland Stadium. True warning tracks did not become standard until
the 1950s, around the time batting helmets came into standard use also.
Rather than having a warning track, some early stadiums had sloped mounds
where the warning track would be. The change in pitch was similarly
intended to prevent fielders from running into the wall. Multi-purpose
ballparks such as Veterans Stadium or Three Rivers Stadium that used
Astroturf instead of natural grass used rubber warning tracks rather
than gravel so that it would be easier to convert the stadium for use
warning track power
- When a batter hits a fly ball that is caught at the warning track, just missing a home run.
waste a pitch
- When a pitcher gets ahead in the count he may choose to throw
a pitch that is outside the strike zone in hopes that the batter
will chase a pitch he can't hit. "Waste a pitch" is the
opposite of attack the strike zone. An example of this usage drawn
from a Q & A session: "Basically, it's the preference of
pitchers on the mound about wasting pitches. Tigers hurlers choose
to attack opposing hitters." Wasting a pitch is the pitching
counterpart to the batter "taking" a 3-0 pitch in the
hope that the pitcher will throw another one outside the strike
zone and result in a base-on-balls.
- The phrase is sometimes applied also to hitters who deliberately
foul off a pitch that's a strike but that the hitter can't get good
- To swing and miss a pitch, usually with a tentative swing.
- When an umpire signals to a runner to take a base on an overthrow into the dug-out or in case of a ground rule double or a balk, he waves the runner to the next base.
- When a third-base coach signals to a runner advancing toward the base to continue toward home plate he is said to wave the runner home.
- "Doing the wave" in the stands.
Wearing A Pitch
- When a batter allows a pitch to hit them, or knowingly drops their elbow or shoulder into the pitch to be awarded first base.
- Sometimes if a player jumps out of the way of a pitch you may hear his teammates telling him to, "wear it!" from the dugout.
- An outstanding defensive play. Refers to the webbing of the fielders’
gloves. Popularized by Baseball Tonight on ESPN.
- When a batter reaches across the plate trying to hit an outside pitch,
perhaps one that he can't reach, he "went fishing." "Burres
racked up his fourth strikeout of the game with a nice change-up that
Byrnes went fishing on." Akin to chasing a pitch.
- A hitter's power zone. Usually a pitch waist-high and over the heart
of the plate. "Clem threw that one right into Ruben's wheelhouse. End
- Upon a bunt to the left side of the infield, the third-baseman runs toward home to field the bunt, and the shortstop runs to third base to cover. The infielders thus rotate like a wheel.
- Legs. A player who runs the bases fast has wheels.
- A term used to describe a swinging-strikeout (referring to the bat
whiffing through the air without contacting the ball). The phrase has
even been immortalized by DirecTV's Dan Patrick, who uses it by saying
- A curveball. Just as a bullwhip may snap, so may a pitch when it breaks.
- A measurement of the pitcher's ability to keep batters off base. Calculated
as (Bases on Balls + Hits allowed) / (Innings pitched). WHIP is one
of the performance statistics that is commonly used in fantasy baseball.
- A shutout.
- In Major League Baseball, the wild-card playoff spot is given to the
team in each league with the best regular season record among divisional
second-place teams. MLB was the final sport (1994) to adopt the wild
card and to this day has the fewest wildcards (two) of the four major
US team sports. As a comparison, on the other extreme, the NHL and NBA
both have 10 wildcards each.
wild in the strike
- A pitcher who throws strikes but without sufficient control over their
location is "wild in the strike zone." Headline: "Zambrano Is Too Wild
in Strike Zone".
- A wild pitch (abbreviated WP) is charged to a pitcher when, in the
opinion of the official scorer, a pitch is too high, too low, or too
wide of home plate for the catcher to catch the ball with ordinary effort,
and which allows one or more runners to advance; or allows the batter
to advance to first base, if it's a third strike with first base unoccupied.
Neither a passed ball nor a wild pitch is charged as an error. It is
a separate statistic.
- The following illustrates how pitchers are credited for a win — the W
— when two or more pitchers have participated on the winning side, some
who may have only faced a single batter, and some who may have faced
two dozen or more batters.
- A win (W) is generally credited to the pitcher for the winning team who was in the game when it last took the lead. A starting pitcher must generally complete five innings to earn a win. Under some exceptions to the general rules, the official scorer awards the win based on guidelines set forth in the official rules (see MLB Official Rule 10.19). The winning pitcher cannot also be credited with a save in the same game.
- An example of the allocation of credit for a win: Pitching
for Detroit against Boston in Boston, Bonderman allows 2 runs
on 5 hits, with 8 K's and 1 BB in 7 and two-thirds innings,
throwing 103 pitches; he leaves the game with the score tied
2-2. Rodney relieves Bonderman, throws 3 pitches and faces 1
batter to end the 8th inning with the game still tied 2-2. In
the top of the 9th the Tigers score 1 run to take the lead,
3-2. In the bottom of the 9th Jones "closes" and retires the
Red Sox in order. Tigers win the game. Rodney gets a Win. Jones
gets a Save. Bonderman receives a "no decision."
- A loss (L) is charged to the pitcher for the losing team who allows the run that gives the opposing team a lead they do not relinquish for the remainder of the game. The pitcher who gives up a hit to score the "go-ahead run" does not necessarily receive the loss; instead the L goes to the pitcher who allowed the run-scoring player to reach base. A pitcher (including the starter) need face only one batter to be charged with an L.
- For further discussion see Win (baseball).
- In baseball, there are two legal pitching positions: the windup, and the set. The choice of pitching position may be tactical, as the windup has a generally slower execution than the set and is thus at greater risk of allowing a stolen base. However, some pitchers, particularly relief pitchers, are more comfortable pitching from the set position, and thus use it regardless of the situation.
- Does not mean that a team won the league championship, just that it won more
games during the regular season than it lost. For a modern Major League
team, this means a team won at least 82 games out of 162 games played
in what is called the winning season.
- A series of consecutive wins.
- Currently eight minor leagues with seasons that happen during the
"off-season" of Major League Baseball: the Arizona Fall League,
the Australian Baseball League, the Dominican Winter Baseball League,
the Mexican Pacific League, the Puerto Rico Baseball League, the Venezuelan
Professional Baseball League, the Nicaraguan Professional Baseball League,
and the Colombian Professional Baseball League. The winter leagues used
to include the Cuban League and the Panamanian Winter League.
- A phrase borrowed from horse racing; it refers to a team leading a game from the first inning to the end of the game, or a team leading their division (or league) from the beginning (or at least from the first two or three weeks) of the season to the end of the season. Also sometimes used to refer to a pitcher throwing a complete game win, especially referring to a shut-out. "The Sox lead wire to wire in a 14-2 drubbing of the Yankees yesterday." "The Mets looked like they were going to take their division and win it wire-to-wire in 2007, but the wheels really fell off for them in the last three weeks and the Phillies took advantage of that". "The Blue Jays' Roy Halladay took a no-hitter into the seventh inning and lead wire-to-wire in a 3-0 win today, tossing a two-hit complete game gem at the Rogers Centre."
- The baseball bat. See "get
work the count
- When a batter is patient in his at-bats and tries to get "ahead
in the count" or to get a pitch that he can hit hard, he's said
to "work the count" or to "work the pitcher." "Working
the pitcher" also implies that the batter should not make the task
easy for the pitcher; make the pitcher throw good pitches to get the
batter out. Tigers Manager Jim Leyland: "We tell our hitters to
be aggressive all the time, and at the same time we tell them, ‘Work
- A hard hit ground ball that "burns" the ground. A daisy cutter.
- A pitch, usually an off speed or breaking ball, that hits the ground before
it reaches home plate, thus theoretically killing worms.
the foul pole
- When a batted ball that goes for a home run passes just inside the foul pole while curving toward foul territory, it is sometimes described as having "wrapped around the foul pole". The ball may actually land in foul territory but if it passed inside the pole it is a fair ball and a home run. This sometimes leads to controversy, because the umpires and players may have difficulty seeing whether the ball was fair when it passed the foul pole, especially if it is hit very high.
- Scoresheet notation for "wasn't watching", used by non-official
scorekeepers when their attention has been distracted from the play
on field. Supposedly used frequently by former New York Yankees broadcaster
See all sports glossaries:
Published - February 2011
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