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Baseball Batting

What is batting and hitting? What does at bat mean? Get ready to learn the rules of batting and hitting for the offense in a baseball game.

Batting

An important part of baseball is scoring runs because the team with the most runs at the end of the game is the winner. Being at-bat is synonymous with a team being on offense. When a team is offense, they have the opportunity to score runs to put their team in the lead. The other team is on defense and is fielding.

When a team is on offense, their players go one-by-one to home plate to take their turn to bat. Since hits are one way to advance bases (and advancing enough bases eventually leads to scoring), batters attempt to hit the ball during their at-bat. To do this, the batter swings at pitches that are thrown by the pitcher and caught by the catcher. However, certain plays lead to the batter being out, ending his turn to hit or advance bases. When three outs are made, the half-inning is over.

In baseball, batting does not only mean that a player's bat makes contact with the ball. In order to successfully get a hit, the ball must land in fair territory and the batter must safely reach base. There are many different ways a batter attempts to hit the ball.

Baseball Batting

The Batter

A batter is an offensive player who stands in the batter's box and takes his turn to bat awaiting pitches thrown by the pitcher who is located on the pitcher's mound. The batter's objective first and foremost is to make contact with the pitch.

Batters have the goal of getting on base and eventually scoring a run. The men standing in his way are the fielders along with the infamous pitcher. The pitcher wants to get outs. If he throws three strikes then he strikes out the batter. If a batter hits the ball into the air another fielder can catch the ball for an out.

The batter faces the pitcher located on the pitcher's mound. The catcher and umpire are positioned behind the batter. The catcher stands in the catcher's box with rules governing his movement. The umpire stands behind the catcher and dictates play with his calls.

Pitchers will throw a series of pitches to the catcher at home plate. Every pitch is either a strike or a ball. The umpire judges the pitch calling strikes, balls, and foul balls based on the strike zone.

The batter's objectives during his at-bat are the following:

He tries to achieve these goals through drawing walks, getting hits, and/or avoiding striking out.

Baseball batter

Batting Order

The offense follows a strict batting order or a predetermined list of players stating who bats and when. Once a batter's plate appearance is complete, the next batter comes into the batter's box. Batting orders are exchanged between the managers and umpires at the beginning of the game. The batting order restarts once all players have had a chance to bat.

Next Batter's Box

The next batter's box, also called the on-deck circle, is a circular area (usually a mat) that is outside the entrance to the dugout. The next batter in the lineup stands in the on-deck circle and practices his swing until it is his turn to bat. Each field has two on-deck circles, one for each team.

Baseball On Deck Circle

On-Deck

On-deck is a phrase in baseball used to describe the next batter in the batting order to be at-bat. This batter usually waits outside the entrance of the dugout. The next batter in the batting order stands in the on-deck circle and practices his swing until it is his turn to bat. Each field has two on-deck circles, one for each team.

Baseball On Deck

Batting Practice

Before each game, each team takes batting practice (often abbreviated as BP). In Major League Baseball, each team takes about 45-50 minutes for batting practice. During batting practice, batters will practice hitting easy pitches usually thrown by a hitting coach, while fielders will practice fielding the balls that their teammates hit. The home team always takes batting practice first, and both teams usually finish batting practice about an hour and a half to two hours before the game's scheduled start time.

Plate Appearances

In technical terms, every time a batter goes up to the plate, it is actually considered a plate appearance. The batter will only be credited with an official at-bat if his plate appearance ends in certain outcomes. For example, as we learned earlier, if the batter draws a walk he is not credited with an at-bat, only with a plate appearance. This distinction is important when calculating statistics, but at-bat is the widespread colloquial term referring to a player's turn at home plate.

Batting Terminology

If you'd like to learn more about batting, here is a list of terms you can explore and read up on.

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