What is an RBI in Baseball?

what is RBI in baseball

RBI stands for “runs batted in” for a baseball player. There are numerous ways to drive in a run during a game, including a single, walk, a homerun, and much more. In fact, recording an out that drives in a run result in an RBI for that player, which helps showcase their value as a run producing player.


So, what does RBI stand for in baseball in more detail? What are some examples of when an RBI will occur during a baseball game? What are some reasons that a player won’t receive an RBI? Is there a good RBI number to get at the end of the year in the MLB? How is the RBI stat different from OPS? How is RBI different from a player’s batting average? Finally, what are some flaws with the RBI stat in baseball?


Here is the complete breakdown to RBI (runs batted in) in baseball.


What Does RBI Stand for in Major League Baseball?

What Does RBI Stand for in Major League Baseball

RBI is an acronym in baseball that stands for run batted in during their a player’s at-bat. For example, let’s say that a runner is on third base and you hit a single to center field. Hitting the single to center field drives in the runner from third base to home plate, so you receive the run batted in for your stat line. That is one example of how an RBI credit goes to a particular hitter.


How are RBI’s Calculated During a Game?

How are RBI's Calculated During a Game

RBI’s are calculated during a game on the scorecard. For example, if a player hits a single that drives in two runs, they will have a number two on their RBI column. If they hit a homerun, they will receive an RBI since they drove themselves in for a run.


At the end of the season, you can tally up the total RBI’s a player had, which will be their season stat level.


Examples of an RBI Situations in an MLB Game

Examples of an RBI Situations in an MLB Game

There are many ways that an MLB player can receive an RBI credit during a baseball game. Below are some of the most common examples of an RBI completion during a match.


  1. Hitting a base hit that scores a runner who is already on base.
  2. Hitting a sacrifice fly via a fly ball or ground out, a sacrifice bunt like a suicide squeeze, or getting into a fielder’s choice that drives in a run.
  3. A home run counts as an RBI for you, along with whoever scored on that play.
  4. Walking or getting hit by a pitch that drives in a run counts as an RBI.


Reasons You Don’t Receive an RBI Credit

Reasons You Don't Receive an RBI Credit

There are ways to technically drive in a run during a baseball game when you’re at-bat and not receive an RBI. Here are some examples below to be aware of when watching a game in person or on TV.


  1. The defense team makes an error like dropping a pop fly in the outfield or throwing the ball away on a play that brings in a run.
  2. Grounding into a double play that scores a run.
  3. A runner stealing home while you are at plate won’t count via runs batted in.
  4. A wild pitch from the pitcher that brings home a run.
  5. A balk that results in a run-scoring play.


What is a Good RBI Total in Baseball?

What is a Good RBI Total in Baseball

A good RBI total dramatically depends on where you bat in the batting order on your team. For example, a leadoff hitter’s job is to get on base to allow others to drive them into home plate. Getting on the base gives the next hitter a chance for an RBI. In that case, your number three or fourth hitter will tend to have more RBI opportunities to hit in than a traditional leadoff hitter with nobody on base to start a game.


While there is no universal good RBI total, anything over 100 during a season for hitters in the cleanup role is excellent. However, it makes the most sense to compare leadoff hitters against other team’s leadoff hitters if you want to compare players via RBI totals. Comparing a leadoff hitter against your cleanup hitter wouldn’t be a fair comparison if you were only looking at total RBIs.


How is RBI Different from OPS?

difference between RBI and OPS in baseball

The primary difference between RBI and OPS is that RBI counts run batted in while OPS calculates the quality of getting on base, or extra bases, for a hitter. OPS is a mixture of on-base percentage and slugging percentage. If you want to learn more about baseball OPS, you can visit that link.


Who Has the Most RBI’s in a Regular Season?

Hack Wilson has the most RBI’s in a single season at 191. Below is the list of the top 5 players with the most RBI’s in a season. Check out the complete list from Baseball-Reference to see everyone.


  1. Hack Wilson at 191
  2. Lou Gehrig at 185
  3. Hank Greenberg at 184
  4. Jimmie Foxx at 175
  5. Lou Gehrig at 173


Who Has the Most RBI’s in their Career?

Who Has the Most RBI's in their Career

Hank Aaron has the most RBI’s in baseball with 2,297. Below is the list of the top 5 players with the most RBI’s in their careers. If you want the complete list of players with the most RBI’s, you can visit this link.


  1. Hank Aaron (Hall of Fame): 2,297
  2. Babe Ruth (Hall of Fame): 2,214
  3. Albert Pujols (active player in 2022): 2141
  4. Alex Rodriguez: 2,086
  5. Cap Anson (Hall of Fame) 2,075


How is RBI Different from a Player’s Batting Average?

How is RBI Different from a Player's Batting Average

The main difference between an RBI and a batting average is that the former measures how many runs a hitter produce during their at-bat, while the average batting measures if they got a base safely from hitting the ball. For example, hitting a home run gives a player an RBI and can help raise their batting average all in one swing. However, if the bases are loaded when they hit the home run, they receive 4 RBIs from that swing but only a one-hit credit for their batting average.


The two metrics differ entirely in the value of a sacrifice hit. For example, a sac fly that drives in a run will count as one RBI for that hitter. However, since the term is a sacrifice fly, the out won’t count negatively against a player’s batting average. Another way these two metrics differ is that a hitter who walks and drives in a run will also count as an RBI, but it won’t raise their average batting number.


Why is RBI Not a Useful Stat in Baseball?

Why is RBI Not a Useful Stat in Baseball

Even though the RBI stat is a good indicator of runs driven in during a season, it’s not always the most helpful stat to measure how effective a hitter is. For example, Barry Bonds walked intentionally 232 times in 2004, which took the bat out of his hands when he would come to the plate to hit. Sometimes teams would even walk Barry Bonds to bring in a run since they did not want Barry to hit, so those instances limited how many runs he could bat in during the season.


Another issue with looking at the RBI stat column is that certain players in the lineup have more chances to drive in runs than others. For example, a leadoff hitter is typically not a home run hitter, so there won’t be anyone on base when they come to bat to start the game. Their goal is to become a baseman on the paths for another hitter in the lineup to drive them into home plate.


Finally, some hitters in the lineup set up another player to have an RBI chance. For example, a number nine hitter might bunt during their at-bat to move a baserunner into scoring. That means that the next hitter has an opportunity to drive in a run, but the last batter who dropped the sacrifice bunt won’t receive any credit for setting this opportunity in the first place.


Conclusion: What Does RBI Mean in Baseball?

In summary, measuring RBI’s (also known as a ribbie) is an excellent high-level view in measuring one team’s slugger against another team’s slugger. In theory, you want your slugger in the lineup to drive in the most runs for your team since they should have the most chances to hit with runners on base. While more detailed stats can measure the effectiveness of a hitter outside of RBI’s, measuring RBI’s is still a straightforward way to understand a slugger’s value.


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