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Baseball has been around for hundreds of years and in that time it has developed its own unique language. You can use our helpful glossary of baseball terms and abbreviations to translate any terminology that you may not understand.
Even the savviest of baseball fans occasionally come across a term that they’ve never heard before. There’s no shame in looking something up – after all, that’s how you build up your baseball vocabulary.
An Ace is a term for a true number one pitcher. All Aces are the leader of a pitching staff, but not all pitching staffs have a pure Ace.
Bagger is a slang term for a multi-base hit and is usually preceded by the base that a player reached. For example, a double may be called a “two-bagger” or a triple a “three-bagger.”
A balk occurs when a pitcher makes an illegal move, most frequently by starting their motion toward the plate without releasing the ball. If there are runners on base they are rewarded with an extra base. If there are no runners on base, then the batter is awarded an extra ball.
The bullpen is the collection of relief pitchers on a baseball team’s staff, as well as the area of the stadium that they wait in during the game. Pitchers also warm up in the bullpen before heading out to the field.
A bunt is a strategic play that involves putting the ball into play as weakly as possible in an attempt to get on base or to move the runners up a base.
The cycle is a hitting achievement that involves hitting a single, a double, a triple, and a home run in the same game.
Designated for Assignment
When a player is designated for assignment (DFA’s) they are removed from a team’s 40-man roster and the team has a limited period to decide what to do with them. This can include releasing them, trading them, placing them on waivers, or sending them to the minor leagues.
A double play occurs when the defending team gets two outs on a single play.
In the Hole
When a player is in the hole they are two batters away from hitting. There is the player up to bat, followed by the player that’s on deck, then the player that’s in the hole.
An inning is the basic unit of a baseball game. There are nine innings in a baseball game, with each inning consisting of three outs for each side.
In a no-hitter a pitcher (or pitcher) keeps doesn’t allow a hit for the entire game. Batters can reach base via walk, error, or hit batsmen and have it still count as a no-hitter, they just can’t give up any hits on balls in play.
When a player is on deck they are up to bat next. Typically the player waits in the on deck circle where they can take practice swings and watch the pitcher.
There are several forms of options in the major leagues. Minor league options allow a player to be sent back down to the minor leagues, which is also often called getting optioned.
Contract options allow a contract to be extended a year. There can be playeroptions, team options, and mutual options, depending on the nature of a player’s contract.
The pennant is a term used for the team that wins their league championship. There used to be a physical pennant for the winners of the AL and the NL, but these days it’s more of a metaphorical title.
A pickle occurs when a player gets caught between bases. In a pickle, also called a rundown, the defending team throws the ball back and forth between their players as they attempt to trap the baserunner.
Pop is a euphemism for batting power. A player that has pop in their bat is capable of hitting for extra bases at any given time.
A hitter that is raking is one that is on a particularly hot streak.
Ride the Pine
Riding the pine is a slang term for a player that’s been benched. The benches in the dugout used to be made of pine wood, so those players that were not starting spent most of the game riding the pine.
A single is a base hit where the batter ends up on first.
Slugging is a term for hitting for power. A player’s slugging percentage is a metric used to show how many bases per at-bat a player has hit for.
Southpaw is a slang term for a lefthander, particularly a pitcher.
A walk-off hit is one that ends the game. A walk-off occurs when a home team is behind or the score is tied in the final inning and a player drives in the run that puts their team ahead, thus ending the game.
A whiff is a swing and a miss, particularly one that ends an at-bat in a strikeout. “Whiffs” is often used as slang for strikeouts.
The wildcard is the term for the two teams with the best records in the league behind the three division winners. Those two teams play in the wildcard game, with the winner moving on to play the top-seeded playoff team.
Baseball is one of the sports that is most completely measured by statistics. There’s a metric for everything in the game, as well as an abbreviation for that metric.
BA is short for “batting average,” one of the most fundamental statistics in the game. Batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits that a player has gotten by their number of official at-bats.
DL is an abbreviation for “disabled list.” The disabled list used to be the players on a major league roster that were inactive due to injury, however that term has since been changed to injured list.
ERA stands for “earned run average,” one of the most important statistics for pitchers. ERA is the total number of runs that a pitcher has given up for every nine innings pitched.
K is the symbol used for strikeouts. When keeping score a backwards K signifies a strikeout looking.
LOB is short for “left on base,” or the number of baserunners that were on when a player came up to bat but failed to get a hit.
OBP is an abbreviation for “on-base percentage.” OBP is the combination of hits, walks, and hit by pitches divided by a player’s total plate appearances.
OPS is a metric that combines a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. Some statisticians view it as one of the best rate statistics for measuring a hitter’s complete performance.
QAB is short for “quality at bats,” an unofficial statistic not used by the MLB. It is used by many coaches and analysts to account for things like sacrafice bunts, sacrifice flies, and moving runners over, as well as more traditional stats like hits and walks.
RBI is short for runs batted in, one of the most basic batting statistics in baseball. An RBI is awarded when a player drives in a run through a hit, walk, sacrifice fly, rbi groundout, or hit by pitch.
TB is the abbreviation for “total bases.” TB is calculated by adding up all of the bases from all of a player’s hits.
WAR is an acronym for “wins above replacement.” WAR is a metric that attempts to account for a player’s complete value, offensively and defensively, when compared to other players at their position.
WHIP is short for “walks and hits per innings pitched.” WHIP is used to measure how many total baserunners a pitcher allows in an average inning.