For older fans used to certain statistics or new fans trying to get into baseball, following the game in 2017 can seem like it requires having to learn a whole new vocabulary.
Once, terms like batting average, earned run average and slugging percentage dominated articles about baseball. Now, you might come across terms such Wins Above Replacement or Fielding Independent Pitching.
Just what are these people talking about?
Baseball fans mostly know, but it helps to have a handy list of some of the newer statistical terms that now get used as much as ERA or batting averages. The following list defines some of those terms, which really are nothing more than precise ways to determine a player’s value.
Popular Advanced Baseball Terms & New Statistics
These are terms and some new statistics you will find in many articles about baseball.
Calculating earned run average (ERA) has been the standard for judging pitchers for a very long time. That’s simply taking the total number of earned runs allowed multiplied by nine and divided by innings pitched. However, advanced statistical tools now allow for adding how the individual ballparks, each shaped differently, affect pitching statistics. The number also includes the average for every pitcher in both leagues and establishes a baseline – set at 100 – as the league average. An ERA+ above 100 means a pitcher is above average, while one below indicates a pitcher is worse than the league average.
Fielding Independent Pitching
Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is another new way to judge a pitcher’s effectiveness. This number is expressed like an ERA, but only factors in things pitchers control such as home runs allowed, walks and strikeouts. In another words, it does not give pitchers credit for runs prevented by the fielders playing behind him.
OPS – on-base plus slugging – is a remarkably good math tool for determining how good a batter is at generating runs. An on-base percentage simply means the percentage of time a batter gets on base, whether by a hit or drawing a walk. Slugging is the total number of bases of all hits divided by the number of at-bats. Add the two together for the OPS. An OPS of above .900 puts a player among the elite in the league.
WAR – Wins Above Replacement – is a complex formula used to judge how much value a player has above or below an average replacement player in the league. It is usually expressed as a single number that indicates how many wins a player contributed to above (or below) what an average replacement player would have done.
Another one that pops up a lot, DRS stands for Defensive Runs Saved. The number indicates how many runs a defensive player saved or cost his team by his play. A typical player will end up with about 15 to 20 saved runs over the course of a season.
That’s a taste of five of the most popular statistics now widely used not only by teams, but by the people writing about baseball. As math and analytics come more into play in calculating how to play baseball on the field, look for these numbers to come up even more often.