Baseball Jargon


Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Baseball is a beautiful game, but the terminology that is commonplace to die-hard fans can be overwhelming to someone just discovering the game. Once you understand the jargon, following the game becomes easier, and you can catch on to the subtle nuances that make baseball more enjoyable. Baseball is built around statistics, history and jargon. Let us help you with jargon.

Caught Looking- When a bater strikes out without swinging the bat. If you are keeping score, this is marked with a backwards K. K is the shorthand for strikeout. Some written sources use SO in their box scores.

Bush League- This is a mistake that would be considered ‘amateurish’. An example would be rounding first base too far after getting a hit, and being thrown out before getting back to the base.

Rubber Game or Match- When a series is tied, this is the game that decides who will win the series.

Ace- This term is used to describe the team’s best starting pitcher. A “true ace” is one of a handful of Major League talents that are among the best in the game. Clayton Kershaw, Justin Verlander and Felix Hernandez are among those considered to be true aces because they have provided consistency and excellence over the course of many years.

Can of Corn- An easy catch by the outfielder. Sometimes these catches are missed (see: Michael Morse this spring and Josh Hamilton in 2012) and would also be considered Bush League.

Batting Average- The shorthand for batting average is BA. You find a player’s BA by dividing a player’s total hits by their plate appearances, or PA. That gives you their BA, which is essentially the rate at which they get a hit. .250 would be 25% of the time.

Mendoza Line- The Mendoza Line is when a player is hitting around .200. This is a terrible batting average for a major league hitter. League leaders can usually be found at around .330, and average hitters can go between .250-.270.

On-Base Percentage or OBP- This also uses math. It is the number of hits a player has, plus walks and how many times they’ve been hit by a pitch divided by PA. Think of it as extra credit for Batting Averages.

IP- This is short for Innings Pitched. Since there are 3 outs in an inning, IP is counted in thirds. If a pitcher completes 4 innings, thats 4 IP. If they pitch 4 innings and get one out in their 5th inning of work, that is 4.1, or 4(1/3).

BB- This is another scorekeeping term that translates into a lot of articles about baseball. BB is short for base on balls, or walk.

Punchout- A slang term for strikeout, or K.

Uncle Charlie- A curve ball.

12 to 6 Curve- A curve ball that goes vertical. It is called a 12 to 6 curve in reference to the hands of a clock.

Texas Leaguer- A bloop hit that falls between an infielder and an outfielder.

Some newer-era baseball jargon that is making its way into the language revolve around statistics.

WHIP- This is short for Walks+Hits/IP. To calculate a pitchers WHIP, just add up the walks and hits they’ve allowed and divide by the total number of innings they’ve pitched. Typically, this number should be at 1.00 or less. If a pitcher’s WHIP gets closer to 1.30, they most likely have a higher ERA than league average.

WAR- This is a popular new phrase. It stands for Wins Above Replacement. It is a way to tell how good a player is compared to a major-league average player. The higher the number is, the better the player. If the number is negative, that player is having a bad year. Only Rocket Scientists can calculate WAR.

Hopefully this answered some questions about the jargon used in baseball. If there is another term that is bothering you, just comment down below.

Also, most of these terms, and many more, are posted here. Check them out and up that baseball IQ!