To swing awkwardly at the ball. "As his son stood in the
batter's box and hacked away, Wolpert came up with the idea of
opening his own batting cage in Manhattan."
Sometimes said of an aggressive hitter who would swing at any pitch
within reach, whether high, low, inside, or outside. "An
unrepentant free swinger who hacked at anything in the same area
code as the strike zone, Puckett drew just 23 walks that
To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. "Aaron
hammered that pitch."
The nickname of Henry Aaron — Hank "The Hammer" Aaron —
second all-time in Major League career home runs.
A curve ball, usually of the 12 to 6 variety.
A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder
may be difficult for him to get his hands up in time to grab. He
may appear to be handcuffed in that situation.
A pitch thrown high and inside may handcuff a batter because he can't get his
hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat.
Often it's said of a player who has not fielded a batted ball
cleanly that he "couldn't find the handle on it." This suggests the
fanciful notion that the baseball would be easier to hold onto if
there were a handle attached to it.
A pitcher may be
hung with aloss if he is responsible
for his team falling behind in runs and the team never recovers the
A runner may be hung up if he is caught in a
A runner may be hung out to dry if he gets
picked off at first base, or if a hitter misses a hit-and-run sign
and the runner is easily tagged out at second base. A player may be
hung out to dry if his team treats him in an unexpected or
disappointing way. (Story: "The Mets got what they needed from
pitcher Al Leiter yesterday. Unfortunately, Leiter was hung out to
dry again, done in by his team's anemic offense.")
Middle of home plate. "Looking to go up the ladder, Hughes
instead missed right over the heart of the plate just below belt
high with a 95-mph fastball. As good hitters do, Guerrero made him
pay with a single up the middle".
Said of a pitcher who knocks in runs
as a hitter, thereby
helping himself to earn credit for a win.
A pitcher with an unusual or awkward wind-up or motion, as if
he's not in full control of his legs and arms, may be said to have
a herky-jerky motion.
A pitcher who pauses in his wind-up, perhaps at the top of the
wind-up, may be said to have a hesitation pitch. If this is part of
his regular motion, it may be effective in throwing off the timing
of the batter. If it's an occasional motion and used when there are
runners on base, the pitcher is at risk of being called for a balk.
A very rare feat in which a fielder has the ball and hides it
from a runner, trying to trick him into believing that some other
fielder has it or that it has gotten away from them. One example
would be if the pitcher throws to first to force a runner back to
the base, and the first baseman pretends to throw the ball back to
the pitcher. If the runner starts to lead off again right away, he
could be tagged out. Another example would be for the fielder to
spin around, "looking" for a hit or thrown ball that has "eluded"
him, while actually carrying it in his glove. There is no rule
against this kind of deception. The exception is that once the
pitcher toes or stands astride the rubber, he must have
the ball in his possession, or else a balk will be called. Any
baserunner victimized by a hidden ball trick play is liable to be
ribbed endlessly by his teammates for having been caught napping.
An offensive tactic whereby a
baserunner (usually on first base) starts running
as if to steal and the batter is obligated to
swing at the pitch. Contrast this to a
run and hit, where the runner steals, and the batter (who would
normally take on a straight steal) may swing at the
After a batter has attempted but failed to lay down a bunt, or
in a situation in which he might ordinarily be expected to bunt, he
may instead make a normal swing at the ball on the next pitch. In
such a case he is said to "hit away" or "swing away." "Smoltz swung away,
fouling it off for strike one. Knowing that the bunt had been given
away on the first pitch, Braves manager Bobby Cox took off the bunt sign this
When a pitch touches a batter in the batter's box, the batter
advances to first base. Abbreviated as
HPB. Colloquially, a batter who is hit by a pitch
may be said to be plunked, drilled, nailed, plugged, or
'em where they ain't
Said to be the (grammatically-casual) response of
turn-of-the-20th-century player Willie Keeler to the question, "What's
the secret to hitting?" in which "'em" or "them" are the batted balls, and "they"
are the fielders.
Contrary to what might be literally implied, a player who "hits
for average" is one who achieves a high batting average.
To hit the ball even center with measured force, often
resulting in a loud crack of the bat. A slumpingbatter might be comforted
by "hitting the ball on the screws" when not getting a hit. The phrase apparently
derives from golf, referring to "a
well executed shot. In the good ol' days, when woods were made of
wood, club makers fitted a plastic insert into the club face as a
safeguard against premature wear. These inserts were fastened to
the club with screws. When a golfer would hit a good shot, he would
say, 'I hit it on the screws'."
When a batter drops or dives to the ground to avoid being hit
by a pitch. "The third kind of pitch is the one that is coming
right at your head. This one you don't even have time to think
about. Some part of you sees the ball as it leaves the pitcher's
hand, and something about the fact that the ball is coming straight
toward your eye makes it almost disappear into a blind spot. You
hit the deck before you even know you've done it."
When a batter does not swing the bat in a single motion –
perhaps he lifts the bat or moves his hands or hesitates before
swinging – he may be said to have a "hitch in his swing." Having a
hitch may slow down how quickly or powerfully he swings at the
pitch. "All winter, Green worked on eliminating a hitch from
his swing. He did it by setting up a video camera at a batting cage
near his home in Irvine, California, taping swing after swing, and
comparing it with video from his days with the Los Angeles
When a batter is way ahead in the count (3-0, 3-1, 2-0) he's
likely to anticipate that the next pitch will be thrown down
Broadway — in the middle of the plate. See count.
A baseball park in which hitters tend to perform better than
average. This may be a result of several factors, including the
dimensions of the park (distance to the outfield fences, size of
foul territory behind the plate and down the lines), prevailing
winds, temperature and relative humidity, and altitude. Whether a
park is a hitter's park or a pitcher's park (in which hitters
perform worse than average) is determined statistically by
measuring Park Factors,
which involves comparing how well hitters perform in a given park
compared with how they perform in all other parks. This measure is
regularly reported and updated for Major League Baseball parks by
Reference and other
baseball research organizations also report park factors for major
league parks. Baseball Prospectus and other
baseball researchers calculate park factors for minor league parks
to help in adjusting the statistics of baseball prospects.
Whether a park is a hitter's park or pitcher's park may change
from day to day. For example, when the wind is blowing "out" at Wrigley Field, it
is typically rendered a "hitter's park", and double-digit scores
for one or both teams are not unusual.
A hold (abbreviated as H) is awarded to a relief pitcher if he enters
in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game
without having relinquished that lead. To receive a hold, the
pitcher must not finish the game (thus becoming the
closing pitcher) or be the winning pitcher.
Unlike saves, more than one
pitcher can earn a hold in a game. It is also not necessary for the
pitcher's team to win the game in order to achieve a hold; they
merely have to be in the lead at the time the pitcher exits.
The hold was invented in 1986 to give credit to non-closer
relief pitchers. Holds are most often accredited to setup pitchers, as they
usually pitch between the starter and the closer. Holds are not an
official Major League Baseball statistic, but are recognized by the
MLB in its rules.
When a runner is on first base, the first baseman might choose
to stand very close to first base rather than assume a position
behind first base and more part-way toward second base (a position
better suited to field ground balls hit to the right side of the
diamond). When he does this he's said to "hold the runner on
(first)" because he's in a position to take a throw from the
pitcher and thereby discourage the runner from taking a big
hold up on a
When a batter begins to swing the bat at a pitch but stops
swinging before the bat makes contact with the ball or the bat
passes the front of the plate, he may be said to "hold up on his
One of the 9 places in the batting lineup. The lead-off hitter
in the first inning is the player in the "one hole." In the four
hole, the cleanup hitter is hoping to get to the plate in that
A team that has one or more weak hitters in its 9-person
batting order has a "hole in the lineup" that opposition teams can
take advantage of. "There are no holes in that lineup, so to say
you're going to pitch around one batter
might not be the best thing." "If
the team that Shapiro has constructed is going to
overtake the Boston Red Sox, the New York
Yankees or any of the other contenders in the American
League, it can’t afford another season with a hole in the
middle of the lineup that Hafner was from May through the playoffs
Home plate. For a runner to
reach home safely is to score a run. Getting a runner who is on
base home is the goal of any batter.
Teams playing home games have a small
advantage over visiting teams. In recent decades, home teams have
tended to win about 53.5% of their games.
Because teams play the same number of games at home as they do away
during the regular season, this advantage tends to even out. In
play-off series, however, teams hope to gain from home-field
advantage by having the first game of the series played in their
A game played at the home stadium or ballpark of a baseball
club. When the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, they're playing a home
game. The team that is hosting the game is referred to as the home
The second or bottom half of the inning, in which the home team is at bat. See inning.
The "home team" is the one in whose stadium the game is played
against the "visiting team." The home team has the advantage of
batting in the second or bottom half of the inning. In case a game is
played at a neutral site, the "home" team is usually determined by
Also, a derisive term for a dedicated, almost delusional, fan. Especially used for a
broadcaster, in any sport, whose team "can do no wrong".
Johnny Most of the
was a notorious "homer". In a somewhat more humorous example, Bert Wilson used to
say, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's the Cubs!" A common
"homer" saying is, "My two favorite teams are (my team) and
whoever's playing (my team's rival)."
When a manager leaves the dugout
with the obvious intention of replacing the pitcher with a reliever, he may be said to
be carrying a hook. "Here comes Sparky, and he's got the hook."
Such a usage may have come from the large hooks that were sometimes
used in Vaudeville to
yank unsuccessful acts off the stage if they were reluctant to
leave on their own. When he was manager of the Cincinnati
Anderson's heavy reliance on relief pitching earned him the
Hook", a reference both to the standard usage and to the Peter Pan
A pitcher is said to be "on the hook" when he leaves the game
with his team behind because of runs that he gave up — a hook on
which he may be hung with the loss.
A batted ball that takes several bounces in the infield or
perhaps just a single "high hop" after it hits the
ground just in front of home plate. Also see "short hop".
The ball (a baseball) used in
the game of baseball.
The leather cover on the baseball (which is now usually made of
cowhide, not horsehide). A slugger may be said to "knock the
horsehide off the ball." Horsehide was the cover of choice for
decades, as it was less prone to stretching than cowhide. This was
necessary in part because in the early days, they tried to play the
entire game with a single ball, or as few as possible. That became
moot in the 1920s, but horsehide continued to be used until the
1980s or so, when horsehide became prohibitively expensive and
cowhide was finally adopted as the standard cover for a
A strong arm, said typically of an outfielder.
A batter who is having a hitting streak or a team having a winning streak is said to be
"hot." "'Today was pretty impressive,' Scioscia said. 'Hitters, they have their
times. When they’re hot, they’re hot. You can’t do anything about
An old fashioned term for a "Winter league" with no
games, just speculation, gossip, and story-telling during the
months between the end of the World Series and the beginning of
Spring training, presumably conducted while sitting around a hot
stove. One of Norman Rockwell's well-known baseball
paintings is a literal illustration of this term.
A very strong arm. A cannon. A gun. Usually applied to an
outfielder. Named after the Howitzer artillery piece. Headline: "Roberto
Clemente: A Howitzer for an Arm, An Ocean for a Heart".
A derisive term for a player who is very deliberate in his
play, such as a pitcher who takes a long time between pitches or a
batter who constantly steps out of the batter's box. "The Seattle
Mariners will announce a new manager today — Mike Hargrove.
Hargrove bears a great nickname —“ The Human Rain Delay.” [A]s a
player, Hargrove would take about 15 minutes for every plate
appearance. He would step out of the batter’s box, fidget with his
gloves, his helmet, his pants. He drove the pitcher nuts, but that
was his plan."
A term frequently used to describe a ball hit deep in the
infield that has a trajectory in between that of a fly ball and a
line drive. They would often fall in for hits, but the extra
topspin on the ball makes them take a dive before they can get to
the outfield. While not the hardest hit, these types of balls can
be hard for infielders to get to if they are not in double-play