MLB

5 Baseball Statistics That Are Totally Worthless

With an increase in the use of analytics, new baseball statistics seem to pop up all the time. Most of them are useful and give you more information about the game or a player. Some data, however, doesn’t really tell you much. Here are five baseball statistics that are essentially worthless. You don’t really need to pay attention to them.

1. LIPS (late-inning pressure situation)

LIPS is intended to measure how clutch a player is. But the definition of what qualifies as a “late-inning pressure situation” seems to be kind of arbitrary. The Elias Sports Bureau developed the baseball statistic in 1985 and set the parameters as follows:

  • The game must be in the seventh inning or later.
  • The batter’s team trails by no more than three runs, is tied, or is ahead by one run.
  • The batter’s team can also be down by four runs if the bases are loaded.

This baseball statistic is unreliable because most hitters have a small sample size of situations defined by the stat. Not mention, not all pressure situations in the late innings are created equal. For example, facing an elite reliever is different than batting against a reliever just called up from the minors.

2. UBR (ultimate baserunning)

Ultimate baserunning, or UBR, calculates the value a player adds to his team via baserunning on plays that don’t result in a stolen base. Examples of this situation include taking an extra base or avoiding outs on the basepath.

Essentially, this stat’s goal is to tell you how many runs a baserunner adds or subtracts from his team, compared to an “average” runner in similar situations. Each baserunning event is given a specific run value used to calculate the player’s UBR. An average UBR value is 0, with +6 being excellent and -6 awful.

3. dERA (defense-independent ERA)

Defense-independent ERA, or dERA, calculates a pitcher’s ERA if defense and luck are removed from the formula. Statistics used in calculating dERA include batters faced, home runs, total walks, intentional walks allowed, strikeouts, and hit batsmen.

Those numbers are used in the dERA formula to tell you how well the pitcher performs when removing factors outside of his control. Similar baseball statistics, like field independent pitching (FIP), are more widely accepted.

4. WHIFF (whiff rate)

Whiff rate, or WHIFF, measures the number of swing-and-misses a pitcher performs divided by the total number of swings. The result is the pitcher’s whiff rate, as a percentage.

This baseball statistic seems superfluous and unnecessary. It doesn’t tell you much more about a pitcher’s performance than a more traditional stat like strike percentage.

5. Pitcher wins and losses

The first four stats we discussed involve analytical baseball statistics that have gained popularity in the last 30 years or so. However, we’ll conclude with one of the oldest and most useless stats in baseball.

A “pitcher win” tells you nothing about how the pitcher performed in the game he won. It exists solely to help him in contract negotiations by gloating about his many wins. A pitcher can throw a complete game and give up a single home run as the only hit allowed, yet get a loss if his team doesn’t score a run.

On the other hand, if a starter goes five innings and gives up seven runs, for example, but his team has the lead when he leaves the game and maintains the lead for the duration, he’ll be credited with the win despite throwing a bad game. Pitchers may care about their personal win-loss records, but they tell you nothing about actual performances.