What Does BB Mean in Baseball?

What Does BB Mean in Baseball? A Comprehensive Guide

Ever been at a baseball game, heard “BB” and wondered what it means? You’re not alone. Those two letters can baffle even seasoned fans.

“BB” stands for “base on balls,” more commonly known as a walk. It’s a crucial part of baseball that can change the tide of a game, yet it often goes unnoticed by casual viewers.

Understanding “BB” can deepen your appreciation for the sport and enhance your game-watching experience. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the origins of the term, its significance in the game, and its strategic implications for players and managers.

Join us as we demystify “BB” and reveal how this small term plays a big role in baseball. Ready to boost your baseball IQ? Let’s dive in!

Key Takeaways

  • A walk, or “base on balls,” is crucial as it puts a runner on base without requiring the batter to hit the ball, potentially shifting game momentum.
  • High walk rates may indicate poor control for pitchers but demonstrate disciplined plate approach for hitters, influencing game outcomes.
  • Intentional walks are tactical maneuvers used strategically to avoid facing strong hitters or set up defensive plays.
  • BBs are vital for evaluating player performance, contributing to metrics like on-base percentage (OBP) and highlighting offensive prowess.
  • Metrics like Walk Rate (BB%), On-Base Percentage (OBP), and Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA) offer deeper insights into player contributions beyond traditional stats like hits.

What Does BB Mean in Baseball?

What Does BB Mean in Baseball

In baseball, “BB” stands for “base on balls,” commonly known as a “walk.” This occurs when a pitcher throws four pitches outside the strike zone that the batter does not swing at. Once four balls are called, the batter is awarded first base.

Key Points About BB:

  1. Definition and Significance:
    • A walk is crucial because it puts a runner on base without the batter needing to hit the ball. This can shift the momentum of the game and increase the chances of scoring runs.
  2. Impact on Players:
    • For pitchers, a high number of walks can indicate poor control, meaning they struggle to consistently throw strikes.
    • For hitters, drawing walks demonstrates a good eye for the strike zone, showing discipline and the ability to wait for a better pitch to hit.
  3. Strategic Element:
    • Walks are strategic; sometimes, pitchers intentionally walk batters (intentional walks) to face a potentially less dangerous hitter. These also count as BB in the stats.
  4. Statistical Relevance:
    • In the scorebook, a walk is noted as BB. This stat is crucial for evaluating both a pitcher’s control and a hitter’s plate discipline.
    • Walks contribute to on-base percentage (OBP), an important metric for measuring a player’s ability to get on base.

What is an Intentional Walk or Intentional BB?

In baseball, an intentional walk, also known as an intentional BB (base on balls), is a strategic move used by the defensive team to deliberately put a batter on first base without the batter hitting the ball. This is achieved by the pitcher throwing four pitches outside the strike zone, which the batter does not attempt to hit.

Key Points About Intentional Walks:

  1. Strategic Purpose:
    • Avoiding a Dangerous Hitter: Intentional walks are often used to bypass a particularly strong batter, especially in high-stakes situations, to face a weaker hitter next.
    • Setting Up Double Plays: By putting a runner on first base, the defensive team can set up a double play opportunity, which can be crucial for getting out of a tough inning.
    • Creating Force-Out Situations: An intentional walk can also create a force-out situation at any base, increasing defensive options.
  2. When and Why It’s Used:
    • Critical Game Situations: Managers use intentional walks when the game is on the line, considering factors like the score, inning, number of outs, and upcoming batters.
    • Matchup Advantages: The strategy is also employed to match the pitcher against a more favorable batter, improving the chances of an out.
  3. Rule Change in 2017:
    • Prior to 2017, pitchers had to throw four pitches outside the strike zone for an intentional walk. Since 2017, Major League Baseball allows managers to signal an intentional walk from the dugout, automatically putting the batter on first base without any pitches thrown. This rule change was introduced to speed up the pace of play.
  4. Impact on the Game:
    • Speeding Up the Game: The 2017 rule change reduces the risk of wild pitches or passed balls during an intentional walk, ensuring a smoother and quicker progression of the game.
    • Strategic Consideration: Despite appearing counterintuitive, intentional walks are carefully considered moves that can significantly influence the outcome of a game.

Examples of Intentional Walk Use:

  • Avoiding Power Hitters: A team might intentionally walk a power hitter like Mike Trout or Aaron Judge to face a batter with a lower batting average.
  • Setting Up Plays: In a close game with runners on second and third and less than two outs, an intentional walk might be issued to load the bases, setting up a potential inning-ending double play.

Significance of BB in Baseball Games

In the world of baseball statistics, BB (bases on balls) is incredibly important. It has the ability to influence game results and highlight the skills of both hitters and pitchers. The analysis reveals that a player who can consistently draw walks significantly boosts their and their team’s performance.

Hitters who earn a lot of BBs often show great judgment and patience. They are disciplined enough to not swing at outside pitches. This makes pitchers throw more strikes, which helps these hitters get on base. Thus, by walking, hitters enhance their team’s chances of scoring.

Meanwhile, pitchers who can avoid giving up BBs demonstrate excellent control and efficiency. They’re highly valued for their prowess in throwing strikes consistently. This skill prevents their opponents from scoring heavily in any inning. Overall, a low BB rate signifies a pitcher’s strong command over the game.

Looking at the table below, we compare two hypothetical players based on their BB rates and OBP:

PlayerBB RateOBP
Player A12%.380
Player B6%.320

Player A’s higher BB rate leads to a significantly higher OBP, which means more base-reaching opportunities. This demonstrates the strong link between earning walks and boosting offensive impact.

Walk Rate (BB%)

Walk Rate (BB%) is a crucial metric in baseball that measures the frequency with which a batter earns a walk during their plate appearances. It is calculated by dividing the number of walks by the total plate appearances and then converting the result into a percentage.

Below is a comparison table for the walk rates of the top patient hitters ever:

PlayerCareer BB%
Barry Bonds20.3%
Ted Williams20.6%
Babe Ruth19.4%
Lou Gehrig16.4%
Joe Morgan16.2%

How To Calculate Walk Rate

Walk Rate (BB%) = (Walks / Plate Appearances) × 100


  • Walks (BB): The number of times the player has been walked.
  • Plate Appearances (PA): The total number of times the player has appeared at the plate, including walks, hits, hit by pitches, sacrifices, and times reaching base on errors.
Example Calculation

Let’s go through an example calculation. Suppose a player has the following statistics for a season:

  • Walks (BB): 60
  • Plate Appearances (PA): 600

To find the walk rate, we use the formula:

Walk Rate (BB%) = (Walks / Plate Appearances) × 100

Breaking down the calculation:

  1. Divide the number of walks by the number of plate appearances: 60/600=0.160/600=0.1
  2. Multiply the result by 100 to convert it into a percentage: 0.1×100=100.1×100=10

So, the player’s walk rate is 10%.


A walk rate of 10% means that the player draws a walk in 10 out of every 100 plate appearances. Generally, a walk rate of around 8-10% is considered good, while a rate above 12% is excellent.

On-Base Percentage (OBP)

On-base percentage (OBP) measures how frequently a batter reaches base per plate appearance. It offers a more comprehensive view of a player’s offensive contribution than batting average alone, as it includes not only hits but also walks and hit-by-pitches.

A high OBP shows a player’s consistency for getting on base, key for helping their team score runs. Batters who show patience and a sharp eye at the plate often have notable OBP figures because they force pitchers to throw strikes or take walks. In the analytical world of baseball, OBP is a key figure, critical for assessing offensive prowess.

The career on-base percentages of some of baseball’s greats are listed below:

PlayerCareer OBP
Ted Williams.482
Babe Ruth.474
Lou Gehrig.447
Barry Bonds.444
Ty Cobb.433

How To Calculate On-Base Percentage (OBP)

OBP= (Hits (H) + Walks (BB) + Hit By Pitch (HBP)) / (At Bats (AB) + Walks (BB) + Hit By Pitch (HBP) + Sacrifice Flies (SF))


  • Hits (H): The number of times the player hits the ball and reaches at least first base.
  • Walks (BB): The number of times the player is awarded first base without hitting the ball.
  • Hit By Pitch (HBP): The number of times the player reaches first base due to being hit by a pitch.
  • At Bats (AB): The total number of times the player has been at bat, excluding walks, hit by pitches, and sacrifices.
  • Sacrifice Flies (SF): The number of fly balls hit by the player that result in a run being scored.
Example Calculation

Let’s go through an example calculation. Suppose a player has the following statistics for a season:

  • Hits (H): 150
  • Walks (BB): 60
  • Hit By Pitch (HBP): 5
  • At Bats (AB): 500
  • Sacrifice Flies (SF): 5

To find the OBP, we use the formula:

OBP=(H + BB + HBP) / (AB + BB + HBP + SF)

Substituting the given values:

OBP= (150+60+5) / (500+60+5+5)

Calculating the sums in the numerator and the denominator:

OBP= 215/570

Now, perform the division:


So, the player’s on-base percentage is 0.377, or 37.7%.


An OBP of 0.377 means that the player reaches base approximately 37.7% of the time they come to the plate. This is a strong indicator of a player’s ability to avoid making outs and to contribute to their team’s scoring opportunities. Generally, an OBP above .350 is considered very good, while an OBP above .400 is exceptional.

Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA)

wOBA, or Weighted On-base Average, measures a player’s offensive performance by considering how they get on base and how much each method contributes to scoring runs.

It’s like on-base percentage, but it gives more credit to hits that lead to more runs, like doubles and home runs. This helps to paint a clearer picture of a player’s offensive impact.

How To Calculate Weighted On-Base Average (wOBA)

The formula to calculate wOBA is complex but can be broken down into the following steps:

  1. Assign a weight to each offensive event based on its run value.
  2. Calculate the player’s linear weights for each event.
  3. Sum the linear weights for all events.
  4. Divide by the player’s total plate appearances.

The specific weights used in the formula are derived from historical data and are adjusted to reflect the current run-scoring environment.

Formula for wOBA

wOBA= (0.690×uBB+0.722×HBP+0.888×1B+1.271×2B+1.616×3B+2.101×HR) / (PA)


  • uBB: Unintentional walks
  • HBP: Hit by pitch
  • 1B: Singles
  • 2B: Doubles
  • 3B: Triples
  • HR: Home runs
  • PA: Total plate appearances

Example Calculation

Let’s go through an example calculation. Suppose a player has the following statistics for a season:

  • Unintentional Walks (uBB): 50
  • Hit By Pitch (HBP): 10
  • Singles (1B): 100
  • Doubles (2B): 30
  • Triples (3B): 5
  • Home Runs (HR): 20
  • Total Plate Appearances (PA): 600

Using the formula for wOBA= (0.690×uBB+0.722×HBP+0.888×1B+1.271×2B+1.616×3B+2.101×HR) / (PA)

Now, let’s calculate each term: wOBA= (34.5+7.22+88.8+38.13+8.08+42.02) / (600)

wOBA= (218.73 ​/ 600)

wOBA≈ 0.3645


A wOBA of 0.3645 indicates that the player’s offensive contributions are significantly above average.

Top 10 Players Known for Their High BB Rates

In the history of baseball, several players shone for their ability to draw walks. Their high BB rates showed their discipline and keen eye for the strike zone. By getting on base often through walks, these legends proved that plate discipline is crucial for scoring.

Many are now in the Hall of Fame, marking them as the sport’s best. For those aspiring in baseball, studying these masters’ walk-drawing techniques can offer valuable insights.

Here are 10 of the best players known for their high BB rates:

PlayerCareer BBBB TitlesCareer OBP
Barry Bonds2,55812.444
Ted Williams2,0218.482
Joey Votto1,2945.421
Rickey Henderson2,1904.401
Jim Thome1,7473.402
Joe Morgan1,8654.392
Frank Thomas1,6674.419
Edgar Martinez1,2833.418
Mickey Mantle1,7335.421
Jackie Robinson7402.409

1. Barry Bonds

Barry Bonds is widely regarded as one of the greatest baseball players of all time. His exceptional ability to draw walks contributed significantly to his on-base percentage and overall offensive prowess.

Bonds holds the record for the most career walks in Major League Baseball (MLB) with 2,558. In 2004, he set a single-season record with 232 walks, demonstrating his incredible plate discipline and ability to intimidate pitchers.

2. Ted Williams

Ted Williams, often called “The Splendid Splinter,” is one of baseball’s legendary hitters. Known for his keen eye and patience at the plate, Williams was a master at drawing walks.

Williams walked 2,021 times in his career, which contributed to his impressive .482 career on-base percentage, the highest in MLB history.

3. Joey Votto

Joey Votto is a contemporary player known for his exceptional plate discipline and high walk rates. He has consistently been among the league leaders in walks throughout his career.

Votto has led the National League in walks multiple times. For instance, in 2015, he drew 143 walks, showcasing his ability to get on base consistently.

4. Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson, the all-time stolen base leader, was also known for his ability to draw walks. His high on-base percentage helped him become one of the greatest leadoff hitters in baseball history.

Henderson walked 2,190 times in his career, which, combined with his speed, made him a constant threat on the base paths.

5. Jim Thome

Jim Thome, a Hall of Fame slugger, was known for his power and his ability to get on base via the walk. His patient approach at the plate often forced pitchers to pitch carefully, leading to many walks.

Thome accumulated 1,747 walks in his career, contributing to his impressive .402 on-base percentage.

6. Joe Morgan

Joe Morgan, a key player for the Cincinnati Reds during their “Big Red Machine” era, was known for his keen eye at the plate and ability to draw walks.

Morgan walked 1,865 times in his career, helping him maintain a .392 on-base percentage, which was crucial for his role as a leadoff hitter.

7. Frank Thomas

Frank Thomas, known as “The Big Hurt,” was a dominant hitter in the 1990s and early 2000s. His patient approach and power made him one of the most feared hitters of his time.

Thomas walked 1,667 times in his career, which contributed to his .419 career on-base percentage.

8. Edgar Martinez

Edgar Martinez, one of the greatest designated hitters in baseball history, was known for his disciplined approach at the plate and his ability to draw walks.

Martinez walked 1,283 times in his career, which helped him achieve a .418 on-base percentage.

9. Mickey Mantle

Mickey Mantle, one of the most iconic players in baseball history, was not only known for his power but also for his ability to draw walks.

Mantle walked 1,733 times in his career, contributing significantly to his .421 on-base percentage.

10. Jackie Robinson

Jackie Robinson, who broke baseball’s color barrier, was also known for his disciplined approach at the plate and his ability to draw walks.

Robinson walked 740 times in his career, contributing to his .409 on-base percentage and helping him become one of the most impactful players in the game.


“BB” in baseball, or “base on balls,” is not just a mere abbreviation; it’s a fundamental aspect that can define the outcome of a game. Through this comprehensive guide, we’ve journeyed from the origins of the term to its strategic implications on the field.

We’ve learned that a walk isn’t just a free pass to first base; it’s a tactical maneuver that influences player performance and game strategies. Pitchers strive for control to minimize walks, while hitters showcase discipline and patience to draw them.

Understanding “BB” enhances our appreciation for the sport’s intricacies, highlighting its strategic depth and statistical significance. It’s not just about knowing the rules; it’s about deciphering the language of baseball and uncovering its hidden nuances.

As you continue your baseball journey, remember the impact of “BB” on the game. Stay curious, keep exploring, and let your newfound knowledge deepen your love for America’s favorite pastime. And if you’re eager for more insights, discussions, and gear, join us at baseballstuffstore.com. Together, let’s celebrate the beauty and complexity of baseball!

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What Does BB Mean for Baseball?

BB stands for “Base on Balls,” commonly known as a walk, where the pitcher throws four balls outside the strike zone, allowing the batter to advance to first base.

Does a BB Count as a Hit?

No, a BB (Base on Balls) does not count as a hit. It is considered a separate statistical category in baseball.

What Does K BB Mean in Baseball?

K BB refers to a pitcher’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, indicating the number of strikeouts (K) compared to the number of walks (BB) they have issued.

What Does 2B Mean in Baseball?

2B stands for “Double,” a type of hit where the batter safely reaches second base after hitting the ball into fair territory without any fielding errors.

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