In baseball, batting does not only mean a batter's bat makes contact with the baseball. In order to successfully get a hit, the baseball must land in fair territory and the batter-runner must safely reach base. There are many different ways a batter attempts to hit the baseball:
A clean hit is a baseball that lands in fair territory without having been touched by a fielder. It commonly refers to a baseball that travels through the infield without being touched by an infielder, or a baseball that goes over an outfielder's head.
A line drive is a hard-hit baseball that travels fast through the air, but relatively low/close to the ground without bouncing. Line drives can be hard to field unless hit in a fielder's direction, and have a fairly high tendency to become successful hits.
We've already learned one way batters can get on base, which is by drawing a walk. Batters can also get on base by hitting the baseball. If the batter successfully makes contact with the pitch and the baseball lands in fair territory, the batter becomes a batter-runner and must try and reach first base. If the fielders cannot throw the batter-runner out on time, he can safely reach a base. This is called a base hit. A base hit is an umbrella term for any hit that results in a batter-runner safely reaching a base.
A bunt is a type of hit where the batter holds the bat horizontally above home plate with the intent of redirecting the ball into the infield along the foul lines. Bunts are used in plays such as squeeze plays and sacrifice plays to bring a runner from scoring position home to score a run. If the batter hits a bunt into foul territory it will always count as a strike, even if the count has two strikes recorded. On a bunt, the pitcher or catcher may be responsible for fielding the hit depending on where in the field the ball ends up.
A flyball is a type of hit that goes high into the air and as a result is relatively easy to catch as a fielder. In fact, there is a rule called the infield fly rule that is called by an umpire that assumes the fielder will catch the flyball and it is automatically recorded as an out, even if the fielder drops it. Some flyballs can be difficult to catch, especially if the weather conditions are tough. Fielders will wear caps and sunglasses to make sure to block out flares from the sun when catching flyballs. Communication is important between fielders in case two fielders think they are responsible for catching the flyball.
Singles, Doubles, and Triples
A single is a base hit that brings the batter-runner safe on first base. Singles are important in baseball because it gets the offense moving with momentum. Base hits can give a team that motivating edge to start earning runs. An example of a classic base hit is when the batter hits the ball over a baseman and it lands as a ground ball in the outfield.
A double is a base hit that brings the batter-runner safe on second base. Doubles are rare, but not as uncommon as triples. An example of a double is a ground rule double, when the batter hits the ball and it bounces out of play beyond the outfield fence. If the batter can hit the ball near the foul lines he has a good chance of advancing to second base or third base for a triple.
A triple is a base hit that brings the batter-runner safe on third base. Triples are even more rare than doubles. Usually, a batter will get to third base on an amazing hit near the outfield fence or along the foul lines. Fielders will make a mistake or field the ball incorrectly giving the base runner enough time to get safe on third.
Choosing What Base To Stop At
The reason a base runner will stop at a certain base, as opposed to trying to reach a more advanced base, is based on a judgment call by the player and the base coaches. If the fielders have successfully collected the baseball and could reasonably throw the baseball to the next base before the batter reaches it, the batter would prefer to stop at an earlier base. Hard hit baseballs usually result in the batter reaching a higher base, because it would take the outfielders more time to get the baseball back to the infield in order to throw the batter out.