Run batted in (plural, runs batted in; and, abbreviated as RBI) is a statistic used in baseball and softball to credit a batter when the outcome of his or her at bat results in a run being scored, except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play. The first team to track RBIs was the Buffalo Bisons. However, Major League Baseball did not recognize the RBI as an official statistic until 1920.
Common nicknames for an RBI include "Ribby" and "Rib." The plural of RBI is "RBIs" (just as the plural of the acronym for prisoner of war – POW – is POWs) This is because acronyms become bona fide words as language evolves, and as with other words attract a plural suffix at the end to be made plural, even if the first word is the main noun in the spelled-out form.
Major League Baseball Rules
The official rulebook of Major League Baseball states in Rule 10.04:
(a) The official scorer shall credit the batter with a run batted in for every run that scores:
- (1) unaided by an error and as part of a play begun by the batter's safe hit (including the batter's home run), sacrifice bunt, sacrifice fly, infield out or fielder's choice, unless Rule 10.04(b) applies;
- (2) by reason of the batter becoming a runner with the bases full (because of a base on balls, an award of first base for being touched by a pitched ball or for interference or obstruction); or
- (3) when, before two are out, an error is made on a play on which a runner from third base ordinarily would score.
(b) The official scorer shall not credit a run batted in
- (1) when the batter grounds into a force double play or a reverse-force double play; or
- (2) when a fielder is charged with an error because the fielder muffs a throw at first base that would have completed a force double play.
(c) The official scorer's judgment must determine whether a run batted in shall be credited for a run that scores when a fielder holds the ball or throws to a wrong base. Ordinarily, if the runner keeps going, the official scorer should credit a run batted in; if the runner stops and takes off again when the runner notices the misplay, the official scorer should credit the run as scored on a fielder's choice.
The perceived significance of the RBI is displayed by the fact that it is one of the three categories that compose the triple crown. In addition, career RBIs are often cited in debates over who should be elected to the Hall of Fame. However, critics, particularly within the field of sabermetrics, argue that RBIs measure the quality of the lineup more than it does the player himself since an RBI can only be credited to a player if one or more batters preceding him in the batting order reached base (the exception to this being a solo home run, in which the batter is credited with driving himself in). This implies that better offensive teams—and therefore, the teams in which the most players get on base—tend to produce hitters with higher RBI totals than equivalent hitters on lesser-hitting teams.
RBI leaders in Major League Baseball
Totals are current through May 31, 2013. Active players in bold.
- Hank Aaron – 2,297
- Babe Ruth – 2,213
- Barry Bonds – 1,996
- Lou Gehrig – 1,995
- Stan Musial – 1,951
- Alex Rodríguez – 1,950
- Ty Cobb – 1,937
- Jimmie Foxx – 1,922
- Eddie Murray – 1,917
- Willie Mays – 1,903
- Cap Anson – 1,879
Alex Rodriguez (1,950 as of May 31, 2013) has the most career RBI among active players, ranking 6th overall.
- Hack Wilson (1930) – 191
- Lou Gehrig (1931) – 184
- Hank Greenberg (1937) – 183
- Jimmie Foxx (1938) – 175
- Lou Gehrig (1927) – 175
12 – Jim Bottomley (September 24, 1924), Mark Whiten (September 7, 1993)
11 – Wilbert Robinson (June 10, 1892), Tony Lazzeri (May 24, 1936), Phil Weintraub (April 30, 1944)
10 – by 12 major league players, most recently Garret Anderson (August 21, 2007)
- Fernando Tatís (April 23, 1999) – 8
- Ed Cartwright (September 23, 1890) – 7
- Alex Rodriguez (October 4, 2009) – 7
Postseason (single season)
- David Freese (2011) – 21
- Scott Spiezio (2002) – 19
- Sandy Alomar (1997) – 19
- David Ortiz (2004) – 19
- List of Major League Baseball RBI Records
- List of Major League Baseball players with 1000 RBIs