Run batted in

A run batted in (RBI; plural RBIs [1]) is a statistic in baseball and softball that credits a batter for making a play that allows a run to be scored (except in certain situations such as when an error is made on the play). For example, if the batter bats a base hit which allows a teammate on a higher base to reach home and so score a run, then the batter gets credited with an RBI.

St. Louis Cardinals' Albert Pujols, shown here in 2008, passed Babe Ruth's 2,214 official RBIs in October 2022. Pujols finished his Major League Baseball career with 2,218 RBIs and second place on the all-time list.

Before the 1920 Major League Baseball season, runs batted in were not an official baseball statistic. Nevertheless, the RBI statistic was tabulated—unofficially—from 1907 through 1919 by baseball writer Ernie Lanigan, according to the Society for American Baseball Research.[2]

Common nicknames for an RBI include "ribby" (or "ribbie"), "rib", and "ribeye". The plural of "RBI" is a matter of "(very) minor controversy" for baseball fans:[3] it is usually "RBIs", in accordance with the usual practice for pluralizing initialisms in English;[4][5] however, some sources use "RBI" as the plural, on the basis that it can stand for "runs batted in".[3][4]

Major League Baseball rules

The 2018 edition of the Official Baseball Rules of Major League Baseball (MLB), Rule 9.04 Runs Batted In, reads:[6]

A run batted in is a statistic credited to a batter whose action at bat causes one or more runs to score, as set forth in this Rule 9.04.

(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 9.04(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.

From 1980 to 1988, the game-winning RBI was an additional statistic used in MLB.


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. This is because an RBI can only be credited to a player if one or more batters preceding him in the batting order have reached base (the exception to this being a home run, in which the batter is credited with driving himself in, not just those already on base).[7][8] 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.[9]

RBI leaders in Major League Baseball


Hank Aaron, All-time career leader in RBI with 2,297.

Totals are current as of October 4, 2022 (regular season). Active player is in bold.

  1. Hank Aaron – 2,297
  2. Albert Pujols - 2,218
  3. Babe Ruth – 2,214
  4. Alex Rodríguez – 2,086
  5. Cap Anson - 2,075
  6. Barry Bonds – 1,996
  7. Lou Gehrig – 1,995
  8. Stan Musial – 1,951
  9. Ty Cobb – 1,944
  10. Jimmie Foxx – 1,922
  11. Eddie Murray – 1,917
  12. Willie Mays - 1,903


Hank Greenberg, Hall of Famer and 2-time MVP
  1. Hack Wilson (1930) – 191
  2. Lou Gehrig (1931) – 185
  3. Hank Greenberg (1937) – 183
  4. Jimmie Foxx (1938) – 175
  5. Lou Gehrig (1927, 1930) – 173



  1. Fernando Tatís (April 23, 1999) – 8
  2. Ed Cartwright (September 23, 1890) – 7
  3. Alex Rodriguez (October 4, 2009) – 7

Postseason (single season)

  1. David Freese (2011) – 21[11]
  2. Scott Spiezio (2002) – 19[11]
  3. Sandy Alomar Jr. (1997) – 19[11]
  4. David Ortiz (2004) – 19[11]

See also

  • List of Major League Baseball runs batted in records


  1. "RBI". Dictionary. Merriam-Webster. Retrieved October 30, 2020.
  2. The Accurate RBI Record of Babe Ruth. SABR Website. Retrieved on September 14, 2016.
  3. Martinez, David H. (1996). The Book of Baseball Literacy. Plume. p. 319. ISBN 978-0-452-27426-6.; McCallum, Jack (June 4, 1977). "Mighty Touchy Issue: RBI or RBIs?". The Sporting News: 40.
  4. Bryan Garner (2009). "Plurals; I: Acronyms and Abbreviations". Garner's Modern American Usage (3rd ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 638. ISBN 9780195382754.; Pinker, Steven (1999). Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. Basic Books. p. 28. ISBN 0-465-07269-0 via Internet Archive.
  5. AP Stylebook [@apstylebook] (April 14, 2015). "Plural of RBI is RBIs, which can be used on all references for runs batted in" (Tweet). Retrieved October 30, 2020 via Twitter.
  6. "OFFICIAL BASEBALL RULES 2018 Edition" (PDF). Major League Baseball. pp. 107–108. Retrieved June 28, 2018.
  7. Grabiner, David. "The Sabermetric Manifesto". Archived from the original on March 23, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  8. Lewis, Michael D. (2003). Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. New York: W. W. Norton. ISBN 0-393-05765-8.
  9. "Revisiting the Myth of the RBI Guy, Part One". Driveline Mechanics. May 18, 2009. Retrieved September 2, 2009.
  10. "Ten or More RBI in One Game". Sports Reference LLC. June 7, 2017. Retrieved June 7, 2017.
  11. "David Freese breaks the all-time single-season post-season RBI record". Sports Reference LLC. October 28, 2011. Retrieved October 30, 2011.
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