Baseball For Dummies
The basics of baseball are simple — nine players play various defensive positions with the goal of getting three "outs" on the other baseball team. On offense, everybody bats (except maybe the pitcher), and the goal is to get on base and ultimately score a run. You can get out in a variety of ways, whether you’re the batter or a baserunner. If you’re really good, you end up in the record books or on a list of mosts.
How Baseball Players Get Out at Bat
Baseball is a game of outs — three strikes and you’re out; three outs, and your team is done for the inning. Baseball batters can be ruled out any number of ways, and the following list shows how you can get out when you’re up at home plate:
A fielder catches your fair or foul ball before it touches the ground (unless it is a foul tip to the catcher with less than two strikes).
You hit a foul tip (a ball caught by the catcher off your bat) for strike three.
After hitting the ball, you or first base is tagged before you touch the base.
The umpire calls three strikes during your at-bat (whether you swing or not).
A ball that you hit fair hits your bat a second time while you are in fair territory.
While running outside the foul lines, you obstruct a fielder’s throw.
You hit the ball with one or both feet outside the batter’s box or step from one batter’s box to another while the pitcher winds up.
You obstruct the catcher from fielding or throwing.
You run into your own fairly-batted ball while running from home to first base.
How to Get on Base in Baseball
In baseball, getting on base is your main goal whenever you stand in the batter’s box at home plate. After all, if you don’t get on base, you can’t score. The following list shows you the nine ways you can get on base:
You hit a fair ball that is not caught by a fielder before it touches the ground.
You hit a fair ball that touches the ground and is caught by a fielder whose throw fails to beat you to a base.
The umpire calls four pitches out of the strike zone during your at-bat.
A pitch in the strike zone hits you without first touching your bat.
The catcher obstructs your swing.
You hit a fair ball beyond the playing field (for a home run).
You hit a fair, catchable ball, but the fielder drops the ball, throws it away, and so on.
A third strike skips past the catcher and you beat the throw to first.
Positions on a Baseball Team
Traditionally, each baseball team fields nine players, although a Major League Baseball team has many more than that on its payroll. One pitcher can’t pitch every game, and even the outfielders may need a break every now and again — after all, the regular season is 162 games. The following table lists the abbreviation and position for all nine players on a team:
American League lineups include a designator hitter who bats for the pitcher without taking a defensive position in the field. DH is the abbreviation for that slot.
How Baseball Baserunners Get Out
You’re playing baseball and you're on base. Your goals are to not get out and to score for your team. Here are the ways baseball players can get called out when they're baserunners:
You are on the same base with a teammate when the ball is alive (the second runner is out).
You pass a preceding runner on the base paths.
You miss a base and the defense notices it.
A fielder tags you with a ball that is alive while you are off the base. (However, no one can tag you out if you overrun first base provided you return immediately to that bag without making a turn toward second.)
Your teammate hits a ball that touches you in fair territory without it first touching or passing any fielder except the pitcher.
In the judgment of the umpire, you hinder a fielder from making a play.
A batted ball forces you to advance to another base and the fielder possessing the ball tags that base before you reach it.
Major League Baseball Mosts
Baseball, like any sport, is full of records — most meant to be broken. The following list shows some baseball mosts since 1900. Some records have stood for more than a century, some were reached more recently, and most will eventually have some other player’s name next to them.
Most Career Home Runs: 762, Barry Bonds (1986-2007)
Most Home Runs in a Season: 73, Barry Bonds (2001)
Most Runs Batted In (RBI) in a Season: 190, Hack Wilson, (1930)
Most Runs Scored in a Season: 177, Babe Ruth (1921)
Most Hits in a Season: 262, Ichiro Suzuki (2004)
Most Consecutive Games Batting Safely: 56, Joe DiMaggio (1941)
Most Wins by a Pitcher in a Season: 41, Jack Chesbro (1904)
Most Saves in a Season: 62, Francisco Rodríguez (2008)
Most Strikeouts in a Season: 383, Nolan Ryan (1973)
Highest On-Base Percentage in a Season: .609, Barry Bonds (2004)
Highest Slugging Average in a Season: .863, Barry Bonds (2001)
Highest Batting Average in a Season: .426, Napoleon Lajoie (1901)
Most Wins by a Team in a Season: 116, Chicago Cubs (1906), Seattle Mariners (2001)