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Baseball Stats for Beginners – Part 1

May 20, 2013 /  by  

So, on my way to Illinois this weekend, I had some time (ok, a lot) to ponder baseball. One of my good friends who I knows reads this column was asking me a few questions about the game, and I realized that at times, I probably present stats and acronyms that not everyone will comprehend.

Not wanting to be completely esoteric, I thought I’d do a basic entry on a few of the terms and statistics that you might see me write about. If you’re a big baseball nut, you’ll likely know what all of these terms are, so this entry may not be as informative to you; if so, disregard. But if you’ve read any of my posts and wondered what a slashline is, read on, you handsome man/pretty lady, you! This first post will cover batting statistics; I’ll cover pitching and fielding in another entry, assuming this one goes over well.

Sidenote, anyone who can guess what player’s statistics are in the cover of this article will get a free…something. I dunno. A free hug. I’ll give you a hint; he won the triple crown (most home runs, RBI, and batting average) for an entire decade.

Batting Average (BA or AVG)

This one’s pretty simple, but I won’t take anything for granted. Say Matt Carpenter leads the game off with a single. Not a bad start. Then in his next at-bat, he strikes out, which is not so bueno.

Were this the very beginning of the season and these were the first two at-bats he took, his batting average would be .500, as average is simply the amount of hits you have divided by the amount of at-bats you take, which in this case would be 1/2.

What’s a good batting average?

.300 is normally considered the defining line of a very good hitter, although if you’re hitting .280 or above, you’re usually doing something right. Stan Musial retired with a .331 career average, which is phenomenal. The career record holder is Ty Cobb, who hit .367 in his lifetime.

On-Base Percentage (OBP)

Ok, so say Matt walks in his third at-bat. This is where things start to get confusing. Because he didn’t get a hit or get out, it doesn’t count as an at-bat, but it DOES count as a plate appearance, which you may see written as PA on some sites. Therefore, his batting average would stay at .500, but because he got on base, his on-base percentage would be .667, as he has been on base twice in three plate appearances.

What’s a good on-base percentage?

Depending on the hitter, about .350. Generally if you have an OBP of .350 or above, you’re either getting a lot of hits, you’re drawing a lot of walks (or hit by pitches), or both.