American sporting idiom - "3 for 6" etc

Fresh from a visit to the US, which included Sunday’s tremendous baseball game between the Oakland A’s and the Toronto Blue Jays, it occurred to me that I could not work out what that sporting idiom actually means.

For example, when a batter has been at bat 6 times and scored 3 hits, he is said to be “3 for 6”.

Why for?

In fact, “6 for 3” (i.e. 6 at bats for 3 runs) would make more sense to me! I suspect the answer is that it’s just an idiom. But any enlightenment would be appreciated.

(Over here we’d say “3 out of 6”)

He’s 3 (hits) for (every) 6 (at-bats).

“3 for 6” would make more sense to a baseball fan because they tend to relate to performance in percentages. “3 for 6” means the player was successful 50% of the time.

At bats are the denominator.

Just an idiom :slight_smile:

Don’t they use the same idiom in cricket, except that instead of hits and at-bats, it’s runs and outs?

He got a hit 3 out of 6 times he was at bat. Basically. What is considered an at-bat is a bit confusing.

Yes. For example, “India is three for a hundred and six”, means that side has scored 106 runs and has lost three men.

Not at all. A player is not charged with an at bat if he hits a sacrifice bunt or sacrifice fly, is walked, is hit by a pitch, or is given first base on interference. Everything else is a charged at bat.

All I do is collect base hits and drive in runs. :cool:

I though there was more to it than that. You make the rule look so easy.

And just to confuse the issue further, Australians would say “3 for 106”. Others (UK, NZ) would say “106 for 3”.

You forgot when he steals first on a dropped third strike. :slight_smile:


Isn’t the batter charged with both an at bat and a strikeout when that happens?

Yes, it is considered a time at bat. But just to be clear, when a batter advances to first base on a strikeout, it is not a stolen base. It is a strikeout plus either a wild pitch or passed ball.

As to the OP’s question, I don’t think this particular usage is unique to baseball. (not sure it’s really an idiom, either.)

An at-bat is also not charged if the batter reaches base on an error.

Sacrifices are only counted on fly balls and bunts, if a batter grounds out but advances the runner(s), it is not a sacrifice and an at-bat is charged.

So, if you have a runner on third base:

Batter bunts or flies out, runner scores = batter earns a sacrifice and an RBI, and no at-bat is charged
Batter swings and grounds out, runner scores = batter does not earn a sacrifice, is charged an at-bat, but does earn an RBI
Batter swings, fielder drops ball and runner scores = batter is not charged for neither an at-bat nor an RBI

You also forgot when a player is injured at the plate and the count goes to his replacement.

No, that is an at-bat. The definition is in rule 10.02 (scroll down a bit). It says

note that errors aren’t mentioned.

The same phrase is used in football when dealing with QB and kicker completion/attempt ratios, but more often, it seems, with kickers.
i.e. “Morten Andersen is 12 for 15 on the season…”, meaning he’s made 12 out of 15 attempts. Your ears get used to it after a while, I suppose.

Yes. The non-Australian way makes more sense to me. You HAVE 106 runs for the COST of 3 wickets, therefore you are 106 for 3. If you were the bowling side you would have 3 wickets for the cost of 106 runs. I’m not making any attempt to change the Aussie way though, that’s how they do it, and I just have to live with it.

It can get pretty confusing when the runs are less than 10. E.g. “Australia are 3 for 5”*, it’s not clear which are the wickets and which are the runs and the telecast may not necessarily be Australian so no clues there.

*Of course it’s pretty rare for Australia to do this poorly at cricket, it may be more realistic to exchange “Australia” for “England” in the example.

Yeah, I’d say that’s the American style for saying someone has been successful number of times in [Y] attempts. “Shaq is 3 for 17 from the line tonight…”

It’s also used in casinos to inflate the numbers on the felt.

Consider a bet that pays 2 to 1. Meaning, you bet $1, and if you win, you get your dollar back plus double ($2) in winnings. Now the casino can elect to denote this payout scheme in one of two ways:

2 to 1
3 for 1

Take a wild guess which they prefer to use.

Thanks, all.

Just to confuse matters even further on the cricket front, as noted above a team’s score is either runs-for-wickets (356 for 8) or, Down Under, wickets for runs (8 for 356). But a bowler’s performance is usually written like this:

Overs bowled (an over is a stint of 6 balls) - maidens (overs off which no runs were scored) - runs conceded - wickets taken, e.g. 15-2-76-4.

But when spoken, you would always say that he’s taken “four for seventy-six”. Even in Australia and NZ.