BP is a baseball abbreviation for batting practice. Teams tend to take batting practice before most games to warm their hitters up with living pitching and give at-bats to players on the bench to start the game. BP also allows baseball players to practice the field, especially out in the outfield, to get familiar with fence dimensions and more before a game.
So, what is the point of BP before a baseball game? How fast do BP pitchers tend to throw to hitters? How is batting practice different from a batting cage? Why does batting practice sometimes not occur before games? Finally, why do fans love batting practice so much?
Here is the complete breakdown of what BP means in baseball.
What is the Point of BP in Baseball?
Batting practice lets hitters take warm-up swings against live pitching before a game. Since there can only be nine players in the starting lineup, some players will be on the bench, so taking BP before a game keeps their hand-eye coordination and timing fresh for when they might need to come into play.
Not only does BP keep players fresh with their swing, but they can also work on different scenarios at the plate. For instance, most BP begins with a hitter needing to successfully lay down a few bunts to either the diamond’s first base or third base side. Outside of bunting scenarios, some coaches ask the hitters to take specific approaches at the plate. Some might look for a hitter to take an inside-out swing to hit the ball to a particular area, while others will look for them to pull a ball on their next few swings. The idea is to have a goal at the plate instead of swinging without purpose.
Finally, BP during a Spring Training, Minor League, or Major League Baseball game allows outfielders to familiarize themselves with the fence’s distance from home plate. For example, an outfielder can track down BP fly balls in the outfield to understand how close the wall is to them, where the warning track is, and how close the stands are to foul territory. All these factors go into BP, which is just as advantageous to the hitters as it is for the fielders, especially those unfamiliar with a specific ballpark.
How Fast Do MLB BP Pitchers Throw?
Sports Illustrated says that coaches throw batting practice at around 60 miles per hour via their fastball. They (the BP coach) are also in front of the pitching mound with a protective net to throw the balls easier in the strike zone for the hitter and not worry about being hit on a line drive. To put that 60 miles per hour throw into context, Major League Baseball players throw their fastball (with a minimum of 250 pitches in 2022) at around 93 MPH.
Also, it is worth noting that the coaches tossing batting practice only throw fastballs to the hitters. Any other pitch, like curveballs, sinkers, splitters, or anything else, is off the table. Those different pitches are off the table because they add more strain to the pitcher’s arm, and they must toss BP to many hitters over an hour or so.
How is Batting Practice Different from a Batting Cage?
Batting practice occurs on the baseball field and tends to come from live BP. Live BP is when a coach throws the ball to a hitter, and the hitter is hitting the ball without any restrictions around them.
Meanwhile, a batting cage is more of a simulation in a controlled setting. Generally, a pitching machine will throw balls to a hitter, which at times can be difficult for a hitter since the arm angle from a pitcher is different from the machine. However, the benefit of a batting cage is that they have them at Major League Baseball stadiums under the stands, so any hitter, especially one on the bench, can take swings against pitches during a game whenever they want to stay loose.
Who Hits Batting Practice First?
The home team hits batting practice first, usually a few hours before game time. After they complete their batting practice, the visiting team takes the field for theirs. Fans who want to catch batting practice and can get into the game 2 hours before the first pitch tend to see the away team hitting BP.
However, to see the home team take batting practice, you need special permission to enter the ballpark around three hours before the first pitch. Also, some ballparks, especially on weekday games, might only open the gates 90 minutes before the first pitch, meaning batting practice will be over.
Why Does Batting Practice Not Occur Before Some Games?
Batting practice only sometimes happens before games. Here are some common reasons batting practice may not occur before a baseball game.
- It is raining
- It is too hot
- A doubleheader is taking place that day.
- The visiting team (or home) team got in late that day from their flight, so they canceled batting practice to give their players and teammates some extra rest.
- One or both teams want to avoid taking batting practice.
Why Do Fans Love BP Baseball?
Certain baseball fans love going to baseball games early to catch batting practice. Since the throws to the hitters are slower than during a game, they can square up pitches easier, which results in more home runs. As a fan who gets to the game early, your chances of catching a home run increase since there are more chances, and the stands are less packed than when the game begins.
Another great feature of BP is more interaction between players and fans during this time. It is common to see the visiting team baseball players interact with fans in the stands. Many times, players who catch the ball in the outfield will then toss the ball up to the stands for the fans to have.
Zack Hample is one of the most famous baseball fans who arrive early to games to catch batting practice balls. Check out his website and YouTube channel to see what he does during batting practice to snag so many balls.
What Does BP Stand for in Softball?
BP in softball stands for batting practice, just like in baseball. The same rules and concepts apply where hitting the softball is the goal of the practice. A coach might toss underhand batting practice to a hitter in front of the mound behind a protective net, or they can throw the ball to a hitter as they kneel to the side of them.
Like in baseball, softball BP also works on specific drills and approaches for the hitter.
Conclusion: What Does BP Mean in Baseball?
In summary, the meaning of BP in baseball and softball refers to batting practice. Batting practice allows hitters to take live swings against pitches and judge the outfield dimensions and how hard they need to swing to hit a home run. Not only does the batting practice help hitters get ready for the game, but it also helps defenders get ready too. Defenders can use batting practice to track down fly balls in the outfield, which can help them understand how much territory they need to cover, how close the fence is, how balls ricochet off the wall, and more.
Above all, batting practice is one of the best parts about getting to the ballpark early. Fans who can get to a game and witness batting practice have a better shot of catching a home run ball than during a game. Since fewer fans are in the stands at this time, and the hitters are only hitting fastballs instead of any other type of pitch, there will be more chances to catch a home run if you are a fan.
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