# Baseball/Printable version

Baseball

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# Basics

## Basics

You need a glove (the catcher and first baseman use mitts) and a bat. The person with the baseball bat hits the ball and the person with the glove or mitt tries to catch the ball and do it 5 times (or your choice). The pitches that the pitcher throws are either balls or strikes. A strike is a pitch that is thrown within the strike zone. Traditionally the strike zone is a pitch thrown across the plate and between the knees and uniform letters of the player and not outside of the sides of the home plate. A ball is a pitch thrown outside this area. It is important to remember that final call on whether a pitch is a strike or ball is decided by the home plate umpire.

The game baseball is played on a field called a diamond. The infield is made up of a home plate, first base, second base and third base, set up in a diamond shape. The total number of players that can play on the diamond at one time is 9 (defensive). There is a pitcher (who throws the ball to the batter), the catcher, catches the ball thrown by the pitcher. There is a first baseman who catches the balls hit to the infielders and mans first base. The second baseman plays in between first and second base. Next to the second baseman on the other side of second base, between second base and third base is the shortstop. This position was originally called the shortfielder because it was play in the outfield in front of the outfielders and behind the infielders. The outfield consists of three players: left, middle, and right field. All are located in the grass far beyond the diamond.

The bat is made of wood or aluminum. At younger levels aluminum is used, while in professional leagues they use wooden bats.

# Pitcher

Pitchers are by far the most critical players on defense. They are so important on defense that their ability to hit a pitched ball is trivial. When a pitcher falters or tires he is often replaced with a relief pitcher. Pitchers get credit for winning or losing games. A statistic known as earned-run (ERA) average measures the effectiveness of a pitcher, a low ERA generally indicates a good pitcher and a high one indicates a poor one. The pitcher's position in scoring is designated with the number "1"

## Pitching

The pitcher spends most of the time when his team is on the field in nearly the center of the infield. He can throw left-handed or right-handed (but he is not allowed to go from pitching left-handed to right-handed or vice versa during the game) and he can throw overhand (the vast majority of pitchers so do), side-arm, or underhand.

## Getting outs

A pitcher gets most of his success by inducing outs from batters that he confronts. The outs can result from a strikeout that results from the pitcher getting the batter getting three strikes or hitting a ball so that the batted ball leads to an out (fly balls and line drives caught before landing, ground balls typically to infielders who throw the ball to another base to put out a base runner (usually the batter who must reach first base lest he make an out). If he induces three outs before any runs score, then he has done a good job in that inning.

A pitcher throws a baseball toward the plate, and with that the action usually begins in baseball. The pitcher ordinarily throws the ball toward home plate, where the batter tries either to hit the ball or 'take' a pitch. The batter must swing at a pitched ball that goes through any part of the strike zone lest he get a called strike which may contribute to a strikeout, but if the batter swings and misses at a pitched ball whether it is in or out of the strike zone, then such results in a strike that can also contribute to a strikeout.

The strikeout is ordinarily the least troublesome (but not always the best) result for a pitcher. The batter is out without effectively hitting the ball (except for the rare and unlikely situation in which the batter takes a called third strike or swings and misses but reaches first base when the catcher fails to catch the ball and cannot throw to first base to put out the batter at first base). Pitchers can also get outs (successes against a batter) by inducing the batter to hit a ball so that it either

1. is caught as a fair or foul fly before it can reach the ground, or
2. is hit fair to a fielder (typically an infielder, which can include the pitcher or catcher) after hitting the ground who then either touches a base while in possession of the ball before a runner who must reach that base, or throws the ball to another infielder who can touch the base before a base runner obliged to reach that base can touch it. Foul ground balls do not result in outs.

Failure of a pitcher to get an out typically comes from one of four causes:

1. a hit which results from a batter hitting a fair ball so that it hits the ground before a fielder can retrieve it and throw it to a base so that some infielder can put a base runner out -- or either reaches the fence on the fly or flies over the fence (a ball hit in fair territory but over the fence is the disastrous home run that allows the batter and all base runners then on base to score runs).
2. a walk in which a batter refuses to swing at four 'balls' (pitches outside the strike zone) before hitting a fair ball or getting a third strike, or (the intentional walk, which is an option in some situations) in which the pitcher deliberately throws a fourth unhittable ball outside the strike zone. The batter is allowed to reach first base, and base runners are compelled to advance as necessary (the batters are usually delighted to advance a base).
3. a hit batsman, an incident in which a ball striking the batter or his clothing, shoes, or batter's helmet (but not his bat) with a ball not in the strike zone at which the batter does not swing. A ball that hits the batter before striking the batter's bat results in a hit batsman.
4. an error that allows a batter to reach base safely due to bad fielding by any player (including the pitcher) or allows a baserunner already on base who should be retired on a fielder's choice play.

Pitchers choose the pitches that they use in an effort to confuse a batter typically to induce an out. Such will usually be done with some understanding of the ability of the hitter.

## Rules of pitching

The pitcher must not commit a balk while pitching. The pitcher must have contact with the 'rubber' on the pitcher's mound. The rules against the balk practically define how a pitcher can pitch.

With any runners on base -- any base -- a pitcher commits a balk if he:

1. switches his pitching position from the windup to the set (or vice versa) without properly disengaging the rubber;
2. while on the rubber, makes a motion associated with his pitch and does not complete the delivery;
3. when pitching from the set position, fails to make a complete stop with his hands together before beginning to pitch;
4. throws from the mound to a base without stepping toward (gaining distance in the direction of) that base;
5. throws or feints a throw from the rubber to an unoccupied base, unless a play is imminent;
6. steps or feints from the rubber to first or third base without completing the throw (doing so to second base is legal);
7. delivers a quick return, a pitch thrown right after receiving the ball back, with intent to catch the batter off-guard;
8. drops the ball while on the rubber, even if by accident, if the ball does not subsequently cross a foul line;
9. while intentionally walking a batter, releases a pitch while the catcher is out of his box with one or both feet;
10. unnecessarily delays the game;
11. pitches while facing away from the batter;
12. after bringing his hands together on the rubber, separates them except in making a pitch or a throw;
13. stands on or astride the rubber without the ball, or mimics a pitch without the ball; or throws to first when the first baseman, because of his distance from the base, is unable to make a play on the runner there.
14. delivers a pitch during a squeeze play or a steal of home, if the catcher or some other player steps on or in front of home base without possession of the ball, or touches the batter or his bat. The ball is dead, the batter is awarded first base, the pitcher is charged with a balk, and the run scores.

Any balk with a runner on base allows each runner to advance one base, including home plate for a runner at third base as the pitcher starts to throw his pitch. Balks are comparatively rare, but they can cause a run to score even ending a game.

Pitchers are never allowed to make deliberate throws at the head or neck of the batter. Umpires have discretion in determining whether a pitcher has deliberately thrown at a batter. In the most flagrant cases an umpire can eject a pitcher for throwing a pitch intended to cause injury to the batter. Accidents happen, and umpires are expected to interpret not-so-deliberate throws as non-violations.

## Tampering with the baseball

A pitcher is never allowed to alter a ball in any way by rubbing it against anything (including his clothing and flesh, emery boards, sharp objects) or applying any foreign substance including his own saliva or perspiration which creates a "spitball" that travels erratically. A pitcher caught tampering with the ball will be ejected from the game.

At the discretion of the umpire (typically during cold conditions), umpires will allow pitchers to blow onto their hands so that they can keep their hands nimble enough to pitch effectively.

## Pitch types

Pitchers have a variety of pitches available, depending on how they are tossed. A variety of pitches are thrown, and few pitchers are able to use them all effectively. Pitches are known either by their movement (sliders, sinkers, and curves) or by the way they are thrown (screwballs, knuckleballs, and forkballs), or for their speed (fastballs). Pitchers usually vary pitches so that batters can be uncomfortable swinging at the ball. Any pitch can be hit hard and far, usually with a bad result. But some are extremely difficult to hit, especially knuckleballs (which few pitchers throw, but the few who throw them often have long careers) and very fast fastballs.

Some pitches are easily kept in the strike zone so that they will have to be hit to not be strikes; some are more difficult to keep in the strike zone so that if the batter refuses to swing at them he gets a ball. Three strikes (the last either a called or swinging third strike or a foul bunt with two strikes) gets a strikeout, usually the favored out. Four balls, in contrast, allow a batter to reach first base. A pitcher typically tries to avoid hitting the batter with a pitch, which allows the batter to reach first base safely as a hit batsman.

A spitball, an illegal pitch, is infamously difficult to hit but also difficult to get away with over a career.

The easiest pitches to hit are the pitches hard to define -- the 'hanging curve' that does not dip, the slider that does not slide, the sinkerball that does not sink, or a fastball that isn't unusually fast. Pitchers try to avoid throwing such pitches which become many of the hard-hit fly balls and line drives that allow doubles, triples, and home runs.

## Attempting to prevent baserunner advances (stolen bases, wild pitches, passed balls)

A pitcher must try to avoid making a wild pitch if runners are on base. Such a pitch goes past the catcher and gives one or more base runners a chance to advance a base. A passed ball or stolen base often results from a pitcher either throwing a pitch far out of the strike zone that the catcher cannot catch or a pitch for which the catcher cannot prepare (such as a low and inside pitch when the catcher expects one high and outside).

A pitcher has some responsibility for deterring the stolen base. To thwart the stolen base a pitcher can pitch efficiently, not giving the base runner an edge in an effort to steal the next pitch.

Typically he pitches so that the pitched ball gets quickly to the catcher who can then make a throw to the base that the base runner is attempting to steal. Of course the pitcher can put a greater effort into inducing an out that might make a stolen base irrelevant. He can throw to an occupied base or to one to which a runner is running.

## Fielding

Once the ball is hit, the pitcher is for all practical purposes another infielder. He can catch fair or foul flies (although he usually defers the catch to other infielders or the catcher), and he can retrieve ground balls that he can then throw to bases in efforts to put out base runners. He can usually reach first base before a batter running to first base. On a ball hit to the right side of the infield, a pitcher is usually expected to run to first base, especially if the batter causes the first baseman to go far from first base in an effort to retrieve a ground ball in the knowledge that he must throw to another fielder. In the event of a rundown play he can throw a ball and tag a runner. On what could otherwise be a wild pitch or passed ball he may run to home plate in an effort to retrieve a ball bouncing back or thrown by the catcher to tag a base runner attempting to score.

## 90% of the game?

It is an old saying that pitching is 90% of the game. Such a claim is terribly imprecise. Runs scored and runs prevented are equally important; offense is just as important as defense.

Pitchers are 'only' about 40% of the 25-man roster. At the low end, teams may have eight pitchers active at one time and at the high end, teams may have eleven. Pitchers are not 90% of the trade value of a team; teams have traded two starting pitchers for one regular position player. The best pitchers do not win 90% of the games that they pitch. No pitcher consistently gets 90% of all batters facing him to make outs.

Most likely, pitching is 90% of the choices on defense. Teams can win or lose because the manager removes a pitcher too late, and a pitcher can win or lose a game in a critical situation through a bad selection of pitches. Teams generally don't get a chance to change a batter's swing during a game.

# Catcher

The catcher has a position behind home plate where he can catch the pitches of the pitcher that the batter does not hit or (rarely) hit the batter and to throw the ball back to the pitcher. Such is the most basic play of the catcher, and it is most of his plays. The catcher has a position too dangerous to not have protective gear. In addition to the uniform that other players have the catcher as a rule always wears a batting helmet, a mask, a chest protector, and a groin guard to protect against errant pitches, batter's swings, and foul balls hit off him.His gear is similar to that of the home-plate umpire who faces much the same hazards. He has shin guards to protect him against a base runner trying to score on a play which may be the difference between an out and a run. The runner can be charging him at full running speed or in a dive known as a slide. He wears a unique glove for catching the many pitched balls.

The catcher goes into a crouch to catch pitched balls. Such is eventually difficult upon the catcher's knees, but it is necessary because the balls thrown through or near the strike zone can be caught reliably only in a crouch.

## Catcher's Responsibilities

The catcher must, as mentioned above, catch or constrain any pitched balls and throw them back to the pitcher. Failure to catch or constrain such pitches with runners on base can result in baserunners advancing. Such uncaught or unconstrained pitches may be called passed balls if the scorer considers the fault with the catcher or wild pitches if the pitcher throws an unusually difficult pitch to catch, but the effect is much the same. Throwing the caught or constrained pitch back to the pitcher is routine, but any badly-thrown ball by the catcher is potentially an error should any baserunner advance.

On a foul tip with two strikes on the batter, the batter is out with a strikeout if the catcher can catch the foul tip before it hits the ground.

On a called or swinging third strike with fewer than two out and no runner on first base the catcher who does not catch the ball must gather it and throw it to first base, where the fielder at first base (usually the first baseman) must catch the ball and touch first base (usually with his feet) or, rarely, tag the batter running to first base to complete the out. Failure to complete this task results in a baserunner reaching first base without making an out. This is usually a routine play -- unless the pitcher has made a very bad pitch. (The batter is automatically out if there is a called or swinging third strike with fewer than two outs, but baserunners can attempt to advance on any called or swinging third strike. With the bases loaded and two outs on a called or swinging third strike, the catcher can gather the ball and perhaps touch home plate for a force of the baserunner from third base to end the inning.

On efforts by the offensive team to steal second or third base the catcher can throw to a fielder at or near the relevant base who at best (for the defensive team) tags the baserunner for an out instead of an advance of a base. Much of the defensive reputation of a catcher depends upon his ability to turn stolen base attempts into outs or to at least deter stolen bases.

Catchers never catch line drives -- but they often catch high pop flies near home plate, many of them foul. The catcher is the only fielder who has any chance of catching such foul fly balls. Those fly balls often take unusual angles and may require quick responses. Mobile catchers catch more of them. Catchers also field weakly-hit fair ground balls (especially bunts)that do not go far from home plate. The catcher sometimes must make a swift decision on whether fielding them fair and throwing them to a base to get an out or to let them go foul with at most an additional strike, and if he does field the ball with runners on base, to which base to throw the ball.

Catchers take the role of basemen when an out can be made at home plate on a fielder's choice play. With the bases loaded and a ball hit to another infielder or the pitcher, the infielder or pitcher might throw to the catcher at home plate to get an out should the catcher tag home plate with a part of himself (usually a foot) or the ball in or not in the glove. If the bases are not loaded, there might still be a play at the plate, but this is not a force play. The catcher must then tag the baserunner who tries to score. Running at full speed the baserunner may try to slide around the catcher and evade the tag or slam in to the catcher and try to dislodge the ball. A catcher who stops the slide or holds the ball when he is slammed into turns what would otherwise be a run for the opposing team into an out. Note well: a baserunner trying to score is usually running at top speed.

The catcher often makes signals to the pitcher to the pitcher to throw certain pitches as strategy for fooling the batter. The catcher has another, less visible responsibility: to be aware of the ability of the pitcher to pitch competently. As the game progresses a pitcher may become more 'wild' (failing to get strikes or throwing balls in areas in which they are easily hit hard)-- or the pitcher's signature pitches could become slower or flatter and easily be hit. The fastball that loses its velocity, the curve ball that doesn't keep its curve, the breaking pitch that does not break, the slider that does not slide, or the sinkerball that does not sink begins to look like a batting-practice fastball that can be hit easily, hard, or far. The catcher may have to tell the manager or pitching coach that a pitcher is thus losing his ability to pitch competently.

On rare occasions a catcher may run to a different position and participate as if an infielder in rundown plays.

# First Baseman

The first baseman has an important defensive role as the infielder most likely to finish an infield out on any ground ball. Usually located very close to first base, he is of course in position to catch any fly balls or line drives hit in or near his direction. He also fields ground balls hit toward him, and usually has a short run to first base so that he can reach first base with the fielded ball before the batter can reach first base by running to first base. In a rare play, the first baseman may receive a throw from a catcher on a dropped called or swinging third strike; if the first baseman catches the ball and reaches first base to tag the bag before the batter can reach first base, then the batter is out on the strikeout.

Under some circumstances he may play far enough off first base so that he must make a toss of a ground ball to the pitcher who typically has a shorter run to first base than does the batter. Such is common with a batter who tends to hit balls between first and second base. With a bung a first baseman may need to charge the bunted ball and throw to a base where a play is possible. When the person to be put out is the batter, it may be the second baseman who runs from the first-base side of second base to reach first base before the batter.

The first baseman rarely has a long run on any play except for a foul pop fly. High pop flies often give him plenty of time to situate himself under the pop fly to be caught for an out. A baserunner can try to run to the next base after the first baseman catches the ball, so in such a situation the first baseman might benefit from a strong throw to another base or to the catcher at home plate to prevent the advance of a baserunner. With a runner on first base, the first baseman may situate himself to receive a throw from the pitcher intended to catch a baserunner who strays too far from first base (this play is called a pick-off) or, should the runner try to steal second base, get a throw from the pitcher and throw to the fielder (usually a second baseman or shortstop) guarding second base in an attempt to get the runner put out in a play known as "caught stealing". The first baseman may be part of a rundown play.

On another rare play, a first baseman may be the one to catch a thrown ball from another fielder when a baserunner from first base leaves first base on a caught fly ball (including a line drive). The baserunner must return to first base before the first baseman can tag first base, lest the batter be out.

Good defensive first baseman can retrieve inaccurately-thrown balls from other fielders; such prevents errors that would allow batter-baserunners to reach first base safely with much the same effect as a hit.

In major-league play, the first baseman is typically one of the slowest runners holding a defensive position. Speed is less critical to the first baseman than to any fielders other than the pitcher (who has far more responsibility for pitching than for chasing down ground balls or retrieving infield flies) or the catcher. A first baseman has often been moved from some other position in which he has become a defensive liability due to a loss of strength of his throwing arm or of speed. Very good hitters are often moved to first base toward the ends of their careers. It is also possible that a team may move a good hitter from a position in which his potential for injury is high. As a general rule, first basemen are typically among the best pure hitters on any major-league team.

In scoring a game, the first baseman is indicated with the number "3". Thus an unassisted out played by the first baseman is scored "3" ("3F" if foul), a ground-out, shortstop to first is "63", and a ground-out, first baseman to pitcher is "31".

# Second Baseman

The second baseman is an infielder who typically plays halfway to two-thirds of the way between first base and second base. The position is abbreviated as "2B" and is referenced as "4" for the purposes of official scoring. The second baseman, along with the shortstop, is expected to have the best hands and cover the most range of any of the infielders, although the second baseman is not expected to have as strong an arm as the shortstop, as his throw to first is shorter. Responsibilities for the second baseman typically include:

• Fielding ground balls between the first and second base bags
• Acting as the pivot man for double plays started by the shortstop or third baseman
• Providing a cutoff for balls hit to the outfield on his side of the field
• Covering first base on balls that the first baseman fields, especially bunted balls
• Covering second base on a steal attempt

# Third Baseman

The third baseman is the infielder closest to third base. His position is associated with the number 5. Third base is called the 'hot corner' because of all the hard-hit balls from right-handed hitters that go down the third-base line. As with a first baseman, second baseman, or shortstop, the third basement typically fields ground balls, line drives, and pop flies hit in his general direction.

The third baseman can occasionally make an out at third base by either running with the ground ball hit to him at third base, reaching third base before a runner running from second base reaches third base. In such an instance runners are on first and second base when a fair ball is hit on the ground. Usually if the ground ball is hit to the third baseman he is moving away from third base and has a much easier (or even possible) throw to the shortstop or second baseman covering second base or the first baseman or pitcher covering first base. With the bases loaded, a third baseman might throw to home plate to get an out at home.

The third baseman has a long throw to turn a ground ball hit to him if he must throw to first base, but not so long a throw to second base. Given a choice between getting a baserunner out at second or the batter running to first base, he will go for the out at second base if at all possible.

On a fly ball (usually foul) that a third baseman catches, a baserunner might tag up and advance a base (including scoring from third base). In rare circumstances a third baseman has such a play available.

As with a shortstop, the third baseman can turn a double play under the right circumstances, typically throwing first to the second baseman who then throws to first to get the batter out at first. Such a double play is called "around the horn". Third basemen ordinarily turn far fewer double plays than do second basemen or shortstops because

1. such takes two fairly-long throws
2. third basemen cannot go far to his right to field ground balls because such balls are foul ground, in contrast to a second baseman or shortstop who can go far to the left or right to field a ground ball.

A strong and accurate throwing arm is essential to a third baseman, as are overall agility and good reflexes.
Very rarely does a third baseman receive a thrown ball from any fielder (including a pitcher or catcher) that allows the third baseman to reach third base before a baserunner obliged to run to third base. More likely the third baseman tries to tag a baserunner who makes an unwise run from second bass to third base.

On bunts and weak ground balls, the third baseman may need to charge the batted ball so that he can make a play at a base other than third base. Third basemen may be involved in rundown plays and in stopping a steal of third base. On fly balls they may position themselves to take a throw from an outfielder and then relay the throw accurately to home plate in an effort to get an out at the home plate (and turn what otherwise would be a run into an out).

On line drives that a third baseman catches, he might be able to throw the ball to a base that the baserunner has vacated (or run to third base) to have the ball at the base before the baserunner can return. In such a case, the baserunner as well as the batter is out.

If speed is less important to a third baseman than to a second baseman or shortstop who has more of a zone in which to field a batted ground ball.

An inadequate third baseman allows many balls hit hard down the third base (foul) line to become doubles and less often triples.

### Scoring

On typical plays involving a third baseman,

• a ball caught in the air (whether a pop fly or a line drive) is "5" if fair, or "5F" if foul.
• a ground ball that the third baseman fields and gets an out tagging a runner obliged to run from second base or reaching third base to tag the bag while holding the ball before the baserunner gets there is a fielder's choice, fc5.
• a play on a ground ball retrieved by the third baseman and thrown to first base for an out is "53".
• a ball grounded to the pitcher that the pitcher throws to third base for an out at third in a fielder's choice play is scored "15fc" From the catcher it is "25fc"; from the shortstop it is "65fc".
• a double play, third baseman to the second baseman to the first baseman ("around the horn") is 543dp.
• an error is e5.

# Shortstop

The shortstop plays a position typically between second base and third base. The shortstop is often the most athletic of the players on the field, having the greatest need for speed, agility, and a strong throwing arm. In the major leagues, persons who can play shortstop can often play other positions well -- but few players can ever make the successful transition to being a shortstop.

Shortstops field most ground balls, infield flies, and line drives hit between second base and third base. The ground balls have typically been hit far into the infield, but the shortstop typically has a more difficult throw than even a third baseman within the infield. If there is a runner on first base and a ground ball is hit toward him, he can usually choose to throw to the second baseman for a force on the runner from first or to first base to get the baserunner. The shortstop often makes a throw to second base so that the second baseman can then throw to first base to get another out at first base and thus a double play.

Less commonly a shortstop makes a throw to home plate or third base to get an out on a runner from third base or second base.

Shortstops are often in plays in which the catcher throws toward second base to catch a baserunner trying to steal second base. If the shortstop applies the tag to the baserunner before that baserunner has reached second base or has over-slid second base and is no longer in contact with it, the baserunner is out. The shortstop is the usual infielder to apply the tag on a baserunner caught stealing second base.

On outfield flies the shortstop often positions himself as the 'cutoff' man who takes the throw from the outfielder and then throws it with added speed and accuracy to the catcher or some infielder to make a play at another base or at home plate should there be a baserunner trying to advance bases or score.

# Hitting Basics

## Finding a bat

The first thing you need to do is find a bat that suits you. The bat should be as tall as your hip when stood on the ground. The length may vary if you are a somewhat experienced batter and you know what length you like. Weight is a key issue when looking for a bat. As bat speed is key, a hitter should look for the lightest possible stick to swing, but keep this in mind: from a physics perspective, the formula ${\displaystyle m1v1ixm2v2i=m1v2fxm2v2f}$  where m1 is the mass of the ball, m2 is the bat, and v1,v2 are their respective speeds(i being initial, f being final). Wacky math aside, a heavier bat moving at the same speed as a less massive bat will empart more force on the ball, making the difference between a high fly, and a home run. An appropriate test for finding a bat of proper weight for your strength category is to hold the bat handle in one hand, parallel to the ground for 45 seconds. If you can hold it up, you should be strong enough to swing the stick. This is just a general rule of thumb. if you find your speed is too slow, shave two ounces off the bats' mass.

## Gripping the bat

The grip the batter uses is important because it determines the bat speed. Your bottom hand should be placed half an inch from the knob of the bat. The “door-knocking” knuckles of you top hand should be roughly aligned with the "door-knocking" knuckles of your bottom hand. Reach back behind you and touch the head of the bat to your buttocks or your lower back. Now bring the bat around and hit the ground. Examine your knuckles and this is where you should try to have them. Remember to grip the bat loosely.