Baseball fans love looking at the stats for their favorite players during a season. From a player’s batting average for hitters to wins for pitchers, there is something for everyone to look for when measuring how good a player is against another. One baseball stat line that is easy to understand is the RBI metric. So what does RBI stand for, when does a player receive that recognition, reasons they don’t record an RBI on a scoring play, and more? Find out these answers below!
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.
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.
- Hitting a base hit that scores a runner who is already on base
- 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
- A home run counts as an RBI for you, along with whoever scored on that play.
- Walking or getting hit by a pitch that drives in a run counts as an RBI
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.
- 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.
- Grounding into a double play that scores a run
- A runner stealing home while you are at plate won’t count via runs batted in
- A wild pitch from the pitcher that brings home a run
- A balk that results in a run-scoring play
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?
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.
- Hack Wilson at 191
- Lou Gehrig at 185
- Hank Greenberg at 184
- Jimmie Foxx at 175
- Lou Gehrig at 173
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.
- Hank Aaron (Hall of Fame): 2,297
- Babe Ruth (Hall of Fame): 2,214
- Albert Pujols (active player in 2021): 2141
- Alex Rodriguez: 2,086
- Cap Anson (Hall of Fame) 2,075
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.
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.