How Errors Are Scored in Baseball

Errors in baseball can be a complex thing to understand. The rules surrounding how they are scored and how they contribute to statistics like batting average and ERA can be difficult for some beginner fans to understand. In this article, we will discuss the following issues surrounding errors:

  • Does an error count as an at bat?
  • Does an error count as a plate appearance?
  • Does an error hurt your batting average?
  • Does an error count for on-base percentage?
  • Does an error count as an RBI?
  • Does an error ruin a no hitter?
  • Does an error ruin a perfect game?
  • Can an error be charged on a foul ball?
  • What is an unforced error baseball?
  • Baseball Error Number Codes Explained

An error in MLB is judged by the official scorer assigned to that specific game. Some official scorers may hand out errors more frequently than other official scorers. But, in general, the goal is to hand out errors for plays that should have been routinely made by the average professional baseball player.

Does an error count as an at bat?

Yes, an error counts as an at bat in baseball. When a batter reaches base on an error, it counts as an at-bat for the hitter, but it neither counts as a hit nor as a time on base for on base percentage (OBP) purposes.

Anything that happens as a result from the batter’s time on base, however, does count in the score book. For instance, if the batter scores a run or steals a base, he will be credited for those things. A reached on error (ROE) counts against the batter just the same as if the fielder had made the play and the batter was out.

To read about other at-bat issues in baseball, visit our articles linked below:

Does an error count as a plate appearance?

Yes, an error counts as a plate appearance in baseball. Every time a player comes up to bat, it counts as a plate appearance unless a runner is thrown out stealing for the third out or the winning run for the game is scored in the middle of an at-bat.

An error, on the other hand, counts as more than just a plate appearance. As we discussed above, if a player reaches base on an error, the plate appearance counts as an at-bat, but not a hit or towards the player’s on base percentage. With that at-bat, the player would be 0-for-1. There are errors, like those made on a foul ball, that do not end a plate appearance and instead extend it.

Does an error hurt your batting average?

Yes, an error hurts your batting average. Even though the batter reached base, they did not reach base via a hit or walk so the batter is considered 0-for-1 after that at-bat.

A player’s batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits by the number of official at-bats the player had that year. If a player reaches on base via an error, the player had an official at-bat but did not register a hit.

Does an error count for on-base percentage?

Yes, an error does count for on-base percentage, but in a negative way. It does not count as a time on base, it counts as if an out were made.

In baseball, a player’s on base percentage (OBP) measures how frequently a batter reaches base. To calculate a player’s OBP, you would divide the sum of hits + walks + hit by pitch (HBP) by the total number of plate appearances a player has.

While the batter did reach base on an error, they did not do so by either a hit, walk, or HBP so the batter’s OBP would be adversely effected by an error even though they reached base. As far as errors are scored, this is one of the most confusing aspects of baseball.

If OBP is simply the frequency that a player reaches base, and a player reaches base when an error is committed, then it makes sense that a reached on error (ROE) would count positively towards that player’s OBP. However, because of how an error is scored, it does not.

Does an error count as an RBI?

No, in most all cases an error does not result in an RBI if a run scores as a result of the error. As you probably know, usually when a run is scored as a result of a player’s plate appearance, that player is credited with an RBI. This is almost always not the case if a run scores because of an error.

In every other plate appearance, when a run is scored, the player is either credited with a hit or a sacrifice, but when a run scores because of an error, the batter is given an at-bat with no hit and there is no RBI awarded either.

There are exceptions to this rule, namely when an error is committed in a situation where the run would have scored anyway. The most common occurrence of this is when a batter hits a long fly ball and the scorer determines that the run would have scored even if the player had caught the ball.

Does an error ruin a no hitter?

No, an error does not ruin a no hitter in baseball. An error does not affect the status of a no-hitter even if the batter gets on base, and even if that player scores. An error is not a hit, therefore the no-hitter remains intact.

A no-hitter occurs when a pitcher completes a game without giving up a hit, no matter how many walks, hit by pitches, sacrifice flies, or errors that occur during the game. Pitchers have pitched complete game no-hitters while still losing the game and this most often happens when batters reach either via walks or errors.

Does an error ruin a perfect game?

Yes, an error does ruin a perfect game in baseball. A perfect game is more than just a well-pitched contest. A perfect game must include 27 batters coming to the plate and 27 outs in a row with nobody reaching base in any way.

Even if a player gets on base because of an error, the perfect game is still ruined because technically the player advanced safely to first (even if it wasn’t the pitcher’s fault). As we discussed above, a no-hitter is not ruined by an error, but a perfect game is.

Can an error be charged on a foul ball?

Yes, an error can be charged on a foul ball in baseball. An error can be charged on a player who drops a foul ball, but the error does not count against the batter since the at-bat continues.

When an error is made on a foul ball, it is simply a dead ball meaning the plate appearance continues and no player on the bases can advance. Some plays in baseball, like an error on a foul ball or a wild pitch, are only scored against the defensive player who makes the play while the batter just continues his at-bat.

Because baserunners can advance on a foul ball flyout that is caught, there is also the chance than an error could be made on a foul ball fly out. For example, the outfielder could catch the foul ball, but then make an errant throw trying to throw out an advancing baserunner.

What is an unforced error baseball?

An unforced error in baseball is not an officially kept statistic. It is instead the opinion of someone watching the game.

When a baseball player makes an unforced error, it is usually in reference to a player making a mistake that should have easily been avoided, and wasn’t caused by an outside influence. Sometimes, these unforced errors aren’t even truly official errors in baseball.

For example, a baserunner may make a bad mistake on the base paths and run into an easy out, and a commentator may refer to that as an “unforced error” even though it isn’t officially scored as an error.

The truth is, most all errors in baseball are “unforced”, that is why they are considered errors. But if you hear a commentator refer to a play as an “unforced error”, they are usually referring to a simple, easy-to-avoid mistake.

Baseball Error Number Codes Explained

In the official scorebook, an error is denoted with the capital letter “E” followed by the number associated with the position of the player who made the error. For instance, if a pitcher throws a wild pitch, the official scorecard would read E1.

These are the numbers associated with each baseball position: pitcher (1), catcher (2), first baseman (3), second baseman (4), third baseman (5), shortstop (6), left fielder (7), center fielder (8), and right fielder (9).

When a player makes an error, whatever position they are listed as playing is scored with the letter “E” followed by the number associated with that position. If multiple players commit errors on the same play, each error is scored separately.

Paul Johnson

Paul has been with us from our beginnings. He focuses on a wide range of sports, including NFL, NBA, MLB and golf.

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