Have you ever been watching a baseball game and overheard some words or phrases that you didn’t understand? Well, we’ve put together this extensive list of some commonly used baseball terms and jargon you may come across when watching a baseball game or talking with a player, coach or baseball fan! After reading this, you’ll be able to talk baseball with the best of them!
There are a huge number of terms and phrases used in baseball to describe different aspects of the game. To help make this article a little easier to navigate, we have divided these terms into six different sections including Batting, Pitching, Fielding, Base Running, Field and overall Game terms.
To start things off we will look at some commonly used terms when it comes to batting. These can be used when talking about certain statistics, situations or actions a hitter may experience while batting in a baseball game.
Ahead in the count: A term that signifies whether the batter or pitcher possesses the advantage in an at-bat.
Barrel it up: Refers to the action of hitting a pitch hard with the sweet spot of the baseball bat.
Base hit: A fair ball hit such that the batter can advance safely to a base without the aid of an error committed by the team in the field.
Base knock: Another term for hitting a single.
Bat around: When each of the nine players in the lineup makes a plate appearance during a single inning.
Bat flip: An action typically done by a batter to show off after hitting a home run. The batter will throw, or flip, their bat up in the air in celebration. Sometimes used to taunt the opposing pitcher/team.
Behind in the count: For the batter: when the count contains more strikes than balls. For the pitcher: vice versa.
Big fly: Another name for a home run.
Bleeder: A weakly hit ground ball that goes for a base hit.
Blistered: A ball that is hit extremely hard. “That ball was blistered!”
Blooper: A weakly hit fly ball that drops in for a hit; typically, between an infielder and outfielder. Also called a “bloop single.”
Bomb: Another word for a home run.
Bunt: When a batter holds the baseball bat out and tries to lightly tap the ball instead of taking a full swing at the ball. The batter might do this to advance another base runner.
Caught looking: A term used when the third strike is called on a batter without the batter trying to swing at the ball.
Checked swing: A batter checks a swing by stopping it before the bat crosses the front of home plate.
Choke up: A batter “chokes up” by sliding his hands up from the knob end of the bat to give him more control over his bat. Typically done when the batter has two strikes against them.
Cleanup batter: The fourth batter in the batting order. Usually a power hitter.
Clear the bases: When a batter drives home/scores all runners on base.
Corked bat: A bat in which cork (or possibly rubber or some other elastic material) has been inserted into the core of the wooden barrel. This is illegal to use in a baseball game.
Count: The number of balls and strikes on a batter.
Dead-red: When a batter is waiting on or expecting a fastball to be thrown. “The batter is sitting dead-red here.”
Dinger: Another name for a home run.
Don’t rub it: When a batter is hit by a pitch, a common phrase to yell at them is “don’t rub it!” referring to the place on their body where they were hit with the ball.
Double: When a batter hits the ball safely in fair play and gets to second base.
Drop a bunt down: When a batter stays in his batting stance until the last possible second before the ball gets to the plate, then quickly bunts the ball in the attempt to bunt for a base hit.
Find a gap: Also known as a “gap shot”, to get a base hit by hitting the ball in the gap between outfielders.
Find a hole: To get a base hit by hitting the ball between infielders.
Fishing: When a batter swings at a pitch that is out of the strike zone they are said to have gone “fishing” for it.
Fly ball: A baseball that is hit high into the air. Also called a “pop fly.”
Foul ball: A baseball that is hit outside the field of fair play.
Frozen rope: A hard-hit line drive.
Full count: A count of 3 balls and 2 strikes; another strike will result in a strikeout, while another ball will result in a walk.
Fungo bat: A lightweight bat with a long, skinny barrel used by coaches to hit ground balls or fly balls during practice.
Going yard: To hit a home run.
Golden sombrero: When a player strikes out four times in one game.
Golfing: Swinging at an obviously low pitch, particularly one in the dirt.
Ground ball: A baseball that is hit on the ground. Also called a “grounder.”
Hack: To take a big swing at the ball. Sometimes called a “Daddy Hack.”
Hard 90: Running hard to first base out of the batter’s box. The distance between each base is 90 feet.
Hat trick: When a player strikes out three times in one game.
Hit and run: A baseball play where the base runner begins to run when the pitch is released. It is the batter’s responsibility to hit the baseball into play or swing at the pitch to obstruct the catcher’s vision, so the runner will not get thrown out. This gives the base runner a head start.
Home run: Most commonly used when a player hits the ball over the fence in fair play; a home run is scored when the ball is hit in such a way that the batter is able to circle the bases and reach home safely in one play without any errors being committed by the defensive team in the process. A ball hit in the air fairly that hits any part of the foul pole is also a home run.
In the hole: The batter who follows the on-deck batter.
Jack: Another term for a home run.
Launch angle: The vertical angle at which the ball leaves a player’s bat after being struck.
Lead runner: The base runner closest to home plate on the base paths when more than one runner is on base.
Left on base: A baserunner is said to be left on base or stranded when the half-inning ends, and he has not scored or been put out.
Line drive: A ball that is hard-hit and appears to be hit in a straight line.
Lineup: The batting order, which also lists each player’s defensive position.
Locked up: When a batter gets a pitch in on the hands making it impossible for them to swing in an effective matter or at all, they are said to have gotten “locked up.”
Long strike: A long foul ball that is usually close to being fair, and typically, would result in a home run if it were fair.
Lumber: A wooden baseball bat.
Mendoza line: A batting average of .200; named after Mario Mendoza.
Moonshot: A towering fly ball; typically used when a player hits a home run.
O-fer: When a batter goes hitless in a game, they are said to have had an o-fer; as in the batter goes 0-3 (O for three).
On-deck: The next batter due to bat after the current batter.
Pinch hitter: A substitute batter. Commonly used in the National League when it is the pitchers turn to bat.
Pine tar: A sticky substance most commonly used by batters to improve their grip on the bat.
Rake: A term used to describe a player who hits well to all parts of the field.
Ribbie: An RBI or “run batted in” is a run scored as a result of a hit.
Shot: Another name for a home run or hard-hit ball. “That was a shot!”
Single: When a player hits the ball safely in fair play, and only gets to first base.
Slugger: A player who commonly hits with great power.
Strike: When a batter swings at a pitch but fails to hit it. When a batter does not swing at a pitch that is thrown within the strike zone. When the ball is hit foul, and the strike count is less than 2 (a batter cannot strike out on a foul ball, however he can fly out in foul territory). When a ball is bunted foul, regardless of the strike count. When the ball touches the batter as he swings at it. When the ball touches the batter in the strike zone. When the ball is a foul tip. When a batter gets 3 strikes on them, they are out.
Strike out: The throwing of three strikes in one plate appearance. This normally retires the batter and counts as one out. However, it is possible to strike out and still reach base, if the catcher drops the strikeout pitch. Seen in the scorebook as “K.”
Strike zone: The area above home plate where strikes are called. The pitch must be over home plate, above the batter’s knees, and below the middle of the torso. Commonly described as “above the knees and below the letters” (letters on the front of the batter’s jersey).
Sweet spot: A location on the barrel of the bat that is perfect for the batter to hit a ball on. Hitting a ball here will produce the most solid contact possible.
Switch-hitter: A player who can hit from both sides of the plate; left-handed and right-handed.
Tater: Another term for a home run. “Let’s go slap some taters.”
Texas Leaguer: A softly hit ball that lands fairly in the outfield usually landing just out of reach of an infielder going into shallow outfield in attempt to catch the ball.
Tied up: When a batter gets a pitch in on the hands making it impossible for them to swing, they are said to have gotten “tied up.”
Touch ’em all: Is a term sometimes used when a player hits a home run.
Triple: When a player hits the ball safely in fair play and gets to third base.
Ugly finder: A hard hit ball which hits or nearly hits someone, especially a line drive foul ball hit into a dugout.
Upper decker: A home run that lands in a stadiums upper deck of seating is referred to as “an upper deck home run” or “upper decker.”
Warning track power: What a batter hits a fly ball that is either caught on the warning track or lands just on the warning track just shy of a home run, they are said to have “warning track power.”
Wheelhouse: A hitter’s power zone is usually called their “wheelhouse”. This is where a hitter mainly prefers a pitch to be thrown in the strike zone. “That pitch was right in my wheelhouse!”
Yak: Another term for a home run.
Yiketty: Another term for a home run, made famous by Chipper Jones. Sometimes used in conjunction with Yak. “Yiketty Yak.”
Just like batting in baseball, there are many terms used to describe different aspects of pitching as well. Again, these can be used when discussing certain actions, plays or statistics you may encounter as a pitcher.
1-2-3 inning: An inning in which a pitcher faces only three batters, none of whom successfully reach base. Also called a “three up, three down” inning.
Ace: The best starting pitcher on the team, who is usually first on a pitching rotation.
Backwards K: When a batter strikes out “looking” at the strikeout pitch, and does not swing and miss, this is known as a backwards K. (K – meaning strikeout).
Balk: Any pitching motion that is against the baseball rules, resulting in any runners on base advancing one base.
Battery: The battery includes two baseball players, the pitcher and the catcher. A pitcher and catcher from the same team are known as “battery mates.”
Beaned: When a pitcher throws a pitch to hit the batter intentionally (if they do not move out of the way) is known as “beaning” a hitter. “The batter got beaned on that pitch.”
Bender: A curveball.
Blown save: A blown save (BS) is when a relief pitcher, typically the closer, who enters a game in a save situation allows the tying run to score.
Breaking ball: A pitch thrown with movement, usually sideways or downward. There are different variations of breaking balls.
Changeup: A slow pitch that is meant to look much faster. There are different variants of changeups.
Chin music: A pitch that is thrown high and inside on a batter in attempt to back them up off the plate.
Closer: A relief pitcher (closing pitcher) who is consistently used to “close” or finish a game by getting the final outs.
Curveball: A pitch that curves or breaks from a straight or expected flight path toward home plate.
Dropped third strike: A dropped third strike occurs when the catcher fails to cleanly catch a pitch which is a third strike (either because the batter swings and misses it or because the umpire calls it). The pitch is considered not cleanly caught if the ball touches the dirt before being caught, or if the ball is dropped immediately after being caught. On a dropped third strike, the strike is called (and a pitcher gets credited with a strike-out), but the umpire indicates verbally that the ball was not caught and does not call the batter out. If first base is not occupied at the time (or, with two outs, even with first base occupied), the batter can then attempt to reach first base prior to being tagged or thrown out. Given this rule, it is possible for a pitcher to record more than three strike-outs in an inning.
Fastball: The most commonly thrown pitch in baseball, it is a pitch that is meant to be thrown very fast. There are different variations of fastballs.
Framing a pitch: Refers to the positioning and or movement of the catcher’s mitt and body when he catches a pitch in the attempt to make the pitch appear as a strike to the umpire. Typically done on pitches that are slightly outside the strike zone and may be questionable for the umpire to call a strike.
Gas: Another term for a fastball. “This pitcher is throwing gas.”
Hanger: A poorly placed off-speed pitch that seems to just hang in the air, usually right down the middle of the strike zone, that can be easily hit by the batter.
Heat(er): Another term for a fastball. “This pitcher is throwing heat.” “That pitch was a heater.”
Intentional walk: When the defending team elects to walk a batter on purpose, putting him on first base instead of letting him try to hit.
Live on the corners: A pitcher is said to “live on the corners” when they are consistently making pitches on the outside or inside corners of home plate.
Meatball: When a pitcher is throwing pitches that are extremely easy to hit. “This pitcher is throwing meatballs!”
Middle reliever: A relief pitcher who is brought in typically during the middle-innings (4, 5, and 6).
No-hitter: A game in which one team does not get any hits; a rare feat for a pitcher, especially at the major league level. Also called a “no-no.”
Off-speed pitch: A pitch that is significantly slower than a given pitcher’s fastball. Typically, a curveball or changeup of some variation.
On the bump: This phrase is used when talking about a pitcher on the pitcher’s mound. “On the bump tonight is [insert pitcher’s name here].”
Paint the black: This refers to a pitcher throwing strikes that cross the zone just on the edge of the literal black border of home plate. “This pitcher is really painting the black.”
Pitch around: When the pitcher does not throw the batter a pitch near the plate to walk the batter without intentionally walking them.
Pitch out: A pitch that cannot be hit by the batter. Used to walk a batter on purpose or to try and catch a base stealer.
Punch-out: Another name for a strikeout.
Relief pitcher: A pitcher who comes in the game to relieve the starting pitcher when they become tired, suffer an injury or are letting up too many hits/runs. Also called a “reliever.”
Rubber arm: A pitcher is said to have a “rubber arm” if they can throw many pitches without tiring.
Save situation: Generally, a save situation is when a pitcher enters the game in the seventh inning or later with a lead of three runs or fewer. This is typically what the closer (closing pitcher) is brought into the game for. Also called a save opportunity.
Set-up pitcher: A relief pitcher who is consistently used immediately before the closer.
Slurve: A pitch that is a cross between a slider and a curveball.
Southpaw: A left-hand thrower; typically, used to describe a pitcher.
Stretch: The stretch is a simpler, more compact pitching position. The stretch is most commonly used when there are base runners on first or second base. Since this pitching motion takes less time, it gives the runners less time to steal bases. Some pitchers like to use the stretch all the time regardless of the base runners.
Submarine: A pitcher who throws with a severe sidearm motion, making the pitch appear to come from below the waist or even right off the ground, is said to throw “submarine.”
Take the hill: When a pitcher steps on the mound they are said to “take the hill.”
Throw ’em a chair: Most commonly used when cheering on a pitcher to strike out a batter, due to the batter going back to the dugout to sit down after striking out.
Uncle Charlie: A term sometimes used for a curveball.
Walk: When the pitcher throws four balls to a batter before throwing three strikes, the batter gets to go to first base automatically.
Windup: The windup involves a longer motion than the stretch. It has a big leg kick that is thought to give the pitch more power. The windup is used when there are no runners on base or there is only a runner on third.
There have been quite a few different terms used over the years to describe different plays or actions when it comes to fielding in baseball, some of which can be somewhat confusing when first hearing them. Therefore, we have defined these terms for you to hopefully make them a little easier to understand or use for yourself!
Around the horn: The act of infielders’ throwing the ball to each other after recording an out (if there are no runners on base).
Ate em’ up: Slang expression for the action of a batted ball that is difficult for a fielder to handle; usually resulting in an error being made.
Bad hop: A ball that bounces in front of a fielder in an unexpected way, often as a result of imperfections in the field or the spin on the ball.
Booted: Another way to say, “made an error.” Sometimes used when a player misplays a ball hit to them on the ground. Some people use the term “kicked it” in place of this.
Can of corn: A fly ball hit to a player, typically in the outfield, that is very easy for the player to catch; usually without moving at all.
Cannon: A strong throwing arm.
Cut-off man: An infielder that “cuts off” a long throw from the outfield to an important target in the infield.
Double play: A defensive baseball play that results in two outs.
Error: A mistake in fielding the baseball by the defense that allows a batter to reach base or a base runner to advance.
Flashing the leather: When a fielder makes a great play. Leather meaning the fielder’s glove.
Force play: A play in which a runner must advance when a ball is hit, thereby allowing a fielder to put the runner out by touching the approached base before the runner gets there. “Force out.”
Hole in their glove: Used to describe dropping fly balls or misplaying ground balls, usually after they hit (and seem to go through) the fielder’s glove.
Hose(d): A strong throwing arm. To throw out a base runner with a strong throw. “That player has a hose!” “That runner was hosed at third base!”
Hot corner: Another word for the third base position.
Infield fly rule: The umpire calls the batter out when (a) there are less than two outs in the inning, and (b) the batter hits a fly ball that can be caught by an infielder in fair territory, and (c) there are runners on first and second or the bases are loaded.
Infielder: A player whose position is either first base, second base, third base, or shortstop.
Lay out: When a fielder dives to make a play on a batted ball. “Lay out for it!”
Outfielder: A player whose position is either left field, center field, or right field.
Pop Time: On a pickoff attempt by a catcher, the time it takes from the pitch hitting the catcher's mitt to the time it reaches the infielder's glove (usually around 2 seconds).
Turn two: To execute a double play. “Hey, let’s turn two here!”
Twin killing: Another term for a double play. Or, when a team wins both games in a double-header.
Utility player: A player who can play several different positions. Also known as a “versatile player.”
Web gem: Literally refers to the webbing of a fielder’s glove. This term is used when a player makes an outstanding defensive play.
When it comes to base running, many of these terms are used mainly when discussing what happened during an earlier inning or what is happening in the current inning. They are mainly situational but can include some statistics as well.
Bases loaded: Runners on first, second, and third base.
Pinch runner: A substitute base runner.
Runners at the corners: Term used when base runners are on first and third base.
Scoring position: When a base runner is on 2nd or 3rd base, they are in scoring position.
Stolen base: When a baserunner successfully advances to the next base while the pitcher is delivering the ball to home plate. “Stealing”, “Steal.”
Strand(ed): When the half-inning ends, and the baserunner(s) has not scored or been put out, this is known as being “stranded on base.”
Unlike previous terms that we discussed, terms related to the actual baseball field are just that. They won’t be statistics or scenarios, just common terms used for certain areas on a baseball field that someone hearing them for the first time may be confused by.
Backstop: The fence/wall behind home-plate, designed to protect spectators from wild pitches or foul balls.
Bag: A base. Also, a two-bagger is a double or two-base hit and a three-bagger is a triple or three-base hit.
Batter’s box: A rectangle on either side of home plate in which the batter must be standing for fair play to resume.
Batter’s eye: A solid-colored, usually dark area beyond the center field wall of a baseball stadium, that is the visual backdrop directly in the line of sight of a baseball batter, while facing the pitcher and awaiting a pitch.
Bullpen: A designated area where pitchers can warm up before entering the game.
Bump: Another word for the pitcher’s mound.
Short porch: A baseball field with a short distance to the outfield fence. Typically, on just one side of the outfield. “Left field is a short porch!”
Warning track: The dirt area that borders the fences of a baseball field, usually in the outfield, that is used to help prevent fielders from running in to the fence at full speed. It is intended to help fielders get a feel of how close they are to the fence.
Yard: A baseball field.
Lastly, the terms below are mainly used when discussing aspects of a game of baseball overall. These are probably the most commonly known terms, but we thought we would highlight them for someone who may be new to the game.
Big leagues: A nickname for Major League Baseball.
Bigs: Another term for being in the Major Leagues. “Being in the bigs.”
Blue: A term commonly used by players to address an umpire, referring to the typical dark blue color of the umpire’s uniform.
Bonus baseball: When a baseball game goes to extra innings; past 9 innings of play. Sometimes called “free baseball.”
Bottom of the inning: The second half or “last half” of an inning, during which the home team bats, derived from its position in the line score.
Bush league: A style of play or specific action that is unsophisticated, unprofessional or without “class.”
Extra innings: Additional innings needed to determine a winner if a game is tied after the regulation number of innings (9 innings at the professional and collegiate level, 7 innings at the high school level). Also called “extra frames.”
Frame: Half of an inning, either top or bottom.
Goose egg: A zero on the scoreboard.
Inning: An inning consists of two halves. In each half, one team bats until three outs are made.
Out: An out occurs when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out. When three outs are recorded in an inning, a team’s half of the inning, or their turn at batting, ends. The most common ways batters or runners are put out are by strikeouts, fly outs, tag outs, and force outs; however, there are many, somewhat rarer, ways an out can occur.
Position player: Any baseball player on the field but the pitcher.
Seventh-inning stretch: The period between the top and bottom of the seventh inning, when the fans present traditionally stand up to stretch their legs. A sing-along of the song “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” has become part of this tradition.
Slump: An extended period when a player or team is not performing well. Most commonly used when it comes to hitting; if a batter does not get a hit in X amount of games, that batter would be in slump.
The show: A nickname for Major League Baseball.
Tossed: When a player or coach is ejected from the game by an umpire, they are said to have been “tossed” out of the game. Usually a result of an argument between player/coach and an umpire.
Yips: When a player suddenly cannot hit or field correctly; typically, due to over thinking things. “Having a case of the yips.”
We hope you have enjoyed reading through this list of commonly used baseball terms and phrases. Now get out there and start talking some baseball! Don’t forget, you can get all the baseball gear you may need at BaseballMonkey.com!
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