A BB stands for a base on balls in baseball. Getting on base in any way you can when you are at bat is essential to scoring runs, and walking is one of the ways to do that. BB’s abbreviation means getting on base by walking on four balls when you are up at the plate.
So, why does BB mean a walk during a baseball game? What is the difference between BB, HBP, and IBB during a match? Why is BB an important baseball statistic for both hitters and pitchers to care about?
Here is everything you need to know about this common baseball stat abbreviation.
Why Is BB Also Called a Walk?
A baseball player can only move to first base safely by either getting a hit, taking four-ball pitches, or getting hit by the baseball. If, as a hitter, you see four balls before recording three strikes, you get to take the first base safely. Hence the abbreviation, BB, means base on balls, which is a walk.
There is no cap to the number of times a player can walk during a game, but most only get four at-bats during a typical nine-inning game.
What are the Total Bases a Player Can Take on a BB?
A hitter can only take first base on a BB when batting at home plate. A walk only awards them one base, unlike a hit where the hitter can attempt to take second or third base. However, the baserunner can attempt stealing bases to move into scoring position after a walk, so pitchers try not to walk fast runners who can do just that.
What is the Difference Between BB, HBP, and IBB in Baseball?
A BB (base on balls) means that a player got on base via four balls in baseball. An HBP (hit by pitch) means that a hitter got on base because they got hit by the ball. Meanwhile, an IBB means an intentional base on balls or walk.
Are Walks Important in Baseball?
Getting on base is crucial to scoring runs in baseball. Walking is important because it illustrates that you have a good eye at the plate and didn’t swing at pitches outside the strike zone. Swinging at pitches outside the strike zone tends to lower your chances of a hit, so it is best to only swing at close pitches.
Being a baserunner is essential for some players with their speed. Some baserunners can steal a base and get into scoring position, which can help drive in an RBI in for the next batter via their single to the outfield. If the baserunner can get on third base with less than two outs, they can potentially score on a sacrifice hit.
While walking does not help raise or lower a player’s batting average (AVG), which happens during a successful base hit, it does count in your on-base percentage.
What is an On-Base Percentage?
An on-base percentage (OBP) number represents how often a hitter reaches a base safely when they are hitting. Getting on base safely includes getting a hit, reaching base on a walk, and getting hit by a pitch. Major League Baseball teams look at the on-base percentage as an indicator if hitters can get on base safely during a game. Especially how some hitters have low batting averages, getting on base via walks is just as important in some cases as getting a clean hit.
When you combine on-base percentage (OB) with slugging percentage (SLG), you get OPS. OPS stands for on-base + slugging percentage, so walking is a critical part of this formula.
For example, Barry Bonds walked 232 times in 2004, the most ever in any baseball season. That meant that 223 times, Barry Bonds did not get pitches to hit, usually on purpose, which indicated that he could not swing and hit home runs. He had an OBP of .609 and an OPS of 1.422 in 2004, which meant he would always get on first base via a walk or hit a home run when batting, which he did 73 times.
Who Had the Most Walks in Baseball in One Season?
According to Baseball-Reference, Barry Bonds holds the record for most walks in a single season with 232, which took place in 2004. Not only did Barry Bonds lead that year with walks, but he also holds the top three most walks in a season in 2002 and 2001.
The next player that had the most walks outside of Bonds was Babe Ruth.
Who Has the Most Walks in their Baseball Career?
According to Baseball Almanac, Barry Bonds holds the record for the most walks with 2,558. After that is Rickey Henderson with 2,190, and in third place is Babe Ruth with 2,062.
Check out the complete list from Baseball Almanac to see everyone with their walks in their career.
What Does BB/9 Mean for Pitchers?
BB/9 for a starting pitcher or relief pitcher represents the number of nine innings pitched against the number of walks they give up. Like how hitters can get on base via walking, which is a good thing, MLB pitchers want to limit how often they walk hitters since that does not help them retire a batter.
To help better tell the story of pitchers, you can use K/BB (strikeout percentage and walk percentage) to show how effective a pitcher is. Fan Graphs had Corbin Burnes as the best pitcher via K-BB% with a 30.4% in 2021. To get to that number, you take their K/9 percentage and minus that from the BB/9 to get that number.
For the 2021 season, Max Scherzer was the second-best pitcher with a 28.9% strikeout to walk ratio. In third place was Carlos Rodon with 27.9%, and Gerrit Cole was in fourth place with a 27.8% K-BB%.
How Do you Write a BB on a Baseball Scorecard?
The official scorekeeper during the game will write a BB next to the line from home plate to first base for that hitter. In addition to that, you will typically see a column line for the offense showing the number of walks hitters got during a game, so you can see what player got on base via a walk.
Can a Hitter Refuse a Walk in Baseball?
According to MLB Official Rules 5.05, a hitter must automatically go to first base after getting hit unless two things occur. First, if the hitter goes into the strike zone to get hit on purpose, they will not get first base and instead get a strike. Second, which might be rare, is if a hitter made no effort to get away from the pitch. However, the last one is up to the umpire to determine if the hitter attempted to move from the pitch.
Conclusion: What Does BB Mean in Baseball?
In summary, a BB is an abbreviation that means base on balls during a baseball game. Base on balls means that a player gets first base after seeing four balls during their at-bat. Getting on base via a walk does not help raise a hitter’s batting average. However, it does factor into an on-base percentage, which then goes into OPS.
Baseball statistics count the number of BBs a hitter might get throughout the year, but it also works well for pitchers and how good they are at limiting walks. Pitchers want to limit the number of players they let on base, so it is critical to lower the number of walks during every nine innings of pitching. By giving up a walk, you effectively gave a free pass to a hitter to reach base, which is what pitchers are trying to limit when they are on the mound.