What Does QAB (Quality At-Bat) Mean In Baseball?

- October 27, 2021
QAB in baseball

With the increased use of analytics and sabermetrics, numerous new baseball statistics seem to appear daily. One of which you may have heard is QAB. A large number of fans have been following baseball for years and have no clue what it means. What exactly does QAB mean in baseball?

QAB stands for Quality At-Bats. Some statistics such as batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage are easy to understand, but what exactly makes up a QAB? A quality at-bat is basically one that makes a positive offensive contribution.

Ways to Have a Quality At-Bat (QAB)

There are several ways a batter can have a quality at-bat, but it is important to note that this is subjective from coach to coach. While there isn’t a firm rule on what makes up a QAB, knowledgeable baseball people will know one when they see one. Here is a list of some ways that an at-bat would be considered quality.

Get a Base Hit

The most obvious way is to get a hit. It doesn’t matter how hard or how soft a ball is hit, any batted ball that results in a base hit is a quality at-bat.

Make the Pitcher Work

The best chance a team has to win a game is to get the opposing starting pitcher out of the game as soon as possible. One way to make a pitcher throw a lot of pitches. If a batter forces a pitcher to throw at least six pitches without striking out, that’s a quality at-bat.

Even a strikeout can be a quality at-bat, if the batter really battles the pitcher and makes him throw at least nine pitches. Although the end result is a strikeout, this will guarantee a high pitch count for the inning, which will start wearing down the pitcher.

Work a Walk

While not the most exciting way to get on base, a walk is one of the best ways to get the offense going. The batter working the walk becomes a baserunner who has the potential to score a run.  In addition, the pitcher has to throw at least four pitches and likely more, building up his pitch count. A walk is a win in many ways and is definitely a quality at-bat.

Hit By a Pitch

Professional pitchers can generally throw a pitch at least in the vicinity of their target. Every now and then, however; a pitch gets away from a pitcher and hits the batter. Taking one for the team and getting hit by a pitch results in being awarded first base. Reaching base safely is always a quality at-bat.

Hit the Ball Hard

The box score only tells how many hits a player gets and while all hits are quality at-bats, not all hits are struck solidly. Similarly, not all outs are poorly hit balls. A batter could go hitless in four at-bats, but hit three balls off the barrel of the bat right at the defence or a defender makes an excellent play on the ball for an out.

Hitting a baseball solidly is not easy, particularly at the highest level of competition, so coaches chalk up any hard-hit ball, regardless of the outcome, as a quality at-bat.

Advance a Baserunner

Since the object of baseball is to score more runs than the opposing team, any at-bat which results in getting a runner closer to scoring is a quality at-bat. There are some coaches that only consider moving a baserunner into scoring position (second or third base) a quality at-bat.

Knock in a Run

Driving in a run is one of the best ways to help the team on offense. Whether it’s a base hit, a sacrifice fly, or even a ground ball to second base. With scoring runs the ultimate goal of the game, any single out the drives in a run is a quality at-bat. Note that when a batter hits into a double play which scores a run, he is not awarded an RBI since two outs were made in his at-bat. In this situation, a quality at-bat is not applicable.

Battle the Pitcher

There are times when a pitcher appears to dominate an at-bat, getting ahead in the count 0-2, only to see the batter battle back to 2-2 or 3-2. No matter that outcome of the at-bat at this point, a hitter wins a quality at-bat. This is because he has now really made the pitcher work, regardless of the result. At best the hitter gets on base via a hit, walk or maybe even hits a home run. At the very worst he makes an out but, in the process, has driven the pitch count up.

Calculating Quality At-Bat (QAB) Percentage

In a sense there is no real statistic for a QAB, so the way to calculate is varies. It’s very easy to just see how many quality at-bats a player has over the course of the season. A convenient way to calculate quality-at bat percentage is to do it the same way as a batting average.

First determine the total number of QAB and divide that by the plate appearances (PA). This will give you a value that looks similar to a batting average.  You can change the decimal result into a percent by multiplying by 100. Be careful not to divide by total number of at-bats because walks, hit by pitch, and sacrifice hits are not official at-bats.

For example, suppose a batter has 200 quality at-bats over the course of a season. He plays in enough games to accumulate 500 plate appearances. This player would have a quality at-bat percentage of 40%.

Is QAB a Good Stat?

When determining whether or not a statistic is “good” or useful, you must take combine it with other statistics. For example, a player with a .285 batting average but doesn’t walk or hit for power is less productive player than one with a .240 average but leads the team in home runs and RBI.

Quality at-bats is a nice statistic for evaluating how much a batter helped their team in terms of trying to score runs in their plate appearance. Combining quality at-bat percentage with other statistics gives a better overall evaluation of a performance value that the statistic alone.

Principles to Remember

When it comes to hitting, a player must not pressure himself into getting a hit every time at-bat. What should be first and foremost is to produce a quality at-bat. Hit the ball hard. If that is accomplished, the at-bat is a success, regardless of the outcome. Even if you don’t hit the ball hard, moving a runner, drawing a walk, even taking one for the team and getting hit by a pitch are all ways to get closer to the common goal. That goal is to score more runs than your opponent. If you do that, you are producing quality at-bats and helping your team win games.

Quality At-Bat (QAB) versus Plate Appearance (PA)

A plate appearance is necessary to have a quality at-bat, but certainly not all plate appearances result in a quality at-bat.  A positive outcome for the team can vary, but a quality at-bat helps a team in some way, whether big or small and a quality at-bat is any plate appearance that results in that positive outcome.

Quality At-Bat (QAB) versus At-Bat (AB)

Just as not all plate appearances result in a quality at-bat, the same can be said about at-bats. One interesting difference is that a player can have a quality at-bat that is not even an at-bat at all. For example, a walk is a positive offensive contribution, but it’s not an official at-bat.

best mlb jerseys 15 Best MLB Jerseys of All Time
Best Dominican Baseball Players 15 Best Dominican Baseball Players
best baseball plays 10 Best Baseball Plays of All Time

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *