a fastball legitimate enough keep hitters honest

< Previous | Next >


Senior Member
Dear Veterans

I was listening to a sports news radio the other day where the commentator was weighing on the addition of a rookie pitcher into the club's pitching lineup and said the following:

"...He has an outstanding change-up with a fastball legitimate enough to keep hitters honest."

What does "honest" exactly mean here? Judging the context, my guess is "guessing", but I can't seem to draw the semantic link between the notion of being honest and the notion of guessing. Is this some kind of inside baseball term?
  • perpend

    American English
    I wouldn't consider it an insider term. I would think of "honest" in this context as "not cheating".

    If someone has a poor fastball, you can kind of "cheat", because you know you will be able to hit it hard.

    If someone has a very good fastball, it keeps you "honest". You can't cheat and hit it hard. You'll be lucky if you can hit it at all.

    Gosh, it's hard to explain.

    I personally don't think it has to do with "guessing".


    Senior Member
    English - British
    In cricket, if the bowler delivers a full hop (the ball reaches the batsman without bouncing), the batsman can step out of his crease and hit it on the fly with every prospect of scoring a four or a six.
    If the bowler pitches the ball well up (makes it bounce right in front of the batsman), the batsman is forced to stay back and has a difficult task to score anything off this ball. To step forward and try to take a good ball from a fast bowler on the fly would be a suicidal risk.

    Perhaps the idea in baseball is similar: if the pitcher delivers a technically good ball, the batter's options are restricted and he must avoid taking risks.
    If we apply a cricket term to baseball, we might say all pitches are 'full hops' (the striker is able to, and in baseball must, take them on the fly).
    I do not know what the pitching technique is which would restrict the batter and stop him taking advantage, but I imagine the basic idea is similar.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    Thank you very much.

    I think the idea behind the expression is if a pitcher got a good fastball he can operate his breaking ball more efficiently since hitters wouldn't dare to go for broke on only one type of pitches and wait on it because if, for example, a breaking ball is all they are thinking about and it turns out to be a fastball, a descent one, they would be nowhere near ready to even put a wood on it. Hence, avoiding taking risks as Wandle has delicately put. Cheers P & W.
    Last edited:

    sound shift

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think it means "to keep hitters on their mettle", "to keep hitters fully occupied", "to keep hitters under pressure", "to keep hitters on the alert". Whenever I've heard the expression used over here, that was clearly the meaning, and that meaning is compatible with the sentence in the OP.
    Last edited:


    Senior Member
    USA English
    Since you mention "pitching" and not "bowling," I presume you're talking about American baseball.

    In the context you mention, it just means "fast enough to be hard to hit."

    It doesn't have anything to do with cheating.
    < Previous | Next >