What is an Ace in Baseball? – Definition and Role

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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what is an ace in baseball

Supreme players in baseball can easily be spotted from miles away. They determine the outcomes of the game, change its pace, and help bring victories.

In the sport of baseball, there’s a term encompassing elite players — ace. So, what is an ace in baseball?

Typically, the term “ace” refers to a team’s starting pitcher who is considered to be the standout among the team. Simply put, “ace” is a synonym for a formidable pitcher.

Team Ace Meaning


The first question we will address is, “How do we define ace in baseball?”.

Ace is the term used to describe the best pitcher on a team. They are typically the top choice for pitchers in the team’s starting rotation and the kind who could easily dominate a game. For strategic purposes, coaches often reserve the ace for important playoff games or those against division rivals.

Role of the Ace in the Team

The ace’s role in a team is crucial, as they set a huge difference in a match. As such, here are some of the roles of the ace in a team:

  • Set the pace of the team’s game and boost their teammates’ confidence
  • In charge of keeping their own team in the game and stopping the other team’s batters
  • Pitch under high-pressure situations.
  • Mentor young pitchers on the team.

Evolution of the Role of an Ace

The role of a baseball team’s ace has evolved greatly throughout the years, and it’s quite a story to tell. Here’s a quick rundown:

  • Deadball Era (1900s to 1910s) – an ace pitcher was considered to be the most important and also often the highest-paid member.
  • Live Ball Era (1920s to1930s) – the role of an ace became less significant as there was more emphasis on home runs and offense.
  • In the 1960s and 1970s – the ace’s role again became vital to the team for having the skills to intimidate opponents and protect their teammates’ morale.
  • Modern Era (1980 to present) – an ace is considered to be a highly valued asset as their skills provide stability to the team.

Qualities and Characteristics of an Ace


Undeniably, aces are the best pitchers in a team and often also in the league. Here are some of the characteristics and qualities of an ace:

  • Pitch with high consistency and precision, even under pressure
  • Superb fastball velocity to prevent batters from making solid contact
  • Knowledgeable so as to analyze the opponents and the course of the game to make strategic decisions
  • Mentally tough for pressure-packed games

Anatomy of an Ace Pitcher

1. Types of pitches

To tell you more about the anatomy of a pitcher, here are some types of pitches and their categories according to MLB glossary:


    • Four-seam fastball—a fastball with a straight trajectory and maximum velocity, should be thrown with minimal movement.
    • Two-seam fastball—also called a sinking/running fastball. Its trajectory varies depending on pitchers, but it always either moves to one side or sinks downward.
    • Splitter—a pitch that causes the ball to drop sharply right before approaching the batter so that it’s harder for the bat to make solid contact with the ball.
    • Cutter—a fastball that suddenly moves to one side as it approaches the batter so that they have a harder time making solid contact with the ball.

Breaking balls

    • Curveball—ball spins and generates a downward break as it approaches the plate.
    • Slider—spins laterally, creating a sharp break as it gets closer to the plate.
    • Slurve—has the movement of a slider and the velocity of a curveball, also moves abruptly as it approaches the batter.
    • Screwball – moves opposite to slurve.

Related: Cutter Vs Slider.


    • Changeup – has a slower velocity and spin than fastballs.
    • Circle changeup – moves slower and sinks approaching the plate.

2. Pitching Mechanics and Strategy


Pitching mechanics are the physical movement that a pitcher uses in order to throw a baseball to the plate with precision, velocity, and control. Good pitching mechanics involve harmonious coordination between the upper and lower body, including arm action, leg drive, and release.

On the other hand, pitching strategy encompasses both the pitcher’s tactics and mental fortitude on the location and kinds of pitches he will throw. It’s wise for pitchers to pitch unpredictably.

The Impact of an Ace on a Team’s Performance

The ace’s mere presence on the field can provide confidence and boost a team’s morale. Aside from this, they’re also a rock that provides enough skill sets for a team to win a match.

Top Ace Pitchers in MLB History

Here are the top 3 MLB ace pitchers in history with their notable achievements. However, note that this list varies across sources and studies:

  • Walter Johnson—Commonly referred to as “The Big Train,” he has won 417 games in his career, bagged two MVP awards, recorded 110 shutouts, and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963.


  • Christy Mathewson—also called “Matty,” he joined Walter Johnson in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1963, won 373 games, and also won triple crowns.


  • Randy Johnson—Throughout his career, he has won 303 games, 5 Cy Young awards, World Series MVP (in 2001), and was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2015.


Frequently Asked Questions


How does a pitcher become an ace?

An ace pitcher constantly demonstrated extraordinary talent, skill, and performance on the mound. This includes having good body mechanics and tactics.

How are aces chosen by their teams?

Teams evaluate their potential aces according to their skills and performance, mental toughness, understanding of the game, as well as their injury history, and demographics.

What distinguishes an ace pitcher from other starting pitchers?

An ace pitcher stands apart from other starting pitchers by virtue of their excellent talent, skill, and on-field performance. They possess noticeable talent, so much so that a team’s chances greatly rely on them.

Who is considered the latest Yankees ace?

As of 2021, Geritt Cole is considered to be the Yankees’ Ace, as he’s proven to be their team’s best starting pitcher in recent matches.

Who is eyed to become the next Astros ace?

With Justine Verlander out of the team, the next-eyed ace for the Astros is Framber Valdez, who now starts for the Astros in 2023.

Who is one of the most notable Phillies ace pitchers?

The term “ace” has been greatly linked to the Phillies ace pitcher in the name of Aaron Nola, who immediately made an impact when he stepped into the MLB.


Baseball is a team sport where each team is composed of individual greatness that leads them to victories and championships. Each player on the roster has something unique to offer, and this uniqueness sets the difference between victors and losers.

I hope I answered your queries regarding “what is an ace in baseball?” through this article. See you next time!

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