Batting Alphabet Soup

Have you ever looked at the back of a baseball card?  On it you will find all of the stats for that particular player.  Having grown up with three brothers, I’ve looked at the back of plenty of baseball cards, and I thought I knew what the majority of these stats were (I’ve also chewed my share of that pink, powdered, cardboard gum!).  But lately, a lot of acronyms have come to light that leave me clueless.  OBP, RISP, SLG?  More new baseball code!  What do these mean?  Today, we’ll tackle some of the offensive stat abbreviations so we can all be “in the know”.

Let’s start with the basic baseball card abbreviations.  1B, 2B, 3B, and HR stand for Singles, Doubles, Triples, and Homeruns.  BB stands for Base on Balls (Walks).  SO stands for Strikeouts.  SB stands for Stolen Bases and CS stands for Caught Stealing  (hopefully their SB is much higher than their CS, otherwise why even try!).  GP stands for Games Played.  AB stands for the number of At Bats the player has had.  R stands for Runs – this is different from Homeruns because it includes all the times you were able to cross home plate.  Say you got a single and then someone hit a homerun with you on base, you would be credited with a run.  RBI stands for Runs Batted In.  This is the number of runs that you are responsible for bringing in.  If you hit a homerun with one person on base, you get credited for 2 RBIs (the guy who came in and yourself), or if you hit a single and a guy on third base scores as a result, you get 1 RBI.  Even if you walk with the bases loaded, you will get credited with 1 RBI.

All of these basic abbreviations can be used together to come up with player batting stats.  The only one that I knew offhand before this last year was a player’s Batting Average.  This is abbreviated AVG or BA (I personally like BA better cause it makes me giggle!  LOL!).  This is calculated by taking the number of all hits divided by the number of at bats.  The higher the BA, the better the guy is at connecting with the ball.  A great Batting Average is above .300.  And if you don’t want to sound like a baseball noob, .300 is pronounced 300 (leave the point off – I learned this the hard way).

In the last few decades, statisticians have revolutionized the way we evaluate batters.  Add to the Batting Average the OBP, or On Base Percentage.  This is calculated by taking the (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch) divided by (At Bats + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Sac Fly).  This stat is like the batting average but takes into account the number of times a guy walks, because frankly a walk can be as good as a single.  It basically tells you how well a guy is at getting on base.  If this stat is too close to the BA, a guy may be swinging at anything and not taking advantage of poor pitching.

Another statistic that I just learned about from my cousin, Manny, is the Slugging Average (SA or SLG).  I love this term – it just sounds so traditionally baseball.  Doesn’t everyone want to be a great slugger??  Anyway, the SLG is calculated by taking the number of [(Singles) + [2 x  Doubles) + (3 x Triples) + (4 x Homeruns)] divided by At Bats.  Basically it’s the average number of bases a player reaches in an at bat.  This stat gives you more insight into the power of a hitter.  After all, two guys could have the same BA, but the one with the higher SLG is the one who is doing more for your team.  One other statistic you might see is the OPS, or On Base Plus Slugging (I know – they left out the B – that’s baseball for ya’!).  This is just OBP and the SLG added together.  It is often used to compare a player’s overall performance and production versus his fellow players.  A good OPS is around .900 to .950.  Over that and you can consider yourself a baseball great.  Babe Ruth has the highest career OPS at 1.1636.

Another stat I’ll throw in because I’ve seen it come up a lot lately (especially during Giants games where it is VERY important) is the batting average with RISP.  RISP stands for Runners In Scoring Position.  This is a player’s batting average when there are runners on second or third base (in scoring position).  Hopefully you will have a high BA with RISP (unlike a lot of Giants players lately – sorry, guys, but the truth hurts).  It can be a measure of how well a player does under pressure.

One more baseball term that comes up when discussing stats is the split.  A player’s statistics can be split apart based on different circumstances.  You can calculate BA from left-handed pitchers vs. right-handed pitchers, away vs. home, even at night vs. day games.  During the Comcast Sportsnet game broadcasts, these splits will often be listed along with the player’s other stats.

Now that you can spout out baseball abbreviations with the best of them, let’s get to the spit count!  I have one new one for you today:

August 20th

Giants:

–         Sandoval 12

–         Keppinger 6

–         Schierholtz 4

–         Bumgarner 3

–         Stewart 3

–         Huff 2

–         Fontenot 2

–         Ross 1

–         Bochy 1

–         Casilla 1

–         Kelly 1

Astros:

–         Lee 5

–         Paredes 4

–         Martinez 3

–         Lyles 3

–         Mills 2

–         Altuve 2

–         Barmes 1

–         Shuck 1

–         Escalona 1

–         F. Rodriguez 1

Misc.:

–         Umpire 3 (all from one umpire)

Game Spit Master General = Sandoval at 12

That’s a total of 62 spits during a 2 hour and 40 minute game for an average of 1 spit every 2.5 minutes.

One general observation on the spitting – the Giants spit a lot compared to other teams.  It is rare to have the other team lead in the overall spit counts.  This might be explained due to the fact that since it’s a Giants broadcast, they focus more on Giants players, but I really don’t think it would be this lopsided every time.  Chill out on the spitting, guys!

Congrats to Jose Altuve on his inside-the-park homerun on Saturday night – pretty impressive for a rookie.  That’s the second one I’ve seen this season (I thought they were rarer than that).  Too bad both were for the other team!!!

I was trying to take something positive out of this last stretch of away games, and one thing I thought of was at least they weren’t swept by any of the other teams.  They were able to pull out at least one win from each (even though they should have won a ton more based on their records!).  I’m hoping the injuries will FINALLY subside and we can get our act together soon.  And please, Mr. Bochy, don’t send Brandon Belt back down again.  The boy is doing well, and he needs as much batting practice as he can get.  Hang in there, boys.  GO GIANTS!!

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2 comments

  1. Dave Benz

    Great stuff Carm. BTW: You’ve certainly noticed the terrible habit Madison Bumgarner has of “clearing” his nose repeatedly during his outings. Disgusting.

    It was a pleasure to met you at the CSN BBQ and I’m sorry it took me so long to get around to your blog.

    Dave Benz

    • giantsfancarm

      DAVE! You are awesome! Thanks so much for actually taking the time out of your extremely busy schedule to read my blog and comment. This just made my year! And yes, I’ve noticed Mr. Bumgarner’s extra-bad habit. I refer to this act as a “snot rocket.” For giggles, I actually did a snot rocket count in today’s game (along with the spit count, of course), and I’ll post the results in my next blog. Pretty gross, let me tell you! Thanks again, and I’ll be watching to learn more about baseball from all of you. HEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!

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