A putout is credited to a defensive player when they take an action that directly earns an out against a hitter-runner or baserunner. Generally speaking, putouts are credited to the player on the defensive team who is in closest proximity to the runner or ball involved in the out.

How Is a Putout Earned in Baseball?

There are several circumstances under which the defensive team can earn a putout, including:

  • Catching a flyout, i.e. catching a ball that flies towards them before it hits the ground regardless of whether it’s fair or foul
  • Catching a strikeout, i.e. catching the third strike
  • Earning a tag out, i.e. tagging a runner with the ball while they aren’t touching a base
  • Being in the closest physical position to a runner called out on account of interference
  • Runner on opposing team being sent out by getting hit with a batted ball
  • Runner on opposing team being sent out for passing another runner
  • Runner on opposing team being sent out for running outside of baseline to avoid getting tagged
  • Hitter bats out of turn

Why Is It Important to Record Putouts for Every Player?

Putouts are such an important element of baseball accounting as they can be used by the game’s official scorer in order to ‘prove’ box scores; this is done by showing that the plate appearances of the team are equal to the sum of the team’s runs, runners left on base, and the number of the opposing team’s putouts. For this reason, it’s essential that a putout is recorded for every player that is retired in a game, regardless of whether the player on the defensive team took any definite action to cause the out.