Baseball stats are the main component of sabermetrics, the objective analysis of baseball performance. The field is fraught with abbreviations and equations, so let’s start with the most basic batting stats: AB denotes the number of times per season a player is at bat, H records how often a batter reaches first base due to an uncaught hit, and R measures how often a player crosses home plate to score a run. Similarly, HR reflects total homeruns – a hit that allows the batter to circle all bases in one play.
A player’s RBI (Runs batted in) increases whenever a hit allows that player or a teammate to score a run. This may result from a successful hit or a homerun, but a batter can better their RBI through sacrifice plays, which allow other runners to score even though the batter's hit ball is caught. If a player has the highest RBI, AVG, and number of HRs in the league, he is awarded the Triple Crown.
Pitching statistics are a separate set of figures that offer insight to a pitcher's performance: GP refers to pitchers total number of games played that season; IP show how many innings a player has pitched; GS reflects how many games the pitcher started; GF, how many games he finished; and CG, the number of complete games pitched, without relief from a second pitcher.
A player’s pitched strikeouts (SO or K) are also recorded, as are their total number of walks (BB). Likewise, hits (H), runs (R), and homeruns (HR) hit off a player’s pitches play a vital role. ER refers to the total runs earned off a pitcher, while the ERA shows the average ER per nine innings pitched. When it comes to ERA, the lower the better; the best ERA of all time is 1.82, set by the Chicago White Sox’s Ed Walsh.
Whereas a batter’s success is more determined by their personal performance, a pitcher’s career is closely tied to their team’s overall standing. W refers to the number of games in which a pitcher took and kept the lead for his team, eventually winning the game; likewise, L records loses. A pitcher who leads the league in W, SO, and ERA is eligible for the Triple Crown.
This is just a glance at baseball’s statistics; there were some important figures we didn’t get to cover. Introductory though it may be, hopefully this new knowledge will make America’s Pastime a little less puzzling.