Baseball Lingo And Terminology

baseball lingo and terminology

There is a lot of lingo used in the sport of baseball. It can be especially confusing when watching a baseball game and hearing announcers and players say phrases you’ve never heard of. What are some common phrases used in baseball, and what do they each mean? Let’s learn about the terminology most commonly used by players, announcers, and baseball fans.


Baserunning Lingo

  • Bag: Another term for a base.
  • Bang-Bang Play: An expression used to describe a very close play.
  • Caught Napping: When a player gets picked off.
  • Dish: Another term for home plate.
  • Pickle/Rundown: When the base runner is stuck in-between two fielders and must try to run back to a base safely without being tagged.
  • Small Ball: A style of play in which runners are normally advanced on base at a time, typically through bunts, stolen bases, or sacrifice hits.
  • Wheels: A term used to describe a fast player (ex: he has wheels).

Batting Lingo

  • Bandbox: Refers to a small ballpark that is easier for batters to hit home runs in.
  • Caught Looking: Refers to when a batter fails to swing at a pitch which winds up being the last of his three strikes.
  • Choke Up: When a batter holds their hands up higher on the handle of their bat in hopes of making contact and avoiding striking out.
  • Cleanup Hitter: The fourth batter in the lineup.
  • Cycle: When a player records a single, double, triple, and home run all in the same game, no matter the order.
  • Dead Red: When a batter gets the pitch they were looking for and hits it hard.
  • Dinger: Another term for a home run.
  • Ducks on the pond: Ducks on the pond is a term used to describe scenarios when runners are in scoring position.
  • Four-bagger: Slang for a home run.
  • Golden Sombrero: When a batter strikes out four times in the same game.
  • In-the-Hole: Refers to the batter that is scheduled to bat after the on-deck hitter (hitter that will come to the plate following the current hitter).
  • Jammed: When a batter makes weak contact on an inside pitch, often off or near the handle of the bat.
  • Knock: A hit.
  • Moon Shot: A home run that is both high in the air and travels a long distance.
  • Nubber: A weak ground ball that usually doesn’t leave the shallow infield.
  • On the Screws: A term used to describe when a batter hits the ball very hard, typically on the sweet spot.
  • Plunked: A term used to describe when a batter is hit by a pitch.
  • Seeing-Eye Single: A weak ground ball that finds its way through the infield for a base hit.
  • Sweet Spot: Describes the thick, center portion of the bat that tends to result in big hits when it contacts the ball.
  • Taking the Collar: When a player goes the whole game without getting a hit.
  • Table Setter: The first batter in a team’s lineup, tasked with getting on base so that the following hitters can score runs.
  • Tape-Measure Blast: A term used to describe a long home run.
  • Tater: Another name for a home run.
  • Three-Bagger: Slang for a triple.
  • Two-Bagger: Slang for a double.
  • Walk-off: A hit in the bottom of the ninth or extra innings that wins the game for the batting team.
  • Wheelhouse: Describes a pitch that is easy for the batter to make contact with, crossing the middle of the plate about waist-high.
  • Whiff: A swing and a miss. Also sometimes refers to a strikeout.
  • Worm Burner: A ground ball that does not bounce high off the ground.

Fielding Lingo

  • Alley: Refers to the areas of the outfield between the outfielders.
  • Around the Horn: Refers to a double play that starts at first base and then goes to second, and then first. Also refers to the way the infielders throw the ball from third to first between at-bats.
  • Bad Hop: Refers to when a ground ball jumps unexpectedly, making it harder to field.        
  • Baltimore Chop: Refers to a ground ball that hits in front of home plate or off of the plate, which then proceeds to hop over the infielders’ heads.
  • Basket Catch: Refers to when a fielder catches a ball in his glove near the area of his belt.
  • Can of Corn: Refers to an easily-caught fly ball to the outfield.
  • Circus Catch: An acrobatic catch on a fly ball, typically involving an unorthodox time or slide.
  • Comebacker: A ground ball that is hit back to the pitcher.
  • Cutoff Man: A fielder who receives a throw from an outfielder after a hit.
  • Double Play: A team’s fielders manage to record two outs at one time by tagging bases with the ball in hand before each runner manages to reach those bases.
  • Flashing the Leather: A term used to describe when a player makes a great play.
  • Frozen Rope: Refers to a hard-hit line drive.
  • Gap: Another name for the areas of the outfield between the outfielders.
  • Hot Corner: Another name for third base, as right-handed hitters tend to hit balls hard to the left side of the field.
  • Leather: Referral to a baseball glove.
  • Shoestring Catch: A catch in which the player grabs the ball just before it hits the ground while still standing upright.
  • Turning Two: A term used to describe a double play.
  • Twin Killing: Slang for a double play.
  • Web Gem: Refers to a spectacular defensive play.

Pitching Lingo

  • Ace: Refers to a team’s best starting pitcher.
  • Backdoor slider: A pitch that appears to be thrown outside the strike zone, but then “slides” back over the plate at the last second.
  • Battery: A term used to describe the pitcher and catcher.
  • Beanball: A pitch which hits the batter in the head
  • Brushback: A pitch thrown inside with the intention of scaring the batter into standing farther off the plate.
  • Chin Music: A pitch thrown up and in on a batter that makes them move out of the way.
  • Climbing the Ladder: A sequence of pitches, typically high-velocity fastballs, that are each thrown higher than the last with the intention of getting the batter to chase them out of the strike zone.
  • Closer: The pitcher who often enters the game in the ninth and final inning to preserve a small lead.
  • Cookie: A pitch that is easy to hit.
  • Flame Thrower: A pitcher who is notorious for throwing hard.
  • Gas: A term used to describe a fast pitch.
  • Gem: A term used to describe when a starting pitcher has a spectacular game, often a shutout or no-hitter.
  • Gopher Ball: Refers to a pitch that is hit for a home run.
  • Heater: A pitch that is accurate and possesses exceptional speed.
  • High and Tight: Refers to a pitch that is thrown high up in the strike zone and close to a batter’s body.
  • High Cheese/Cheddar: A pitch thrown high in the zone with major velocity, typically a fastball.
  • Hill: Slang for the pitcher’s mound.
  • Hook: Refers to whenever the manager changes pitchers, in reference to the motion of the hand gesturing for a pitcher to leave the field, or the pitcher being dragged off by a hook.
  • Jam: Different from when a batter is “jammed;” refers to when a pitcher is allowing a lot of baserunners.
  • Junk: Refers to pitches that are thrown at low speed, but have a lot of movement.
  • Meatball: A pitch that is very easy to hit and is often hit for extra bases, typically down the middle of the strike zone without any movement.
  • No-no: Slang for a no-hitter.
  • Offspeed Pitch: Refers to any pitch that is slower than a fastball.
  • Painting the Black: When a pitcher throws the ball over the edge of home plate.
  • Painting the Corners: When a pitcher throws a variety of pitches in the corners of the strike zone resulting in strikes for the batter.
  • Payoff Pitch: Refers to a pitch that is thrown when there is a full count, as this pitch will be the “payoff” that determines whether the play will be a hit, a walk, or a strikeout.
  • Pick-Off: Instead of throwing a pitch, the pitcher quickly pivots and throws the ball to first base in an attempt to catch a runner before he is able to return to the base.
  • Punchout: Another term for a strikeout.
  • Southpaw: a pitcher who is left-handed.
  • Uncle Charlie: A curveball.
  • Yakker: Another name for a curveball.

General Lingo

  • Bronx Cheer: Refers to when the fans are booing.
  • Bonus Baby: Refers to a young player who gets a huge signing bonus when joining a pro team for the first time.
  • Bush League: Refers to when a player behaves or plays in a way that is considered amateur.
  • Cellar: Refers to the team currently in last place in the MLB, as the “cellar” is the lowest room of a house.
  • Curtain Call: Refers to when a player’s performance causes the audience to become so excited that he returns to the dugout waving or tipping his cap.
  • Free Baseball: Refers to when a baseball game enters extra innings.
  • Hanging a Snowman: When a team scores eight runs in one inning, as the number eight resembles a snowman.
  • Hot Stove: Refers to the offseason, as the rumors and speculation about trades and other stats are said to keep the fans “warm” over the winter.
  • Junior Circuit: The American League, which was the second of the  two baseball leagues in the MLB.
  • Pennant: Refers to a league championship.
  • Platoon: When two players share playing time at one position.
  • Rhubarb: Refers to a fight or brawl on the field.
  • Senior Circuit: The National League, which was the first of the two baseball leagues in the MLB.
  • The Show: Refers to the Major Leagues.
  • Twinbill: Refers to a double-header.

FAQ

What is a home run?

A home run in baseball is when a batter hits the pitch beyond the outfield and over the fence. For a home run to count, the ball must stay in fair territory, and the base runner must touch all of the bases in the correct order. A home run from a single batter is worth one point, but if there are runners on base, a home run scores as many points as there are runners, with the highest-possible value being a grand slam, which is a home run hit while there are runners on all three bases, and is worth four points (one for each runner and the batter).

What does a strikeout mean?

A strikeout happens when the batter earns three strikes during the same at-bat. A player’s first two foul balls count as strikes, but foul balls cannot result in the third strike needed for a strikeout, unless the batter hits a bunt into foul territory. The third strike must come from a swing and a miss, or from a batter not swinging at a pitch, for a strikeout to be called. In the latter case, when a batter does not swing at the third strike, he is referred to as having been “caught looking.”

What is a fastball?

A fastball in baseball is a type of pitch that typically doesn't move too much, but moves at a high speed. Fastballs are the fastest type of pitch and travel upwards of 95-100mph. The fastest pitch ever recorded was a 106 mph fastball thrown by Aroldis Chapman.