Baseball, like any other sport, has a lot of acronyms that can be confusing to decipher.
If you’re new to baseball or new to looking at stats, then you may see a lot of acronyms with no idea of what they all mean.
You might see some high numbers, but if you don’t know what it stands for, then you can’t be sure if those high numbers are good or not.
One such acronym that is common to see in baseball is RBI.
Here’s what you need to know about RBI and what it means.
What’s RBI In Baseball?
RBI stands for Runs Batted In.
It refers to when a player causes another player to run to home plate and score a run.
For example, if there are players on third base and second base, and the batter hits the ball far enough, then the players on third and second base can run to home.
If both make it to the home plate, then the batter adds two runs batted in to their stats.
They were able to help two runners to score.
It’s also worth noting that comparing RBI stats isn’t always fair.
That’s because the team’s lineup can affect RBI stats.
Someone who always bats first, for example, is going to have a smaller RBI stat than someone in the middle or back of the line.
That’s because there often isn’t anyone on the bases when they are batting.
Even the person after them has a chance of adding a point to their RBI stat if they hit a home run or something far enough to get the runner home.
However, since no one was on base for the first batter, they’re always going to be at least one point down than what they could be.
That’s why it’s better to compare players based on their positions in the lineup.
The first batter in the lineup, known as the leadoff hitter, should be compared to other leadoff hitters.
Then the comparisons should continue with players in the same positions in the lineup.
Only then do you get an accurate idea of how well someone’s performing regarding their RBI stat.
How Do You Score An RBI?
There are a few ways that you can score an RBI and have it count as an RBI.
Not every hit counts as an RBI, for example.
Here are a few ways that you can score an RBI.
1. Hitting A Base Hit
One of the most common ways to get an RBI is to hit the ball and get a player to make it to home plate.
This is the goal of every baseball player when they’re batting.
Each time a player makes it home, the team scores a point, known as a run.
The team with the highest score wins the game, so being able to get players to home plate is important for the batting team.
Depending on where and how far the batter hit the ball, the player can earn anywhere from one to three points.
It all depends on how many players can make it home after their hit.
2. Hitting A Sacrifice Or Fly Ball
Another way to earn a run batted in is to hit a sacrifice bunt or fly ball.
A fly ball is when you hit the ball in such a way that it either goes directly up or goes mostly in a vertical direction with some slight arc to it.
Because the fly ball goes high, instead of far, the batter usually ends up getting out because of it.
However, if a fast runner is on third base and fast, and there are fewer than two outs in the inning, then they might be able to make it to home plate before the player who caught the ball throws it home.
If they do, then the batter earns an RBI point even if they are out.
A sacrifice bunt is another way to get an RBI point.
A bunt occurs when the batter doesn’t swing the bat.
Instead, they hold it in front of them and let the ball strike the bat.
This usually means that the ball doesn’t travel too far from the batter.
In most cases, they’ll run to first base while the fielder will try to get the ball and throw it to first base.
If the pitcher is faster, then the ball will reach the first base before the batter can arrive.
The batter is out.
However, during this time, if someone is on third base, they can rush home while all that is going on to score a run.
If they do, then the batter gets an RBI.
It’s called a sacrifice bunt because either the batter or the person on third base usually ends up getting out.
The pitcher may decide to go after the player on the third base instead.
If the third baseman isn’t feeling any pressure to leave third base, then they may stay there.
However, if all the bases are full, then the player has no choice but to risk it and run for home.
If they make it, then the batter gets an RBI.
If they don’t make it, then the batter doesn’t get an RBI.
3. Home Run
Nothing is more exciting than a home run in baseball.
When a batter hits a ball outside of the field of play and into the stands—or even outside of the stands—then it’s a home run.
That’s because there’s no way for the receiving team to catch the ball.
All the players on the bases are able to jog home for free.
This is a great way for a team to earn a lot of points in a short time.
If they have three players on the bases, then they get four runs batted in since the batter gets to jog home, too.
Since the batter is getting his players to score at home, it also means he’s adding points to his RBI stat.
A batter gets an RBI point for each runner even with a home run, including himself.
If there are two players on base and the batter gets a home run, then he scores three RBI points
However, if the batter scores a home run and no one is on base, then he only gets one RBI.
4. Walking Or Getting Hit
A final way that a player can get an RBI is by getting hit by the pitch or walking.
While a pitcher’s goal is to strike a batter out by throwing pitches to a certain area over the plate, there are times when the ball might turn in the wrong direction and miss that zone.
That is called a ball.
When this happens four times, the batter gets to walk to first base.
There’s also a chance that the ball might hit the batter.
If that happens, then the batter also gets to walk to first base.
This doesn’t automatically mean they get an RBI added to their stats, however.
That only happens if the bases are loaded, meaning all three bases are occupied by previous batters, and the runner on third base gets to score a run by coming to home plate.
When the batter walks or is hit by a pitch, each player can automatically travel to the next base without the risk of getting out.
The player on the third base gets to reach home which earns the batter a point for their RBI stat.
If there wasn’t anyone on third base to go home, then the batter wouldn’t have gotten an RBI point.
What Doesn’t Count As An RBI?
While there are several ways that you can score an RBI, there are some things that don’t count.
Here are some of the reasons why a player may not score an RBI.
- Error from the defensive team where they drop a pop fly.
- Error from the defensive team where they throw the ball away during a play which ends up scoring the offensive team a run.
- Grounding into an out with a runner on third that results in a run.
- A runner stealing home while a batter is at the plate.
- A wild pitch from the pitcher that ends up with a runner on third scoring a run.
- A balk with a runner on third that ends up scoring a run.
There’s sometimes confusion as to why a batter doesn’t score an RBI when someone steals home.
That’s because, for an RBI to occur, the batter has to do something to help a runner touch home.
That might mean they hit the ball, bunt the ball, or even get hit by the ball.
If a runner chooses to steal home, then they’re taking the initiative.
The batter has nothing to do with it.
Clearly, it can be easy to score an RBI, but only if it doesn’t involve any of the instances listed above.
Which Player Scored The Highest RBI In A Single Season?
Experts analyze the performance of baseball players in every game.
Then they compare those games to determine how a player performed for that season.
Later on, they can take all those games to determine how well that player did during their career.
As such, it’s easy to tell who had the highest RBI score in a single season.
That distinction goes to Hack Wilson.
He was 30 years old at the time and ended up scoring 191 RBIs in the 1930 season.
Considering that an average RBI is 100, it’s obvious that Hack had quite the season in 1930.
Wilson played the game for 12 years.
His primary position was as a centerfielder.
He got his first chance in the Major League of Baseball with an offer from the New York Giants.
They wanted to hire him for $11,000.
He joined and had a batting average of .295 in 107 games of the 1924 season.
Despite his great start, he struggled the following year and ended up going to the Cubs during the MLB Draft.
With the Cubs, Wilson showcased his skills again.
He’d carry the lead for home runs in four seasons and the lead in RBIs for two seasons.
No one has been able to beat his record since.
Eventually, Wilson would retire from the game in 1934.
He passed away on November 23rd, 1948, and became part of the Hall of the Fame in 1979.
Who Has The Highest Number Of RBIs In Their Career?
While Hack Wilson may have the highest number of RBIs in a single season, he doesn’t have the most RBIs in an entire career.
In fact, he doesn’t even rank that high in terms of his career.
Instead, it was Hank Aaron who had the highest number of RBIs in his career.
Aaron had a total of 2,297 RBIs to his name.
Just below him is none other than Babe Ruth.
Ruth scored 2,214 RBIs during his career.
Aaron is a revered player in baseball history.
Even the famous boxer, Muhammad Ali, had a lot of respect for the man.
Aaron had a humble childhood with an interest in baseball.
He did his time playing in childhood fields and then worked his way into professional playing with the Negro League’s Indianapolis Clowns, where his contract was purchased by the Braves, then of Boston.
Eventually, he’d join Major League Baseball with the Milwaukee Braves.
Arguably, 1957 was Aaron’s best season.
He had a .332 batting average with 44 home runs and an
impressive 132 RBIs.
Besides winning the MVP award from the league that year, he was also a crucial part in helping the Braves win the World Series.
It was the first time they had won the Series since 1914.
In 1974, Aaron beat Babe Ruth’s home run record by hitting his 715th home run.
He’d end his career with 755 homers to his name.
Besides having the highest numbers of RBIs in his career, he also leads with the highest total number of bases ran which is 6,856.
Aarons eventually retired in 1976.
He was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1982.
He passed away on January 22nd, 2021.
What’s The Difference Between A Run And A Run Batted In In Baseball?
Baseball terminology can be a little confusing when they start to use the same words for things.
You might hear that someone has a high number of runs but a small number of runs batted in.
They may sound the same to you, but they’re actually quite different.
A run refers to a player who is running to home plate.
If they make it to home plate successfully, then they earn themselves a point for their team but also for their stats.
They get one point in the Runs category of their stats.
A Run Batted In, on the other hand, refers to the batter’s ability to cause a runner to run for home plate and score a point.
An example is if a player on third base steals home plate.
They earn a Run but not an RBI point because they’re not batting.
Likewise, the batter doesn’t earn a Run or an RBI because they didn’t do anything to help the player steal home.
However, if the batter had hit the ball, allowing the player to go from third base to home, then the batter would earn an RBI point.
They would not have a Run added to their stats, however, because they did not reach home plate.
If the batter is lucky, then they’ll make it to first or second base.
The only exception is if the batter hits a home run.
Then they get a Run and one or more RBI since they helped themselves and all the other players on the bases reach home plate.
RBI is an important stat when comparing the skill level of baseball players.
It tells coaches, teams, and fans how well the player can get his fellow teammates to home plate.
Both Hack Wilson and Hank Aaron hold high records when it comes to RBIs.