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How Hitters Make Outs in Baseball

By Joe Morgan and Richard Lally

Part of Baseball For Dummies Cheat Sheet

Outs are one of the fundamental elements of the game — they’re baseball’s currency, its equivalent of time. You only get 27 of them in a game, so the team on offense strives to avoid them while the defending team craves them.

Refer to this list at a glance to find the most common ways a hitter can make an out in baseball. This list can help you follow the action and grasp why a hitter who just made one is bashing the dugout’s water cooler in frustration and why the pitcher is doing a fist pump.

  • A fielder catches your fair or foul ball before it touches the ground (unless it’s 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’re 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.