What Does Tipping Pitches Mean in Baseball? Explained

Have you ever wondered what pitchers and catchers are saying to each other, even though they’re not opening their mouths? These players only communicate through hand signs, and the slightest miscommunication can lead to passed balls or wild pitches. At this point, you might hear commentators and fans screaming about tipping pitches. But what does tipping pitches mean in baseball?

Tipping pitches or pitch tipping is a term used when the pitcher accidentally or unknowingly provides hints to the type of pitch. Therefore, it gives the batter a better chance at doing the correct action.

The slightest movement can bring about pitch-tipping incidents. Some of which can cause teams the entire game. Here, you’re going to take a deep dive into tipping pitches. Also, you’re going to learn about some popular pitch-tipping incidents in MLB history.

Tipping Pitches in Baseball

Tipping pitches occur when the pitcher becomes careless. This incident occurs when the pitcher unwittingly advises the batter and other members of the opposing team about the upcoming pitch.

Pitch-tipping signs can vary. However, eagle-eyed players can spot these indicators from afar. For example, the batter notices that the pitcher holds the glove differently before the athlete throws a curveball. The batter can readjust the angle of the bat to ensure it meets the ball when he swings.

Additionally, tipping pitches incidents happen more frequently in the MLB than one might think. Several instances can be seen throughout MLB history when pitchers accidentally gave out instructions to batters.

What are the Things to Consider for Pitch Tipping in Baseball?

Any odd behavior by the pitcher can result in a pitch-tipping incident. Batters need to be quite vigilant in spotting these performance differences while making split-second decisions to ensure they make the correct move. Thankfully, coaches, managers, and other teammates in the dugout can help batters with these cues.

Here are some of the many things to look out for when pitchers change their pitching style:

Can Other Players Scream to the Batter to Tell About a Pitcher’s Tells?

Any teammate of the current batter cannot scream, shout, or yell, attempting to impede a play. These distractions can also be non-verbal interruptions, which would otherwise constitute unfair play.

Additionally, dugouts aren’t allowed to have any type of monitoring devices, such as TVs and computer displays. Therefore, it’s already quite difficult for teammates to check for pitch-tipping signs if they can.

On the other hand, teams can study their opponents’ moves by reviewing past matches. That way, every player, along with team coaches and managers, will know what to expect when an opposing pitcher steps up the plate.

What Are Some Famous Pitch-Tipping Incidents in the MLB?

In this section, you’ll some excellent examples of pitch-tipping incidents in MLB history. Some incidents even caused some teams landslide victories over their opponents.

Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays – October 11, 2019

Houston Astros vs. Tampa Bay Rays

It was a great Thursday afternoon as Tampa Bay Rays starter Tyler Glasgow is going to the plate with a baseball glove in hand. But it was a different day for the Houston Astros as each batter somehow knew that fastballs were always going their way.

The Astros figured out that Glasgow had specific tells in which he would hold his glove differently, depending on the type of pitch he’s about to throw. Glasgow had a high chance of throwing a curveball if the glove is quite low. Therefore, if the Rays’ pitcher wasn’t going throw a curveball, his glove would be at a normal or higher height.

Even Danny Vietti, the Senior Social Media Producer and MLB Writer at CBS Sports, tweeted about the incident:

Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times also posted on his Twitter account about the frustration Glasgow experienced from the incident.

From the video above, Glasgow admitted that he realized ‘it was pretty obvious, as far as the tips go.’ Although it was vexing for the pitcher and his team, Glasgow handled the loss professionally. On that day, the Astros won 6 – 1 over the Rays.

Houston Astros vs. New York Mets – March 24, 2016

Houston Astros vs. New York Mets

Another pitch-tipping with the Houston Astros occurred two years before the previously-mentioned incident. This time, it was John Danks in the spotlight of the event.

As per a report from CBS Chicago, the hitters noticed the left-handed pitcher holding his glove in different positions whenever he tried a different pitch. Therefore, batters can prepare themselves if the upcoming pitch is a fastball or another type of pitch.

Thankfully, this pitch-tipping incident wasn’t enough to spoil the victory for the Astros. On this day, the team won 8 – 5 over the Mets.

Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Minnesota Twins – April 20, 2012

Tampa Bay Rays vs. the Minnesota Twins

The Tampa Bay team has high hopes for pitcher Matt Moore on this day. However, things started on the wrong foot for this hopeful pitcher. It’s because the Minnesota team had hitters that were ready for what Moore had to offer in the field.

This pitch-tipping incident stems back to the Ray’s recent loss against Boston. One of the reasons for that loss was Moore’s pitching style, or perhaps the unintentional signs he was giving to hitters. Looking back, the Red Sox hitters were quite aggressive with their swings, indicating that they’re fairly sure that Moore was going to throw the right pitch.

This specific tell was Moore tapping his glove before he throws a fastball. Therefore, if Moore threw the ball without tapping his glove, the throw would be another type of pitch.

Despite the team’s effort to make up for this pitch-tipping scenario, the Rays would still lose against the Twins with the Minnesota team winning 5 – 4

Final Words

Tipping pitches are incidents in baseball wherein opposing teams, particularly the hitters can tell what type of pitch the pitchers are going to throw. Some of these tells can include tapping gloves or odd foot placements. Some pitch-tipping incidents are quite severe that they cost some teams matches.

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