Baseball 101: The RBI

RBI is an abbreviation for run batted in, the plural versions being RBIs or runs batted in.  You might sometimes hear RBIs being referred to as “ribbies” or “ribs.”

An RBI is a hitting statistic that keeps track of the number of runs that a team scores as a result of a hitter’s at-bat.  For example, if I come to bat with a base runner on third base and hit a single, and that runner scores because of my hit, then I am credited with an RBI.  However, a batter does not necessarily need to be credited with a hit in order to be credited with an RBI.  Runners may also score as a result of sacrifice flies or bunts, or as a result of walks drawn with the bases loaded.  As stated in the Official Rules of Major League Baseball:

A run batted in is a statistic credited to a batter whose action at bat causes one or more runs to score, as set forth in this Rule 10.04.
(a) The official scorer shall credit the batter with a run batted in for every run that scores:

(1) unaided by an error and as part of a play begun by the batter’s safe hit (including the batter’s home run), sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, infield out or fielder’s choice, unless Rule 10.04(b) applies;
(2) by reason of the batter becoming a runner with the bases full (because of a base on balls, an award of first base for being touched by a pitched ball or for interference or obstruction); or
(3) when, before two are out, an error is made on a play on which a runner from third base ordinarily would score.

However, there are also situations when a run can score with the ball in play, and yet no RBI is credited.  Hitting into a double play or an error committed by a fielder may result in a batter being denied an RBI, in spite of a runner scoring.

(b) The official scorer shall not credit a run batted in

(1) when the batter grounds into a force double play or a reverse-force double play; or
(2) when a fielder is charged with an error because the fielder muffs a throw at first base that would have completed a force double play.

(c) The official scorer’s judgment must determine whether a run batted in shall be credited for a run that scores when a fielder holds the ball or throws to a wrong base. Ordinarily, if the runner keeps going, the official scorer should credit a run batted in; if the runner stops and takes off again when the runner notices the misplay, the official scorer should credit the run as scored on a fielder’s choice.

The RBI King of all time?  None other than the great Hank Aaron, with 2,297 career runs batted in.


One Comment on “Baseball 101: The RBI”

  1. steve says:

    remember the game winning rbi?
    it’s disappearance and discussion is a good launch into the debate over “clutch” and statistics in general. http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=16054


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