If, in the opinion of the umpire, the hitter does not attempt to dodge a pitch, the pitch is deemed a ball or a strike, and the batter stays at bat (unless it is the fourth ball or third strike called). Note: Umpires should encourage batters to tuck their pockets and not allow protruding things such as gloves or pads to protrude from their pockets. Simply calling "ball" or "strike" is sufficient encouragement for most batters.
A batter who is hit by a pitch can be awarded first base if the pitch was wild or bouncing. He may also be awarded bases on balls if the pitcher throws more than one pitch after the batter has taken his stance. In either case, the award becomes part of the official score. A batter cannot be awarded both awards in the same game; if he is hit by a pitch that would normally result in an automatic base on balls, he cannot later be given extra bases to account for the fact that he was hit by a pitch.
However, if the batter reaches first base safely, he is out. If the batter is not out and hits another ball, this second ball is dead until the batter reaches first base again. If he runs too far and is tagged out, this is a legal play. A batted ball that goes into the stands but isn't caught by a fan is considered a foul ball and no action is taken against the batter.
If the ball is pitched in the strike zone and the batter does not hit it, it is considered a strike. The ball is considered a "ball" if it lands outside of the striking zone and the batter does not attempt a swing. They can walk to first base four times, which works against the pitcher. A player can only be awarded a base on an error once per at-bat.
In addition to bases, players can score on thrown balls, hits by pitch, and automatic hits. A player can also reach base via a passed ball or HBP.
Thrown balls include pop-ups, dropped third strikes, and wild pitches. A pop-up is when the ball bounces high in the air without touching the ground first. It's an easy out for the catcher, but any player can tag up and beat out a pop-up. A third strike is when the umpire calls time out while the pitch is still in the strike zone. The batter has no chance of hitting a third strike pitch; it's just used to signal that the batter should take himself out of the game. An automatic hit is when a runner scores from second base on a throwing error. That's because there was already someone safe at first when the error occurred. A passed ball occurs when a fielder misses catching a ball put into play by the batter. For example, if the center fielder misses a pop-up, this would be a passed ball.
It makes no difference how the pitch reaches the hitter. The hitter may hit any pitch given to him. It is important to note that a pitch that bounces before reaching the plate cannot be considered a strike or a legally caught third strike. Thus, the batter has the right to continue batting even though he was given a free pass.
Strikes are desirable by both the pitcher and the defensive side, as three strikes results in the hitter being struck out. If the hitter does not swing, a pitch that misses the strike zone is considered a ball. If the ball is hit directly at an infielder, who throws it to first base while the batter stays put, this is called a force out. Otherwise, the batter is given another chance to hit the ball.
In addition, if the batter fails to make contact with the ball in some way (such as when swinging at a pitch outside of the strike zone) then he will be awarded with a walk. This is known as a free pass because the batter has no intention of hitting the ball; he is simply trying to use up one of the pitcher's pitches so that he can get back at him for some previous offense. A walk can score any number of runs depending on what happens next. A player can only be awarded with one walk per plate appearance regardless of how many balls or strikes are thrown by the pitcher.
Finally, if the batter gets a third strike call then he has been hit by the pitch and can take any number of bases during their next trip to the plate. Once they reach first base they are out. It is important to remember that when you are hit by a pitch you are not out until you reach first base completely.