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What Does BB Mean in Baseball? – Explained for Beginners

what does bb mean in baseball

Both acts of pitching and hitting may seem mundane in baseball. However, if one begins to look into these roles based on the skills expected in the BB or walk stat, the realization of challenging these acts would sink in.

But what does BB mean in baseball? Why is BB also called a walk? How does the BB affect the batter’s performance? What is the difference between a walk and a hit-by-pitch? Expect these questions and many more to excite you as you read the entire article. Enjoy!

BB in Baseball Meaning

bb-baseball-meaning

The abbreviation BB in baseball or BB baseball meaning stands for the base on balls. Here, balls collectively refer to four balls pitched outside the strike zone not swung at by the batter.

Baseball experts highly regard the BB stat as a crucial measuring tool because it determines two skills from two separate roles in baseball: the batter’s visual agility and the pitcher’s control of the ball.

A pitcher can change the pitch’s movement for his advantage through his control – making it either a ball and swing, a strike, or a no-swing. The hitter, through his visual agility – responds accordingly to these pitches and should not just swing at all of them randomly if he is to earn the first base.

To say it simply, one of the pitcher’s missions includes refraining from throwing the batter/hitter hittable pitches. In return, an expert batter is to avoid four straight out-of-strike-zone and unhittable pitches to earn a base.

Another approach that could earn the pitcher an advantage, in this case, is to “walk” the hitter/batter. Meaning, he can opt to entirely avoid pitching the hitter/batter (also known as intentional walk) to increase the defensive team’s chances for putting out batters/hitters.

Why Is BB Also Called a Walk

A BB (as per baseball BB meaning) is also called a walk because, in actuality (as per details defined in the baseball rules), a batter/hitter cannot legally walk towards a base. His only privilege to walk into a base is when he can avoid four straight balls pitched outside the strike zone.

With the base awarded to the batter, he can now proceed to it without being put out. Thus, actions like catcher’s interference and hit-by-a-pitch will no longer affect putting out a batter as he walks towards the base.

But the term “walk” refers exclusively to ‘base on balls’ and not any other strategies for reaching base.

In other words, the ball is dead until a walk is completed. Strategies like catcher’s interference, hit by pitch, plus many other means of reaching base via the balls cannot secure a live ball and thus, cannot be referred to as walk.

Thus, in another way of seeing it (departing, of course, from the main BB definition), the more number of walks credited to the hitter/batter, the higher the batter’s expertise.

Who Gets to Walk Who

Only the pitcher can walk a batter. However, if the batter can receive a base on balls, he can walk towards the base without being called out. That is generally what BB in baseball means.

How Does the BB Affect the Batter’s Performance

As mentioned earlier, unlike the OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging), the BB cannot account for the batter’s holistic performance. So if a player is looking to increase his at-bat or hit credits, he will not be able to get it with the BB.

The BB or walk can only input plate appearance and time-on-base to the batter’s performance, scoring him an on-base percentage and not a batting average.

What Is the Difference Between a Walk and a Hit-by-pitch

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A hit-by-pitch (HBP) unfolds when a pitched ball hits a batter and when he does not swing at it. However, whenever the umpire notices that the pitched ball was in a strike zone and that the batter actually swung at it, the HBP gets dismissed as a strike.

The HBP unfolds like a walk because it serves as a ticket for the batter to advance to first base. Indeed, they are only alike in that aspect.

A particular factor that distinguishes HBP from a walk is the fact that HBP entails a dead ball. In fact, all other opportunities for advancing to first base, except base on balls or a walk, entail a dead ball.

Therefore, in the dead ball status of HBP, runners attempting to steal a base are to return to their original base and then proceed to the next by the time they will be forced to vacate their current base.

On the other hand, with the live ball status of the base on balls (or walk), runners can take the free pass to proceed to a base even when they are still not forced to advance. All these possibilities are expected to unfold in a passed ball, wild pitch, and steal play.

In addition to what baseball stats BB stand for, the live ball in base on balls allows runners (including the batter-runner per se) on-base to take the risk to advance beyond one base whenever they are forced to do so.

In short, the hit-by-pitch and the walk are differentiated by either a live or dead ball status.

Which MLB Players Have Very High BB Scores

Here is a list of MLB players with very high BB scores (throughout their careers):

  • Barry Bonds: 2, 311
  • Rickey Henderson: 2, 190
  • Babe Ruth: 2, 062
  • Ted Williams: 2, 021
  • Joe Morgan: 1, 865

Conclusion

What does BB mean in baseball? The BB stands for ‘base on balls’ in baseball. It is also referred to as a walk. Eventually, the BB or walk stat is more complex than expected.

As it turned out, it measures two abilities from both offensive and defensive players simultaneously – the pitcher and the batter. Most importantly, it serves as a free ticket for batters/hitters and runners to advance to first base without being called out.

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