Baseball Rules: A Beginner’s Guide

Home run!! Woo!! Go team go! But what’s an out? A sacrifice fly? An error? What’s the difference between the infield and outfield? Don’t worry.. we will explain more in this article.

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    How Many Players And Umpires Are On The Field?

    Each team can only have a maximum of 9 players on the field – 3 outfielders, 5 infielders (1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, shortstop and catcher), and a pitcher.

    There are no limits on substitutions for baseball. Once a team substitutes a player (pitcher, fielder, or batter), they are not allowed to re-enter the game.

    There are five types of pitchers in the game:

    • Starting pitcher – Pitcher that starts the game and usually pitches the most innings

    • Long relief pitcher – A pitcher that substitutes a starting pitcher having a bad game (pitches 3+ innings)

    • Middle relief pitcher – Pitcher that will pitch for 1-2 innings in the middle of the game after the starting pitcher.

    • Closer – Pitches in the 9th inning to close the game for the winning team.

    • Utility pitcher – A non-pitcher designated to pitch. This usually happens in marathon games (14+ innings) when pitching becomes scarce. Also, this happens when the game is a blowout and a team wants to save wear and tear on their pitchers.

    There are two ways that a team replaces a batter or runner.

    • Pinch hitter – A player substitutes for the batter.

    • Pinch runner – A player off the bench substitutes for a runner on base.

    Furthermore, there are four umpires in the game and each one covers a base around the infield.

    The home plate umpire is the main person that creates a strike zone that determines whether a baseball thrown by the pitcher is a ball or a strike.

    The 1st base and 3rd base umpires are responsible for five scenarios:

    1. Check the location of the baseball to the foul line.

    2. Determine if a batter “checks” his swing.

    3. Decide whether a fielder (outfielder or infielder) caught the ball.

    4. Call a runner safe or out.

    5. Determine whether the hit is a home run. Is there any fan interference?

    In addition, the 2nd base umpire has the same responsibilities except deciding where the baseball lands on the foul line.

    Photo by Jose Morales on Unsplash

    What Is The Size Of the Field? How Long Is A Baseball Game?

    The field divides into two sections, the infield and the outfield. The infield is the clay surface and it contains four bases:1st base, 2nd base, 3rd base, and home plate. In contrast, outfield is the green (grass or turf) area between the infield and the outfield fence. Baseball is one of the few sports where the field dimensions can change among all stadiums and teams.

    The only field dimensions that remain the same for all stadiums are the distance between bases and the size of the infield.

    The game consists of 9 innings and the away team becomes the offensive team in the 1st half of the inning. Meanwhile, the home team becomes the offensive team in the 2nd half of the inning.

    Unlike most sports, baseball does not have a time limit for each at-bat, inning, and total game duration.

    What Are The Phases Of A Baseball Game?

    Baseball has only one phase of the game: offense vs. defense.

    When a team is on offense, all 9 players have a chance to bat in a lineup.

    As long as a team has not recorded 3 outs, they can continue to remain the offensive team.

    Each time a pitcher faces a new batter, it is an at-bat. Each at-bat will consist of balls and strikes. The strike zone is the area over home plate between the batter’s knees and mid-chest. Some batters will bend in their batting stance to make the strike zone smaller on the pitcher.

    A ball is when the pitcher pitches, or throws, the baseball out of the strike zone and a strike is when the pitcher pitches a baseball within the zone. If the batter hits a foul ball, it counts as a strike but, if the batter already has two strikes, the foul ball won’t count as another strike. This is how some at-bats can last for 10 or more pitches despite already being at a full count (3 balls and 2 strikes). There can either be a maximum of four balls or three strikes in an at-bat.

    If the batter gets three strikes, it is a strike out and the pitcher gets the out. If the batter gets four balls, it is a walk and the batter heads to first base. In addition, if the pitcher hits a batter, the batter gets to advance to 1st base regardless of the pitch count.

    The goal of the defense is to get 3 outs without the offense scoring any runs. The teams switch when the offensive team gets 3 outs.

    When the defense gets an out via a ground ball, it is a ground ball out. Also, if the baseball is caught in the air, it is a flyout.

    When the defense makes a mistake such as dropping a flyball or misplaying a ground ball on a play that should be an out, the play is an error.

    Photo by Joshua Peacock on Unsplash

    How To Score in Baseball

    The aim of the game is to score more runs than the other team.

    There are four ways that a batter can get a hit: single, double, triple, and a home run. A home run can happen if the batter hits the baseball over the outfield fence or if the batter advances through all the bases before the defense is able to get the out or error.

    A single is when the hitter advances to 1st base. A double is to 2nd base, and a triple is to 3rd base.

    A run occurs when a runner crosses home plate without getting out or the team getting a 3rd out.

    If a batter gets a hit and a player on-base scores a run, the batter gets a run batted in (RBI). A batter that hits a home run gets an RBI counted for themselves too. The most RBIs that a batter can get on one at-bat is four. This scenario is when the bases are loaded (runners on 1st, 2nd, and 3rd) and the batter hits a home run, or a grand slam, that scores everyone.

    A sacrifice fly is when the batter hits a deep fly ball for an out and a runner on base is able to advance to the next base.

    A bunt is when the batter tries to not swing and just tap the pitch down the line. There are three types of bunts: suicide squeeze, sacrifice bunt and bunt.

    • A regular bunt is an attempt to reach base from bunting the ball.

    • A suicide squeeze is a bunt that tries to get the runner on 3rd base to score.

    • A sacrifice bunt (usually done by the pitcher) is a bunt to advance the runners on base (typically, from 1st and 2nd base to 2nd and 3rd base) to be in better scoring position for the next batter. This also happens when the hitting team has less than 2 outs in the inning.

    If the game is tied after 9 innings, the game will go into extra innings and continue until one team has more runs than the other team at the end of an inning. It is rare for a game to end in a tie. However, it is possible if they postpone the game and the game is not rescheduled.


    Baseball is a timeless sport. Lucky for you, you made it through learning the basic rules of baseball in 5 minutes. Feel free to express your newfound knowledge to others. If you feel this is helpful, share this content with your friends.