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Marcus Thames of the Detroit Tigers making contact with the baseball while batting

In baseball, batting is the act of facing the opposing pitcher and trying to produce offense for one's team. A batter or hitter is a person whose turn it is to face the pitcher. The three main goals of batters are to become a baserunner, drive runners home, or advance runners along the bases for others to drive home, but the techniques and strategies they use to do so vary.



In general, batters try to get hits. However, their primary objective is to avoid making an out, and helping their team to score runs. They may draw a walk if they receive four pitches located outside the strike zone. In cases when there is a runner on third and fewer than two outs, they can attempt to hit a sacrifice fly to drive the runner in. When there are fewer than two outs and runners on base, they can try to sacrifice bunt. They might even be hit by a pitch, reach on an error or—if first is empty or there are two outs—on a dropped third strike.

The defense attempts to get the batter out. The pitcher's main role in this is to throw the ball in such a way that he or she either strikes out or cannot hit it cleanly so that the defense can get him or her out.

Success in batting

Batting is often cited as one of the most difficult feats in sports as it works down to hitting a small round ball with a thin round bat. In fact, if a batter can get a hit in three out of ten at bats, giving him a batting average of .300, pronounced three-hundred, he or she is considered a good hitter. In Major League Baseball, no batter has hit over .400 in a season since Ted Williams in 1941, and no batter has ever hit over .367 in a lifetime—Ty Cobb hit .3664. In modern times, the statistic On-base plus slugging (OPS) is seen as a more accurate measure of a player's ability as a batter; this stat combines the player's On base percentage, a percentage of their plate appearances where the batter gets on base (by a hit, hit by pitch or base on balls), with the player's slugging percentage, an average of total bases with at-bats. An OPS at or near 1.000 is considered to be the mark of an exceptional hitter. A sustained OPS at or above 1.000 over a career is a feat only a few hitters have ever been able to reach.


Batters vary in their approach at the plate. Some are aggressive hitters, often swinging at the first pitch (as pitchers often attempt to throw a first-pitch strike). Others are patient, attempting to work the pitch count in order to observe all the types of pitches a pitcher will use, as well as tire out the pitcher by forcing him to throw many pitches early. Generally, contact hitters are more aggressive, swinging at pitches within the strike zone, whereas power hitters will lay off borderline strikes in order to get a pitch they can drive for extra bases.

The lineup

Main article: batting order (baseball)

The lineup or batting order is a list of the nine baseball players for a team in the order they will bat during the game. During the game the only way to change the lineup is via substitution, as batting out of turn is not allowed. Once the ninth person in the lineup finishes batting, the first person bats again; this is the top of the order. Lineups are designed to facilitate manufacturing runs. Depending on batters' skills, they might be placed in different parts of the lineup. Of course, when it comes down to it, all batters are attempting to create runs for the team.

The player currently batting in a game is said to be at the plate, at bat, or up to bat (shortened to up). To keep the game moving at an orderly pace, the next batter due up waits to take his turn in a circle (actually marked or imaginary) between his team's dugout or bench and the batter's box, and is said to be on deck, with the circle known as the on deck circle. The player in the batting order after the on deck batter is said to be in the hole.

Types of hitters

  • Power Hitters: the term "power hitter" is used to describe players who drive the ball, often hitting home runs and other extra-base hits. See also slugging average.
  • Slap hitters: slap hitters are batters who rarely try to drive the ball; instead these hitters simply try to "slap" the ball through the infielders to reach base.
  • Complete hitters: players who can not only slap the ball, but can come up with extra base hits.
  • Designated hitters- used primarily by the American League as a substitute for the pitcher, but only for batting. National League teams may use a DH when in an AL ballpark. If an American League team is playing in a National League ballpark, the DH may not be used.
  • Switch hitters- capable of batting left or right-handed
  • Pinch hitters- a substitute hitter for the scheduled batter in the lineup. A DH acts as a permanent pinch hitter for the pitcher. Once a pinch hitter bats, he will replace the previous batter in the lineup unless a substitution is made. The NL occasionally uses pinch hitters in place of pitchers when not playing in an AL ballpark.

See also



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