Passed Balls and Wild Pitches: How They Compare

The baseball slips away from the Little League catcher as the umpire looks on.

As much as a fan of baseball might want every pitch to be perfectly thrown by a pitcher and caught correctly by the catcher, the reality is that this is just not the case. Mistakes happen.

At times, a pitcher will throw the ball where he never intended, or a catcher will have trouble catching a pitch, and these mistakes can sometimes mean the difference between winning and losing a game.

Passed balls and wild pitches are both errors that allow a runner(s) to advance to the next base should the runner make the attempt. Depending on who made the error determines if the play is recorded as a passed ball (catcher’s fault) or a wild pitch (pitcher’s fault).

With that said, there’s some nuance to scoring passed balls and wild pitches. To learn more about what determines the official scoring of these instances, continue reading.

What Is Considered a Wild Pitch?

At times, an errant pitch will be so wildly off the mark that the throw gets away from the catcher. If the result of the bad pitch was that a runner(s) on base advanced, this is considered a wild pitch.

The pitcher is ONLY charged with a wild pitch if the result of the play is a baserunner(s) advancing 90 feet. If no one is on and a pitch is thrown wildly, the pitcher is not charged with a wild pitch because no runners advance.

What Is Considered a Passed Ball?

Likewise, if a catcher cannot control a pitch that the official scorers felt should have been caught, and the result of that mistake was the runners advancing, this is considered a passed ball.

Are Wild Pitches and Passed Balls Errors?

Wild pitches and passed balls are not considered to be errors.

Do You Get an RBI on a Wild Pitch?

The batter is not awarded an RBI if the baserunner advances home on a wild pitch.

Do You Get an RBI on a Passed Ball?

The batter is not awarded an RBI if a baserunner advances to home on a passed ball.

Can a Batter Run on a Wild Pitch?

A wild pitch is recorded only if the baserunner(s) advance. If the bases are empty, the batter cannot run to first on a wild pitch. If the wild pitch occurs on ball 4, the at bat is scored as a walk and not a wild pitch.

How to Score a Passed Ball Strikeout

The umpire, batter, and catcher await the pitch.

A passed ball occurs when a baserunner(s) advances. The exception to this rule is if the passed ball was an uncaught third strike. In this case, the batter becomes a runner and has to reach first before the catcher retrieves the baseball and throws the batter out.

How to Score a Wild Pitch

A wild pitch is recorded by the official scorer only when the pitch is so bad that the catcher isn’t 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.

Can There Be Passed Balls and Wild Pitches in a Perfect Game?

There can’t be passed balls and wild pitches in a perfect game because for either of these things to happen, you need a runner on base.

Do Passed Balls Count Against Fielding Percentage?

Because passed balls and wild pitches are not considered errors, they don’t affect fielding percentage. A wild pitch or a passed ball is an act of pitching, and not fielding, so it does not count against a player’s fielding percentage.

Why Do Wild Pitches and Passed Balls Happen?

There are a variety of reasons why a wild pitch or passed ball might occur in a baseball game. Players can become distracted and lose focus as they try to control the placement of a pitch or to catch a pitch. A baseball can slip out of the grip of a pitcher or get by the glove of a catcher even in the best of conditions.

If a team is playing in rainy weather, the ability of a pitcher and catcher to make a good connection is hampered by the elements. A fresh, dry baseball should be used as often as possible to minimize the possibility of this event occurring.

As baseball has developed over the years, more emphasis has been put on throwing harder. The harder a pitcher attempts to throw the ball, the more likely (generally) they are to throw a wild pitch.   

Who Holds the MLB Record for Wild Pitches?

Nolan Ryan is the modern era big leaguer who holds the record for the most wild pitches. In his 27-year career, he recorded 277 wild pitches. The reason is due to how hard he threw every pitch, which helped him accumulate the most strikeouts of any pitcher in MLB history with 5,714.

Who Holds the MLB Record for Passed Balls?

Rudy Kemmler holds the major league record for the most passed balls at 114 through 783 innings.

Steven G.

My name is Steven and I love everything sports! I created this website to share my passion with all of you. Enjoy!

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