Baseball’s official rules for an at bat and a plate appearance can be a bit confusing. Walks happen quite frequently in baseball, but how are they scored? Does a walk count as an at bat in baseball, or is it just a plate appearance?
A walk does not count as an official at bat, but it does count as a plate appearance. For example, if you see a player is 1 for 3 with a walk, that means the player has four plate appearances in the game. The player has three official at-bats but four total plate appearances due to the fact that the walk counts as a plate appearance, but not an official at bat.
In this article let’s take a closer look at how a walk is scored in baseball. Let’s also discuss briefly how plate appearances differ from at-bats, and why it matters.
Is a Walk an At Bat or Plate Appearance?
Does a Walk Count as an At Bat in Baseball?
As we discussed above, a walk does not count as an official at bat in baseball.
If you see a player is 1 for 3 with a walk, that means the player has four total plate appearances in the game. The player has three at-bats and four plate appearances due to the fact that the walk counts as a plate appearance, but not an official at bat.
Does a Walk Count as a Plate Appearance in Baseball?
Yes, a walk does count as a plate appearance in baseball (but it does not count as an official at bat). Plate appearances are often overlooked as an important stat when grading a player.
When you are watching a game, you may see that a player is 1 for 3 with a walk. That means that the player has been up to bat four times, but the “1 for 3” only refers to the official at bats the player received.
You can easily find out how many walks a player had, how many hits, and how many at bats, but it is less common to see how many plate appearances a player had during a year. When it comes to official stats, however, plate appearances are important. In fact, it is total plate appearances rather than official at bats that determine whether or not a player is eligible for a batting title.
This rule is important because, while a walk is considered a “quality at bat,” it is not considered an official at bat. So players who walk often or are hit by pitches regularly will have less at bats and may not qualify for certain awards if only official at bats were considered.
At Bat vs Plate Appearance in Baseball
A plate appearance refers to a batter’s turn at the plate regardless of the outcome as long as that appearance is completed. For instance, if a player is thrown out on the base paths to end an inning while the batter is still up, it does not count as a plate appearance.
Similarly, if a balk or wild pitch scores the winning run of a game, the player at the plate also does not get a plate appearance. Any other time a player gets up to bat and completes, whether with an out or by reaching base, his time at the plate, he has had a plate appearance.
Plate appearances are statistically important because it is the measure that allows players to compete for year end awards or lifetime achievements. For instance, if a player has had 20 plate appearances during a year, and had nine hits and two walks, his batting average would be higher than any other player’s in history.
However, to qualify to be in contention for a batting title, which is given to the player with the highest batting average each year, that player must have at least 502 plate appearances. When average out for an entire year, that means a player must average 3.1 plate appearances per game for an entire 162-game schedule. Other than qualifying for year end and career awards, plate appearances do not have as much meaning as official at bats.
An official at bat occurs when a player reaches base on either a hit, fielder’s choice, or error, or when a batter is put out on a non-sacrifice fly/bunt play. Official at bats do not mean as much for awards, but they are the standard of record keeping.
Any time you are watching a game in later innings and you see that a player is 1 or 3, that means that player has had three official at bats that game. Official at bats are used more often and spoken about more often than plate appearances.
To read about other scoring issues in baseball, visit our articles linked below:
- Is a hit by pitch an at bat?
- Is a sacrifice fly an at bat?
- Is a fielder’s choice an at bat?
- Is catcher’s interference an at bat?
A person’s batting average is calculated by dividing the number of hits that player had with the number of official at bats during a season. As we discussed in this article, a walk does not count as an official at bat, but it does count as a plate appearance.