Walks, Runs, Hits, and Strikes – Baseball Basics

Hey everyone! Welcome to the very first
episode of 90 Feet from Home’s Baseball Basics. Today we are gonna take that very
very literally, and by that I mean we are going to cover the most basic of basic
statistics. Really, all I want you to take away from this, is if you’re looking at a
box score and you see the letters AB or PA, R, RBI, K, IBB, we want you to know
what those mean. So today for the very beginning of this series I just want to
explain all of the very very basic statistics and nomenclature that you’re
gonna see in any baseball box score. By the time we get to the end of this
episode, you’re gonna be able to look at a box score and know what the R means
what the K means. Anything from a batting perspective you’re gonna absolutely
understand what those letters are and how they’re arrived at. So to start
things off let’s talk about plate appearances versus at bats. Now if you’re
just thinking about a player coming to the plate, seeing three strikes, seeing
four balls I know it’s hard to understand there’s a difference between
an at bat — which they’ve literally done — and a plate appearance — which they’ve
also literally done. They’ve gone to the plate. Taken a swing. They’ve done what
they came to do. The only time that a player coming to the plate and taking swings
does not count as a plate appearance or an at bat, is if catcher
interference occurs. Let’s start with an at bat, which is very similar to a plate
appearance but not quite because there are exclusions as to what counts towards
an at bat. An at bat occurs when a player comes up to the plate takes their
swings or misses and either a hit, a strikeout, reaching on an error, or a
fielder’s choice. Those are the four instances of what can happen to consider
the appearance an at bat. If a player comes to plate and one of those four
events does NOT occur, it is not considered an at bat by the numbers. It
would still be considered a plate appearance however. So the following
items or what would be considered part of a
plate appearance. A hit, a strikeout, reaching on an error, or a fielder’s
choice still apply towards a plate appearance. However there are a few
additional things that can count towards the plate appearance as well. The other
items that would count towards the plate appearance are a walk, an intentional
walk, a hit by pitch, or a sacrifice play. So you can see it’s a little bit more of
an all-encompassing stat. It considers all of the eventualities that can take
place when a player comes to the plate. So it is a little bit more of a
well-rounded number whereas, an at bat kind of gives you an indication that
something happened that the player could control, or that the pitcher could
control, that would send them to first base. So slightly different but it’s
a little bit of a unique distinction. So you may see that a player has a higher
number of plate appearances in their stats column as opposed to the number of
at bats that they have, and that’s why. Because the plate appearance just covers
quite a few more things than an at bat does. Now, like I said, catcher
interference does not count towards either number that’s something we’ll
talk about at a later date when we dive more into errors, and fielder’s choices,
and different stuff like that. But just know that if the catcher interferes
in the play at all it would not be considered a plate appearance or an
at bat. This isn’t something that happens often, but it is the one contingency
against a plate appearance or an at bat. So let’s talk about runs versus RBIs.
Now runs are usually depicted by the letter R in a column and an RBI is an
RBI. What RBI stands for are runs batted in. Basically a run is considered any
time a player passes over home plate, regardless of whether or not they were
the one that got them into that position. A RBI is counted when the batter is the
one who helps score that run. Now, I know that is a little bit confusing so let’s
give an example. Say a player hit a double, which means they got to second
base. Then the next player also hit a double meaning that runner on second
base scored from second, and the next runner up is now on second base. That
first player would have a run in their column because they passed over home
plate. The player who’s now on second that got the hit that scored the run,
would get an RBI or a run batted in meaning they were the one to bat in that
run. Neither stat is particularly valuable in judging a player’s ability,
but an RBI is definitely more of a valuable statistic than just a run.
Basically, if a player has a high number of runs it really only indicates that
they are skilled at getting on base or getting into a scoring position. Whereas
RBIs indicate that that batter has been able to actually score more runs… in. Now
I’m just confusing myself. Basically if somebody has a high number of runs it
just means that they’ve been able to put themselves in scoring position more
often. If they have a high number of RBIs it means that they’ve been able to take
advantage of those situations where there are runners on base. We’ll discuss
in another episode why these statistics are not exactly helpful in indicating
whether or not a player is very good. But just know that relatively speaking RBIs
are more of a useful statistic than runs themselves, only because RBIs
indicate a certain level of control on behalf of the batter. But really neither
one is very helpful in telling you how good that batter is. But you’ll see RBI
is used more frequently than runs just because they indicate a situation in
which that batter has helped the team in getting a run in and helping them score.
So a note here on errors, because I did mention runners reaching base on an
error when we talked about at bats and plate appearances. An error is considered
anytime a fielder misplayed a ball in such a manner that a runner was able to
either get to first base or to advance a base further from where they were. So for
example, if somebody were to hit a ball into the outfield and the fielder
bobbled or dropped that ball unexpectedly when it looked like they
were meant to catch it… they were there, when just everything lined for
them to catch that ball, and then something silly happened where they
didn’t, that would be considered an error, because then that batter would have been
able to reach first base or even further, but normally they would have been out on
a play. It’s kind of anything to measure because it does assume a fielder’s
ability to make a play. Usually errors are taken pretty
seriously by those scoring. They’re not given in a situation where somebody’s,
you know, miles away from catching a ball. It is generally only
in situations where it was very obvious that a player should have made that
catch, should have stopped the ball, should have been able to complete the
throw. In those instances what you’ll see is it won’t count as a hit, which we’re
going to talk about next. In a successful plate appearance a batter wants to get
to first base — or further. In order to do that, they typically need to have either
a hit or a walk. And there’s other options there’s hit by pitch which is
the pitcher accidentally hitting the batter with a ball. [whispers] Sometimes not
accidentally. There is an intentional base on balls, which is represented by
IBB, or otherwise referred to as an intentional walk. In this instance a
pitcher will choose to walk a batter right to first base instead of having to
face them. This is often done in instances where a pitcher would prefer
to see a less skilled batter up to the plate, and they believe that by moving
that one batter to first base they’ll be more likely to be able to get out the
side. You’ll see intentional walks often. Now they’re indicated by a manager
giving a four finger, or something that, will indicate to the pitcher that they
should just walk this batter. In the past it was done that they actually had to
throw like four wide pitches and it had happened where people would get one just
a little bit too close to the inside and a batter would actually like score a run
based on it. That’s why you might see a little bit of anger towards the new
intentional walk rule, because it kind of takes some of the fun out of it. But now
they do just walk them without throwing any pitches. A walk in the traditional
sense occurs when a batter sees at least four balls. And balls would be anything
that’s pitched outside of the umpire considered strike zone, which is usually
from the letters on the chest to about the knee. In most baseball broadcasts you
will see a rectangular box indicated on the screen which is used to represent
what the broadcasters believe to be roughly the strike zone of that game. It
gives you a good idea when you’re watching of how close pitches are coming
to that strike zone. And that’s a whole other thing that we’ll get into at some
other point. A walk would occur any time a batter sees at four balls. This may not
occur in a row. Basically any time a pitch is thrown outside of that strike
zone it’s considered a ball. Once a batter sees four of those, they are
automatically advanced to first base, and if there’s any other runner already on
first, that runner would then advance to second base, and so on. If the bases are
loaded, it can be considered walking in a run, because the player on third base
would then advance to home plate and a run would score. A hit’s pretty self-explanatory
in that any time the batter hits the ball and it’s not caught or thrown to
first base in time, that batter will then reach first base safely, and it would be
counted as a hit towards them. Again, this wouldn’t count as a hit if an error
occurred in the field, because the error would be considered the reason for the
batter reaching, and not their actual hit. That part gets a little confusing
and where it’s good to know what an error is because you may see that
somebody gets to first base but if it happened because of an error it won’t
count towards their hit column. Which can get a little bit questionable when you
look at batting averages and stuff like that. But that’s something we’ll deal
with on another day. So basically any time a batter hits the ball and is able
to reach first, second, or third base as a result — actually if they get a home run —
it also counts as a hit. If a player gets to first base on a hit, this is referred
to as a single. If they get to second base on that play, it’s referred to as a
double. If you get to third base — I think you can see where I’m going with this —
it’s referred to as a triple. And if they are able to round all of the bases and
back to home again, it’s considered a home run.
Typically the ball will leave the park in the instance of a home run, but one of
the greatest joys of baseball is an inside-the-park home run, where the ball
will reach one of the outfield walls, and by fielding mishap, or just pure luck,
that player is able to round all of the bases and home again, and score a home
run from an inside-the-park hit. And truly, there are no greater joys in
baseball than inside-the-park home runs. They’re amazing.
One more thing I want to talk about is when the player does not reach the base
in their at bat. And this typically happens as the result of a strikeout.
Strikeouts are pretty self-explanatory again. It’s what happens when the pitcher is
able to maintain ball command inside that strike zone we discussed earlier.
The ball will go past the batter what’s considered a strike looking, or the
batter will swing and miss the ball, and that’s
considered a strike swinging. The other option. of course, is that the batter may
make contact with the ball, but it will either go out of bounds or back towards
the netting behind them. And that’s considered a foul. In the case of fouls,
they do count as strikes, but they can only count for up to two strikes.
So a batter can have six, seven, eight foul balls in a play, but they’ll only have the
first two count towards them as strikes. They’ll have to either see a strike
looking or strike out swinging in order for that at bat to actually end. Those are
the two ways to strike out. Either the pitcher maintains control through that
zone and the player is counted out on strikes looking, which is indicated by a
backwards K, if you’re looking for the K count in a stadium. Or a forwards K, which
is a strike out swinging. Which means they went down with the bat blazing.
Which is usually more fun. And so that, my friends, is the very basic of basics when
it comes to reading a box score. So now you know what an at bat, a plate
appearance, a walk, an intentional walk, an error, a strikeout, a hit, and all those
good things are. But for now, I’d like you to go online and look at some kind of a
box score from a previous game, and see if you’re able to read it with these
newfound statistics. So I hope you’ve enjoyed this first episode of Baseball
Basics! I hope you found it entertaining and educational, and if there are other
batting statistics you’d like to know more about, please leave them in the
comments below. Please subscribe, and ring the bell. We update every Tuesday and
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10 thoughts on “Walks, Runs, Hits, and Strikes – Baseball Basics

  1. Hey guys! Hope everyone enjoys today's video. You'll definitely see things trend upwards quality wise, as these first two videos were filmed back to back after midnight one evening. Hope you still like this week's videos and keep coming back for more!

  2. I haven't even watched this yet and I'm already over here like !!!!!!! I'm just so excited for this channel and this new endeavor for you. Also: YES MORE WOMEN TALKING ABOUT BASEBALL. I am here, I am ready for it. Okay. Going to actually watch the video now. – Katie aka @katiiemb on Twitter 🙂

  3. Very interesting, had no idea about about a PA vs an AB. I don’t recall seeing a PA in a box score. Would that be on the bottom?
    Hmmm, I’m not sure about the run vs rbi stat being indicative about either players skill level. If a player gets on base a lot, however which way he does, means he’s good at getting on base. He cannot control what the batter does behind him.
    Regardless of what the player does behind him? How can you say the batter who gets on base isn’t as important or skilled as the player who drives in the run? Doesn’t the player on base have to exhibit good base running skills to get home? If the runner is on second and scores on a single? If a player gets on base a lot, doesn’t that show that he IS very good? Regardless of wether or not he crosses the plate.
    Having said that, thank you for your video and I look forward to your insight as a baseball analyst and statistician.

  4. Thank you so much for this series! Really helping me and my son understand in detail what exactly is going on when he plays both on his console and on the field! Excellent series!!! Subbed and watching and learning =)

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