What Counts as an Error in Baseball?

What is an error in baseball?

In the game of baseball, an error refers to a mistake or misplay by a fielder that allows a batter or baserunner to advance or reach a base safely when they should have been put out. Official scoring rules define errors as actions that ordinary effort should have resulted in an out. These can include fielding errors, mental errors, and other miscellaneous errors. Over the years, the definition of errors has evolved, and official scorers have become responsible for determining and recording errors during games.

Types of errors

Errors in baseball can be classified into several types, each affecting the game differently. The most common type is a fielding error, which occurs when a fielder fails to handle a batted or thrown ball. Fielding errors can involve drops, mishandling, overthrows, or misjudgments resulting in bad throws. Another category is mental errors, wherein players make mistakes due to poor decision-making, lack of communication, or failing to cover bases on defensive plays. Other miscellaneous errors include unique scenarios such as catcher's interference, balks, and wild pitches.

Impact on games

Errors in baseball can have significant impacts on games, both in terms of scoring and strategy. When an error occurs, it affects the statistics of both pitchers and batters. For pitchers, errors can lead to unearned runs, potentially skewing their earned run average (ERA) and overall performance. Batters, on the other hand, have the opportunity to reach base or advance to additional bases due to errors, thus impacting their batting average and on-base percentage.

Strategically, errors can extend innings and increase pitch counts for pitchers. A single error can prolong a defensive inning, forcing pitchers to throw additional pitches to get out of the situation. This not only tires out the pitcher but can also disrupt their rhythm and affect subsequent innings. Furthermore, errors can shift momentum within a game. A team committing an error may face psychological setbacks, while the opposing team gains confidence and motivation.

There have been numerous historical examples where notable errors have dramatically impacted game outcomes. These instances serve as reminders of how crucial it is for players to prioritize defensive precision and limit the occurrence of errors.

Understanding error statistics

One way to measure fielding skills and track defensive performance in baseball is through error statistics. Official scorers use specific criteria to determine whether a play should be considered an error or not. The resulting error rate, typically expressed as the number of errors made per total chances, helps evaluate individual fielders and their overall effectiveness in the field.

It is important to note, however, that error statistics have their limitations and potential biases. Official scorers can subjectively interpret plays and assign errors inconsistently. Additionally, some plays that could potentially be errors are ruled as hits, affecting the accuracy of error statistics. As a result, alternative defensive metrics like Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR), Defensive Runs Saved (DRS), and Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) have been developed to provide a more comprehensive and objective understanding of defensive contributions.

By considering both traditional error statistics and modern defensive metrics, a more comprehensive assessment of fielding abilities and impact can be obtained, helping teams make informed decisions regarding player performance and defensive strategies.

Tips and techniques to minimize errors

To minimize errors in baseball, players can focus on enhancing their fielding skills through dedicated practice and drills. Regularly practicing catching, throwing, and fielding ground balls can improve overall fielding technique and reduce the chances of errors. Additionally, players should prioritize maintaining focus and concentration during games, as lapses in attention can lead to costly mistakes.

Another crucial aspect of error prevention is teamwork and communication. Clear communication among fielders can help avoid misunderstandings and ensure players are in the right position at the right time. By effectively communicating and working together, fielders can cover bases, anticipate plays, and reduce the likelihood of errors.


In conclusion, errors in baseball play a significant role in the outcome of games. Fielding errors, mental errors, and other miscellaneous errors can impact scoring, strategy, and player statistics. Understanding error statistics is essential for assessing defensive performance, albeit with certain limitations. Through dedicated practice, focus, and effective teamwork, players can minimize errors and contribute to their team's success.

By recognizing the importance of errors in baseball and continuously striving to improve fielding skills, players can enhance their overall performance on the field. So, keep practicing, communicating, and striving for excellence to reduce errors and make a positive impact in the game of baseball.