Before you get your baseball equipment, be sure to have proper knowledge of what rules to follow to use them. We are talking about baseball batting rules and bats!
Baseball is a traditional sport; it has the nickname ‘America’s Pastime’. The game dates back to 1744 or earlier. While the official baseball match was recorded in 1789 in Surrey, this traditional sport moved forward and got prominent in North America, Japan, and Canada.
One of the many reasons why Baseball is popular is because of its dramatic fielding moves and intense pitching which recently added more thrills with Pitch Clock. Here, batting is one of the powerful perspectives of baseball.
This is why MLB offers a collection of universal rules; equally to be followed by all players, umpires, coaches, and trainers.
Batting Rules in Baseball
Let’s take a sneak peek into important terms before diving into the baseball batting rules.
There are two teams (each with nine players) in baseball. The offense is the team that bats and takes attempts to have more hits and runs. However, in baseball, most players can play the role of both defense and offense. This rule doesn’t equally apply to the pitcher.
The baseball manager or coach fills out a lineup card before the match starts. It includes the names of the players in the batting order and their respective positions in the field.
In baseball, batters are the most prominent players. A batter or hitter is the one who faces the pitchers and tries to generate offense for his team.
For a regular baseball fan, you know who pitchers are. They are the ones to start the game by throwing the baseball to the catcher.
Pinch hitters are substituting batters in baseball. It becomes often essential to replace batters at any time in the event of a dead ball. Managers can select any player who hasn’t participated in the game to fill the hitter gap.
Often powerful players with high hitting capacity are referred to as power hitters. They focus on consistency and throw balls far into the outfield mostly. They have a higher rate of home runs, triples, and doubles.
Perhaps, the home run is the most exciting feature of baseball. When baseball is hit in a way that the hitter can circle the bases and makes it to the home plate in one play. There are different types of home runs available to measure performance.
To put it simply, a strike in baseball occurs when the batter aims for the pitch but misses. Pitches have pre-determined results – either strike/ ball/ foul depending on how the ball finds its way to the strike zone.
A sacrifice fly in baseball happens when a batter hits a fly ball out to the outfield or foul territory, allowing the runner to score. The batter then earns the credit for an RBI (number of runs scored by hitting a batted ball).
Now, this is where we have to dive a bit deeper to understand the essentials of baseball batting rules.
The batting order is the order players follow and wait for their turns to bat during a baseball match. It is the lineup for the offensive team. Usually, the team manager or coach sets the batting order and the order remains the same throughout the match – unless the pinch hitters decide otherwise.
Follow these few key points to learn more about baseball batting rules in detail:
Batting Order Slots
There are a total of nine slots for nine players in baseball. Players are assigned to specific slots. However, substitute players are ready in a row to replace current players in case of any incidents. Each slot serves a unique purpose to meet the overall match goal. Here is how batting slots are distributed in baseball:
- #1 Slot – Player 1 – CF (Center Field)
- #2 Slot – Player 2 – 2B (Second Base)
- #3 Slot – Player 3 – 3B (Third Base)
- #4 Slot – Player 4 – DH (Designated Hitter)
- #5 Slot – Player 5 – 1B (First Base)
- #6 Slot – Player 6 – RF (Right Fielder)
- #7 Slot – Player 7 – LF (Left Fielder)
- #8 Slot – Player 8 – SS (Shortstop)
- #9 Slot – Player 9 – C (Catcher)
It is the position of the batter, and he is genuinely known as the leadoff hitter. They are the first batters and establish the tone of the match. Also, the first batter selection process has been quite witty. It is expected that first batters have to be fast and therefore excel at reaching or stealing the bases.
Traditionally, leadoff hitters also inherit the most at-bats (AB) – turn against a pitcher in a team. Players who have exceptional speed and perception of sound for strikes are highly suitable for the leadoff hitter.
However, managers prefer to fill this position with power hitters to get more at-bats with runners still on the base. This practice has been started in recent years hoping to achieve as many home runs as possible.
# 2 Slot
In baseball, slot 2 in the batting order refers to the second position in the lineup. Usually, players who cover this position are “Second Hitters” or “Two-hole hitters”. They are expected to get the base more frequently.
Recently, more power hitters are featured in the second slot of the lineup. It was due to have more home runs with efficient players. Recall Aaron Judge from New York Yankees who hits the second base regularly in Major League Baseball.
# 3 Slot
Hitters who take the third base in the lineup are often called clean-up hitters or third-hole hitters. Slot 3 is the third base in baseball. It is said, the most well-rounded and productive hitters take place in this slot.
Power is a notable feature for third-slot players. And this is why, they get the third position instead of four in the batting order to get the most at-bats. Their role is to deliver key hits in the game. This is why, players with solid batting average and on-base percentage gets the role.
Batting Average (BA): It is a universal method to measure players’ performance in the field, determined by dividing players’ total hits by their total at-bats. Usually, the batting average for most players is 0.250. The highest was recorded in 1930 with 0.296.
On-base Percentage (OBP): It is a valuable metric to measure a batter’s overall offensive performance in baseball; including their ability to contribute to scoring runs.
On-base percentage is a measure of how often a batter can reach the base excluding fielding error, fielder’s choice, dropped or uncaught third strike, fielder’s obstruction, or catcher’s interference. It takes notes of not only hits but also walks (base on balls – BB), hits by pitches, and reaching base due to defensive errors.
You can calculate the on-base percentage by following the equation below:
OBP = (Hits + BB + Hit by Pitches) / (At-Bats + BB + Hit by Pitches + Sacrifice Flies)
# 3 Slot
In baseball, Slot 4 is considered the heart of the baseball lineup. This position is usually occupied by designated hitters – also known as cleanup batters; who fill the place of other position players – particularly pitchers. This position was approved under MLB Rule 5.11 and later adopted in the American League and the National League.
Player selection for the slot position “Designated Hitter” is based on their power, ability to hit for extra bases and run-producing potential. Managers often analyze various factors, such as player statistics, matchup data against opposing pitchers, and the overall construction of the lineup when deciding on the clean-up batters.
- “If a defensive player goes to the mound (i.e., replaces the pitcher), this move shall terminate the designated hitter’s role for the remainder of the game.”
- “The designated hitter may not sit in the bullpen unless serving as a catcher in the bullpen.”
# 5 Slot & 6 Slot
Fifth and sixth batters in the baseball lineup fill this position. They are usually highly productive hitters and essentially aim to put the ball into the outfield. However, it will be biased to think that they would deliver the same hitting power as Slot 3 and Slot 4 hitters.
However, on different occasions, the fifth or sixth hitters can rise to the same speed and on-page performance as the leadoff hitter. Thus, the fifth and sixth-hole hitters must have the ability to be versatile and adaptable to match the progress of the game. Thus, delivering a boost in power from the bottom of the baseball lineup.
# 7 Slot, 8 Slot, & 9 Slot
Major League Baseball has distributed players for lineup positions based on their strength and capacity to deliver hits. For Slots 7, 8, and 9, we have weaker or newbie hitters in the lineup.
Players in Slot 7 and Slot 8 usually have more offensive strategies. They usually focus on delivering a solid team defense. Plus, they also protect the middle lineup to some extent, ensuring that runners have an opportunity to score.
In some cases, you will find pitchers in the Slot 9 lineup – because pitchers are generally not known for their hitting abilities. Thus, the slot 9 hitter is usually considered the weakest offensive player in the lineup.
There! We have learned enough about MLB Batting Order Slots. Please keep in mind that, players designated for Slots 3 & 4 are both cleanup players. We described them separately to uphold the diversities of their roles and responsibilities.
In the next section, we will focus on some other important guidelines set by MLB in respect of Baseball Batting Rules.
Batters’ Box Violation
Batters’ Box Violation is a standard rule set by MLB to maintain the integrity of the game. According to this, batters are not allowed to leave the batter’s box. What? Means never?
No! Batters can’t leave the box as long as the pitcher continues their pitching. However, when a batter steps out of the batter’s box while the pitcher is delivering the pitch, it will be indicated as a strict violation; also come as a warning from the umpire for a strike or ball.
Thus, batters are advised to keep at least one foot inside the box while targeting the at-bats. Otherwise, they will have an automatic strike.
Outfield Fly Rule
In baseball, Outfield Fly Rule is a situation that happens under these circumstances:
- Runners are still on the base.
- Batter hits a fly ball (ball – high into the air).
- Infielders can catch the flyball with general efforts.
When this series of events happens, the batter gets an automatic call-out. Even if the ball is not caught, the result will be the same.
Hit by Pitch
When batters are hit by a pitched ball without swinging at it, they will earn the first base as a result; avoiding a strike. However, if the umpire believes that the batter intentionally allowed the ball to hit them, they may rule it as a strike.
Batters’ Illegal Action
MLB has designed a set of directive actions by batters; that will be considered illegal by Rule 6.03. They are:
- “A batter has carried out illegal action when he hits a ball with one or both feet on the ground entirely outside the batter’s box.”
- “Batters interfere with the catcher’s fielding or throwing by stepping out of the batter’s box. Or, they make any other movement that prevents the catcher’s play at home base.”
- “He throws his bat into fair or foul territory and hits a catcher (including the catcher’s glove) and the catcher was attempting to catch a pitch with a runner(s) on base and/or the pitch was a third strike.”
However, there are some other ethical guidelines that the batters have to follow. Such as they can’t carry any illegal equipment. Any violation of these rules will have them immediately called out from the game.
It is important to be familiar with Baseball Rules; particularly Baseball Batting Rules to gain an upper hand with every at-bat. Every rule set for batters is meant to develop the standard and environment of the match.
Whether you are a player who is looking forward to refining his baseball skill or someone who is a baseball expert, our comprehensive guide can be your go-to resource for all things related to baseball batting rules.
Enter the stadium/ field with confidence and enjoy America’s favorite pastime to the fullest. Let other baseball enthusiasts meet their goals! Share this article with your friends.