Base on balls

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Rashad Eldridge of the Oklahoma Redhawks walks to first base after drawing a base on balls. Rashad eldridge draws a walk.jpg
Rashad Eldridge of the Oklahoma Redhawks walks to first base after drawing a base on balls.

A base on balls (BB), also known as a walk, occurs in baseball when a batter receives four pitches that the umpire calls balls , and is in turn awarded first base without the possibility of being called out. The base on balls is defined in Section 2.00 of baseball's Official Rules, [1] and further detail is given in 6.08(a). [2] It is, however, considered a faux pas for a professional player to actually walk to first base; the batter-runner and any advancing runners normally jog on such a play. [3] [4]


The term "base on balls" distinguishes a walk from the other manners in which a batter can be awarded first base without liability to be put out (e.g., hit by pitch (HBP), catcher's interference). [5] Though a base on balls, catcher's interference, or a batter hit by a pitched ball all result in the batter (and possibly runners on base) being awarded a base, [6] the term "walk" usually refers only to a base on balls, and not the other methods of reaching base without the bat touching the ball. An important difference is that for a hit batter or catcher's interference, the ball is dead and no one may advance unless forced; the ball is live after a walk (see below for details).

A batter who draws a base on balls is commonly said to have been "walked" by the pitcher. When the batter is walked, runners advance one base without liability to be put out only if forced to vacate their base to allow the batter to take first base. If a batter draws a walk with the bases loaded, all preceding runners are forced to advance, including the runner on third base who is forced to home plate to score a run; when a run is forced on a walk, the batter is credited with an RBI per rule 9.04. [7]

Receiving a base on balls does not count as a hit or an at bat for a batter but does count as a time on base and a plate appearance. Therefore, a base on balls does not affect a player's batting average, but it can increase his on-base percentage. [8]

A hit by pitch is not counted statistically as a walk, though the effect is mostly the same, with the batter receiving a free pass to first base. One exception is that on a HBP (hit-by-pitch), the ball is dead. On a HBP, any runners attempting to steal on the play must return to their original base unless forced to the next base anyway. When a walk occurs, the ball is still live: any runner not forced to advance may nevertheless attempt to advance at his own risk, which might occur on a steal play, passed ball, or wild pitch. Also, because a ball is live when a base on balls occurs, runners on base forced to advance one base may attempt to advance beyond one base, at their own risk. The batter-runner himself may attempt to advance beyond first base, at his own risk. Rule 6.08 addresses this matter as well. [9] An attempt to advance an additional base beyond the base awarded might occur when ball four is a passed ball or a wild pitch.


In early baseball, there was no concept of a "ball." It was created by the NABBP in 1863, originally as a sort of unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty: "Should the pitcher repeatedly fail to deliver to the striker fair balls, for the apparent purpose of delaying the game, or for any other cause, the umpire, after warning him, shall call one ball, and if the pitcher persists in such action, two and three balls; when three balls shall have been called, the striker shall be entitled to the first base; and should any base be occupied at that time, each player occupying them shall be entitled to one base without being put out." [10] [11] Note that this rule in effect gave the pitcher 9 balls, since each penalty ball could only be called on a third offense. In 1869 the rule was modified so that only those baserunners forced to advance could advance. From 1871 through 1886, the batter was entitled to call "high" or "low," i.e. above or below the waist; a pitch which failed to conform was "unfair." Certain pitches were defined as automatic balls in 1872: any ball delivered over the batter's head, that hit the ground in front of home plate, was delivered to the opposite side from the batter, or came within one foot of him. [12] In 1880, the National League changed the rules so that eight "unfair balls" instead of nine were required for a walk. In 1884, the National League changed the rules so that six balls were required for a walk. In 1886, the American Association changed the rules so that six balls instead of seven were required for a walk; however, the National League changed the rules so that seven balls were required for a walk instead of six. In 1887, the National League and American Association agreed to abide by some uniform rule changes, including, for the first time, a strike zone which defined balls and strikes by rule rather than the umpire's discretion, and decreased the number of balls required for a walk to five. In 1889, the National League and the American Association decreased the number of balls required for a walk to four. [13]

In 2017, Major League Baseball approved a rule change allowing for a batter to be walked intentionally by having the defending bench signal to the Umpire. The move was met with some controversy. [14]

Intentional base on balls

Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins intentionally walking the Atlanta Braves' Yunel Escobar in 2008. Note the Florida catcher, Mike Rabelo, in a standing position behind the opposite batter's box to receive the pitch. This method of issuing an intentional walk is no longer used in Major League Baseball. Escobar IBB.jpg
Mark Hendrickson of the Florida Marlins intentionally walking the Atlanta Braves' Yunel Escobar in 2008. Note the Florida catcher, Mike Rabelo, in a standing position behind the opposite batter's box to receive the pitch. This method of issuing an intentional walk is no longer used in Major League Baseball.

A subset of the base on balls, an intentional base on balls (IBB) or intentional walk is when the defensive team intentionally issues a walk to the batter. In Major League Baseball and many amateur leagues, an intentional base on balls is signaled to the home plate umpire by the defensive team's manager holding up four fingers, at which point the batter is awarded first base without any further pitches being thrown. In some leagues and in Major League Baseball prior to 2017, an intentional base on balls is issued when the pitcher deliberately pitches the ball away from the batter four times (or as many times as needed to get to ball four if the decision to issue the intentional walk is made with one or more balls already on the count). As with any other walk, an intentional walk entitles the batter to first base without liability to be put out, and entitles any runners to advance if forced. Intentional walks are a strategic defensive maneuver, commonly done to bypass one hitter for one the defensive team believes is less likely to initiate a run-scoring play (e.g., a home run, sacrifice fly, or RBI base hit). Teams also commonly use intentional walks to set up a double play or force out situation for the next batter.

Major League Baseball leaders



RankPlayerYearBase on balls
1 Barry Bonds 2004232
2 Barry Bonds 2002198
3 Barry Bonds 2001177
4 Babe Ruth 1923170
5 Mark McGwire 1998162
Ted Williams 1947162
Ted Williams 1949162
8 Ted Williams 1946156
9 Barry Bonds 1996151
Eddie Yost 1956151


Jimmie Foxx, Andre Thornton, Jeff Bagwell and Bryce Harper have each been walked six times during a major league regular season game. [15] Among pitchers, Tommy Byrne and Bruno Haas both gave up 16 bases on balls in a game. [16]

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At bat in baseball, a plate appearance not ending in a sacrifice hit, awarded base, or replacement of the batter

In baseball, an at bat (AB) or time at bat is a batter's turn batting against a pitcher. An at bat is different from a plate appearance. A batter is credited with a plate appearance regardless of what happens during their turn at bat, but a batter is credited with an at bat only if that plate appearance does not have one of the results enumerated below. While at bats are used to calculate certain statistics, including batting average and slugging percentage, a player can qualify for the season-ending rankings in these categories only if they accumulate 502 plate appearances during the season.

Hit by pitch Baseball event in which the batter is hit by the pitched ball

In baseball, hit by pitch (HBP) is an event in which a batter or his clothing or equipment is struck directly by a pitch from the pitcher; the batter is called a hit batsman (HB). A hit batsman is awarded first base, provided that he made an honest effort to avoid the pitch, although failure to do so is rarely called by an umpire. Being hit by a pitch is often caused by a batter standing too close to, or "crowding", home plate.

Hit (baseball) In baseball, hitting the ball into fair territory and safely reaching base without the benefit of an error or fielders choice

In baseball statistics, a hit, also called a base hit, is credited to a batter when the batter safely reaches or passes first base after hitting the ball into fair territory, without the benefit of an error or a fielder's choice.

Strike zone

In baseball, the strike zone is the volume of space through which a pitch must pass in order to be called a strike even if the batter does not swing. The strike zone is defined as the volume of space above home plate and between the batter's knees and the midpoint of their torso. Whether a pitch passes through the zone is decided by an umpire, who is generally positioned behind the catcher.

Softball Team ball sport

Softball is a game similar to baseball played with a larger ball on a field that has base lengths of 60 feet, a pitcher's mound that ranges from 35–43 feet away from home plate, and a home run fence that is 220–300 feet away from home plate, depending on the type of softball being played. It was invented in 1887 in Chicago, Illinois, United States as an indoor game. The game moves at a faster pace than traditional baseball due to the field being smaller and the bases and the fielders being closer to home plate. There is less time for the base runner to get to first while the opponent fields the ball; yet, the fielder has less time to field the ball while the opponent is running down to first base. The name "softball" was given to the game in 1926, because the ball used to be soft; however, in modern-day usage, the balls are hard.

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Intentional base on balls Walk issued by a pitcher to avoid the potential for the batter to get a hit

In baseball, an intentional base on balls, usually referred to as an intentional walk and denoted in baseball scorekeeping by IBB, is a walk issued to a batter by a pitcher with the intent of removing the batter's opportunity to swing at the pitched ball. A pitch that is intentionally thrown far outside the strike zone for this purpose is referred to as an intentional ball.

In baseball and softball, the count refers to the number of balls and strikes a batter has in their current plate appearance. It is usually announced as a pair of numbers, for example, 3-1, with the first number being the number of balls and the second being the number of strikes. An individual pitch may also be referred to by the count prior to its delivery; for example, a pitch thrown with a count of three balls and one strike would be called a "three-one pitch." A count of 1-1 or 2-2 is called even. Zero is commonly pronounced "oh," although a 0-0 count is rarely expressed as such — the count is typically not mentioned until at least one pitch has been thrown. If the count reaches three strikes, the batter strikes out, and if the count reaches four balls, the batter earns a base on balls.

Out (baseball)

In baseball, an out occurs when the umpire rules a batter or baserunner out for one of the reasons given below. When three outs are recorded in an inning, a team's half of the inning, ends.

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In baseball, a pitcher can commit a number of illegal motions or actions that constitute a balk. Most of these violations involve a pitcher pretending to pitch when he has no intention of doing so. In games played under the Official Baseball Rules that govern professional play in the United States and Canada, a balk results in a dead ball or delayed dead ball. In certain other circumstances, a balk may be wholly or partially disregarded. Under other rule sets, notably in the United States under the National Federation of High Schools Baseball Rules, a balk results in an immediate dead ball. In the event a balk is enforced, the pitch is generally nullified, each runner is awarded one base, and the batter (generally) remains at bat, and with the previous count. The balk rule in Major League Baseball was introduced in 1898.

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This is an alphabetical list of selected unofficial and specialized terms, phrases, and other jargon used in baseball, along with their definitions, including illustrative examples for many entries.


  1. "Official Rules". Major League Baseball.
  2. "Official Rules". Major League Baseball.
  3. Bob Carter. "Hustle made Rose respected, infamous". ESPN.
  4. Joe Kay (April 13, 2013). "Pete Rose brought hustle, first hit 50 years ago". .
  5. Office of the Comm'r of Baseball. 2001 Official Rules of Major League Baseball, 6.08(a). Triumph Books. pp.  93 (Rule 6.08(a)). ISBN   1-57243-397-3.
  6. Office of the Comm'r of Baseball (2000). 2001 Official Rules of Major League Baseball. Triumph Books. pp.  93–94 (Rule 6.08(a)-(c)) (describing (a) bases on balls, (b) hit-by-pitched-ball, and (c) interference). ISBN   1-57243-397-3.
  7. "Official Rules". Major League Baseball.
  8. In 1887, Major League Baseball counted bases on balls as hits. The result was skyrocketed batting averages, including some near .500, and the experiment was abandoned the following season. Current record books do not count walks in 1887 as hits.
  9. Office of the Comm'r of Baseball (2000). 2001 Official Rules of Major League Baseball. Triumph Books. pp.  93–94 (Rule 6.08). ISBN   1-57243-397-3.
  11. Henry Chadwick commented, "Another and far better amendment, which was adopted at this convention, was that of calling balls on the pitcher when he failed to pitch fairly for the bat. Previously the striker alone was punished for unfair play, for “strikes” could be called on him for refusing to strike at fair balls; but the pitcher could send in unfair balls with impunity. The introduction of called balls, however, equalized matters, and the rule now works very advantageously indeed in promoting skilful play."
  12. If the pitch actually struck the batter, it was still just an automatic ball; awarding first base on a HBP was first instituted in 1884 in the American Association and 1887 in the National League.
  13. 2001 Official Major League Baseball Fact Book. St. Louis, Missouri: The Sporting News. 2001. pp. 276–280. 0-89204-646-5.
  14. "Major League Baseball Poised To Change Intentional Walk Rule".
  15. "Batting Game Finder: From 1908 to 2018, (requiring BB>=6), sorted by greatest BB". Baseball Reference. Retrieved August 21, 2018.
  16. "Pitching Game Finder: From 1908 to 2018, (requiring BB>=14), sorted by greatest BB". Baseball Reference. Retrieved August 21, 2018.