February 28, 2024 in Baseball

What Does BB Mean in Baseball? Even Baseball Fans Don’t Know!

what does bb mean in baseball
what does bb mean in baseball

If you’re a baseball enthusiast, you’ve likely come across the abbreviation “BB” quite often in-game statistics or commentary. But what exactly does it stand for? Is it just a bunch of letters thrown into baseball talk? Fear not! In this article, we’ll describe baseball terminology and what is BB. So let’s start. 

What Does BB Stand for in Baseball in the USA?

In baseball, “BB” stands for “Base on Balls,” colloquially known as a “walk.” When a pitcher throws four balls outside the strike zone to a batter, the batter is awarded first base. This is recorded as a walk in the player’s statistics.

It’s a useful statistic for evaluating both the pitcher’s control (throwing strikes) and the batter’s plate discipline (ability to differentiate between strikes and balls).

Why “BB” Also is called a Walk?

Think of a walk in Baseball as strolling down the base paths without having to swing your bat. It’s like being given a free pass to advance without any effort on your part. Just like taking a leisurely walk in the park, a walk in baseball allows the batter to advance to first base without making contact with the ball.
While “BB” officially stands for “Base on Balls” in baseball, it’s widely used and understood as a walk. There are a few possible reasons for this nickname:

1. Analogy to walking: This is the most intuitive explanation. Although players don’t literally walk to first base after drawing a walk, the term emphasizes the passive advancement to the base compared to actively hitting the ball.

2. Short and catchy: “Walk” is shorter and easier to say than “Base on Balls,” especially during fast-paced commentary or discussions about the game. It also adds a bit of informality and fluency to the baseball language.

3. Historical usage: “Walk” has been in use for this situation since the early days of baseball, likely even before the official term “Base on Balls” was established. Over time, the simpler term became ingrained in the baseball lexicon.

Therefore, while the official term is still used in specific contexts, “walk” has become the more common and natural way to refer to this event in baseball due to its intuitiveness, brevity, and historical usage.

Here’s further exploration on why “BB” is also called a walk in baseball:

Evolution of the term:

While the exact origin of “walk” remains unclear, some believe it originated from cricket, where a similar scenario is called “wide balls.” Others suggest it stemmed from the visual imagery of the batter passively advancing to first base, akin to walking. Interestingly, early baseball records sometimes used terms like “passe” or “pass ball” to describe this situation, further solidifying the connection to the concept of passive advancement.

Impact on strategy and analysis:

The term “walk” is more than just a nickname for a baseball event. It carries strategic and analytical significance.

  • For pitchers: A high walk count indicates struggles with control and can lead to loaded bases, increasing the chance of runs being scored.
  • For hitters: A high walk rate signifies good plate discipline, allowing them to choose pitches to hit and potentially reach base more often.

Therefore, “walk” not only describes the event but also conveys its strategic implications within the game.

Cultural significance:

The term “walk” has transcended the realm of baseball jargon and entered the broader cultural lexicon. It’s often used figuratively to describe situations where someone receives something without significant effort, similar to how a batter is awarded first base without hitting the ball.

Understanding the nickname “walk” goes beyond its literal meaning. It reflects the evolution of baseball terminology, carries strategic weight for players and analysts, and even holds cultural significance outside the sport.

Does a BB Count as a Hit?

No, a BB (Base on Balls) does not count as a hit in baseball. While both a hit and a walk result in the batter reaching base, they are recorded differently in the player’s statistics. Hits are typically associated with batting average, while walks contribute to on-base percentage (OBP).

Here’s a breakdown of the distinction:

  • Hit: A batted ball that lands fairly within the playing field without the involvement of a fielder’s error or fielder’s choice. 
  • Depending on how far the ball is hit, there are four different kinds of hits: singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.  Base on Balls, or BB: a base that is awarded when the pitcher delivers four balls, or pitches that are outside the strike zone and are not struck by a batter.
  • While a BB doesn’t count as a hit, it does contribute to a player’s on-base percentage (OBP), which measures their ability to reach base safely. However, it doesn’t affect their batting average (AVG), which only considers hits divided by at-bats (official plate appearances where the batter attempts to hit the ball).

What is an Intentional Walk?

The defensive team will strategically decide to intentionally walk a batter in order to prevent a dangerous hitter or to set up a more favorable matchup. In order to indicate to the batter that they are being intentionally walked, the pitcher will purposely toss four balls beyond the strike zone.

An intentional walk, also known as an intentional base on balls (IBB), is a strategic maneuver in baseball where the defense deliberately chooses to walk the batter. This means the batter is awarded first base without having to hit the ball.

Here’s how it works:

  • Execution: Since 2017, there’s no need for the pitcher to throw four balls outside the strike zone. The umpire simply awards first base to the batter upon receiving the manager’s signal.
  • Rationale: The main reason to intentionally walk a batter is to avoid facing them and instead pitch to the next batter in the lineup. This strategy is typically employed because the defense believes the next batter is easier to strike out or induce an out compared to the current batter.
  • Choice: The manager of the defensive club instructs the home plate umpire to intentionally walk the batter.

Here are some common situations where intentional walks might be used:

  • Facing a dangerous hitter: If the current batter has a strong hitting record or is considered a threat to hit a home run, the defense might intentionally walk them to load the bases and potentially turn a double play by forcing the next batter to hit the ball into play.
  • Setting up a double play: With runners on first and second base, an intentional walk to the batter can load the bases. This increases the chance of forcing a double play if the next batter hits a ground ball.
  • Strategic walks: Depending on the score and situation, a team might intentionally walk a batter to manipulate the baserunning situation or gain a strategic advantage.

It’s important to note that while an intentional walk puts a runner on base, it also comes with risks:

  • Advancing baserunners: Intentionally walking can strategically move baserunners closer to home plate, increasing the scoring threat.
  • Wasting outs: An intentional walk uses one of the team’s limited outs, which can be crucial in later innings.

Top 10 Players with Highest Walks

Player NameWalks (Career)
Barry Bonds2,558
Rickey Henderson2,190
Babe Ruth2,062
Ted Williams2,019
Mickey Mantle1,733
Stan Musial1,599
Joe Morgan1,865
Eddie Yost1,614
Mel Ott1,708
Carl Yastrzemski1,845

10 Players with the Lowest Walks

  1. Hack Wilson
  2. Willie Keeler
  3. Ernie Lombardi
  4. Lloyd Waner
  5. George Sisler
  6. Tony Perez
  7. Hank Greenberg
  8. Joe Cronin
  9. Phil Rizzuto
  10. Paul Waner

Is BB and KBB the Same?

No, BB (Base on Balls) and KBB (Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio) are not the same. While both involve walks, KBB specifically measures the ratio of strikeouts to walks for a pitcher, providing insight into their control and efficiency on the mound.

Comparison of TB and BB in Baseball

StatisticTotal Bases (TB)Base on Balls (BB)
DefinitionTotal number of bases achieved by a batter through hitsNumber of times a batter is awarded first base after receiving four balls outside the strike zone
ContributionReflects a batter’s power and ability to advance around the basesIndicates a batter’s ability to draw walks and reach base without making contact with the ball
CalculationTB = 1B + (2 x 2B) + (3 x 3B) + (4 x HR)BB = Number of times a batter reaches base on balls
Impact on GameAffects a team’s ability to score runs by advancing base runnersProvides opportunities for runners to advance and contributes to a team’s offensive strategy
ImportanceValued for its contribution to a player’s overall offensive performanceRecognized for its role in extending innings and putting pressure on opposing pitchers


Understanding the significance of BB (Base on Balls) in baseball enhances our appreciation for the strategic nuances of the game. Whether it’s the patience of a batter drawing walks or the precision of a pitcher’s control, every aspect contributes to the rich tapestry of America’s favorite pastime. So, the next time you see “BB” in a box score, you’ll know it’s more than just a couple of letters—it’s a fundamental aspect of the game.


Does a BB count as a hit in baseball?

No, a BB (Base on Balls) does not count as a hit. While both result in reaching base, hits and walks are recorded differently in player statistics, impacting batting average and on-base percentage (OBP) respectively.

 In baseball, how does a player receive a BB?

 When a pitcher throws four balls outside the strike zone in an at-bat, the batter is awarded first base and receives a BB (Base on Balls).

What is the significance of BB in baseball?

 BB (Base on Balls) is significant as it allows batters to reach base without making contact with the ball, showcasing patience, discipline, and contributing to offensive efforts.

 Are BB and KBB the same thing in baseball? 

No, BB (Base on Balls) and KBB (Strikeout-to-Walk Ratio) differ. BB refers to batters reaching base on walks, while KBB measures a pitcher’s strikeout-to-walk ratio, indicating control and efficiency.

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