The Baseball 101 series is one that I started a long time ago with a vague idea that it’d be nice to sprinkle in some posts for folks who aren’t familiar with the game, but would like to learn more. This has, admittedly, fallen a bit by the wayside. As someone who has been a fan of the game for years, and knowing that much of my audience have the same kind of familiarity, the idea of writing about something as fundamental as a base hit seems like unnecessary overkill.
However, while visiting family this weekend, I learned that my sixteen-year-old nephew is not familiar with the rules of baseball (the real irony here being that his father had once played college baseball — that affinity for the game evidently didn’t get passed on). This discovery has me thinking again that there might be some value in this after all.
Therefore, today we shall define the base hit. In baseball score keeping, a hit is credited to a batter when that batter safely reaches base after hitting the ball into fair territory. The batter must reach first base before any fielder can either tag him with the ball, throw to another player protecting the base for a force out, or tag first base while carrying the ball. The batter must also reach base without the benefit of an error or a fielder’s choice in order for the at-bat to count as a hit.
The hit is scored the moment the batter reaches first base safely. A hit may be classified as a single (reaching first base), double (second base), triple (third base), or home run (making it all the way around the bases to score), depending on how far the batter makes it around the bases safely. If he is put out while attempting to stretch his hit into a double, triple, or home run on the same play, he still gets credit for a hit, based on how far he made it safely.
Doubles, triples, and home runs are also called extra base hits. All four types of hits are counted equally when figuring a player’s batting average, though other statistics may be impacted differently.