What does WHIP Mean in Baseball?

by Big Al Staff

What does WHIP mean in baseball?

One of the four major sports leagues in the United States is Major League Baseball (MLB, in short).  Baseball is the classic American sport, and dates back to 1845, when the New York Knickerbocker Baseball Club was founded.  Today, millions of little boys dream of hitting a title-winning home run in the seventh game of the World Series.  Sports, of course, is big business.  Indeed, you have people across the world who wear merchandise of the New York Yankees and the Boston Red Sox, even though they may have never lived in those cities, or even attended a baseball game.  This goes to show what the impact is of sport on society.  And with the popularity of sports, the betting industry has substantially grown, as well.

Besides the NFL and the NBA, the MLB is an exciting league for gamblers.  Many bet types exist.  You can make the standard moneyline wager, where you pick the winner, prior to the start of the game.  But after a game starts, there are a ton of in-play betting opportunities.  Think about the number of home runs to be hit in a game, whether there will be a score in a given inning, or whether the next batter will get a hit -- sportsbooks will take in-game wagers on all of this, and more.  So, an essential part of betting on baseball is knowing your statistics.  To that end, let’s dive deep into the terminology.

One common baseball statistic is WHIP.  It stands for walks + hits divided by innings pitched.  When running this formula, it produces a number of how many opposing players per inning a pitcher puts on base.  This is one of those advanced statistics which brings you more relevant information than a simple win percentage, for example.  When you genuinely want to have an edge in your betting, WHIP is one of the better pitching statistics to look at.  We'll guide you through the meaning of WHIP, and see how you can implement it in your baseball betting strategy.

Breaking down the definition of WHIP

The term WHIP became popular as one of the eight statistics in Dan Okrent's original 1980 Rotisserie League, a famous fantasy baseball league.  The definition of WHIP is comprised of three different terms that we want to shed light on individually:  walk, hit, and innings pitched.  Anyone unfamiliar with baseball might have no idea what these terms mean; others might need a little refresher.  In both cases, we got you covered!  So, without further ado, let's dive right in!

What is a walk in baseball?
In an at-bat, when a pitcher throws four pitches out of the strike zone -- and the hitter doesn't swing a single time -- a walk occurs.  Upon earning a walk, the batter is awarded a free pass to first base.  In the statistics, you'll often see a walk referred to as BB, which stands for base on balls.  Note that a walk can also occur if a manager issues an “intentional walk,” which is a major part of baseball strategy.  In that instance, a batter may be directed to first base without a pitch even being thrown, and the pitcher of record gets credited with the walk.

What is a hit in baseball?
When the batter strikes the baseball into fair territory and reaches base without a fielding error or a fielder’s choice, you have a hit.  In baseball, there are four types of hits:  singles, doubles, triples, and home runs.  This indicates which base the hitter reaches after successfully striking the baseball (but any advancement following a fielding error or fielder’s choice wouldn’t apply).  When calculating the batting average for a hitter, you would divide the number of hits by the number of at-bats.  But bear in mind that you would not count at-bats that resulted in a walk, but would count at-bats that resulted in a baserunner reaching base on an error.

What does innings pitched mean in baseball?
The term innings pitched refers to the number of innings a pitcher remains in a game.  There are three outs in an inning, so each out represents one-third of an inning pitched.  However, bear in mind that not every pitcher who appears in a game records an out.  So, it’s possible for a pitcher to have zero innings pitched.  This can happen if a pitcher enters the game, and allows each batter he faces to reach base on an error, hit, or walk.  Also understand that there are lots of ways for a pitcher to be credited with an out, including pick-offs and caught stealings.  And double plays, not surprisingly, count double, and are worth two-thirds of an inning pitched.

What makes a good WHIP?

A WHIP is one of the most commonly-used statistics to measure a pitcher's performance.  One of the main goals for a pitcher is to keep runners off the basepaths.  And a pitcher’s WHIP reveals how well the pitcher is doing.  Let's repeat the formula once again

  • (number of walks plus hits) / innings pitched

We'll further explain with an example.  Let's take Boston Red Sox's legendary pitcher Pedro Martinez during his brilliant 1999 season.  Martinez was 23-4 that season, and threw 213 ⅓ innings, and allowed 160 hits and 37 walks.  That leaves you to the following formula:

  • 160 + 37 / 213.33 = 0.92

The WHIP here is 0.92, which is an excellent rating.  To give you an indication as to what constitutes a good or bad WHIP, we've got this handy chart:

  • WHIP of 1.00 or lower:  It's a fantastic feat to compile a WHIP of 1.00 or below for a season, and doesn’t happen often -- even by the game’s best pitchers.  You’ll see this attained by legendary pitchers like Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez, and, more recently, Clayton Kershaw.
  • 1.01 - 1.20:  A WHIP in this range is very good.  With a pitcher like this, your team can feel confident and strong.
  • 1.21 - 1.40:  In 2019, the league average WHIP was 1.33, so a WHIP in this range is considered okay, but nothing impressive.
  • 1.41 - 1.60:  With a number like this, you're below average.
  • 1.61 and above:  If a pitcher’s WHIP is above 1.60, it’s a sign that they are pitching very poorly, and might be sent down to the minor leagues, or placed on the injured list, or get relegated to the bullpen (if a starting pitcher).

Now you know what it takes for a WHIP to be considered excellent, average, or poor.

Other MLB statistics

WHIP is one statistic, but there's a lot more to know when betting MLB.  There are some other factors to take into consideration to get a clear picture of how to bet on baseball and read the stats.  We'd like to share a list of the most common baseball statistics, especially the pitching statistics besides WHIP, that are important to baseball bettors.  Here we go!

  • Slugging percentage:  The total number of bases a player reaches per at-bat.  It deals only with hits and does not include walks and hit-by-pitches, unlike the OBP.  In 2019, the average slugging percentage was .435. 
  • OBP -- on-base percentage:  The OBP statistic stands for the frequency that a batter reaches a base per plate appearance.  To determine whether a batter reaches base successfully, one would include hits, walks and hit-by-pitches, but would not include things like errors, dropped third strikes, and fielder’s choices.  In 2019, the league average OBP was .323.
  • OPS -- on-base plus slugging:  When you take a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage, you get the on-base plus slugging statistic.  The combination of two key statistics provides a clearer image of a batter's offensive skills.  In 2019, the average OPS in baseball was .758.
  • ERA -- earned run average:  The number of earned runs a pitcher allows per nine innings.  An earned run would include any run scored by a player put on base by a pitcher, if the runner scored without the aid of an error or a passed ball.  It's one of the most common statistics to evaluate a pitcher.
  • K% -- Strikeout rate:  When a pitcher records an out through the accumulation of three strikes by a batter, a strikeout occurs.  A pitcher’s strikeout rate is the rate at which a pitcher strikes out hitters.  It’s defined as the number of strikeouts divided by the number of batters faced.

What is the best sportsbook for MLB betting?

When you're done with research, and you've taken in all the information, it's time to get down to business.  It's time to log on to your computer to surf to your favorite betting site.  The problem is, you might not have a favorite sportsbook just yet.  It could be that you're still used to the old-fashioned brick-and-mortar sportsbooks, or you simply never dared to wager some real money.  Don't worry.  We're here to guide you along the way.  And an essential part of becoming a winning sports bettor is having the right sportsbook.

So, what makes a sportsbook special?  First off, you want the sportsbook to be trustworthy.  One of the primary factors for a sportsbook to earn a Top 10 ranking at our site is whether it has a long-standing record of perfect payouts.  Second, it’s critical that a sportsbook has competitive odds.  In baseball, odds will widely vary.  Some sportsbooks might have a dime line (e.g., -105 on both sides), while others will only offer a twenty-cent line (which is less favorable for bettors).  Third, it’s a great benefit to gamblers if the online sportsbook offers a nice sign-up bonus and reload bonuses.  Fourth, a sportsbook should make it easy to deposit and withdraw funds.  And, finally, it’s important that a sportsbook have a modern and easy-to-use website.
We’ve researched all the best sportsbooks to arrive at our Top 10 ranking.  Our current #1 sportsbook is BetAnySports, primarily because it offers the best odds across all sports.  But our #2-rated sportsbook -- BetNow -- also offers great odds, as it has a baseball dime line up to -190.  And BetNow (along with BetUS) also gives the best sign-up bonus.  Our #3-rated sportsbook is Bovada, as it has the best website, and the fastest Bitcoin payouts.  And another fantastic sportsbook is BookMaker, especially if you’re a big player since it will take, for example, $50,000 on an NFL side.  Of course, it goes without saying that every gambler should have at least three sportsbooks in order to shop the lines and get the best number.
After reading this guide, you're up to speed on what WHIP and other baseball statistics mean.  After watching a couple of games, and doing a little digging in these statistics, you know all there is to place your first winning bet!  Have fun!

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