Every collegiette can find something at a baseball game that they can enjoy: the atmosphere, the athletes, the ballpark food and the game itself, but it’s hard to understand the game when the stats make no sense. Here we are breaking down the numbers for you so that next time you attend a game you can wow everyone with your baseball expertise!
The game of baseball is built heavily upon numbers and statistics, some of which can be hard to understand at times. Some pretty basic stats are always present on a baseball player’s line, but there are some that are a bit more difficult to understand.
The most basic statistic, and one of the easiest to calculate, is a player’s batting average (BA). This comes from taking the number of hits a player gets, divided by the number of at-bats he has. Keep in mind that a walk does not count as an at-bat, so don’t include those in your calculations. Additionally, errors and a fielder’s choice do not count toward the batting average. So if a player goes 3-for-4 in a game, his batting average for the day would be .750. In a baseball season, batting anywhere around .300 is considered excellent, but most players hit between .250 and .275.
A better indicator of a player’s worth is his on-base percentage (OBP). To calculate OBP, add up all the players’ hits, walks and hit-by-pitches. Then, divide that number by the player’s at-bats, walks, sac flies and hit-by-pitches. So if a player had a hit, a walk and then reached on a fielder’s choice in his three at-bats, then his OBP for the day would be .666. An average OBP for the season is .300 to .350.
Rating a player’s power is the slugging percentage (SLG). To calculate that, the first thing you need is the total bases reached by the player. This means that if a person gets a single, it would be one base; a double, two bases; a triple, three bases; a homerun, four bases. Then divide the number of bases by the number of at-bats the player has. If a player were to go 2-for-4 with a homerun and a single, then his slugging percentage would be 1.25. He reached four bases for his homerun, and one base for a single, meaning he totaled five bags for the day. Five bags divided by four at-bats is 1.25.
A statistic that many people like is the on-base plus slugging (OPS), as it measures both the player’s ability to get on base plus hit for power. To calculate this, all you need to do is add the player’s OBP and SLG. An average OPS is .750. To put it in perspective, Albert Pujols, arguably the best player in the MLB, usually has an OPS around 1.000. Impressive stuff.
Those are the most commonly used batting statistics. When it comes to pitching, the earned run average (ERA) is key. To calculate a pitcher’s ERA, you take a pitcher’s earned runs in a game, and multiply it by nine. Then, divide that number by the number of innings he pitched. If a pitcher gave up three runs in 7.2 innings pitched (Use a decimal when the pitcher didn’t finish the inning. 7.2 means that he completed the seventh inning, and then got two outs in the eighth. If he only got one out in the eighth, he would have completed 7.1 innings) then his ERA would be 3.75. It can get tricky when errors are involved. If a batter reached base on an error and then scores, he doesn’t count toward the pitcher’s earned run average. Additionally, if any runs are scored after an error that should’ve been the third out is made, all of those runs are unearned as well. If the pitcher’s ERA is 3.75, that simply means that if he were the pitch the full nine innings, he would be expected to give up close to four runs. The lower a pitcher’s ERA , the better.
Another popular pitching stat is the WHIP, or walks and hits per inning pitched. To find out a pitcher’s WHIP, just add the number of hits and walks given up, divided by number of innings pitched. This stat directly measures the pitcher’s effectiveness against the batters, where ERA only measures the runs given up. If a pitcher was to give up six hits and two walks in seven innings, his WHIP would be 1.14. Most pitchers would be satisfied with a WHIP around 1.000, as anything higher means they let about two batters reach base per inning.