What is an error in baseball


Baseball is an exciting yet extremely tough game; any slightest misstep or error may sabotage your team’s strategic plan. To help you sidestep such disasters, our team has compiled an inclusive guide that delves further into baseball errors.

What is an error in baseball, exactly? Keep scrolling for more.

What Is An Error In Baseball? Examples

What are they? (Source: Rawpixel). 

“Errors” in baseball refer to statistics assigned to a defensive player whenever they make ball-hit mistakes that benefit their opposing team. After the errors are made, the judge or official scorer will assess the situation based on the fielder’s performance to decide whether this mistake should or shouldn’t be counted.

Some common examples of errors:

  • The fielders fail to catch the routine fly balls
  • They do not pick up the easy ground balls
  • They are too busy tagging a player from the opposing team and drop the balls during the process
  • They miss their teammates while throwing the ball

Another worldwide-famous instance of baseball errors happened during a critical game in the 2001 Series. The Yankees were still leading in the 9th inning bottom, as the Diamondback batter (representing the winning runs) bunted his ball toward the pitchers.

Despite fielding the ball successfully, the Yankees pitcher made a severe mistake while throwing the ball to another teammate: it was such a wild move that the ball went straight to the outfield, allowing Diamondbacks runners to attack. Several batters later, the Diamondbacks gained tie scores and eventually beat the Yankees to snatch first place in the World Series that year.

Why Are Passed Balls and Balks Not Counted As Errors?

Most authorities consider them unforced errors or parts of the game’s inherent risks instead of actual mistakes. Let’s break down the issue in more detail:

Passed Balls:

Both catchers and pitchers can commit mistakes, that’s for sure. Not during the pitching process, though! 

Pitchers and catchers must tackle the balls more often than other players, suffering from higher likelihood of mistakes. Hence, instead of being considered “errors,” wild pitches or passed balls are usually attributed to the positions’ natural risks rather than ordinary effort failures.


In most sports, “balks” occur when the pitcher makes a deceptive or illegal movement on the mounds, leading to violation accusations. Surprisingly, they are not counted as “an error” in baseball. Why?

Most baseball organizations concur that balks should be counted as “unforced errors” (errors made with no external pressure or opponent’s influence) rather than errors. So once it happens, the balk is considered “dead play,” resulting in no charged errors to both the fielding teams and the pitchers. 


Still, remember that despite not being counted, these mishits and unforced errors might still impact the team’s spirit and motivation. Keep yourself properly trained and avoid them as much as possible.

What Are The Most Common Baseball Errors By Position?

Some common positions (Source: Wiki). 

From our observation, baseball positions with the highest error frequencies are second basemen and shortstops. 

Why is that? Simple: these two positions are placed extremely close to the field’s most critical movements (only 150 ft from the home plate), hence the higher need for fast reactions and quick baseball hits. As a result, they tend to make more mistakes! 

Plus, both take major responsibilities in completing “double plays,” adding even more challenge layers to the game.

How Do These Errors Influence The Game?

How do they affect the game? (Source: Wallpaper Flare). 

The Players’ Performance

Studies have concluded that MLB (Major League Baseball) pitchers tended to feel discouraged and give up their hits if their teams made errors during innings. 

Also, the opposing teams in the same game enjoy a batting average of .273 during the remainder of the inning – much higher than the standard .255!


Errors also directly impact the ERA (earned run allowed) statistics: if the batter reaches a base due to fielding errors and scores one run, that specific run will not be considered “earned.” 

The common consensus is that such errors indicate defensive failures (where average players could have easily succeeded with minimum effort) rather than the player’s capability. As such, the score is labeled “unearned run” instead.


Another influenced statistic is the OBP (on-base percentages). When batters reach bases due to errors, the OBP will not count this score into their overall calculation; after all, they only get on the base due to the opponent’s poor defense, not thanks to their own eye or bat.

In order to compensate for this OBP oversight, certain league organizers and championships use a more advanced metric for defenders, the DRS (defensive run saved). 

DRS relies on other defensive meters to calculate the number of runs the defenders would have given up/stopped from occurring. 

And since ERA does not count the fielding error against the pitchers (as mentioned earlier), DRS makes it go straight to the one who committed that error instead.

Read more: what are the most comfortable baseball cleats for boys?


Are Bad Hops Considered Errors? 

Most of the time, no. Bad hops usually go beyond the fielder’s control (like passed balls explained above) and hence, are considered one of the game’s unpredictable nature. They are not counted as errors.

But brace yourself since there are exceptions: some scorers still label the hops as “errors” if the fielder fails to calculate the ball’s trajectory or adjust to the hop. 

Do You Have To Touch The Ball For It To Be Counted As An Error?

Yes, most of the time. Physical touches on the ball are a common presence in regular baseball errors.

However, like with ball hops, expect some exceptions. A case in point is “misjudged fly balls,” where the fielder miscalculates the fly and causes the ball to drop, allowing baserunners and batters to advance or reach base. Despite no physical touches, it is still regarded as an error. 


What is an error in baseball? We hope our explanations are crystal clear. Even though the scoring of these errors usually gets decided by a judge or scorer (meaning they can be subjective and context-based), there is still a general one-size-fits-all guide to follow through. Keep it in mind!

In demand for more interesting and insightful tidbits about baseball? Navigate to Ask Me Baseball for constant updates. 

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