What is a PO in Baseball?

- November 11, 2021
po-baseball

Youth players who experiment with different positions begin to see what role suits them early on. Some kids can play the field, hit, and pitch, all in the course of one game. Over time and with skill development, however, some kids find out that they are best suited to be a pitcher over any other position on the field. This role is where the term PO in baseball, or “pitcher only,” originates.

What Is a PO in Baseball

Abbreviated as “PO,” a pitcher only is just that, a player who only plays as a pitcher and no other position on the field. This separation generally starts to occur at the high school and collegiate levels of baseball.

As the name indicates, players in the Pitcher Only (PO) position will focus their game entirely on pitching, not hitting. 

A good percentage of coaches believe that a Pitcher Only has advantages over those who don’t solely play that role. These players are, in a sense, isolated from others on the team during practice sessions. 

While the rest of the team is taking batting and fielding drills, the Pitcher Only (PO) will work on the side, developing their pitches with a pitching coach. 

The theory is that the more time pitchers spend towards becoming the best pitcher, the better odds of the team winning. After all, the idea when on the field is to keep the opposing team from scoring. What better way than to have a strong pitching staff?

Some coaches are not nearly as strict with their definition of a Pitcher Only. They can see a player’s talent and what they bring to the table beyond what they can do on the mound. Some are great hitters, runners and can play the field in a pinch. 

Case in point, look no further than to Shohei Ohtani of the Anaheim Angels in Major League Baseball. He dominated at the plate, hitting 46 home runs this season. He was also an accomplished pitcher, winning nine games, losing only two with an ERA of 3.18 and 156 strikeouts in 130 1/3 innings.

Pitcher Only FAQ

Does PO Mean ‘Pitcher Only’?

It does, but not in all situations. For example, in professional leagues, PO generally refers to a putout. PO in baseball exists at the high school and collegiate levels to indicate that a player is ‘Pitcher Only’ and won’t play another position on the field.

What is a PO in High School Baseball?

As previously discussed, high school and college baseball coaches often refer to players that do nothing but pitch as ‘Pitcher Only.’ This line of thinking has stirred up arguments amongst baseball purists who note that a player should work on all aspects of the game. 

In leagues without a designated hitter, pitchers must bat and at least execute sacrifice bunts successfully. Although not many balls are hit back to the pitcher, if it happens, a pitcher must be able to field his position.

On the other hand, some say focusing strictly on pitching will best enable a pitcher to dominate at the craft, which significantly impacts the outcome of a game.

What is SO, and Does it Relate to PO?

While it looks similar, SO and PO are not related. SO can refer to a ‘strikeout,’ although the letter K is often used in scoring to indicate a strikeout. In a sense, there is a relationship between SO and PO when referring to PO as a putout since s strikeout is a form of a putout.

Putout (PO)

In the most basic terminology, a putout is when a fielder gets a batter or runner on the opposing team out. There are several ways in which fielder can do this. 

Among them are catching a flyout, catching the third strike for a strikeout, tagging a runner for a tagout, and tagging a base on a successful appeal. Here are the different ways:

Catching a Flyout

When a ball is airborne, and a defensive player catches it before it hits the ground, a batter goes out through a flyout. Often this is referred to as a ‘Popout’ if the ball doesn’t leave the infield or a ‘Foulout’ if the ball is caught in foul territory. 

In all the above cases, the fielder catching the ball is credited with a putout.

Catching the Third Strike

A common misconception is that a pitcher is credited with a putout when he strikes a batter. That isn’t the case. If you look through statistical records, that isn’t the case. One example is Nolan Ryan, the all-time Major League leader in strikeouts with 5714, but only had 220 career putouts in 27 seasons.

The catcher is the player on the field that is credited with a putout.

Forceouts and Tagouts

When a fielder catches a ground ball while his foot is on the base where the runner or batter is forced to proceed to, then the fielder is credited with a putout.

If a player isn’t forced to run on a batted ball but attempts to get to the next base, a fielder must tag the person out with the ball or the glove containing the ball.

The fielder that performs this act is given the putout. Similarly, the umpire will reward a player catching the ball and tagging the base on a successful appeal play the putout.

Putout versus Assist

There is often confusion between a putout and an assist, but there is a clear difference between the two. An assist is what one player does to help another player get the putout. 

For instance, suppose a ground ball is hit to shortstop with a runner on first base. He can throw to second base to get a forceout at second. In such a case, he gets the assist, and the second baseman gets the putout.

Similarly, if the shortstop throws to first base, the first baseman gets the putout, and the shortstop gets the assist. 

Although a pitcher throws the ball to the catcher on strikeout pitches, a pitcher isn’t awarded an assist or a putout. The particular statistic for the pitcher is a strikeout.

Major League Baseball Career Leaders in Putouts

Career Leaders Regardless of Position

  1. Jake Beckley – 23709
  2. Cap Anson – 21695
  3. Ed Konetchy – 21361
  4. Eddie Murray – 21255
  5. Charlie Grimm – 20711
  6. Stuffy McInnins – 19962
  7. Mickey Vernon – 19808 
  8. Jake Daubert – 19634
  9. Lou Gehrig – 19510
  10. Joe Kuhel – 19386

Season Records by Position

Pitchers
  1. Dave Foultz – 57 in 1886
  2. Tony Mullan – 54 in 1882
  3. George Bradley – 50 in 1876
  4. Guy Hecker – 50 in 1884
  5. Mike Boddicker – 49 in 1984
  6. Larry Corcoran – 47 in 1884
  7. Al Spalding – 45 in 1876
  8. Ted Breitenstein – 45 in 1895
  9. Jim Devlin – 44 in 1876
  10. Dave Foultz – 44 in 1887
  11. Bill Hutchinson 44 in 1890
Catchers
  1. Johnny Edwards – 1135 in 1969
  2. Yadier Molina – 1113 in 2016
  3. Yadier Molina – 1082 in 2017
  4. Russell Martin – 1065 in 2007
  5. Yadier Molina – 1064 in 2015
  6. Mike Piazza – 1055 in 1996
  7. Dan Wilson – 1050 in 1997
  8. Mike Piazza – 1045 in 1997
  9. Michael Barrett – 1035 in 2004
  10. Jason Kendall – 1015 in 1998
First Basemen
  1. Jiggs Donohue – 1846 in 1907
  2. George Kelly – 1759 in 1920
  3. Phil Todt – 1755 in 1926
  4. Wally Pipp – 1710 in 1926
  5. Jiggs Donahue – 1697 in 1906
  6. Candy LaChance – 1691 in 1904
  7. Tom Jones – 1687 in 1907
  8. Ernie Banks – 1682 in 1965
  9. Wally Pipp – 1667 in 1922
  10. Lou Gehrig – 1662 in 1927
Second Basemen
  1. Bid McPhee – 529 in 1886
  2. Bobby Grich – 484 in 1974
  3. Bucky Harris – 483 in 1922
  4. Nellie Fox – 478 in 1956
  5. Lou Bierbauer – 472 in 1889
  6. Billy Herman – 466 in 1933
  7. Bill Wambsganss – 463 in 1924
  8. Cub Stricker – 461 in 1887
  9. Buddy Myer – 460 in 1935
  10. Bill Sweeney – 459 in 1912
Third Basemen
  1. Denny Lyons – 255 in 1887
  2. Jimmy Williams – 251 in 1899
  3. Jimmy Collins – 251 in 1900
  4. Jimmy Collins – 243 in 1898
  5. Willie Kamm – 243 in 1928
  6. Willie Kamm – 236 in 1927
  7. Frank Baker – 233 in 1913
  8. Bill Coughlin – 232 in 1901
  9. Ernie Courtney – 229 in 1905
  10. Jimmy Austin – 228 in 1911
Shortstop
  1. Donie Bush – 425 in 1914
  2. Hughie Jennings – 425 in 1895
  3. Joe Cassidy – 408 in 1905
  4. Rabbit Maranville – 407 in 1914
  5. Dave Bancroft – 405 in 1922
  6. Eddie Miller – 405 in 1940
  7. Monte Cross – 404 in 1898
  8. Dave Bancroft – 396 in 1921
  9. Mickey Doolan – 395 in 1906
  10. Buck Weaver – 392 in 1913
Left Fielders
  1. Joe Vosmik – 432 in 1932
  2. Rickey Henderson – 407 in 1980
  3. Elmer Valo – 396 in 1949
  4. Ralph Kiner – 390 in 1947
  5. Bobby Veach – 384 in 1921
  6. Ben Oglivie – 384 in 1980
  7. Ralph Kiner – 382 in 1948
Center Fielders
  1. Taylor Douthit – 547 in 1928
  2. Richie Ashburn – 538 in 1951
  3. Richie Ashburn – 514 in 1949
  4. Chet Lemon – 512 in 1977
  5. Dwayne Murphy – 507 in 1980
  6. Dom DiMaggio – 503 in 1948
  7. Richie Ashburn – 503 in 1956
  8. Richie Ashburn – 502 in 1957
  9. Richie Ashburn – 496 in 1953
  10. Richie Ashburn – 495 in 1958
Right Fielders
  1. Babe Ruth – 392 in 1932
  2. Al Kaline – 387 in 1961
  3. Dave Parker – 381 in 1977
  4. Ichiro Suzuki – 381 in 2005
  5. Ichiro Suzuki – 379 in 2004
  6. Austin Kearns – 374 in 2007
  7. Hunter Pence – 374 in 2013
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