Baseball is one of the biggest sports in the US, exciting and delighting fans for years. There are plenty of reasons for its success, from its history and culture to the home runs and hot dogs. But one of the biggest draws for fans is analysing the stats and placing a bet on the game.
There are lots of online sportsbooks to choose from in the US, providing the very latest baseball odds for fans to wager on. But for anyone new to the sport – and even a few veterans of the sport! – the proliferation of statistics can sometimes be overwhelming. Luckily, we’ve compiled a guide to help explain the main baseball stats you need to know, and how they’re compiled.
There are three main batting stats:
- Batting average (BA, or AVG)
- On-base percentage (OBP)
- Slugging (SLG)
Batting average (BA)
One of the most common and familiar baseball stats, batting averages are used to measure a hitter’s success at the plate. The figure is determined by dividing a player’s total hits by his total at-bats, giving a number between zero and one.
- BA = hits / times at bats
While batting average is a good way of measuring a player’s success at the plate, it isn’t fool proof. The figure doesn’t take into account walks, hit-by-pitches or hit type. League averages are typically around .250, however, Hall of Fame outfielder Ty Cobb, (1886 – 1961) has the highest batting average in Major League Baseball history with a score of .367 over 24 seasons.
The on-base percentage is a measure of how often a batter reaches base per plate appearance. However, a fielding error, fielder’s obstruction, fielder’s choice, dropped third strike, or catcher’s interference does not count towards this figure.
- OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
When applied to a team’s line-up, it highlights how successful a team is at getting runners on the plates. Obviously, the more players a team has on base during a game, the better their chances of scoring runs and winning the game. Therefore, check out which team has the highest OBP number before placing any bets.
A player’s slugging stat comprises his total bases – including all extra-base hits – divided by at bats. Importantly, the slugging percentage only relates to hits and does not include walks and hit-by-pitches, which means that not all hits are valued equally.
- SLG = (1B + 2Bx2 + 3Bx3 + HRx4)/AB
Slugging percentage is regarded as one of the best assessments of player ability because it accounts for more than just home runs.
Other important batting stats to look out for are:
At Bats (AB)
Officially, an at-bat occurs when a batter reaches base via a fielder’s choice, hit or an error, and they are used to determine batting average and slugging percentage. Players who bat higher in the order will usually have more at-bats than players who hit lower down the order.
Run (R) and Runs Batted In (RBI)
A run is counted when the batter reaches home plate, either by a home run off their own bat, or through the effort of another batter. However, an RBI indicates a run scored as a result solely of the hitter’s efforts. Either way, a player with a high score in either column is finding a way to score for their team.
Home Run (HR)
There’s nothing like a home run to get the fans off their seats in appreciation. A home run is scored when a batter is able to run around the bases and safely reach home plate in one play – without any errors committed by the defensive team. This usually involves hitting the ball over the outfield fence without the ball touching the field.
Most Career home runs of all time
1. Barry Bonds – 762
2. Hank Aaron – 755
3. Babe Ruth – 714
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A team boasting players with high HR stats are more likely to score runs, but as with all stats, you need to be careful when assessing the numbers. Totals can be influenced by the size of the ballpark, and how high the walls are. So make sure to check out where the bulk of these home runs are being scored when assessing the importance of a players HR stats.
Earned Run Average (ERA)
This stat is hugely popular with fans and bettors alike. Earned Run Average represents the average number of earned runs a team’s pitcher allows an opponent per nine innings – earned runs being any runs that are scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball.
- ERA = 9 x earned runs/innings pitched.
It’s important to understand that a high ERA does not necessarily improve a team’s chances of winning. The stat is more commonly used to evaluate pitchers and is often used to help determine which teams are harder or easier to score against. This is useful for bets based on total runs scored or winning margins.
It’s important to remember that a single statistic does not always reflect the whole truth and can be influenced by multiple factors, so make sure you do your research before placing your bet.
Digsmak is a news publisher with over 12 years of reporting experiance; and have published in many industry leading publications and news sites.