There are several different types of roles batters can fulfill, depending on the situation of the game and the skill set of the player. In this chapter, we will learn about what these different categories of batters are. In this tutorial, we will go deeper into the different roles batters can fulfill, depending on the situation of the game and skill set of the player.
Pinch hitters are substitute batters, who replace batters who are already on the lineup. Once a pinch hitter is used, the player they replace must be taken out of the game. When a team is on defense after a pinch hitter is put in the game, the pinch hitter must either play defense for the player they replaced, or another defensive player may replace the pinch hitter.
Sometimes, the pinch hitter may play a defensive position that is different than the player he replaced, so other substitutions have to be made. Using pinch hitters is a strategic move that managers use only when necessary, since it requires a player being taken out of the game completely. Pinch hitters are usually used toward the end of the game, typically to replace pitchers or because a special skill (like bunting) is required for a certain circumstance in the game.
The lead-off hitter is the first batter in the lineup, but it can also refer to the first batter of a half-inning. Strategically, the lead-off hitter (in the lineup sense) is usually one of the best hitters, but more importantly is the best and fastest baserunner. His goal is to get on base, and when the more powerful hitters behind him get hits, he can use his baserunning skills to advance as far as he can.
The cleanup hitter occupies the fourth spot in the lineup and is usually the team's most powerful hitter. The idea behind this is that the batters before him will reach base, then he will get a strong hit and advance those baserunners to home plate, in effect clearing/cleaning up the bases.
Power hitters are strong, powerful hitters who often hit balls far into the outfield, hitting a relatively high amount of home runs, triples, and doubles. The best power hitters also hit with consistency, but many are primarily known for their ability to hit with power, even if they often strike out or don't get on base.
Contact hitters are hitters who consistently make contact with the ball and get on base. Contact hitters are known for getting on base with relative frequency, using their baserunning skills to reach base if they do not hit the ball very hard. They are also known for not striking out often.
PRO TIP: On a very generalized level, the National League of the MLB is known for having more contact hitters while the American League is known for having more power hitters. There are many, many exceptions to this principle, however. A team should have a good balance of both contact hitters and power hitters, as well as hitters who exhibit traits of both, in order to be offensively successful.
A designated hitter (DH) is a player who only bats and does not play a defensive position. In leagues where a DH is used, the pitcher does not bat, and the DH serves to take his place in the lineup. In Major League Baseball, the American League uses designated hitters, but the National League does not (instead, pitchers in the National League must bat).
Choke Up Hitter
A choke up hitter is a batter who chokes up on the bat, or holds it higher up on the handle, closer to the barrel of the bat. This allows for a faster swing of the bat. Some batters choke up for their entire at-bat while some only choke up in certain situations, such as when they have two strikes.