What Does Putout (PO) Mean in Baseball?

Major League Baseball is a great game to watch and playing baseball can be just as fun. It may seem like the first basemen and the pitcher get some of the best plays, but if you watch carefully, the fielders can get just as many outs as the first basemen. 

There have been a lot of putout records in MLB history, but it’s a play that many people don’t understand. Pitching may be exciting, but understanding the rules of putout will help sway your attention to other players on the field as well. 


What Does PO Mean in Baseball?

A Putout (PO) is a term used to describe what happens when a fielder physically gets out another player. 

There are many different ways a putout can be done, and they are pretty common. 

A fielder can rack up thousands of putouts in his/her baseball career, and these stats are looked at by people who are building fantasy baseball teams or anyone who likes to keep baseball records.

What Is the Difference Between a PO and an Assist?

Assists are commonly confused for POs but they are actually very different. 

A putout is done for the benefit of all the players on the team. The assist is done so a defense player can get a putout. 

Both an assist and a putout can help take out the player, but an unassisted putout is the better option when possible. 

A player physically records his putout record; both a putout and an assist are kept as part of players’ own records.

How Does a Player Get Credit for a PO?

There are many different ways that a defensive player can get credit for a PO. The most common way is catching a fly ball or a line drive. 

A first baseman, second baseman, and third baseman are just as likely to get a PO as any other defense player. In both Major League Baseball and the National League, the same rules apply for crediting a field or catcher with putouts. 

Here are some of the ways a player can get a major league putout.

Pitching The Third Strikeout

If a pitcher is the one who pitches a third strikeout, he/she can get credit for a PO. The third strike of a batted ball may also be considered a strikeout. 

In most cases, pitchers are left in the game if they are close to pitching the third strikeout so they can record the points and have a chance to go down in MLB history as one of the top PO players. Strikeout tagging or a third strike is a popular way for players to get PO credit and an official score.

Tagging a Tagout to a Runner

Tagging a tagout to a runner is another common way that players get PO credit. Tagging a runner instantly puts him/her out and is a way to step in and prevent him from scoring. 

Tagouts are a little less common than some other PO methods but they are still something you will likely see in a ball game. They can also be entertaining as the offensive runner may try to run between bases or outrun the fielder who is working at tagging a runner to get the PO.

Catching a Fly Ball

Catching a ball is likely the most common way a fielder receives a PO. When the ball is up in the air and the fielder catches it before it hits the ground, this is a PO. 

The batter who hit the baseball will automatically be out. He may attempt to run to first base before he realizes the play has ended with a PO, but he will still be considered out. 

An offensive player will normally try. These plays are not as common as ground ball outs, but if the fielder catches a fly ball and the player from first base attempts to run to second, he needs to tag up. 

Otherwise, the fielder throws the ball back to the first baseman and can get two outs in the same play. Base catching in baseball can also be considered a PO.

Tagging a Forced Out

A forced out occurs when a runner has to run to the base, and the catcher or fielder gets the ball to that base before the runner. A first baseman can also get a forced out. 

With a force play, it is easy for the fielder to get an out by tagging a base or throwing it to a catcher or baseman who will get the putout. The batter or runner may still attempt to finish out his run, but the play will be over when the ball is caught at the base. 

Catchers can achieve the forced out if the bases are loaded and the batter makes a hit and forces the third base runner to go home. This type of play is pretty common in baseball, and it’s up to the batter to be able to avoid such a play from turning into an out. 

Tagging an Appeal Play to a Base

This is one of the more technical plays you will see in a baseball game. In order for this to occur, the runner or the player of the base that is being appealed must tell the umpire what the infraction was. 

This can be done verbally, with a hand signal, or in some cases, the umpire will already know what the infraction was and will agree with the baseman. These plays can slow down a game as the player who is calling the appeal may have to take some time to explain to the umpire. 

The catcher or pitcher may also tag an appeal play to a base, but this is much more rare. Sometimes, this can occur in a baseball game, and you may not even notice it.

Being Close to a Baserunner During Interference

If a defense play is close to a baserunner during interference, they can still get the putout from the official scorer. Runners tend to get in the way sometimes, and if your teammate is trying to get credited with a PO, this is one of the ways to help him achieve it. 

Putouts with interference aren’t as common as other methods, but they can occur with almost any pitch, even if the ball is hit on the ground. If the base runner is caught interfering with the basemen or the defense team while they are trying to get a PO or an assist, or while they are catching a batted ball, the other team may be taken out. 

Interference can sometimes even be done on purpose to prevent the basemen on the team from getting an out or completing a play.

Who Has the Highest Amount of POs in the History of MLB?

There have been many putouts played in the history of baseball and while players can gain a lot of putouts in their careers, there are some that have achieved more than others. These players are credited with some of the most putouts and hits in a match. 

You may not hear about these records as much as you hear about pitcher strikeouts, batting records, or records for fielders in the major league, but there are some notable records for those who have had a good putout run. 

Some of these players have played on teams such as the New York Giants, Philadelphia Phillies, Chicago Cubs, Baltimore Orioles, and St. Louis Cardinals. 

Some of the most notable players include Jake Beckley, Eddie Murray, Cap Anson, and Ed Konetchy.


When you are watching baseball, you are probably playing close attention to the pitcher and his strikeouts. You may think that a strike is the fastest way to get a player out, but a putout is another option to keep in mind. 

The pitcher throws the ball for strikeouts, but the fielders and catcher are working to get their outs other ways. These players are just as important for the team and can help their team win if their putouts are played right. 

Tagging a base for an out with a ground ball can be just as important as a good pitch. The putout is an important play in a game and catchers and fielders can assist the pitcher with them. 

Understanding putout rules can make watching a baseball game much more exciting.