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The Beginner's Guide to Baseball

Baseball is America’s national pastime. Many of us played it as kids. It may seem like a simple game of hitting a ball and running the bases, but statistics also play a big part. Here are some terms and stats to know for the upcoming MLB season.

Photo courtesy of Dreamtime

For Batters

Batting Average (AVG), is the calculation of how many hits a player gets divided by how many at-bats. Ideally, a player would want their AVG to be at least .280. If you are batting 300 (.300), you are a very good hitter. An example of how to calculate AVG: In 2023, the Blue Jays’ Bo Bichette had 175 hits and 571 at-bats This gives him a batting average of .306 (175÷ 571= .306). In the 2023 season, nine players had a batting average above  .300, which is pretty great.

On-base percentage (OBP) is the number of times a batter gets on base divided by how many plate appearances they have. A good OBP is typically .350 or higher, and an OBP of .400 is extremely good. An example of a player with a good OBP is Ronald Acuña Jr. with a .416 OBP. Typically, you do not want your average to be below .340.

Photo courtesy of the MLB

Slugging Average is the total amount of bases divided by plate appearances. If a batter takes multiple bases, then every base they take is accounted for and added to that. A good slugging average would be .400 or higher. In 2023, Corbin Carroll had the 18th-best slugging average. He had an average of .506. 

On-base Plus Slugging (OPS) is a player’s OBP plus their slugging average. Example. The higher the number, the better. An example of a player with a great OPS would be Adolis Garcia from the Texas Rangers. He had an OPS of .836. A good OPS would be at least .700 but typically a player would want theirs to be over .800.

Runs Batted In (RBI) is when a player is at bat and hits the ball allowing the players on base to score. Sixteen players had 100 or more RBIs in the 2023 season. Matt Olson from the Braves had 139 RBIs, the most in the 2023 season. 

Wins Above Replacement (WAR) shows how valuable a player is. WAR measures the amount of wins a player is worth over a replacement player. A replacement player is typically a player in the minor leagues. In 2023, Shohei Ohtani had the highest WAR of 10.1. This past season, 27 players had a WAR of five or greater.  

When a player is in the on-deck circle, that means they are batting next. While the player in front of them in the lineup is at bat, this player is in the circle practicing their swing and getting ready for their turn at bat.

Pinch Hitter (PH) is someone who replaces a player who was in the batting lineup. The person that the PH replaces is not able to go back into the game once the PH goes in. Pinch Hitters may go in for tactical reasons.

Scoring position is in reference to a player on base. If a player is on either second or third base, they are in scoring position. 

Photo courtesy of the MLB

For Pitchers

Earned run average (ERA) is the number of runs a pitcher allows during the innings he pitches. The lower the ERA, the better. An example of a player with a good ERA is Gerrit Cole. Cole’s ERA was 2.63 in the 2023 season.

Innings Pitched (IP), is the total number of innings that a pitcher is in a game. In order for the pitcher’s IP to go up, they must have had an out in the inning. Three outs make one inning. 

For Defense Players

Fielding Percentage (FPCT), is the percentage for when a player in the outfield (a defense player) handles the balls and makes the play. The ball can either be in action from a batter hitting the ball or the ball being thrown. 

Photo courtesy of MLB Stats

Other Abbreviations To Know

HR = Home Run

SB = Stolen Base

R = Run

K= strikeout while swinging

ꓘ = strikeout while looking (the player did not swing at any of the pitches)

Edited by Shaniya Scales

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