Baseball Hit-By-Pitch (HBP)
If you watch baseball long enough, it’s more than likely that you will eventually see a batter get hit by a pitch. This can be a frightening experience, as being struck by a hard baseball at the speeds pitchers often throw at can cause extremely severe injuries. However, hit-by-pitches are also a statistic in baseball and have a unique result during a game. Below, we will go over the details of getting hit by a pitch in baseball.
What Is a Hit-by-Pitch (HBP) in Baseball?
In baseball, a hit-by-pitch (abbreviated HBP) is whenever a batter is hit by a pitched ball without taking a swing at it.
Most hits-by-pitches are unintentional. However, there is also a history of pitchers intentionally hitting a batter with their pitches, often as a means of retaliation for some offense. This is, of course, illegal in baseball, and if an umpire decides that an HBP was intentional on the pitcher’s part, the pitcher (and even the team manager) can both be ejected from the game.
According to MLB rules, a hit-by-pitch occurs whenever a player is hit by a pitched ball that they visibly attempt to avoid and which was not in the strike zone or swung at by the batter. An HBP occurs even if the ball only touches a portion of the player’s uniform or protective gear, such as grazing the uniform or glancing off the helmet.
In baseball, being hit by a pitch results in the batter who is struck being awarded first base. This is similar in concept to a walk (BB), but an HBP counts as neither a walk nor a hit, which is the other way to reach the bases.
If a batter makes an attempt to swing at a ball that then hits them without being struck by the bat, MLB Rules state that an HBP will not be recorded. This is because strikes supersede hits-by-pitches. This also applies if the batter does not swing and is hit by the pitch, but the pitch was clearly in the strike zone.
Statistically, an HBP is counted as neither a walk nor a hit. The reason an HBP is not a walk is that a walk must be earned by a pitcher throwing four balls, which are pitches that pass outside the strike zone. Meanwhile, since a hit is the result of a batter striking the ball with their bat, an HBP is obviously not a hit.
While HBPs are not walks or hits, they do count for other baseball statistics, such as on-base percentage (OBP) and on-base percentage plus slugging (OPS+). Because HBPs result in a batter gaining first base, some batters will attempt to be hit by pitches deliberately or are more likely to be because they stand close inside, near the strike zone.
However, MLB Rules state that a batter must visibly attempt to avoid being hit by a pitch in order to gain first base. If an umpire believes that a player deliberately attempted to be hit by a pitch in order to gain first base, the HBP will not count.
Throughout baseball history, batters have been hit by pitches in various places, from the arms and legs to the torso and even sometimes in the head. Because baseball is a sport that utilizes relatively light protective gear, being struck by a pitch can be quite dangerous, and many high-profile injuries have resulted from being hit by a pitch. In fact, players being hit by pitches have even died in the past, such as in the notable case of Ray Chapman, who was hit in the head by a pitch on August 16, 1920, and died 12 hours later.
Nowadays, due to the use of batting helmets, it is thankfully less likely that a player will die from being hit in the head by a pitch. However, getting hit elsewhere can still result in broken bones, muscle injuries, and other dire consequences. Because of this, most pitchers try their best not to hit players with their pitches, and most HBPs are unintentional in nature.
What is an HBP in baseball?
A hit-by-pitch (HBP) is a circumstance in baseball in which a batter is struck by a pitched ball without having swung at it. HBPs are not uncommon in baseball, but they are often unintentional, as they can result in serious injuries to various body parts. This is why HBPs result in the batter being awarded first base automatically.
Is a hit-by-pitch a walk?
No, a hit-by-pitch is not considered a walk, even though they have the same outcome of the batter automatically taking first base. A hit-by-pitch is recorded in the stat sheet as a HBP, while a walk is recorded as a BB.
What is considered a hit-by-pitch in baseball?
According to MLB rules, a hit-by-pitch is any pitch that strikes or grazes a batter, was not swung at or in the strike zone, and which the batter attempts to avoid being hit by. If any of these factors are not met, an HBP is not recorded.
Is a hit-by-pitch a quality at-bat (QAB)?
In baseball, “quality at-bats” (QABs) are a vital statistic for batters, as they measure a player’s value offensively, and hits-by-pitches do count as QABs. Other examples of a quality at-bat include hard hits on the ball, pitchers throwing more than six pitches without a strikeout or nine pitches total in an at-bat, walks, RBIs, batters advancing via a sacrifice bunt, and runs scored from a sacrifice fly.