What is SB in Baseball? (Stolen Base)


Written by

Michael Rogers



Leo Hagenes

What is SB in Baseball

Numbers and statistics play a crucial role in understanding the intricacies of baseball. If you’re new to the sport or just looking to brush up on your baseball knowledge, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we will unravel one of the essential terms in baseball statistics lexicon: “SB.”

Imagine a sunny afternoon at the ballpark, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the air, the anticipation building with each pitch. As the pitcher stares down the batter, and the runner on first base takes the lead, a question might pop into your head: what is SB in baseball?

A stolen base, commonly abbreviated as “SB,” occurs when a baserunner advances to the next base without the ball being put into ple.

ay or due to a fielding error. The official scorer has the authority to grant stolen bases.

Rules in Stealing Bases


As baseball players progress beyond Little League, a world of advanced rules and strategies unfolds. One such intricacy in baseball rules is the art of stealing bases, a skill that demands precision and a keen understanding of the following rules:

1. Taking the Lead


In MLB stolen base rule, taking the lead off the base before a pitch is entirely legal and strategic. Base runners often initiate this by taking a calculated few steps away from their current base, providing themselves with a head start to advance. However, taking an overly generous lead can be risky, as it opens up the possibility of getting “picked off” by the opposing pitcher.

2. Timing is Everything


The freedom to attempt a steal is a valuable asset in a base runner’s arsenal. The player can steal a base at any time during the game. But stealing is strictly prohibited during instances of a foul ball or a foul tip, both of which create a “dead ball” scenario, halting play.

3. Batter-Catcher Dynamics


A crucial rule governing base stealing involves the batter’s conduct. The batter must refrain from interfering with the catcher’s throw to a base while a steal attempt is in progress. If the batter does interfere, the runner is automatically declared “out.” It is incumbent upon the batter to make every effort to avoid contact with the catcher.

4. The Curious Case of the Balk


Another scenario that results in a “dead ball” situation is when a pitcher commits a balk. However, this situation is unique in its outcome: rather than returning to the original base, the runner is granted the privilege of advancing one base forward.

Stealing Bases Strategies

1. The Second Base Advantage


Second base is the most commonly stolen base in baseball, and for good reason. Positioned furthest from the catcher, it offers base runners a greater chance to outpace the throw and reach safely. In contrast, the corner bases, first and third, present a more favorable angle and a relatively shorter throw for the catcher.

2. Consistent Fundamentals


Regardless of the base you intend to steal, certain fundamentals remain constant. Always take a lead, regardless of your starting base, to give yourself a head start. Quick decision-making is paramount. Even a split-second hesitation can be the difference between a safe slide and an out ruling.

3. Focus on the Pitcher’s Feet


Base runners looking to steal should fix their gaze on the pitcher’s feet, particularly if the pitcher is right-handed. Right-handed pitchers must step off the rubber with their back foot (the right foot) to initiate a pick-off move.

Distinguishing between a pitch and a pick-off attempt can be straightforward: observe which foot moves first. If the left foot moves first, it’s a pitch; if the right foot leads, it’s a pick-off.

4. Double Stealing


Double stealing is a high-stakes strategy that involves two base runners attempting to steal different bases simultaneously. This strategic maneuver puts immense pressure on the pitcher and catcher, creating opportunities for both runners to advance.

Successful double steals require impeccable timing, coordination, and a deep understanding of the game’s dynamics.

When Can You Steal a Base in Baseball?

1. Coach’s Signals


In most cases, the decision to steal a base won’t be entirely up to you as a base runner. Your coach plays a pivotal role by relaying signals, indicating when it’s time to make a move. These signals, often communicated through a series of signs, provide clear instructions for base runners.

For example, a touch of the nose may signify the intent to steal. Following your coach’s lead ensures coordination among the team and reduces the risk of unnecessary base running errors.

2. Free Will Stealing


Exceptionally fast and agile players may earn the privilege of making their own decision where stealing bases is allowed in baseball. While this opportunity is reserved for a select few, it grants base runners the autonomy to judge the situation and choose when to attempt a steal based on their assessment of the game.

3. The One-Run Scenario


Stealing a base can become a game-changer, particularly when your team is trailing by just one run.

If you find yourself on first base in such a situation, swiping second base puts you in a prime scoring position for your team. This strategic move can apply pressure on the opposing team’s defensive indifference, increasing the chances of tying or taking the lead in a close game.

When you cannot steal a base


In baseball, there are specific situations when you cannot attempt to steal a base:

  • During a Foul Ball or Foul Tip: When a foul ball or foul tip occurs, the play is considered dead, and base runners are not allowed to attempt a steal until the next pitch is thrown.
  • When the Pitcher Steps Off the Rubber: If a pitcher steps off the rubber (with his pivot foot, typically the back foot for right-handed pitchers) while preparing to make a pick-off move, base runners must return to their base, and stealing is not permitted at this moment.
  • During an Intentional Walk: When a pitcher and catcher intentionally decide to walk a batter by throwing four balls outside the strike zone, base runners cannot attempt to steal during the intentional walk.
  • On a Balk: If the pitcher commits a balk, the umpire will call a dead ball, and base runners are awarded the next base without the need to steal. In this case, stealing is unnecessary because the runner is granted the base.

The Best Stolen Base Runners of All Time


Span Player’s Name Total
Career Rickey Henderson 1406
Season Rickey Henderson 130
Game Billy Hamilton 7
Negro league Career Oscar Charleston 182
Minor league Career George Hogreiver 947
Minor league Season Billy Hamilton 155
NPB Career Yutaka Fukumoto 1065
NPB Season Yutaka Fukumoto 106
CPBL Season Bernie Tatis 71
AAGPBL Career Sophie Kurys 1114
AAGPBL Season Sophie Kurys 201
AAGPBL Game Shirley Jameson 7
AAGPBL Game Lois Florreich, Shirley Jameson, Betsy Jochum 7


If you were wondering what is SB in baseball, there is your answer.. According to baseball statistics this strategic maneuver has played a pivotal role in shaping the outcomes of countless matches. The significance of base stealing cannot be overstated; it often stands as a linchpin for a team’s success.

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