In baseball statistics, a run batted in is given to a batter for each run scored as the result of a batter’s plate appearance. Pay attention to the pitcher, not only his control but his reaction after the ball is in play. Does he run to cover first on a ball hit to the right side?
A passed ball is any pitch that is not successfully caught, determined by the official scorer to have been the catcher’s fault, and also allowed a runner to advance one base. A pitched ball that the catcher misses and could not be expected to catch, allowing one or more base runners to advance one or more bases. This is viewed as, depending on the energy level of the commentator, either a risky endeavor that could lead to a wild pitch or passed ball, or an affront to every thing that is good and right about baseball. The example above is often scored as defensive indifference. The pitcher was throwing from the stretch, indicating he wanted to hold the runner on. A throw wasn’t made, but that’s only because the runner got a huge jump.
In both cases, the catcher is unable to control it and at least one runner advances. In the opinion of the scorekeeper, a passed ball is scored if the catcher SHOULD have controlled the ball. Wild pitches used to be far more common than the average fan may guess.
Start by having the pitcher simulate a pitch and have the catcher drop to his blocking position. When the catcher drops to block, the coach, who is standing in the area behind home plate, tosses a ball somewhere behind the plate to the left or right. The catcher must quickly pop up, turn, retrieve the ball, and throw to the pitcher who covers the plate.
A runner who advances due to a passed ball is not credited with a stolen base unless he breaks for the base before the pitcher begins his delivery. A wild pitch is recorded by the official scorer only when the pitch is so bad that the catcher isn’t average softball pitching speed expected to block it, and the result of the play is that the runners advance. Should a runner score on a wild pitch, it is scored as an earned run against the pitcher. A passed ball is the fault of the catcher and is not recorded as an earned run.
In fact, the MLB records it as a stat similar to a first or second base hit. The all-time career wild pitch leader is 343 pitches, held by Tony Mullane, who last played in 1896 and over 504 games in a 13-year career. The active career wild pitch record holder is Felix Hernandez of the Seattle Mariners with 154 wild pitches since 2005. However, the all-time season leader is Bill Stemmyer of the Boston Red Sox and the Cleveland Indians.
In this case, I need to inject my own opinion into how I believe defensive indifference should be scored. The pitcher who gave up the double, as he allowed the runner to that scored to get on base. Instruct pitchers to yell while running and point in the direction of the ball to help the catcher. They must break hard to the plate and slow down before they get there to avoid crossing the plate or being in line with the runner.
This also suggests that official scorers are doing a good job — or at least being conservative — in assigning passed balls to catchers. It gets more difficult and happens less often as players get older, but in youth baseball a wild pitch or passed ball often presents a great opportunity to score a runner from third. In one game this year our year old team won a game 5-4, scoring four of our five runs on passed balls, three of them with two outs. I watch many youth baseball games and I’m amazed at how many scoring opportunities are missed because players don’t take an aggressive lead and aren’t prepared for the ball to get away from the catcher. The difference comes down to whether or not the ball could have been handled with ordinary effort.