Statistics are an important part of baseball, as they are useful in evaluating a player or team's performance and identifying their strengths and weaknesses. There are several categories of statistics, such as offensive, pitching, and fielding. Additionally, statistics can be applied to a player's performance in a single game or over the entire season. In this tutorial, we will focus on the most useful and commonly-referenced stats.
A team is often evaluated and ranked using a win-loss record. A win-loss record contains the number of games the team has won, followed by a hyphen and the number of games the team has lost. For example, if a team has won sixteen games and has lost twelve games, their win-loss record would be written as 16-12.
The win-loss record is also sometimes expressed as a winning percentage. The winning percentage is calculated by dividing the number of wins by the total number of games played, and is always written as a decimal to the thousandths place. For example, a team whose win-loss record is 16-12 has a winning percentage of .571, which is sixteen (number of wins) divided by twenty-eight (total number of games played).
Having just covered team statistics, the next sections will define statistics that are often used to analyze individual players. If describing a player's performance in a single game, these statistics are documented in the game's box score. We will be using the box score as a guide, naming some of the most common stats that are found there.
A fielder achieves a putout when his action directly results in a batter/runner being out. This includes being in possession of the ball and stepping on a base a runner is advancing toward, catching a ball in the air, catching a third strike (only catchers can do this), or tagging a runner with the ball.
A fielder achieves an assist if he makes contact with the ball before another fielder completes a putout. Even if the ball accidentally brushes or touches a fielder, he will be credited with an assist as long as another fielder subsequently puts the runner out. Assists are most commonly achieved by fielders who throw the ball to another fielder to put the runner out.
A fielder is charged with an error if he messes up or fails to complete a play that he normally could have completed with normal effort. In other words, if a fielder falls short of the standard of performance on a given play, and his mistake has an outcome that would not have happened without the fielder's mistake, the fielder is charged with an error. For example, if a batter hits a routine ground ball and the shortstop doesn't properly secure the ball in his glove causing it to roll on the ground beneath him, and the batter-runner reaches first because of this mistake, the shortstop is charged with an error.