It's great to back up arguments with both traditional and advanced statistics, but what good are they if you have no idea what they mean?
If you consider yourself a seasoned sabermetrician, go ahead and jump straight to the next slide. But for those of you who enjoy baseball despite a degree in something other than statistics, here's a quick crash course to help you through the next 15 slides.
Earned Run Average (ERA): The number of earned runs allowed per nine innings pitched. One of the more basic statistics in baseball.
Batting Average (AVG): Hits divided by at-bats. Far from rocket science.
Slugging Percentage (SLG): In a nutshell, it's a weighted batting average. Singles count as one hit, doubles as two hits, triples as three hits and home runs as four hits.
Expected Fielding Independent Pitching (xFIP): Essentially, what a pitcher's ERA should be. It takes fielding out of the equation, focusing on home runs, walks, strikeouts and hit batters. Typically used as a means of predicting future results under the theory that ERA should eventually converge with xFIP.
As an example, Kansas City Royals reliever Kelvin Herrera has an ERA of 5.79 but an xFIP of 2.74, meaning his ERA should drop considerably over the coming weeks and months. Either that or he'll be pitching in the minor leagues soon.
Batting Average on Balls in Play (BABIP): Basically the inverse of xFIP, BABIP focuses only on balls in play by removing strikeouts and home runs from the equation. A high BABIP means a batter has been fortunate in avoiding fielders when making contact.
Generally, a batter's BABIP will be slightly better than his batting average, so large differences between the two can be considered an indication of future success or regression.
Left On-Base Percentage (LOB%): The percentage of base runners that a pitcher strands on base over the course of the season. The league average is roughly 72 percent. Pitchers with a higher percentage should be considered luckier than the ones with a lower percentage, and it should be expected that pitchers will finish the season somewhere in the vicinity of 72 percent.
If a pitcher has a low ERA and a high LOB%, beware of regression.
Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+): Calculates the number of runs that a player is worth to his team and then grades on a curve. 100 is the league average, but players like Barry Bonds have been known to score in the mid-200s in MVP-caliber seasons.