Baseball - Statistics


Main article: Baseball statistics

Organized baseball lends itself to statistics to a greater degree than many other sports. Each play is discrete and has a relatively small number of possible outcomes. In the late nineteenth century, a former cricket player, English-born Henry Chadwick of Brooklyn, New York, was responsible for the "development of the box score, tabular standings, the annual baseball guide, the batting average, and most of the common statistics and tables used to describe baseball." The statistical record is so central to the game's "historical essence" that Chadwick came to be known as Father Baseball. In the 1920s, American newspapers began devoting more and more attention to baseball statistics, initiating what journalist and historian Alan Schwarz describes as a "tectonic shift in sports, as intrigue that once focused mostly on teams began to go to individual players and their statistics lines."

The Official Baseball Rules administered by Major League Baseball require the official scorer to categorize each baseball play unambiguously. The rules provide detailed criteria to promote consistency. The score report is the official basis for both the box score of the game and the relevant statistical records. General managers, managers, and baseball scouts use statistics to evaluate players and make strategic decisions.

Certain traditional statistics are familiar to most baseball fans. The basic batting statistics include:

  • At bats: plate appearances, excluding walks and hit by pitches—where the batter's ability is not fully tested—and sacrifices and sacrifice flies—where the batter intentionally makes an out in order to advance one or more baserunners
  • Hits: times reached base because of a batted, fair ball without fielding error or fielder's choice
  • Runs: times circling the bases and reaching home safely
  • Runs batted in (RBIs): number of runners who scored due to a batter's action (including the batter, in the case of a home run), except when batter grounded into double play or reached on an error
  • Home runs: hits on which the batter successfully touched all four bases, without the contribution of a fielding error
  • Batting average: hits divided by at bats—the traditional measure of batting ability

The basic baserunning statistics include:

  • Stolen bases: times advancing to the next base entirely due to the runner's own efforts, generally while the pitcher is preparing to deliver or delivering the ball
  • Caught stealing: times tagged out while attempting to steal a base

The basic pitching statistics include:

  • Wins: credited to pitcher on winning team who last pitched before the team took a lead that it never relinquished (a starting pitcher must pitch at least five innings to qualify for a win)
  • Losses: charged to pitcher on losing team who was pitching when the opposing team took a lead that it never relinquished
  • Saves: games where the pitcher enters a game led by the pitcher's team, finishes the game without surrendering the lead, is not the winning pitcher, and either (a) the lead was three runs or less when the pitcher entered the game; (b) the potential tying run was on base, at bat, or on deck; or (c) the pitcher pitched three or more innings
  • Innings pitched: outs recorded while pitching divided by three
  • Strikeouts: times pitching three strikes to a batter
  • Winning percentage: wins divided by decisions (wins plus losses)
  • Earned run average (ERA): runs allowed, excluding those resulting from fielding errors, per nine innings pitched

The basic fielding statistics include:

  • Putouts: times the fielder catches a fly ball, tags or forces out a runner, or otherwise directly effects an out
  • Assists: times a putout by another fielder was recorded following the fielder touching the ball
  • Errors: times the fielder fails to make a play that should have been made with common effort, and the batting team benefits as a result
  • Total chances: putouts plus assists plus errors
  • Fielding average: successful chances (putouts plus assists) divided by total chances

Among the many other statistics that are kept are those collectively known as situational statistics. For example, statistics can indicate which specific pitchers a certain batter performs best against. If a given situation statistically favors a certain batter, the manager of the fielding team may be more likely to change pitchers or have the pitcher intentionally walk the batter in order to face one who is less likely to succeed.

Read more about this topic:  Baseball

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Famous quotes containing the word statistics:

    He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts—for support rather than illumination.
    Andrew Lang (1844–1912)

    and Olaf, too

    preponderatingly because
    unless statistics lie he was
    more brave than me: more blond than you.
    —E.E. (Edward Estlin)

    O for a man who is a man, and, as my neighbor says, has a bone in his back which you cannot pass your hand through! Our statistics are at fault: the population has been returned too large. How many men are there to a square thousand miles in this country? Hardly one.
    Henry David Thoreau (1817–1862)