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Glossary of Baseball H
To swing awkwardly at the ball. "As his son stood in the batter's box and hacked away, Wolpert came up with the idea of opening his own batting cage in Manhattan." Sometimes said of an aggressive hitter who would swing at any pitch within reach, whether high, low, inside, or outside. "An unrepentant free swinger who hacked at anything in the same area code as the strike zone, Puckett drew just 23 walks that year."
A tongue-in-cheek expression used to refer to players who had successful careers, but whose stats and/or overall performance are not good enough to put them into consideration for the Hall of Fame. Example of players said to be in the "Hall of Very Good" are Chris Carpenter,Lee Smith, and Mark McGwire.
To hit the ball hard, typically for extra bases. "Aaron hammered that pitch."
The nickname of Henry Aaron -- Hank "The Hammer" Aaron -- second all-time in Major League career home runs.
A hard-hit ground ball that bounces directly at an infielder is difficult for him to get his hands on – he appears to have been handcuffed.
A pitch thrown high and inside "handcuffs" a batter because he can't get his hands far enough away from his body to swing the bat.
Often it's said of a player who has not fielded a batted ball cleanly that he "couldn't find the handle on it". This suggests the fanciful notion that a baseball would be easier to hold onto if it had a handle.
A breaking ball that does not "break", or change direction, and so is easy to hit. A hanging curveball.
A pitcher may be hung with aloss if he is responsible for his team falling behind in runs and the team never recovers the lead.
A runner may be hung up if he is caught in a rundown.
A runner may be hung out to dry if he gets picked off at first base, or if a hitter misses a hit-and-run sign and the runner is easily tagged out at second base. A player may be hung out to dry if his team treats him in an unexpected or disappointing way. (Story: "The Mets got what they needed from pitcher Al Leiter yesterday. Unfortunately, Leiter was hung out to dry again, done in by his team's anemic offense.")
A team may hang a (number) on the opposing pitcher or his team by scoring that many runs.
hanging a snowman
Said of a team when it scores eight runs in one inning, as when broadcaster Eric Nadel described the Texas Rangers in 2015. Also said when a team gets the opposing pitcher charged with eight runs.
When a pitcher uses a particular type of pitch so much that he becomes less effective, he's sometimes said to be "happy" with the pitch - fastball happy or curveball happy, for example. "This article is a response, in part, to a Boston Globe sports rumor asserting that Josh Beckett has become 'Curveball Happy' and has changed his release point."
When a player breaks their bat after hitting the pitch, and the main portion of the bat (the barrel) lands within the infield, the broken portion can splinter into many pieces. (If the barrel lands either in foul territory or outside the established infield, the event is not a head of lettuce.) The term pays homage to other food-related baseball terms such as "can of corn", "high cheese", "in a pickle", etc. The original use of the term dates to 2006 when Joshua Githens first noted the likeness to striking a head of lettuce with the bat. "That bat exploded like a head of lettuce!"
Middle of home plate. "Looking to go up the ladder, Hughes instead missed right over the heart of the plate just below belt high with a 95-mph fastball. As good hitters do, Vladimir Guerrero made him pay with a single up the middle."
Said of a pitcher who knocks in runs as a hitter, thereby helping himself to earn credit for a win.
A pitcher with an unusual or awkward wind-up or motion, as if he's not in full control of his legs and arms, may be said to have a herky-jerky motion.
A pitcher who pauses in his wind-up, perhaps at the top of the wind-up, may be said to have a hesitation pitch. If this is part of his regular motion, it may be effective in throwing off the timing of the batter. If it's an occasional motion and used when there are runners on base, the pitcher is at risk of being called for a balk.
hidden ball trick
A very rare feat in which a fielder has the ball and hides it from a runner, tricking him into believing some other fielder has it or that it has gotten away from them. (There is no rule against such deception except that once the pitcher toes or stands astride the rubber, he must have the ball in his possession or else a balk will be called.) Any baserunner so victimized will be ribbed endlessly by his teammates for having been caught napping.
The term sacrifice hit is used by scorekeepers to indicate a sacrifice bunt. It is typically an out, not a base hit (unless the batter beats the throw to first without benefit of an error).
hit a bullet
To hit the ball very hard, typically a line drive.
hit and run
An offensive tactic whereby a baserunner (usually on first base) starts running as if to steal and the batter is obligated to swing at the pitch to try to drive the ball behind the runner to right field. Contrast this to a run and hit, where the runner steals, and the batter (who would normally take on a straight steal) may swing at the pitch.
After a batter has attempted but failed to lay down a bunt, or in a situation in which he might ordinarily be expected to bunt, he may instead make a normal swing at the ball on the next pitch. In such a case he is said to "hit away" or "swing away". "Smoltz swung away, fouling it off for strike one. Knowing that the bunt had been given away on the first pitch, Braves manager Bobby Cox took off the bunt sign this time."
When a pitch touches a batter in the batter's box, the batter advances to first base. If the pitch hits him while he is swinging (striking) he is not awarded a base, and if the umpire feels he made no effort to avoid getting hit he simply calls a ball.
Colloquially, a batter who is hit by a pitch has been plunked, drilled, nailed, plugged, or beaned.
hit 'em where they ain't
Said to be the (grammatically-casual) response of turn-of-the-20th-century player Willie Keeler to the question, "What's the secret to hitting?" in which "'em" or "them" are the batted balls, and "they" are the fielders.
hit for average
Contrary to what might be literally implied, a player who "hits for average" is one who achieves a high batting average.
hit for the cycle
When a given player hits a single, double, triple and home run in the same game. To accomplish this feat in order is termed a "natural cycle". Hitting for the cycle is a rare enough occurrence that Major League Baseball keeps special statistics on it.
When a player seems to have a natural aptitude to get hits in all situations. "Magglio can hit Christmas Day", Tigers manager Jim Leyland said. "It's an old saying, and he's one of those guys who can. There's nothing fancy. He sees it, hits it and does it pretty damned good."
hit the ball on the screws
To hit the ball even center with measured force, often resulting in a loud crack of the bat. A slumpingbatter might be comforted by "hitting the ball on the screws" when not getting a hit. The phrase derives from golf, referring to a well executed shot. Back when "woods" were actually made of wood, manufacturers screwed a plastic insert into the club face as a safeguard against premature wear. When a golfer hit a good shot he would say, "I hit it on the screws." Another source is the fact that early baseball bats usually cracked lengthwise into two pieces; many were repaired using glue and two screws. (Such repairs are now illegal.)
hit the deck
When a batter drops or dives to the ground to avoid being hit by a pitch. "The third kind of pitch is the one that is coming right at your head. This one you don't even have time to think about. Some part of you sees the ball as it leaves the pitcher's hand, and something about the fact that the ball is coming straight toward your eye makes it almost disappear into a blind spot. You hit the deck before you even know you've done it."
When a batter does not swing the bat in a single motion - perhaps he lifts the bat or moves his hands or hesitates before swinging - he may be said to have a "hitch in his swing". Having a hitch may slow down how quickly or powerfully he swings at the pitch. "All winter, Green worked on eliminating a hitch from his swing. He did it by setting up a video camera at a batting cage near his home in Irvine, California, taping swing after swing, and comparing it with video from his days with the Los Angeles Dodgers."
When a batter is way ahead in the count (3-0, 3-1, 2-0) he's likely to anticipate that the next pitch will be thrown down Broadway--in the middle of the plate. See count.
A baseball park in which hitters tend to perform better than average. This may be a result of several factors, including the dimensions of the park (distance to the outfield fences, size of foul territory behind the plate and down the lines), prevailing winds, temperature and relative humidity, and altitude. Whether a park is a hitter's park or a pitcher's park (in which hitters perform worse than average) is determined statistically by measuring Park Factors, which involves comparing how well hitters perform in a given park compared with how they perform in all other parks. This measure is regularly reported and updated for Major League Baseball parks by ESPN.com. Baseball Reference  and other baseball research organizations also report park factors for major league parks. Baseball Prospectus  and other baseball researchers calculate park factors for minor league parks to help in adjusting the statistics of baseball prospects.
Whether a park is a hitter's park or pitcher's park may change from day to day. For example, when the wind is blowing "out" at Wrigley Field, it is typically rendered a "hitter's park", and a double-digit score for one or both teams is not unusual.
On the other hand, some are hitter's parks, any and all other factors notwithstanding. Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium, Braves home field from 1966-1996, was known as The Launching Pad.
A physical and/or mental state where a player is seeing pitches well and his timing is on, so that observers or the player himself feel he has a good chance at getting a hit. Often used by players and sportscasters. "It's like Charley Lau used to tell us, used to tell me: 'You look very hitterish up there. You look hitterish, you look like you're going to hit the ball hard'", Brett said in camp.
A hold (abbreviated as H) is awarded to a relief pitcher if he enters in a save situation, records at least one out, and leaves the game without having relinquished that lead. To receive a hold, the pitcher must not finish the game (thus becoming the closing pitcher) or be the winning pitcher.
Unlike saves, more than one pitcher can earn a hold in a game. It is also not necessary for the pitcher's team to win the game in order to achieve a hold; they merely have to be in the lead at the time the pitcher exits.
The hold was invented in 1986 to give credit to non-closer relief pitchers. Holds are most often accredited to setup pitchers, as they usually pitch between the starter and the closer. Holds are not an official Major League Baseball statistic, but are recognized by the MLB in its rules.
hold the runner on
When a runner is on first base, the first baseman might choose to stand very close to first base rather than assume a position behind first base and more part-way toward second base (a position better suited to field ground balls hit to the right side of the diamond). When he does this he's said to "hold the runner on (first)" because he's in a position to take a throw from the pitcher and thereby discourage the runner from taking a big lead-off.
hold up on a swing
When a batter begins to swing the bat at a pitch but stops swinging before the bat makes contact with the ball or the bat passes the front of the plate, he may be said to "hold up on his swing".
One of the nine places in the batting lineup. The leadoff hitter in the first inning is the player in the "one hole". In the four hole, the cleanup hitter is hoping to get to the plate in that inning.
A team that has one or more weak hitters in its 9-person batting order has a "hole in the lineup" that opposition teams can take advantage of. "There are no holes in that lineup, so to say you're going to pitch around one batter might not be the best thing." "If the team that Shapiro has constructed is going to overtake the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees or any of the other contenders in the American League, it can't afford another season with a hole in the middle of the lineup that Hafner was from May through the playoffs last season."
Home plate. For a runner to reach home safely is to score a run. Getting a runner who is on base home is the goal of any batter.
When a player for the home team gets a favorable or generous call from the official scorer, the players may refer to the scorer's call as "home cooking". For example, the scorer may credit a batter for a base hit on a batted ball that a fielder bobbled briefly and then failed to make a putout.
"Home cooking" is sometimes used synonymously with home field advantage. The reference may be to the home team having the advantage of living at home, not just to being able to play in its own stadium.
home advantage|home field advantage
Teams playing home games have a small advantage over visiting teams. In recent decades, home teams have tended to win about 53.5% of their games. Because teams play the same number of games at home as they do away during the regular season, this advantage tends to even out. In play-off series, however, teams hope to gain from home-field advantage by having the first game of the series played in their home stadium.
home game|home team
A game played at the home stadium or ballpark of a baseball club. When the Yankees play in Yankee Stadium, they're playing a home game. The team hosting the game is referred to as the home team. In rare instances, the home team plays in a stadium not their own. In 2005, the Houston Astros played a "home" series against the Chicago Cubs at Miller Park in Milwaukee, home of the Brewers, because their home stadium, Minute Maid Park, was rendered temporarily unusable because of Hurricane Rita. In 2010, the Toronto Blue Jays played a "home" series against the Philadelphia Phillies at the Phillies' home park, Citizens Bank Park, because of security concerns due to the G-20 summit being held in Toronto. Despite being in Philadelphia, the Blue Jays wore their home white uniforms and batted last. Also, despite Citizens Bank Park being a National League field, the designated hitter was used in the series.
The second (bottom) half of an inning, in which the home team is at bat.
When a batter, realizing the ball he just hit is about become a home run, slows from a run to a celebratory trot. "Well, I've been saying it all year, and it finally happened tonight: David Ortiz became the first player in the 2010 season to take more than 30-seconds to trot around the bases after a home run. With four of the top five slowest home run trots of the year already - all four of which were clocked in at 28.95 seconds or slower - it seemed inevitable that he would be the first to break the half-minute barrier."
Sometimes a player mistakenly slows down, however, when the wind or a superb play by an outfielder, turns a home run into a double or single off the outfield wall, or to a long out, or to another odd outcome, as the following case illustrates:
Unfortunately for his personal power totals, Milledge was bamboozled into believing his liner in the fourth inning against the Chicago Cubs on Thursday night had cleared the left-field fence at PNC Park for his first career grand slam. Dead certain he had gone deep, Milledge raised his fist rounding first base, put his head down and went into a trot. Cool. Double-dog certain because the fireworks guy at PNC set off the pyrotechnics that explode every time a Bucs player goes deep. Music also began to blare. What a glorious moment for the Bucs!... only, the ball had not cleared the fence. It hit the top and stayed in the field of play.
As Bucs announcer Bob Walk said, "Uh oh, uh oh, uh oh, uh oh -- we got a problem here." Milledge was not quite midway between second and third base when he realized the Cubs had him in a rundown. And, yeah, um, he was tagged out. Score that a two-run double and a big ol' base-running blunder.
The "home team" is the one in whose stadium the game is played against the "visiting team". The home team has the advantage of batting in the second or bottom half of the inning. In case a game is played at a neutral site, the "home" team is usually determined by coin toss.
Also, a derisive term for a dedicated, almost delusional, fan. Especially used for a broadcaster, in any sport, whose team "can do no wrong". Johnny Most of the Boston Celtics and Hawk Harrelson of the Chicago White Sox were notorious "homers". In a somewhat more humorous example, Bert Wilson used to say, "I don't care who wins, as long as it's the Cubs!" A common "homer" saying is, "My two favorite teams are (my team) and whoever's playing (my team's rival)."
When a manager leaves the dugout with the obvious intention of replacing the pitcher with a reliever, he may be said to be carrying a hook. "Here comes Sparky, and he's got the hook." Such a usage may have come from the large hooks that were sometimes used in Vaudeville to yank unsuccessful acts off the stage if they were reluctant to leave on their own. When he was manager of the Cincinnati Reds, Sparky Anderson's heavy reliance on relief pitching earned him the nickname "Captain Hook", a reference both to the standard usage and to the Peter Pan villain.
A pitcher is said to be "on the hook" when he leaves the game with his team behind because of runs that he gave up -- a hook on which he may be hung with the loss.
A batted ball that takes several bounces in the infield, or a single "high hop" after it hits the ground just in front of home plate. Also see "short hop".
The ball (a baseball) used in the game of baseball.
The leather cover on the baseball (which is now usually made of cowhide, not horsehide). A slugger may be said to "knock the horsehide off the ball". Horsehide was the cover of choice for decades, as it was less prone to stretching than cowhide. This was necessary in part because in the early days, they tried to play the entire game with a single ball, or as few as possible. That became moot in the 1920s, but horsehide continued to be used until the 1980s or so, when horsehide became prohibitively expensive and cowhide was finally adopted as the standard cover for a baseball.
A strong arm, said typically of an outfielder. To "be hosed" is to be thrown out on the bases, typically from the outfield.
A batter who is having a hitting streak or a team having a winning streak is said to be "hot". "'Today was pretty impressive', Scioscia said. 'Hitters, they have their times. When they're hot, they're hot. You can't do anything about it.'"
An old fashioned term for a "Winter league" with no games, just speculation, gossip, and story-telling during the months between the end of the World Series and the beginning of Spring training, presumably conducted while sitting around a hot stove. One of Norman Rockwell's well-known baseball paintings is a literal illustration of this term.
house by the side of the road
A batter who strikes out looking. The term was made popular by legendary Detroit Tigers radio broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who would often say, "He stood there like the house by the side of the road, and watched the ball go by." The phrase originates from the title of a poem by Sam Walter Foss.
A very strong arm. A cannon. A gun. Usually applied to an outfielder. Named after the Howitzer artillery piece. Headline: "Roberto Clemente: A Howitzer for an Arm, An Ocean for a Heart".
human rain delay
A human rain delay is a derisive term for a player who is very deliberate in his play, such as a pitcher who takes a long time between pitches or a batter who constantly steps out of the batter's box. "The Seattle Mariners will announce a new manager today--Mike Hargrove. Hargrove bears a great nickname--'The Human Rain Delay'. The name stems from the fact that, as a player, Hargrove would take about 15 minutes for every plate appearance. He would step out of the batter's box, fidget with his gloves, his helmet, his pants. He drove the pitcher nuts, but that was his plan."
A ball hit deep in the infield on a trajectory between those of fly balls and line drives.