Baseball is a game filled with unique stats and abbreviations. One of the most common you’ll see is BB, which stands for “base on balls”. A base on balls is essentially when the pitcher walks a batter.
How a Batter Can Earn a Base on Balls
There are a few different ways that a batter can earn a base on balls or BB in baseball:
The most common way is when the pitcher throws 4 pitches that are out of the strike zone, which results in the batter being awarded first base. This is referred to as a “walk”. Pitchers may intentionally walk batters as a strategic move or unintentionally walk them if they lack control and command of their pitches.
Hit by Pitch
Another way a batter can be awarded first base is if a pitch hits them. If the ball hits the batter’s body or clothing, the batter is entitled to advance to first base. This counts as a base on balls.
Sometimes, the catcher interferes with the batter’s ability to swing at a pitch. This could happen if the catcher’s mitt comes into contact with the bat. When catcher interference happens, the batter is awarded first base.
There are a few other rare ways a batter may be awarded first base without getting a hit, including interference from the fans or umpire and the third strike rule. These scenarios are less common but still result in a base on balls.
Understanding Baseball Scoring Abbreviations
BB is an official baseball scoring abbreviation. Here are some key things to know about baseball scoring abbreviations and what BB stands for:
- BB stands for “base on balls”. Other common baseball scoring abbreviations include K for strikeout, H for the hit, HR for a home run, RBI for a run batted in.
- Base on balls is tracked as an official statistic for batters. Their “walk rate” or number of BBs per plate appearance can indicate their plate discipline and eyesight.
- Pitchers want to limit walks, so a low BB rate indicates reasonable control. BBs are considered in WHIP (walks plus hits per innings pitched) which measures a pitcher’s baserunners allowed.
- BB is referenced in baseball stats lines, box scores, recaps, and analysis. It’s an important context clue to understand.
- Other abbreviations for bases on balls include BBH (hit by pitch) and BBI (intentional walk).
Why Walks Matter in Baseball
Walking a batter might not seem like a big deal – but BBs positively impact a team’s chances of scoring:
- They extend innings and pitch counts, tiring out pitchers. This increases the chances for hits and runs.
- BBs don’t count as an at-bat, so they don’t hurt a batter’s batting average.
- Walks advance baserunners into scoring positions or even score a run directly.
- Selectively earning walks demonstrates a batter’s discipline, patience, and eye for the strike zone.
- Drawing walks wears down pitchers mentally and forces them to challenge hitters more directly in the zone.
- Teams with a good BB rate tend to score more runs. Walks are a key offensive strategy.
So, while not as exciting as hits or home runs, walks are a subtle but essential part of baseball strategy and success. That’s why tracking BBs and understanding what they mean is critical for any baseball fan.