What is a Pitch Out in Baseball? – Explained for Beginners

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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what is a pitch out in baseball

Pitchers use different types of throws in baseball, with the primary purpose of putting batters out. In some cases, however, they will employ various strategies to address a particular scene during the game. Among these is executing a pitch out.

What is a pitch out in baseball? A pitch out is a pitch thrown outside the strike zone. It is deliberately done to try putting out a runner attempting to steal a base.

Why Pitchers Opt for a Baseball Pitchout


There are over a hundred pitches thrown in an average MLB game, which is why pitchers use different ways of pitching in baseball.

Four-seam and two-seam fastballs, curveballs, changeups, sliders, and sinkers—you hear a lot about these different types of pitches from sports commentators.

However, pitching in baseball is more than just throwing batters out and preventing them from scoring a run. There are instances when putting out a runner attempting to steal a base is more crucial. That is particularly true when scores are neck and neck, and an added run is the last thing you want.

  • The most common scenario for a pitch out is when a runner on first base attempts to advance to second in between pitches. The offense often uses this strategy to avoid a double play when both the batter and the base runner are put out in a single hit.
    Runners try to move a base up between pitches with a lead-off. That means they will take a few steps forward to shorten the distance between bases, giving the defense a clear indication that they are attempting a base steal.

Pitchers do not decide on their own to execute a pitch out. Instead, the coach, manager, or catcher usually calls for a pitch out because they can clearly see any attempt to steal a base from where they are.

How is a Pitch Out Executed?


The first thing to remember about pitch outs is that they are purposely directed outside the strike zone. The goal is for the batter to avoid hitting the ball, so the catcher can catch and field it quickly.

Power and speed are vital to a pitch out, so the pitcher must pitch a baseball fast at a rate of at least 90 mph. It must also be thrown higher than the batters’ shoulders when they take the standard hitting stance. Delivery must be quick, so pitchers must avoid raising their knees too high to pitch properly. 

Similarly, catchers must also react instantaneously during a pitch out. Instead of squatting, they’re usually on their toes, ready to leap, stand, and snag the ball. Catchers can also throw more forcefully from a standing position.

When Are Pitch Outs Used in Baseball Aside From Potential Base Steals?

A pitch out will come in handy for two other types of plays in baseball:

1. Suicide Squeeze Play

With one or no outs in an inning, a runner on third will make an early lead-off toward home base, after which the batter bunts the ball. However, bunting will be nearly impossible with the ball farther away from the batter in a pitch out.

Moreover, the approaching runner will be easier to tag or be forced to return to base with the ball in the catcher’s possession.

2. Hit-and-Run Play

A base runner makes an attempt to steal a base earlier, just before the batter hits the ball. This can result in a defense mix-up because there is the combined need to cover base, field the ball, and tag the runner.

A pitch out works to prevent this scenario. The batter won’t likely make a hit when the ball is outside the strike zone. Fielders can then focus their efforts on the runner alone.

Here’re some of of the best pitch outs executed by MLB players: 




What counts as a pitching out in baseball?

A pitching out in baseball is called when the pitcher intentionally pitches the ball higher than usual, making it a lot easier for the catcher to leap and catch the ball from a standing position. Also, a pitch out typically has the ball traveling above the hitter’s shoulders outside the strike zone.

Does a pitch out count as a ball?

Yes. A pitch out always counts as a ball because it is not within the strike zone. It will only count as a strike if the batter attempts to swing at the ball, whether they are or aren’t successful at hitting it.

Do pitch outs affect a player’s pitching stats?

While there are no pitching out stats in baseball analytics, pitch outs have a bearing on player stats. Because they count as balls, pitch outs must not be used excessively lest the batter earns a base-on-balls. Typically, pitchers will employ the strategy once or twice at the most for each hitter.

Does pitching outs mean the same in fantasy baseball apps and actual baseball games?

The pitching outs meaning in actual baseball games is different from that in virtual baseball. While it is a pitching tactic in real baseball games, pitching out is a popular game stat in fantasy sports apps.

For example, a pitching out PrizePicks or a pitching out Underdog stat indicates the total number of outs a player incurs while pitching for a particular team in a fantasy baseball game.


Different baseball game scenarios call for different tactics and strategies. While a pitcher’s primary job is to put batters out, they are sometimes required to deliver a pitch out to prevent stolen bases.

What is a pitch out in baseball? You now know that it is a pitch that is nearly impossible to hit because it is not within reach of the batter. Instead, the catcher fields the ball quickly to an infielder who tags out a runner attempting to steal a base. 

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