What Does BB Mean in Baseball? When Does It Happen?


Written by

Michael Rogers



Leo Hagenes

what does bb mean in baseball

The term ‘BB’ is not new to seasoned baseball fans. Those who are just starting to appreciate the game may have heard someone in the crowd shout ‘BB’ at least once.

There is indeed a lot to learn in terms of baseball scoring symbols. The question “What does BB mean in baseball?” is one of the most commonly asked.

You don’t have to manually sift through the baseball scoring guide to know the answer is ‘base on balls.’ But if you wish to learn more about “BB”, just keep reading.

The Meaning of BB in Baseball


Once you know the meaning of BB in baseball, it will be easy to spot one happening in the next game you watch.

As mentioned, the BB baseball term means “base on balls”. It may sound simple, but there’s a lot more meaning hidden inside the baseball abbreviation that is BB.

So, what does BB mean in baseball, and when does it happen?

A BB, or base on balls, takes place when the pitcher throws four balls and all of the fall outside the strike zone. Additionally, none of these pitches can be swung at by the batter during the pitching sequence.

When a walk is called, the first base is awarded to the hitter. This is also called a ‘walk’ and is denoted as ‘BB’ in the scorebook.

Read more: Other baseball terms such as WHIP, PO and etc.

Why Does ‘BB’ Also Mean “walk”?

Now that we’ve given you the definition of BB, you may wonder what it is also called a walk in baseball. Here is a further explanation of that.

A BB in baseball also means walk because it denotes the only instance that the batter is permitted to do so.

In baseball rules, a batter or hitter is not permitted to walk towards a base. It is only when he does not swing against four pitches that fall outside the strike zone that he is entitled to walk and be awarded first base.

Is Walk Important in Baseball?

Other than knowing BB’s meaning in baseball, it’s also important for baseball fans to know its relevance in baseball pitching and in the game as a whole.

Simply put, BB is important because it allows runners to get on base and hitters to get where they’re supposed to, which will eventually lead them to score more runs. A lot of coaches consider making a walk as good as drawing a hit (more about that later on).

This is because they view walking as increasing the on-base percentage by having their players 90 feet closer to scoring a run.

A walk is also important for pitchers. Yet again, when we consider what bb stands for in baseball, it relates to how good a pitcher is at throwing a ball.

After all, a base on ball or a walk will not happen if the pitcher hits the strike zone in the first place. And for a ball (a pitch that misses a strike zone) to happen four times, it does really tell something about the pitcher’s performance.

Does BB Affect the Batter’s Statistics?


The answer is yes. So, what’s BB’s effect on baseball statistics? Actually, it measures the hitter’s capacity to tell whether a pitch becomes a strike, a swing, or a ball. It also reveals a pitcher’s excellent control.

However, according to many, BB in baseball stat reflect’s the batter’s skill more than the pitcher’s control.

A walk or BB helps to measure the batter’s skill in detecting whether a pitch thrown against him will fall at a strike zone or if it will be a ball, as well as his ability to swing at it or not.

Come to think about it; it’s really impressive for hitters to score a BB. They have a very short reaction time from when the pitcher throws the ball at them. This just shows how well the hitters can eye a pitch.

And if you’re going to do a close observation, better hitters earn a higher number of walks. This may sound ironic because a base on ball does not require a swing.

So why do better hitters earn them?

As mentioned, a batter or hitter’s skill is also measured when he does not swing. When pitchers are put against good hitters, they tend to refrain from throwing hittable pitches. In other words, pitchers intentionally miss the strike zone.

And because good hitters have a keen eye, they identify and can avoid swinging at pitches that miss the strike zone; thus, more base on ball take place!

And that’s BB in baseball stats.

BB vs HBP vs IBB: What’s the Difference?

In learning more about “What does BB mean in baseball?” you may have encountered terms like HBP and IBB. Let’s quickly differentiate these baseball terms.

  • BB (base on balls)

A walk or BB is called when a pitcher throws four balls that fall outside the strike zone, and the hitter doesn’t swing at any of them.

  • IBB (intentional walk)

An intentional walk happens when the defending team decides to walk a batter, so he moves to first base rather than hitting a bat.

  • HBP (hit by pitch)

When a batter is struck by a pitched ball after he did not swing at it, it is referred to as a hit-by-pitch. It’s important to note that the umpire will only call a hit by a pitch if the ball lands outside the strike zone and the batter does not swing.

A hit by pitch will be declared, and the batter will be given first base by the umpire as long as the ball contacts the batter, even if it only touches a little area of his protective gear or uniform.

Players Who Have the Highest BB Scores in Baseball

Let’s now look at past MLB games and see MLB standings that showcase base on balls!

1. Most base on balls in their baseball careers

Let’s look at the top three players who have the highest record of base on balls in their careers:

  • Top 1: Barry Bonds


This left-handed American legend has the most base on balls recorded under his belt (or bat!). Barry Bonds has 2,558 records of walks in his career.

  • Top 2: Ricky Handerson


Ricky Handerson played from 1979 to 2003. While being a good pitcher, Handerson is also a legend in batting. To date, he ranks second in the list of players with the highest BB scores with 2,190 walks.

  • Top 3: Babe Ruth


This list would not be complete without Babe Ruth. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, Ruth has been the idol of many baseball players and will continue to be until the next coming generation. He had 2,062 records of a base on balls in this career!

2. Most base on balls in one season

In terms of MLB scores in one season, Barry Bonds is still at the top by making 232 walks in a single season in 2004.

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the purpose of intentional walks (IBB)?

An intentional walk is a strategy of a defending team to put a runner on first base. Especially when a pitcher is put up against a good hitter, the defending team can call an IBB to eliminate the hitter’s opportunity to score.

What’s the history of intentional walks (IBB)?

Prior to 2017, an umpire cannot call an intentional walk unless an actual base on ball takes place. For an IBB to happen, a pitcher intentionally throws four pitches out of the strike zone, and none of them is swung at by the batter.

However, this changed at the start of the 2017 season, when the defending team’s manager can just signal for an intentional walk from a dugout.

Does BB count as a base?

A total base is only counted by hits and nothing else. Therefore, a BB does not count as a total base.

Have the St. Louis Cardinals won in World Series?

Yes, the St. Louis Cardinals have won the World Series. They now rank second all-time in World Series victories, with 11 wins in the illustrious franchise’s history.


We’re happy that this article has informed you about “What does BB mean in baseball?” and much more, from MLB BB meaning to the importance of baseball statistics BB.

Whether it’s walking or ‘base on ball’ you’re comfortable with calling it, we’re sure you’ll know when it’s happening the next time you watch a game!

If you want to learn more about baseball scoring symbols like K or backward K, trust that we also have a blog for that. Leave your comments on what scoring symbols you want to see next!

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