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Every time a major league hitter steps into the batter’s box, he runs the risk of being hit by a speeding fastball or a spinning curve – it’s a risk of the job. Indeed, players have been getting hit by pitches for as long as people have been playing baseball. Therefore, it’s essential to understand what, exactly, a hit-by-pitch is.
Hit-by-pitch (HBP) is the official term in baseball for when a pitched ball strikes a batter on their body, uniform, or gear. When a pitch hits a batter and the umpire calls a hit-by-pitch, the batter will automatically advance to first base. The plate appearance is then over.
When the term “hit-by-pitch” is spelled using hyphens, it is a noun that describes the result of getting struck by a pitched ball. It is also a statistic for both hitters and pitchers. When it is spelled without hyphens, it is a verb that describes the action of striking or being struck by a pitched ball.
What Happens If a Hit-By-Pitch Is Also a Strike?
If a batter is hit by a pitch that the umpire determines to be a strike, the batter is not awarded a hit-by-pitch. This means the batter does not get to advance to first base. In other words, a strike will never be called a hit-by-pitch, even if the batter is struck with the ball.
If a batter swings at a pitch, it will not be called a hit-by-pitch – even if the ball does, in fact, hit the batter on their body or uniform. Instead, the umpire will call the pitch a strike. Similarly, if the umpire rules that the pitch was in the strike zone, it will not be called a hit-by-pitch. If a batter gets hit by a ball in the strike zone, it is the batter’s fault for leaning into the zone.
Can a Batter Lean Into a Pitch to Get Hit?
The batter is not allowed to lean into the ball. Therefore, if a batter leans into a pitch and gets hit, it will not count as a hit-by-pitch. Instead, the pitch will be called either a ball or a strike, depending on its location. The batter will not be awarded first base, and the at-bat will continue as if the batter had never been hit.
What’s more, a hitter must make a legitimate attempt to avoid a pitch in order for the umpire to call a hit-by-pitch. In other words, if the batter stays completely still and then gets hit by the ball, the batter is not to be awarded first base. However, this call is up to the umpire’s discretion, and MLB umpires very rarely nullify a hit-by-pitch due to the batter’s inaction.
What Happens If a Hit-By-Pitch Bounces on the Ground First?
A pitch that bounces on the ground is no different from any other pitch. A batter can still swing and hit a pitch that bounces, and a batter can still be hit by a ball that hits the ground first.
However, in such an instance, a hitter should have more time to get out of the way of the pitch. Therefore, it is far less likely that a batter will be awarded a hit-by-pitch on a ball that hits the ground first.
How Does an Umpire Call a Hit-By-Pitch?
The most important thing for an umpire to do once a batter has been hit by a pitch is to call “time.” This means the umpire must raise their hands above their head and say the word “time” in a loud and clear voice. This alerts everyone on the field that the ball is dead and that runners cannot advance.
If the umpire feels it necessary, they can also indicate the batter was hit by a pitch by tapping on their own body, usually the upper arm. The umpire can then direct the batter to take first base, either with a verbal cue or a hand gesture.
Are Hit-By-Pitch Calls Eligible for Replay Review?
Hit-by-pitch calls are eligible for replay review, which means managers can challenge a HBP call on the field. If a manager makes a challenge on a HBP call, umpires in the league’s head office will review video replay to confirm whether or not the batter was struck.
However, replay review cannot be used to overturn judgement calls, which are made at the sole discretion of the umpire. This means managers cannot challenge whether or not a pitch that struck a batter was a strike. If the umpire decides the batter swung or that the ball was in the strike zone, the call on the field will stand. Similarly, managers cannot use replay to challenge an umpire’s call that the batter made no attempt to avoid the pitch.
Are Pitchers Ejected for Hitting Batters?
A pitcher will not be ejected for hitting a batter unless the umpire has reason to believe the pitcher hit the batter on purpose. This decision is made at the full discretion of the umpire. Most hit-by-pitches are accidents, so it is rare to see a pitcher ejected for hitting a batter.
Sometimes, after a pitcher hits a batter, the umpire will issue a warning. This means that if another batter gets hit in the same game, the umpire might choose to eject the pitcher. A warning can be issued to one team or to both teams at once.
Does a Hit-By-Pitch Count as a Walk?
A hit-by-pitch and a walk are two different things, even though they have the same result. Whether a batter is walked or hit-by-pitch, the batter gets to advance to first base. However, on a walk the ball remains live, and so other runners can advance on the bases. On a hit-by-pitch, the ball is dead, and therefore all runners must remain at their current base.
Does a Hit-By-Pitch Count as a Hit?
A hit-by-pitch is not a hit. In order to be awarded a hit, a batter must hit the ball into the field of play using their bat – not their body.
Do HBP Count Towards Batting Average?
Hit-by-pitch does not affect the calculation of batting average. Batting average only counts hits, which means singles, doubles, triples, and home runs. It does not include HBP, walks, or any other ways a batter might reach base.
A HBP counts as a plate appearance but not an at-bat. Therefore, HBP is included in the calculation of on-base percentage but not batting average. On-base percentage also includes walks and hits.
Can Getting Hit By a Pitch Cause Injury?
Every year baseball players miss time due to injuries sustained after being hit by pitches. Major League Baseball pitchers can throw as fast as 100+ mph, and their pitches can cause serious harm when they strike a player.
Some of the most common HBP-related injuries include broken fingers and thumbs. Foot and toe injuries are other common outcomes from HBP. The safest place to be hit by a pitch is typically one’s backside.
Only one player in history has ever died as a result of HBP, a man named Ray Chapman. Chapman was struck in the head by a submarine pitch and passed away in 1920. His death led to several rule changes that increased player safety in baseball. However, it would still be several decades before batters were required to wear protective helmets.
These days, players wear all sorts of protective equipment at the plate. This includes helmets and protective cups, as well as elbow guards, wrist guards, and shin guards. This equipment helps to keep batters safe from errant pitches.
What Are Other Ways to Say “Hit-By-Pitch”?
A hit-by-pitch can also be called a “plunking” or a “beaning.” A batter who is hit by a pitch may be called a “hit batter” or a “hit batsman.” The term “bean ball” is used to describe a pitch that hits a batter.
Often, the initialism HBP is used to represent a hit-by-pitch. This short form is used in box scores, on the back of baseball cards, and in statistical databases.
Which MLB Player Hitter Has the Most HBPs?
Hughie Jennings, who played in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, is the all-time leader in getting hit by pitches. He was hit by a record 287 pitches in his career, including 51 times in one season in 1896 – also a record.
The modern-day record-holder for most HBP in a career is Craig Biggio, who was hit by a pitch 285 times. Among active MLB players, the leader is Anthony Rizzo of the New York Yankees, who has been hit by 201 pitches in his career
Which MLB Pitcher Has the Most HBPs?
As for pitchers, the all-time leader in HBP is Gus Weyhing. Weyhing played from 1887-1901 and hit 277 batters in that time. The modern-day leader is Randy Johnson, who plunked 190 batsmen in his 22-year career. The active leader is Charlie Morton of the Atlanta Braves, who has hit 156 batters and counting so far in his career.
The single-season record-holder for most batters hit is Phill Knell, who hit 54 batters in 1891. In the modern day, the record belongs to Austin Adams, who beaned 24 batters in 2021.