Baseball's Version Of The Dress: What Does "Batting Around" Mean?

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Hey, remember when we collectively freaked out because half of us saw one objective reality and half saw another? Let’s do that again!


From the Wall Street Journal’s Jared Diamond comes a surprisingly perplexing question: what constitutes “batting around” in baseball? To me, it’s quite obvious that batting around refers to the player that led off the inning coming back up to the plate again. When the ninth batter comes to the plate you’ve gone through the order once in the inning; when the tenth batter comes to the plate you have batted around.

I didn’t know this was even in question, but apparently it is:

It turns out that batting around has no official definition and isn’t an official MLB statistic. Followers of the game tend to assume that their own interpretation is by-the-book right.

When the question was posed to New York Mets captain David Wright, he didn’t hesitate. “Ten,” he said.

As far as Wright was concerned, nobody could disagree. To prove as much, he called over his teammate, John Mayberry Jr. Mayberry said nine, just as emphatically. Wright was stunned.


We’re definitely going to go with David Wright over John Mayberry Jr., right?

Diamond talked to everybody he could think of in search of an definitive answer. Wikipedia says ten, Wiktionary says nine. Vin Scully says ten, Mets radio play-by-play man Howie Rose says nine. Both Elias Status Bureau and Stats LLC says it only takes nine batters, but Stats noted this is an unofficial definition.


For the final word, Diamond turned to Major League Baseball’s official historian, who explained that the term “bat around” comes from a baseball forerunner first played a couple hundred years ago. The definition from that game, called town ball, would seem to indicate that ten batters makes the most sense:

In this cricket-like game, an entire side batted before an inning was over. In at least one variation, Thorn said, there was an added stipulation: If the last player in the order hit a home run, the entire lineup would bat again—or “bat around.”


But that’s enough about what the “experts” think. What say you, the common man?

[Wall Street Journal]

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