What is RBI in baseball?: Best Explanation for 2022

Anyone getting into baseball will ask questions like what is RBI in baseball or what WHIP or FPS means in baseball. For questions like this, bestbaseballreviews has got you covered.

As you might or might not know, baseball statistics is a big deal amongst baseball fans. During each season or World Series, these statistics play a big part. In fact, there have been known cases where the stats were what determined which player got to play in historical matches.

Among the numerous stats in baseball, one of the basic ones is RBI or Runs Batted In. I say that this is a basic one since RBI statistic is relatively easy to calculate for most parts.

Alongside learning about what RBI is in baseball, I will provide you with information on some of the records. For those that want a bit more comprehensive definition, I will also tell the rules for RBI in Major League Baseball.

Some fans of baseball have some opinion on whether or not RBI is important or not. So if you are of the same idea, we will have a section looking at that perspective.

As you can see, we have all sides covered on the topic of what is RBI in baseball for you.

Table of Contents ↴

Definition for RBI

In simple terms, an RBI is Runs Batted In, which tracks how many runs a baseball hitter has given on different scales. Also, you can get an RBI with an out if there run(s) like in double plays.

For anyone looking for a slightly more complete definition for RBI, the best idea for them would be to check the official definition.

What is RBI in Baseball?

A player receives an RBI when he is at-bat and scores a run(s). However, he won’t receive an RBI if a run is scored due to an error or a grounded double. If you didn’t know RBI stands for Runs Batted In. RBI is an offensive stat like Run(s).

When a batter hits a baseball and allows a runner to advance a base for the hitters involved that batter scores an RBI. For an easier understanding, here is an example.

For example, a hitter can strike a fastball, shoot it over the leftfield, and land near the boundary or far from the foul territory. While the ball is in flight, a runner on the second base can make it to the third base. He doesn’t make a play for the home plate, so the runner scores a Run(R). And the hitter who moved to the first baseball gets a Run(R) and an RBI.

As an additional note, an RBI has few other monikers such as ‘ribby,’ ‘runs driven in,’ or ‘ribeye,’ especially by the sportscasters or announcers.

Runs Batted In(RBI) rules in Major League Baseball

In baseball, all forms of offensive and defensive stats are governed by sets of rules and regulations. As a player moves up the league, these rules will potentially get harder or more complex. The same is true for all sports, but we are especially curious about the ones in baseball.

RBI is part of the baseball’s offensive triple crown, along with batting average and home runs, so it’s best only for hitters, kind of like a Cycle in baseball when they are “at-bat.” As far as I could find, the rules aren’t that different between leagues, so I will mostly be talking about the RBI rules in MLB. These rules are all placed in section 9.00, The Official Scorer under subsection 9.04 Runs Batted In.

Here are the rules about Run Batted In(RBI) in baseball according to the 2019 Official Baseball Rules of the MLB:

A run batted in is a statistic credited to a batter whose action at-bat causes one or more runs to score.

Rule 9.04

(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 9.04(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.

(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.

Reasons for Not Getting the RBI Credit in Baseball

Since baseball is such a competitive sport, there are a number of ways to get runs and other stats. The same is true for the RBI stat as well. So, for example, you might be able to get a run while your hitter is still at-bat.

Here is a list of situations or scenarios where the hitter will not receive the RBI credit in baseball, according to my experience:

  1. A run is brought in if the defensive team were to drop the fly ball in the outfields.
  2. When the defensive team throws a ball away during a play, a runner advances a base.
  3. Scoring a run during a double play grounding.
  4. Bringing in a run due to a wild pitch from the pitcher.
  5. If a balk, improper pitch movement, causes a run play.

While these few scenarios are some of the most common ones in baseball, many other less common ones have been. For an idea about these RBI in baseball, here is a simple video on how to get a proper RBI:

How to Score RBI in Baseball

Who has the best RBI in Baseball?

To find out the best RBI score holders, we have to try and break it down in a more manageable manner. By which I mean that we can break RBI records into many separate areas.

According to our research and analysis, we were able to break the RBI records into four simple to understand categories.

In the first category, we have the players with the career record RBIs. Secondly, we have hitters with the most RBIs in a season. In third place are the players with the most RBIs in a single game. Finally, we have a player who holds the record of most RBI in a single season.

Career

what is RBI in baseball_RBI Career Records
what is RBI in baseball_RBI Career Records?

To start off, we will be looking at the players with the most number of RBIs in their full baseball career in MLB history. Remember that some of these players have such high records while baseball rules were slightly less strict.
Also, all the career records were taken from baseball-reference.com since they keep the most up-to-date records:

  1. Henry Aaron (23) 2297
  2. Babe Ruth (22) 2214
  3. Albert Pujols (21, 41) 2150
  4. Alex Rodriguez (22) 2086
  5. Cap Anson (27) 2075
  6. Barry Bonds (22) 1996
  7. Lou Gehrig (17) 1995
  8. Stan Musial (22) 1951
  9. Ty Cobb (24) 1944
  10. Jimmie Foxx (20) 1922

Season

what is RBI in baseball_RBI Season Records
what is RBI in baseball_RBI Season Records

After the career records come players with the most number of RBIs in a single season in MLB history. To be honest, some of the players mentioned in this list came as sort of a surprise to me. One of them was Lou Gehrig, who held the top 10 season RBI record twice.

  1. Hack Wilson (30) 191 1930
  2. Lou Gehrig (28) 185 1931
  3. Hank Greenberg (26) 184 1937
  4. Jimmie Foxx (30) 175 1938
  5. Lou Gehrig (24) 173 1927
  6. Lou Gehrig (27) 173 1930
  7. Chuck Klein (25) 170 1930
  8. Jimmie Foxx (24) 169 1932
  9. Hank Greenberg (24) 168 1935
  10. 10.Babe Ruth+ (26) 168 1921

Single Game

what is RBI in baseball_RBI Single Game Records
what is RBI in baseball_RBI Single Game Records

In our third category, we have players who could rack up RBIs in the double digits in a single game.

  1. Jim Bottomley (September 24,1924) – 12
  2. Mark Whiten (September 7, 1993) – 12
  3. Wilbert Robinson (June 10,1892) – 11
  4. Tony Lazzeri (May 24,1936) – 11
  5. Phil Weintraub (April 30,1944) – 11

Single Innings

what is RBI in baseball_RBI Single Innings Records
what is RBI in baseball_RBI Single Innings Records

Finally, we have the players who were able to get multiple RBIs in a single baseball season, which seems incredibly difficult to someone who plays baseball. As a result of how difficult it is to do, only a few players got more than six RBIs in a single inning.

Thankfully there aren’t any records for most RBIs in a half-inning since I can’t even imagine the kind of player you have to be to make that happen.

what does RBI mean in baseball_Complete Record
what does RBI mean in baseball_infographics1

Popular Negative Remarks of Fans

Like any other statistics in a competitive sport like baseball, RBIs are something many fans debate heavily. According to some of my baseball-loving fans, they think of it as another useful stat to have while making their fantasy league. But, on the other hand, some other friends think it isn’t all that useful.

I believe that it’s a useful stat since it helps portray how much of a team player a hitter is during an at-bat.

RBI: Useful or Not

As I have mentioned above, some think RBI in baseball is a useful stat to look at, while others think it is a waste of time. So, to give you readers an overall idea about the usefulness of RBI, we took the streets and the internet.

By compiling all people’s opinions, we can now tell that the census is that RBI is not a useful stat.

I like RBI in baseball because the whole team needs to work together to make the run, but others believe that it hampers the hitters. By hindering, I mean that RBI alone doesn’t show how effective a hitter might be.

There are hitters at the pro level with designated roles such as leadoff hitter, pinch hitter, home run hitter, etc. So it’s easy to understand some players might have less RBI due to sticking with a certain style of hitting. On the other hand, sometimes the hitter gets an RBI just due to his plate appearance.

For example, a hitter that bunts will bunt to advance a runner into a scoring position. The next hitter may help the runner to score, and that hitter will get an RBI. But that was only possible because of the hitter that bunted, yet he won’t get an RBI.

Due to reasons such as these, the common view is that RBI isn’t useful as a marker for how effective a hitter might be.

Wild Pitch: RBI or Not

In most cases, a wild pitch happens when a pitcher makes an errant pitch that the catcher cannot catch. As a result of the wild pitch, all the runners on the field will advance by one base.

As a side note, any run due to a fielding error won’t increase a hitter’s RBI count.

Home Run: RBI or Not

Unlike wild pitches, a home run will also increase the hitter’s RBI count for each runner plus himself currently on the field. With the bases loaded, the maximum RBI will be four.

RBI vs OPS

RBI and OPS’s main difference is that RBI counts the number of runs batted in while OPS looks at how often a hitter gets on base or extra base. OPS is calculated by mixing on-base percentage and slugging percentage.

Conclusion

In summary, an RBI is when a batter hits the baseball and allows a runner to score a Run. Due to it being an official MLB stat, there are a number of rules attached to it, all of which we already talked about. 

Also, since it’s an official rule, some like it like me, for example, while surprisingly the majority don’t think it is not a useful stat. So both sides of the debate have some merit, but you should make your own opinion.
Finally, this stat indicates a baseball player’s effectiveness differently, just like WHIP and ERA.

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