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Baseball Numbers That Don’t Involve Math

I was thinking of writing an article about how the Pirates ? relievers became relievers. I wanted to look at each players ? Baseball Reference or Fangraphs page and then tell the story. Then I thought the better article would be to show how I look at the Matrix display that is a Baseball Reference Player page. I ?ll do the same thing with a Fangraphs page eventually.

The player I chose for the website often referred to as BRef or BR was the popular Tony Watson. I included a Legend below for those not familiar with the abbreviations.

Tony Watson


H/9 – hits per 9 innings (i.e. 27 outs)

BB/9 – walks per 9 innings

SO/9 – strikeouts per 9 innings

WHIP – walks plus hits per inning pitched (i.e.. 3 outs)

SO/W – strikeouts per walk



  • Age 22 means he was a player drafted out of college versus high school
  • He started 13 games (GS) and logged 67 innings (IP) in short season A ball, meaning he signed right away; this is not surprising for a non-elite college draftee in 2007
  • He had a good SO/9 rate at 7.7 and a very good BB/9 rate at 1.1
  • He did what he needed to do in 2007 to stay on the starter track


  • Age 23 at high A ball (A+) is a little old, as prospects at this level are usually 21-22 years old
  • He started 28 games and didn ?t bump up to AA at midseason meaning he wasn ?t amazing
  • His BB/9 went up and his SO/9 went down to a pedestrian 6.2
  • You could make an assumption he lacks an elite fastball or lack of third pitch (or could message a scout or search the internet for scouting write-ups)


  • Age 24 at AA which is again a little old but also Fall League, which is where teams showcase certain players. Hmmmm ?
  • Only 16 games and 5 games started. Looks like injury with Fall League being used for extra innings.
  • Once I see 28 innings I ignore all remaining stats but look towards the next season to see what happens


  • Age 25 and back at AA.
  • Pitched in 34 games but wait ? 9 games started but also 5 games finished (GF) and two saves (SV). Looks like either innings limit based on injury the prior year or transition to the bullpen
  • 111 innings pitched with some time in the bullpen tells me he was probably healthy all year
  • SO/9 rate is back up to a nice level. BB/9 rate is back down to a nice number
  • WHIP is very low driven by his 6.6 H/9. Starting to show potential as a nice reliever. Especially knowing he ?s left-handed and the rarity of good left-handed pitching with control.


  • Age 26 and now at AAA
  • If he ?s a non-Pirate prospect, I note which league he ?s playing AAA in (the Pacific Coast League is a league with tremendous hitter ballparks which skew the numbers severely)
  • 26 games with 1 game started (might have been a spot start) but 6 games finished. Looks like he ?s a full time reliever.
  • Before I look at his ?peripherals ? (BB/9, SO/9 etc.) I notice he got called up to the majors
  • Once I see he went to the majors, seemed to stick there and logged some 41 innings in the majors as a reliever I ignore his minor league statistics


  • He ?s solidly a reliever in at major league bullpen
  • He ?s logging a lot of innings for a modern day reliever
  • His peripherals show a progression of good to elite. The eye popping statistics are the .879 WHIP in 2013 and his SO/W ratio of 5.40 in 2014. The All-Star appearance (AS) in 2014 seems well deserved.

You don’t have to be a numbers nerd to look at modern day statistics. The great thing about pages like Baseball Reference and Fangraphs is that you can acquire as much numeric knowledge that you want — you choose your level of involvement.

About Michael Bradley (36 Articles)
Michael is a Pirates contributor to The Point of Pittsburgh. Michael is former submarine officer and Naval Academy grad. He now runs a small consulting firm and does veteran related job fairs. He is a SABR member and regularly attends Altoona Curve games to scout the Pirate prospects.
Contact: Twitter

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