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. Intentional walks do count against WHIP, which is important to remember. WHIP is a way to show how effective a pitcher is and stop hitters from becoming baserunners, which means they are doing their job at recording outs.
So, how do baseball fans calculate a pitcher’s WHIP? What tends to be a good WHIP in Major League Baseball? How does a pitcher lower their WHIP rating during the season? What does this baseball statistic not measure? How is the formula different from ERA? Who has the lowest WHIP rating in MLB history?
Here is the complete breakdown of what WHIP is in baseball.
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 wants 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.
How Does a Pitcher Lower their WHIP?
To receive a lower WHIP via a stat line, pitchers need to record outs and not allow baserunners to reach bases. An out can be a ground out, fly out, or strike out of the opposing hitter. In theory, a lower WHIP leads to a better ERA (earned run average) for a pitcher because fewer men are on the bases to score.
What was the League Average in WHIP During the 2022 Season?
Baseball-Reference’s website shows that the average league WHIP for all thirty teams was 1.266 in 2022. The team with the lowest WHIP during the season was the LA Dodgers at 1.048, and the second lowest was the Houston Astros, who won the 2022 World Series. Meanwhile, the team with the worst WHIP during the season was the Kansas City Royals, which had a 1.470. The KC Royals were also one of the worst teams in the league that season, with a last-place finish with 65 wins in their division.
Below are the league average WHIPs over the past few MLB seasons to put 2022 into perspective.
- 2021: 1.297
- 2020: 1.327
- 2019: 1.334
- 2018: 1.304
- 2017: 1.342
- 2016: 1.325
- 2015: 1.294
Best WHIP Pitchers of All-Time
Out of the ten best WHIP pitchers listed below as of 2023, seven 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 deGrom) 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 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)
What Does WHIP Not Measure?
One knock on WHIP is that the calculation needs to 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. However, WHIP does not reflect a hit batter, an error, and a runner reaching on a fielder’s choice.
How is WHIP Different from ERA?
The WHIP stat differs from the ERA because they measure two different elements of pitching. ERA considers how many earned runs 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 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, which is why WHIP is an excellent benchmark to consider when considering taking on a pitcher for your team.
Who Came up with the WHIP Stat in Baseball?
The founding father of WHIP comes from 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.
Conclusion: What is WHIP in Baseball?
In summary, WHIP in baseball stands for walks and hits in innings pitched. This calculation displays how effective a pitcher is on the mound, limiting people from getting on the base. The theory behind this calculation is that the fewer people a pitcher allows on the basepaths, the more effective they are on the mound.
WHIP differs from ERA since ERA calculates how many earned runs a pitcher gives up throughout nine innings. However, ERA can be misleading because a pitcher might constantly get in jams with walking hitters and getting them to ground in double plays, which means they always have baserunners on the diamond. WHIP helps cut through the gaps that ERA may have, giving more credit to a pitcher for not allowing people to get on base rather than not allowing them to score.
What is a Squeeze Play in Baseball?
What is a Quality Start in Baseball?
What is the Strike Zone in Baseball?
What Does Bush League Mean in Baseball?