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"Four-A player" (alternatively, "Quadruple-A player") is a term for a minor-league player who is consistently successful in the high minor leagues, but cannot translate that into success at the major-league level. Poor management can be responsible. "AAAA" may also informally refer to high-quality but unaffiliated foreign baseball leagues outside North America where play is considered less competitive than in MLB but more competitive than in AAA; this is usually restricted to describing Japan's NPB but may also include South Korea's KBO and (rarely) Taiwan's CPBL.
When a runner is on base. When there are runners safely on base, there are "runners aboard".
The best starting pitcher on the team, who is usually first on a pitching rotation.
advance a runner
To move a runner ahead safely to another base, often the conscious strategy of a team that plays small ball. If a batter does make an out, his plate appearance will have been less negative if he still got a runner into scoring position; in certain situations, batters even deliberatelysacrifice themselves.
ahead in the count
A term that signifies whether the batter or pitcher possesses the advantage in an at-bat. If a pitcher has thrown more strikes than balls to a batter in an at-bat, the pitcher is ahead in the count; conversely, if the pitcher has thrown more balls than strikes, the batter is ahead.
If the pitcher is ahead in the count, the batter is in increasing danger of striking out. If the batter is ahead, the pitcher is in increasing danger of walking him.
aim the ball
Sometimes when a pitcher tries a bit too carefully to control the location of a pitch, he is said to "aim the ball" instead of throwing it. This is a different meaning of "aim" from the situation in which a pitcher aims a pitch at a batter in an effort to hit him.
Slang for a fielder's errant throw that sails high over the player to whom he intended to throw the ball. For example, if the third baseman were to throw the ball over the first baseman's head and into the stands, he is said to have "airmailed" the throw. "But Chandler airmailed her throw to third into the dugout..."
Coined by Pittsburgh Pirates announcer Bob Prince, a Baltimore Chop would bounce higher than normal due to the extraordinarily hard dirt at Forbes Field.
Also "gap" or "power alley", the space between the leftfielder and the centerfielder, or the rightfielder and centerfielder. If a batter hits the ball "up the alley" with enough force, he has a stronger chance of advancing beyond first base and being credited with an extra-base hit. Typically, this is an appropriate term for describing a line drive or ground ball; fly balls that hit the wall are not normally described this way.
The season's final best-of-seven playoff series which determines the American League team that will advance to the World Series. The ALCS-like its analog, the NLCS-came into being in 1969. The ALCS winner takes the American League pennant and the title of American League Champion for that season. The winners of the American League Division Series have met in the ALCS since 1995.
American League Division Series (ALDS)
The first round of the league playoffs. The winners of the three divisions and the winner of the Wild Card Game are paired off in two best-of-five series, the winners of which advance to the ALCS.
A free ticket to attendance at a ballgame or to first base (a "free pass" or "base on balls").
A play in which the defense has an opportunity to gain a favorable ruling from an umpire by addressing a mistake by the offense or seeking the input of another umpire. Appeals require the defense to make a verbal appeal to an appropriate umpire, or if the situation being appealed is obvious a player may indicate an appeal with a gesture. The onus is on the defense to make an appeal; umpires will not announce potential appeal situations such as runners failing to touch a base, batting out of order, or unchecked swings until an appeal is made.
Arizona Fall League (AFL)
A short-season minor league in which high-level prospects from all thirty Major League Baseball clubs are organized into six teams on which players have the opportunity to refine and showcase their skills for evaluation by coaches, scouts, and executives. Such teams are referred to as "scout teams" and "taxi squads".
A metonym for a pitcher ("A's trade two young arms to Kansas City...", "...Anthopoulos is just stockpiling arms in an attempt to lure a trade...").
around the horn
The infielders' practice of throwing the ball to each other after recording an out, provided there are no runners on base. The purpose is as much traditional as anything, but it also serves to keep the infielders' throwing arms active. Typically, if an out is made at first base, the first baseman will throw to the shortstop, who throws to the second baseman, who throws to the third baseman, who returns the ball to the pitcher. Patterns vary from team to team, but the third baseman is usually the last infielder to receive a throw, regardless of the pattern.
Throwing the ball around the horn is also done after a strikeout with no baserunners. The catcher will throw the ball to the third baseman, who then throws it to the second baseman, who throws it to the shortstop, who then throws it to the first baseman. Some catchers, such as Iván Rodríguez, prefer to throw the ball to the first baseman, who then begins the process in reverse. Some catchers determine to whom they will throw based on the handedness of the batter (to first for a right-handed batter because the line to the first baseman is not blocked and vice versa) or whether the team is in an overshift, when the third baseman would be playing close to where the shortstop normally plays and would require a harder throw to be reached.
An additional application of this term is when a 5-4-3double play has occurred, which mimics the pattern of throwing the ball around the horn.
An ineffective relief pitcher. Usually a pitcher who comes into the game with no one on base but proceeds to give up several runs. Opposite of fireman.
An old-fashioned word referring to a baseball bat, which is typically made of wood from an ash tree. "The shrewd manager substitutes a fast runner for a slow one, and sends in a pinch hitter when the man he takes out is just as good with the ash as the man he sends in."
Slang for a fastball that is especially hard to hit due to its velocity and/or movement, in reference to the difficulty of making contact with something as small as an aspirin tablet. May additionally reference batters seeing a pitched ball as relatively smaller than normal, a potential psychological effect on batters who are in a slump.
The official scorer awards an assist to every defensive player who fields or touches the ball (after it has been hit by the batter) prior to a putout, even if the contact was unintentional. For example, if a ball strikes a player's leg and bounces off him to another fielder, who tags the baserunner, the first player is credited with an assist.
A fielder can receive only one assist per out recorded. A fielder also receives an assist if a putout would have occurred, had not another fielder committed an error.
A slang term for a baseball record that is disputed in popular opinion (i.e., unofficially) because of a perception that the record holder had an unfair advantage in attaining the record. It implies that the record requires a footnote explaining the purportedly unfair advantage, with the asterisk being a symbol commonly used in typography to call out footnotes. In recent times it has been prominently used in the following circumstances:
The record holder is widely believed to have used performance-enhancing drugs, whether or not such use is proven or admitted. Barry Bonds was regularly greeted with banners and signs bearing an asterisk during the 2007 season when he broke Hank Aaron's career home run record. The ball Bonds hit for the record-breaking home run was subsequently branded with an asterisk before it was sent to the Baseball Hall of Fame.
A holder of a single-season record accomplished the feat in a longer season, and thus had additional opportunities to break the record. A well-known example of this was when Roger Maris broke Babe Ruth's single-season home run record on the last day of a 162-game regular season in 1961, while Ruth set the previous record in a 154-game season in 1927; the asterisk usage is exemplified in the title of the film 61*, which was about Maris' quest to break Ruth's record. Baseball CommissionerFord Frick declared that Maris's record should be listed separately from Ruth's (contrary to popular belief no asterisk was mentioned or used in this case), a decision not formally reversed until 1991.
at 'em ball
or "atom ball"; slang for a ball batted directly at a defender.
Occasionally a batter may be at the plate when the third out of the inning is made against a base-runner; in this case the batter will lead off the next inning with a clean strike count and his interrupted plate appearance is not counted as an at-bat.
at the letters
A pitch that crosses the plate at the height of the letters of the team's name on the shirt of the batter's uniform is said to be "at the letters", "letter-high" or "chest-high".
ate him up
Slang expression of the action of a batted ball that is difficult for a fielder to handle.
Slang for pitching aggressively by throwing strikes, rather than trying to trick hitters into swinging at pitches out of the strike zone or trying to "nibble at the corners" of the plate. Equivalent phrases are "pound the strike zone" and "challenge the hitters".
A batted ball in fair territory which bounces out of play (e.g. into the seats) entitles the batter and all runners on base to advance two bases but no further. This term is used by some commentators in lieu of ground rule double, which refers to ground rules in effect at each ballpark.
A pitch outside the strike zone, on the opposite side of the plate as the batter, is referred to as being "away", in contrast to a pitch thrown between the plate and the batter that is known as "inside".
Slang for outs. For example, a two-out inning may be said to be "two away"; a strikeout may be referred to as "putting away" the batter.
Games played at an opponent's home field are "away games". The visiting team is sometimes called the "away" team.
^Clay Davenport, "Is There Such a Thing as a Quadruple-A Player?" in Jonah Keri, Ed., Baseball Between the Numbers (New York: Basic Books, 2006): 242-252.