In baseball, a run is scored when a player advances safely around first, second, and third base and returns safely to home plate. A player may score by hitting a home run or by any combination of plays that puts him safely "on base" (that is, on first, second, or third) as a runner and subsequently brings him home. The object of the game is for a team to score more runs than its opponent.
In baseball statistics, a player who advances around all the bases to score is credited with a run (R), sometimes referred to as a "run scored." While runs scored is considered an important individual batting statistic, it is regarded as less significant than runs batted in (RBIs)—superiority in the latter, for instance, is one of the elements of the exceptional batting achievement known as the Triple Crown, unlike runs scored.
A pitcher is likewise assessed runs surrendered in his statistics, which differentiate between standard earned runs (for which the pitcher is statistically assigned full responsibility) and so-called unearned runs scored due to fielding errors. If a pitching substitution occurs while a runner is on base, and that runner eventually scores a run, the pitcher who allowed the player to get on base is charged with the run even though he was no longer pitching when the run scored.
A team's lineup is designed in order to maximize the possibility of producing runs, both by increasing the chances that runners will be on base when a power hitter comes to bat and by the process known as "manufacturing" runs. A team is said to manufacture a run when it takes several plays to move a baserunner around the bases and bring him home to score. The general process of manufacturing a run begins with a batter getting to first base via a single or walk. The team will then seek to advance him to second base, often via a sacrifice bunt or his own steal, or third base, via a hit and run. From second base, many runners can score on a single (in most lineups, one of the fastest players on the team bats first, known as the leadoff position, to maximize the possibility of scoring in this manner in the first inning). If the runner is on second with no outs, sometimes a sacrifice bunt will be employed to advance him to third, from where not only a hit but also a sacrifice fly or squeeze play (if luck has it, also a wild pitch or passed ball) can enable him to score. Manufacturing runs is particularly important in close games. When a team succeeds at manufacturing runs, it is said to be doing well at playing "small ball."
Significant run scoring records
The career record for most runs scored by a major-league player is 2,295, held by Rickey Henderson (1979–2003). The season record for most runs scored is 198, set by Billy Hamilton of the Philadelphia Phillies in 1894. The so-called modern-day record (1900 and after) is 177, achieved by Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees in 1921. The record for most seasons leading one of the major leagues in runs scored is 8, held by Babe Ruth (American League: 1919–21, 1923, 1924, 1926–28). The record for most consecutive games with at least one run scored is 18, shared by the Yankees' Red Rolfe (August 9–August 25, 1939) and the Cleveland Indians' Kenny Lofton (August 15–September 3, 2000). The record for most runs scored by a player in a single game is 7, set by Guy Hecker of the American Association's Louisville Colonels on August 15, 1886. The modern-day record of 6 is shared by fourteen players (eight of whom attained it before 1900). Of the six modern-day players to score 6 runs in a game, the first to perform the feat was Mel Ott of the New York Giants on August 4, 1934 (he repeated the accomplishment ten years later, making him the only player ever to do it twice); the most recent was Shawn Green, then of the Los Angeles Dodgers, on May 23, 2002.
The record for most runs scored by a major-league team during a single season is 1,220, set by the Boston Beaneaters (now the Atlanta Braves) in 1894. The modern-day record is 1,067, achieved by the New York Yankees in 1931. The team record for most consecutive games with at least one run scored (i.e., most consecutive games not shut out) is 308, set by the Yankees between August 3, 1931, and August 2, 1933. The record for most runs scored by a team in a single game is 36, set by the Chicago Colts (now the Chicago Cubs) against the Louisville Colonels (which joined the National League in 1892) on June 29, 1897. The modern-day record of 29 has been achieved on two occasions: The first was on June 8, 1950, by the Boston Red Sox against the St. Louis Browns (now the Baltimore Orioles). The second was on April 23, 1955, by the Chicago White Sox against the Kansas City Athletics (now the Oakland Athletics). The record for most runs scored by a team in a single inning is 18, set by the Chicago White Stockings (now the Cubs) against the Detroit Wolverines on September 6, 1883. The modern-day record is 17, achieved by the Boston Red Sox against the Detroit Tigers on June 18, 1953. On August 25, 1922, the highest-scoring game in major-league history took place: the Chicago Cubs defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 26–23—a total of 49 runs.
The Yankees' Mickey Mantle holds the record for most career World Series runs scored with 42 (1951–53, 1955–58, 1960–64). The record for most runs scored in a single World Series, shared by two players, is 10, achieved both times in a six-game Series: Reggie Jackson of the Yankees was the first to do it, in 1977; the Toronto Blue Jays' Paul Molitor equaled him in 1993. The most runs ever scored by a player in a World Series game is 4, a record shared by nine men—Babe Ruth set the mark on October 6, 1926, while with the Yankees; it was matched most recently by Jeff Kent of the San Francisco Giants on October 24, 2002.
In the six-game 1993 World Series, the Blue Jays scored a record 45 runs in defeating the Phillies. On October 2, 1936, playing the New York Giants, the Yankees set the team record for most runs scored in a single Series game with 18. A total of 29 players crossed the plate in the highest-scoring World Series game in history on October 20, 1993: the Blue Jays beat the Phillies 15–14.
In baseball, "run" is also a term that may be used in anticipation of a run actually scoring, in terms of:
- Tying run - The runner in the on-deck circle, on base or at home plate that, if he scores, will tie the game
- Go-ahead run - The runner in the on-deck circle, on base or at home plate that, if he scores, will give his team the lead. If the game is the second half of the final regulation inning, or in any extra inning, then this term is changed to "winning run."
- Insurance run - The runner in the on-deck circle, on base or home plate that, if he scores, will put his team ahead by 2 runs. In some cases, additional runs past this may also be referred to as "insurance runs." This term is not used if the "winning run" is in play, as insurance runs are unnecessary at that point.