I’ve been told that I use a lot of abbreviations and stats when I post on my blog. So I thought I’d put up a baseball glossary of terms that I use on a regular basis. Some of these are fairly rudimentary, while others are more obscure. But I think baseball fans of all levels will enjoy reading it and will probably learn something. (I learned something and I picked the terms!!!) I want to thank Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus for their help on these categories. When I needed to know formulas or didn’t know how to put things into non-baseball words, they really helped me out and taught me even more about this stuff. Enjoy!
AB: At Bat- a plate appearance where a player hits safely, records an out, reaches on an error or fielders choice or reaches base after striking out on a wild pitch or passed ball. Bunts, sac flies, walks and hit by pitches do not count as At Bats.
AVG Average- refers to a player’s batting average. It’s calculated as the average number of hits per at bats. 300 is considered excellent. A perfect batting average is 1.000 and is called batting a thousand.
BAA: Batting Average Against- this is a stat that measures how effective pitchers are against hitters. It measures the average number of hits per at bats that all hitters who faced that pitcher were able to earn. If a pitcher faces 2 hitters and one gets a hit off of him, his BAA is 500. A BAA of 250 is average, with anything below 230 being good.
BABIP: Batting Average on Balls in Play- this measures how many of a hitter’s balls in play drop for hits. It’s a newer stat, part of the sabermetric revolution. This measurement is used in lieu of batting average at times because it can more effectively take luck into account. This stat is affected by 3 variables: defense, luck and adjustments. Players can’t control the talent of defenses they face, they have no bearing on how lucky they are when they hit balls, and if a player has had pitchers or managers make adjustments to him (like hitting into a defensive shift), that can affect their BABIP. This stat is an effective way of judging whether a hitter’s good AVG is a result of luck or is more legitimate. By taking strikeouts out of the measurement, we see exactly how successful a hitter is when he puts the ball in play. The average BABIP is 300. So if a hitter has a BABIP of over 300, then they were generally lucky whereas hitters with BABIPs lower than 300 were generally unlucky. BABIPs are prone to fluctuation as well, but it just gives us another point of reference to look at what a hitter has done in the past and try to understand how they will perform in the future. If a hitter has a breakout year where he hits for high average, we can look at his BABIP and see if it was a fluke. For example, if a 250 hitter hits 300 one season and his BABIP for that season was 378, then this was likely a fluke season for the player. The same goes for a 300 hitter who hits 250. If his BABIP was 260, then that was also likely a fluke. But some hitters are able to affect their BABIP. Fast guys typically have high BABIPs and guys who hit into shifts typically have low BABIPs. So you have to take a hitter’s career BABIP into account when checking out how they did in an individual year. If a hitter has a career 350 BABIP, then a 300 BABIP is actually below average for him, and could be the reason why instead of hitting 300 he hit 260. Also, line drives drop for hits more than ground balls and ground balls are hits more than flyballs. So hitters who have a better year than they’ve ever had that also have a high flyball rate, may have had some luck on their side, meaning their BABIP would be higher than either the league average, their career average, or both.
BB: Base on Balls- it’s another term for a walk. In an at bat, when a pitcher throws four balls out of the strike zone that the hitter doesn’t swing at, he walks them. Or the batter has earned the “base on balls” due to the pitcher throwing 4 balls.
BSV: Blown Save- this is not an officially recognized stat by MLB, but it’s widely used to compare closers. When a pitcher is brought into a Save situation and lets the tying run score, he has recorded a blown save. Often the closer ends up being the loser of that game, or occasionally the winner if his team comes back and wins the game, but he has blown the Save either way.
CG: Complete Game- a pitcher earns a complete game when he pitches the entire game on his own. If a game goes to extra innings and a reliever is brought in then the first pitcher does not get a complete game, even if he pitched the first 9 innings. If a visiting team is on the road and loses, then the pitcher of their team only pitches 8 innings. But if he pitches all 8 innings and no reliever comes on, then that is also considered a complete game. As long as no relief pitcher is brought on, then the pitcher who both starts and finishes a game is given the Complete Game. The record for Complete Games in a season is 75 by Wil White in the 1800s, but Complete Games were more common earlier in baseball. Many believe Cy Young’s 749 Complete Games is the record least likely to ever be broken. Nowadays, with the new focus on pitch counts and the advancement and specialization of bullpens, Complete Games are less common. James Shields led the majors last year with 11, while C.C. Sabathia and Roy Halladay are commonly two of the pitchers with the most complete games in baseball each year. Halladay is the active leader in Complete Games with 66.
Double: Double- a hit where the batter is able to make it to second base safely. A common hit with power hitters able to make it to second after driving the ball off the wall or into the gaps in left and right center, or with speedy guys who hit the ball down the lines or towards a gap where they can use their speed to make it to second before the outfielders can get the ball back into the infield.
ER: Earned Run- a run given up by a pitcher that he is responsible for. If a run scores as a result of anything other than an error or passed ball, then that run is earned and will affect a pitcher’s earned run average. Runs that score as a result of errors are called unearned runs.
ERA: Earned Run Average- the average number of earned runs a pitcher will allow in 9 innings or work. Three is considered very good, below 3 is great, and around 4.25 is considered average.
Error: Error- an error occurs when a fielder misplays a ball in a way that allows a hitter to reach base, when he ordinarily would have been out. Errors are at the discretion of the official scorer who is different at each ballpark. But the general rule is if a hitter reaches base because of a mistake on the fielder’s part (bad throw, dropped fly ball, lost the ball in the sun, ball goes under a player’s glove, ball is dropped when a fielder takes it from his glove to throw) and the batter reaches base when he shouldn’t, then it was an error on the fielder’s part.
FIP: Fielding Independent Pitching- a statistic that measures a pitcher’s three true outcomes (Home Runs, Walks and Strikeouts) and converts them into an ERA like number. This is a way to accurately measure a pitcher’s performance without taking defense into account. A good pitcher with a bad defense is unfairly punished when they make errors or don’t get to balls that should be outs. A bad pitcher with a good defense seems better than he is when he has gold glove outfielders making diving plays on line drives in center and great plays at short to turn double plays. The only “true” outcomes (something 100% affected by the pitcher) are home runs (the fielders never touch the ball), walks (same things) and strikeouts (same thing). The formula used is (13*HR+3*BB-2*K)/IP. So you take the number of home runs a pitcher gives up, multiply it by 13 then add it to the number of Walks he allows multiplied by 3. You then subtract the number of Ks he racked up multiplied by 2 and divide the whole thing by the number of innings he pitched. Then you add a constant (generally 3.2) to scale the number to the league average. I used Baseball Prospectus’ formula, which calls hit batsmen walks and uses different averages for different leagues. Pitcher’s really only have power over the three true outcomes, (HR, BB and Ks) and this is a way to compare them all fairly. It’s another newer sabermetric stat that is incredibly useful and was invented by Tom Tango. Baseball prospectus gives a comparison of FIP based on outcomes from the 2011 season:
Excellent- Roy Halladay 2.17
Great- David Price 3.36
Average- Tim Stauffer 4.00
Below Average- Carlos Zambrano 4.56
Horrendous- Bronson Arroyo 5.68
Hold: Hold- when a pitcher enters a game in a Save situation, records one or more outs, and leaves the game with that lead still intact. The Hold is not an official MLB statistic but was invented in the 80s to recognize the good work of setup pitchers, though long and middle relievers can also get Holds. Also, a team does not have to win a game for a pitcher on that team to get a Hold, as long as the pitcher enters the game in a Save situation and leaves the game with the lead intact.
HR: Home Run- a hit where the batter is able to round the bases and score safely. A batter who hits a home run is also credited with at least one RBI and run scored. If some of his teammates are on base then they will also score on a home run and he will get credit for driving them in. A home run with the bases loaded is called a grand slam. Most home runs nowadays are hit over the fence in the outfield. But there are also inside the park home runs, generally hit by fast guys who put the ball in the gap, down the line or somewhere else where it takes the fielder a while to get to the ball. They are much rarer than a standard home run, which goes over the fence.
IP: Innings Pitched- the amount of innings a pitcher throws. If a pitcher goes 6 innings and comes out before the 7th, he had 6 IP. If he comes out in the middle of the 6th after getting one out in the inning, he’s gone 6 and a third (commonly notated 6.1 IP). In a season, 200 innings is considered very good.
K: Strikeout- when three strikes are recorded in an at bat, the batter is out. Pitchers and hitters keep track of their personal strikeout numbers, obviously with pitchers wanting more and hitters wanting less. Henry Chadwick invented the short hand of the K, using the most prominent letter in “struck” and the inference of a knockout, or K.O. In scorekeeping, a K is used to show a swinging strikeout, while a backwards K denotes a batter who struck out looking. But at it’s basic level, a hitter has three chances to swing at a pitch or see a pitch in the strike zone before the pitcher has struck him out. After two strikes, a hitter can continue to foul off pitches in the zone and still no strike out. But after two strikes have been called, if the batter lets another strike go by or swings and misses, he strikes out.
Loss: Loss- a pitcher takes the Loss when he gives the opposing team a lead that his team is never able to retake. Unlike a Win, a pitcher can be charged with a Loss after the first inning. If he gives up a run in the first inning, then nothing over the next 8, then in the ninth another pitcher gives up 4 runs, the original pitcher is on the hook for the loss since his team never took the lead back after he gave up a run. A reliever can be charged with a Loss if they give up a lead and their team is unable to come back and tie the game up.
PA: Plate Appearance- when a batter comes up to hit. It is differentiated from an At Bat because walks and Sacrifices don’t count as at bats. But they are still plate appearances. To qualify for the batting title, you have to meet the minimum number of plate appearances. The only way a batter gets up to bat and it is not counted as a plate appearance, is if an out is made somewhere other than at the plate. (someone caught stealing or picked off with 2 outs in an inning). It’s not considered a plate appearance because the same batter will leadoff the following inning. Though any balls and strikes he saw will not count against him and his next at bat begins with 0 balls and 0 strikes.
QS: Quality Start- a start in which a pitcher throws at least 6 complete innings and allows 3 or fewer earned runs. His team can win or lose that game, but if a pitcher gives up less than 3 runs and pitches 6 full innings, it’s still a quality start. It’s one of the most effective stats for measuring how pitchers perform each year.
R: Run- when a player comes around to score he is given a run. When a team has their players score they get runs. The team with the most runs wins the game. Anytime a player scores, he is credited with scoring a run, even if it’s an unearned run or no one is credited with an RBI. Scoring 100 R in a season is considered excellent (for a player, not team).
RBI: Run Batted In- when a batter drives in a run. If there are any runners on base and a batter is able to hit the ball somewhere that allows runners to score, he is credited with an RBI. A home run is an automatic RBI as you drive yourself in, but if runners are on base you are credited with driving them in too. If the bases are loaded and you walk or are hit by a pitch, then the runner comes in and you are still credited with an RBI. Also, if there is a runner on third with less than 2 outs, a deep fly ball allows a runner to tag up and score. That’s a sacrifice fly and also a situation where a batter is credited with an RBI. If there is a runner on third and a batter grounds out, but the runner scores, that’s still an RBI. However if a batter hits into a double play and a runner scores, it’s not an RBI. If a wild pitch or pass ball allows a runner to score, then that’s not an RBI. Getting 100 RBI in one season is considered outstanding.
Save: Save- a pitcher earns a Save if he is the last pitcher to throw for a team, is not the pitcher who gets the win, comes into the game with his team holding a lead of 3 runs or less, finishes the game with the tying run either on base, at bat or on deck, or comes into a game with his team leading and pitches effectively for three innings finishing the game. Generally a closer comes in for the last inning of a game when his team is leading by 3 runs or less and pitches one inning to get the Save. Closers are generally the best pitcher in your bullpen, or at least the most overpowering. Many can throw 100 MPH. 30 or more Saves in a single season is considered very good, but can mean less if a closer’s ERA, WHIP or Blown Save numbers are high.
SB: Stolen Base- when a batter is able to move from one base to the next while the pitcher is delivering the ball to the plate, he is awarded with a stolen base. If the catcher throws him out, then the runner is caught stealing (CS). Stolen bases were on the decline, but are recently on the rise again. 20 stolen bases in one season is considered pretty good, while 30 is considered great. However the leaders in the category each season generally steal 40-50 bases with the occasional 60 stolen base season.
SHO: Shutout- when a team beats another team without allowing them to score a single run. Pitchers can throw a shutout, if they pitch a complete game and don’t allow any runs in a game. Shutouts are rare and generally are an indication that a pitcher dominated a lineup.
Single: Single- a single occurs when a batter puts the ball in play in a spot where he is able to reach first base safely. If an error occurs, or another player on the base paths is tagged out, then no single occurs. But when a hitter is able to reach first base after hitting the ball, it’s called a single. It’s the most basic hit in the game.
Triple: Triple- a triple occurs when a batter gets a hit and is able to reach third base safely before the ball is returned to the infield. A triple is one of the most exciting plays in baseball as it is also one of the rarest. Generally triples occur when fast runners put a ball in the right or left center gap or down the lines. Most often they happen when the ball is hit to the right side of the field. You will also see triples when outfielders dive and miss or overrun balls and allow them to get behind them.
Win: Win- pitchers earn wins if they are in the game when their team takes the lead for the last time. Starting pitchers must complete 5 innings to earn a Win, in addition to giving up less runs than their own team scores. Pitchers who throw complete games and win the game by 3 runs or less cannot also earn a Save. Relievers can earn Wins if they are the pitcher on the mound or last on the mound when their team takes the lead. 15 Wins in a season is considered very good, while 20 Wins in a season is great. Wins have traditionally been the benchmark used to compare pitchers, though recently it’s been considered less since so many things can contribute to wins that a pitcher has no control over.
WHIP: Walks plus Hits over Innings Pitched- this is a measurement of a pitcher’s ability to keep runners off base. It’s calculated by adding a pitcher’s walks and hits and then dividing that number by the number of innings that pitcher threw. It’s another good way to measure an individual pitcher’s effectiveness.