An assist in baseball refers to a statistic which the defense controls. The ball in baseball is handled mostly by the defense, meaning that more statistics are often attributed to the defense team.
For a defensive player to obtain an assist, they need to handle the ball prior to a putout. Every player who handles the ball, albeit intentional or not, before a putout is credited with an assist.
An assist can be credited regardless of the amount of contact with the ball that the individual players make. For instance, if the ball brushes past a fielder’s arm as it’s being thrown to a baseman, then the fielder would also be credited with the assist. A player can only receive one assist per putout, so it doesn’t matter how many times they handle the ball prior to the time the putout is achieved.
When is an Assist Not Counted?
An assist is not counted when a catcher catches a strikeout. The pitcher is also not credited for an assist, even though they were the first to touch the ball. The only way in which a pitcher can be awarded an assist is if they handle the ball a second time before the player is put out, either having it passed back to them or by retrieving it.