Bill James and Billy Beane might have started it, but an increased interest in advanced sabermetrics has led the sports world into the golden age of statistical information. Baseball isn’t the only sport either. Basketball has become increasingly “nerdy” and reliant on advanced stats. And the MIT Sloan Advanced Analytics Conference has allowed scientists, mathematicians, and sports nuts to collide.
With progress, though, comes confusion. It’s rather easy to get lost in a series of meaningless acronyms and numbers. WAR, OPS, BABIP, UZR – just what do they all mean? Shedding some light on these advanced numbers might just revise the way fans and analysts think about baseball. Here are ten important advanced stats used in baseball today.
What is it: WAR stands for Wins Above Replacement. It’s a generalized number that indicates just how good a player is versus a median major league player. In other words, if you replace an average player with a WAR of 1 with one with a WAR of 5, you in essence add four wins to your team.
What is it: BABIP stands for Batting Average on Balls in Play. It represents the number of hits a player gets on balls put into the field of play.
What is it: UZR stands for Ultimate Zone Rating. It measures how many runs a player either saves or allows while on defense.
What is it: WHIP stands for Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched. WHIP measures how many walks and hits a pitcher gives up each inning.
What is it: DRS stands for Defensive Runs Saved. It indicates how many runs a defensive player saves when he’s on the field.
5 K/9 and BB/9
What are they: K/9 and BB/9 measure the number of strikeouts (K) and walks (BB) a pitcher averages per every nine innings pitched.
What is it: RF stands for Range Factor. Developed by Bill James, RF is calculated by adding the number of put-outs and assists and dividing them by the innings played. It’s supposed to give an indication of the number of outs a player participates in and how valuable they are – versus the commonly used fielding percentage number.
3 Swing and Contact %
What are they: There’s a plethora of swing and contact stats for both pitchers and hitters. These look like Z-Swing% (swing percentage on pitches that are strikes), O-Swing% (swing percentage on pitches outside the strike zone), Z-Contact % (contact percentage on pitches in the strike zone), and O-Contact% (outside the zone).
2 LD%, GB%, and FB%
What Are They: These statistics measure line drive (LD), ground ball (GB), and fly ball (FB) rates a pitcher allows.
What is it: ISO stands for Isolated Power. It measures a hitter’s raw power and provides a good indication on how well a batter hits for extra bases.
How it Works: ISO is calculated by subtracting batting average from slugging percentage. Official statisticians use a slightly more complex formula, but the simple version works well enough. ISO needs a lot of data (at-bats) in order to generate a number which is significant and accurate. In fact, over 500 ABs is a good starting place to get a good idea of how well a batter hits for power. The better players in baseball might post an ISO of 0.250, which is excellent.
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