Analytics and sabermetrics run the show for Major League Baseball organizations today. With the rise of popular platforms like Fantasy Baseball, fans continue educating themselves on analytics that predict quality baseball players over just mere name recognition.
For pitchers, you have something called WHIP, which measures the number of walks and hits per inning pitched. Here is the full breakdown of the WHIP stat and more.
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What Does WHIP Mean in Baseball?
The acronym “WHIP” refers to the walks and hits per inning pitched that an MLB pitcher records. The formula calculates how many baserunners a pitcher gives up per inning. In theory, teams and fantasy baseball owners look at WHIP as a leading indicator that the pitcher is doing their job in keeping baserunners off the base paths. Finally, intentional walks do count against WHIP, which can slightly throw off this statistic for a pitcher if this decision comes from the manager.
To receive a lower WHIP via a stat line, pitchers need to record outs and not allow baserunners to reach bases. Outs can be ground-outs, flyouts, or strikeouts. In theory, a lower WHIP tends to lead to a better ERA (earned run average) for a pitcher because fewer men are on the bases to score.
What Does WHIP Not Measure?
One knock on WHIP is that the calculation doesn’t consider how the baserunner got on base. For example, a hitter who walks has the same impact as a batter who hits a double in this calculation. WHIP does not reflect a hit batter, an error, and a runner reaching on a fielder’s choice, though.
How to Calculate a Pitcher’s WHIP?
WHIP = (Walks + Hits) / Total Innings Pitched
Let’s pretend that Pitcher A ended the season by giving up 60 walks, 275 hits, and pitched 210 innings. The pitcher is looking to understand their pitching statistics for the season, so they calculate their WHIP.
(60 Walks + 275 hits) = 335
335 Walks Plus Hits / 210 Number of innings pitched = 1.59 WHIP
What is a Good WHIP in Baseball?
Like any statistic, fans need to understand the baseline of an excellent WHIP in baseball. Here is the brackets’ quick breakdown to determine what a good pitcher is worth in this statistic.
- Over 1.5 WHIP is a Bad Pitcher
- Around 1.3 WHIP is an Average Pitcher
- Under 1.10 WHIP Is a Great Pitcher
- Below 1 WHIP is an Elite Pitcher
The example above for Pitcher A illustrates that the 1.59 WHIP is considered bad in baseball. While WHIP is just one statistic, teams will look at that 1.59 statistic as an indicator that the pitcher continues to allow baserunners on at a high frequency each time they pitch. Allowing baserunners on the bases can lead to runs, so the WHIP stat is the stat before giving up a run.
Best WHIP Pitchers of All-Time
While the league average for walks and hits per innings pitched is around 1.30 in 2019 via Baseball-Reference, there are some incredible pitchers with amazing WHIPS in the history of the game. Out of the ten best WHIP pitchers listed below as of 4-8-2021, seven of these pitchers are in the National Baseball Hall of Fame, and some were Cy Young winners.
The three players who are not Hall of Famers (Clayton Kershaw, Chris Sale, and Jacob deGram) are currently active baseball players, so they are not eligible yet. As you can see below, you have a mixture of relievers and starting pitchers, which is why this stat is so valuable to teams.
- Addie Joss (.96)
- Ed Walks (.99)
- Mariano Rivera (1)
- Clayton Kershaw (1)
- Chris Sale (1.03)
- John Montgomery Ward (1.04)
- Jacob deGrom (1.04)
- Pedro Martinez (1.05)
- Christy Mathewson (1.05)
- Trevor Hoffman (1.05)
How is WHIP Different from ERA?
The WHIP stat differs from the ERA because they measure two different elements of pitching. ERA measures how many earned run a pitcher gives up in the total innings pitched. Earned runs can be anything from a single bringing in someone to a home run. Regardless, an ERA generally reflects the pitcher allowing a baserunner to reach home plate. An unearned run won’t count against the ERA, but allowing more baserunners on the bases is where WHIP comes into play.
The WHIP stat effectively measures a pitcher’s performance before the other team scores. A pitcher who pitches in jams each inning by giving up hits and walks will eventually lead to runs. Sometimes a pitcher can get lucky by getting out of a messy situation with a double play.
However, having baserunners in each inning increases the chance of giving up runs. This is why WHIP is an excellent benchmark to consider when thinking about taking on a pitcher for your team.
Who Came up with the WHIP Stat in Baseball?
The founding father of WHIP was Daniel Okrent in 1979. Daniel was part of a fantasy baseball league looking for ways to measure a pitcher’s performance.
Initially, Daniel Okrent came up with the name “Innings Pitched Ratio” but later became WHIP in abbreviation form.
Baseball statistics are a beautiful part of the game. Scouts, managers, general managers, and fantasy baseball owners build teams based on the stats that matter most to them.
WHIP is a small part to consider when evaluating a pitcher’s potential, but it is still a useful stat. Finally, WHIP can find that hidden pitcher that teams overlook due to name recognition, but can make a positive impact on your team.