We've already learned that 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 fielding.
At-Bat (On Offense)
When a team is on offense, their players go one-by-one to home plate to take their turn to bat. The order of batters is determined by a batting order, which we learned about previously in this chapter. 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 (3) outs are made, the half-inning is over.
Objectives of a Batter
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. Throughout the tutorial, we will point out if a certain situation only counts as a plate appearance and not as an at-bat.
Next Batter's Box/On-Deck Circle
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.
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 (2) on-deck circles, one for each team.
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.