Which Team Bats First in Baseball?

The Rule for Determining the Order of Batting in Baseball
Written by Mark Bailey
Last updated on

In baseball, the visiting team always bats first, taking the top half of each inning to set the stage for the home team’s response in the bottom half. This structure is a time-honored tradition that adds strategic depth to the game’s beginning.

  • The away team always bats first in baseball.
  • The home team can bat first in baseball if the officials designated the away team as the home squad.
  • The leadoff hitter bats first in a baseball game.
  • The home team has the last ups in baseball unless they are winning and don’t need to take their final at-bats of the game.
  • Batting last is advantageous for home teams continues despite statistical evidence that debunks this assumption.

Baseball rules stipulate that the visiting team must bat in the top half of each inning, which results in the home team batting in the bottom half. However, before the rule change in 1950, teams had a choice as to whether they bat first or last.

In the sport’s early days, home teams often chose to bat first as a tactical advantage. Teams wanted to get the first crack at a new ball since it was seldom taken out of play and was at its peak at the beginning of the game.

Managers’ strategic philosophy shifted as time passed, and batting last became more common. The assumption that batting last in the final inning was an advantage that improved a team’s odds of winning the game became prevalent among coaches, players, and fans. However, while home teams win most major league games, it is only by a narrow margin.

Which team bats first in baseball?

The visiting or away team bats first in baseball because the sport has a unique turn-taking structure that allows the home team to bat last in each inning. Most baseball games have a predetermined number of innings depending on the age level of the participants, and each inning consists of two halves, a top, and a bottom. The visiting team always bats in the top half of each inning, while the home squad bats in the bottom half of every inning. 

Advantages of the team batting first

The advantages of a team batting first in baseball are relatively few. Since baseball is a game of momentum, the most significant benefit for a team batting first is setting the tone of the game with some early runs. A visiting squad that has success at the plate in the opening frame can chase the starting pitcher and put the home team in a hole they might not be able to overcome.

Disadvantages of batting first

The disadvantages of batting first in baseball are insignificant. Besides playing in a hostile environment with possible biased umpires, the disadvantages of a team batting first are minor. Theodore Turocy, an economist specializing in game theory, decided to compute the advantage of batting last while developing a baseball game simulation model. Surprisingly, he found none. The absence of an edge in batting last is an example of how science can disprove our incorrect assumptions.

Has the visiting team always batted first?

The visiting team has only sometimes batted first in baseball. For nearly a decade (1876–1886) in the National League, except in 1877, when the home team batted first, a coin flip determined which team batted first.

The former major league organization, American Association, gave the home team the option of when to bat in 1885, and the National League adopted the same rule two years later. The home teams in the National League batted first at a rate of 40.9% (324 of 793 games) during the 1894 season.

Does the home team ever bat first?

The home team can bat first in baseball in rare circumstances. This can happen when officials designate the away team as the home squad, thus allowing the visitors to bat last in the inning. This situation often occurs in tournaments when the away team has played fewer games than the home team.

Due to numerous canceled games for the Cleveland Indians in 2007, the Ohio-based franchise batted last in a September game in Seattle. The game was originally an April home game for the Indians, but an agreement and a 2006 rule change gave Cleveland the option of batting last. However, for all statistical purposes, the Mariners were considered the home team.


What determines which team bats first in baseball? 

The home field determines which team bats first in baseball. The team whose field the game is played on is the home team, and the team visiting this field is the away or visiting squad. If the game is played at a shared or neutral location, one team will still be designated as the home team and the other as the away team. 

The Official Rules of Baseball state that a game does not officially start until the players on the home team take the field and the first batter from the visiting team steps into the batter’s box.

Which player bats first in a baseball game?

The leadoff hitter bats first in a baseball game. This batting spot in the lineup is traditionally for players with high on-base percentages who don’t strike out much. Leadoff batters are contact hitters who can draw walks and steal bases. But in recent years, players with different skill sets have been moved into the leadoff spot. Managers have opted for sluggers like George Springer and Kyle Schwarber, who bring solid on-base skills and significant power to the top of the batting order.

Is it better to bat first or second in baseball?

It does not matter if you bat first or second in baseball. The first two batters in the lineup have similar skills and roles. Both should be contact hitters who can also run well. Their main job is to be patient at the plate and try to reach base so the middle of the batting order can drive them home.

Who has the last ups in baseball?

The home team has the last ups in baseball. Innings play a game, and each inning is split into two parts. The visiting team always bats in the top part of an inning, and the home team always bats in the bottom. Thus, the home team will always have last ups unless they are winning in the final inning and do not need to take their final at-bats.

Why does the home team bat last? 

The home team bats last because the official rules of baseball were changed in 1950. The rules on how a game begins state that: the players of the home team shall take their defensive positions; the first batter of the visiting team shall take his position in the batter’s box; the umpire shall call “Play,” and the game shall start. The rule change stipulated that the visiting team must bat in the top halves of innings.

Batting first or last is insignificant

The debate over whether batting last in baseball is advantageous for home teams continues despite statistical evidence that debunks this assumption. Even during the game’s early days, managers wrestled with whether their teams should bat first or last. The exciting “walk-off” hits only amplify the misconception that teams batting last have a built-in advantage that improves their odds of winning.

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