What is a Hit by Pitch in Baseball? – HBP Definition

A. Coatess

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A. Coatess



Sean Hunter

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what is a hit by pitch in baseball

Every sport has its fair share of physicalities that are all-natural parts of the game. These can either be accidental or intentional. However, some of these actions go overboard.

In an adrenaline-inducing sport like baseball, these physicalities are evident. But first, let’s answer “what is a hit-by-pitch in baseball?”.

A hitch-by-pitch happens when a pitcher hits the batter on purpose, given that the ball landed on the batter’s body and he hasn’t hit the ball with his bat.

Read more!

What Does HBP Stand for in Baseball?

Fun fact, you might have come across an HBP baseball abbreviation, which stands for hit by pitch. Also present in the baseball glossary, hit-by-pitch slang includes terms such as “drilled,” “plunked,” “hit batter,” or sometimes a “hit batsman.” 

Hit by Pitch (HBP) Meaning in Baseball


Although baseball is a non-contact sport, it’s one of the most injury-prone in all sports history. Throughout the years, baseball has seen it all, and one of the more common causes of these injuries is a hit by pitch.

But what does hit-by-pitch mean in baseball? Let’s get to that!

A hit by pitch sometimes occurs in a game, and it is one that is known to many people, players, and spectators alike. Generally, this happens when a batter gets hit anywhere on his body by a thrown pitch, given that he did not swing and just got hit by a pitch.

Purposes of Hit by Pitch


Spectators sometimes see a hit-by-pitch in games; when they do, there are probable reasons behind it.

  • The most common reason behind a hit-by-pitch is when a pitcher aims to throw the ball inside the strike zone but, for some reason, fails to do so. On this occasion, the ball touches outside the strike zone, which is why an HBP usually happens.
  • A hit by pitch in strike zone could also be one of the many antics pitchers have where he intentionally targets the strike zone to pressure the batters not to crowd the home plate.

However, this type of pitcher’s tactic often backfires as this increases the chance of him hitting the batter with the ball, which results in a hit-by-pitch.

  • The most controversial reason for a hit-by-pitch is when the pitcher hits the batter with the sole intention of inflicting harm or as a form of retaliation during an intense game.

There have been many game instances where a player gets hit by a pitch causing a ruckus in the field where the game is played.

In this case, the umpire gets to decide the hit-by-pitch consequence to the pitcher and his team if proven that the hit was intentional.

How Does It Work in Baseball?


Generally, a hit-by-pitch event in baseball is to be dissected through a set of guidelines. There have been rules in the past that have been revised so to give you a glimpse, I’ll walk you through them.

During the previous years, the rule of hit-by-pitch was simple. For example, when a batter gets hit by the ball outside the strike zone, it was automatically considered as hit by pitch regardless if it was swung at or not.

Now, there are three rules for HBP in baseball programs:

  • During the event of the HBP, the batter must not have hit the ball, or even attempted to swing at all.
  • The incoming pitch must be out of what is called the “strike zone”; and
  • The batter must have an obvious attempt to avoid the hit.

If all these are met, then a hit-by-pitch is ruled by the umpire. This is also applied to hit by pitch rule in little league.

What Happens if You Get a Hit by a Pitch in Baseball?


The first thing that needs to be checked when a hit-by-pitch happens is the batter’s safety. He needs to be examined whether or not he suffered from injuries, especially if there were any serious ones. The umpire, co-players, and even the manager of the team can do this.

After checking the welfare of the player, it’s now time to assess if the aforementioned rules above were met.

  • If all the guidelines are present, then the batter must be rewarded to proceed toward the first base.
  • But if any of the rules were not met during the HBP, then the ruling must be nullified and considered invalid.

How Often Are Players Hit by Pitch?

Last 2022, it was noted that the statistics of players who are hit with pitches have considerably gone up in a span of four seasons. Currently, statistics say that the average HBP sits at around one occurrence per game.

An MLB hit-by-pitch also occurs, and it’s worth noting that the New York Mets now hold the highest number of HBP in a single season with 106. Meanwhile, the most recorded MLB player hit-by-pitch belongs to Hughie Jennings with 287 hits.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is a hit by pitch a dead ball?

A hit by pitch is only considered a dead ball when it meets the three guidelines set about it according to baseball rules of hit by pitch.

The first rule is the most common one – the ball must hit the batter’s body, his clothing, and his equipment but except for his bat, outside the strike zone.

Second, when a batter avoids an incoming ball that’s about to hit him, or in any situation where he had no chance to do so.

Lastly, when a batter gets hit by the ball and is not able to take a swing at it.

Does getting hit by a pitch hurt?

Although getting a hit by pitch record in a game does help a batter increase his on-base percentage, it doesn’t change the fact that this type of hit mostly causes injuries to the players. As for baseball, which has seen the worst types of injuries in all sports history, yes, getting hit by a pitch hurts.

Hit by a pitch can pose different types of injuries in a batter’s body, especially in the hands, head, or face. The aforementioned injuries usually cause concussions and contusions, which is why players tend to sit out of games when things like these happen.

Does a hit pitch count as a walk?

Generally, a hit-by-pitch is not considered a walk in baseball.

In a hit-by-pitch scenario, the ball is considered dead given that all the guidelines are met. This is in contrast to the other case which is a walk, where the ball is considered alive or at play.

However, when we base it on textbook baseball, a hit-by-pitch and a walk bring about similar results in that the players in both circumstances are rewarded with a movement toward first base. Consequently, a player is not allowed to move to the next base during an HBP unless otherwise instructed by the umpire.

Does a hit-by-pitch count as an at-bat?

No. A hit-by-pitch is not considered an at-bat, however, this is considered a batter’s time on the base.

Hence, when the batter gets an HBP, he does not get credited with an increase in batting average but he does get an edge on on-base percentage.


Baseball has seen it all – excitement, adrenaline, euphoria, fear, anxiety, as well as injuries. It is a sport that requires much stamina and patience as games come and go, especially in the era in which teams have gone sturdier and more driven to win.

The combination of many facets and elements in baseball makes the game more interesting and exciting to watch. It’s a sight one must see.

May this guide on “what is a hit-by-pitch in baseball” impart a learning or two about one of the popular events in baseball, the hit-by-pitch, and the rules that come with it.

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