The goal of this page is to provide background information on some of the statistics and terms used throughout the site, as well as answer questions about the site in general.

Site Overview

Please check this page for an overview of the site, including the rules.

Scouting Terms

The most common term thrown around is “tools”, and the golden unicorn known as the “5 tool prospect”

For position players, the 5 tools are

Hit For Average
Hit For Power
Arm Strength
Foot Speed

For pitchers, it’s different, and the areas they focus on are

Fastball Velocity
Fastball Command
Secondary pitches
Mechanics/Delivery/Projectable health

Scouts grade each prospect’s individual tools on a scale of 20-80, with 20 being the worst, and 80 being superstar talent. A 50 is considered major league average, and the deviations go from there. Like a bell curve, there are generally very few 80 tools, and few 20 tools, though there are more 20’s than 80’s. Most prospects will have the majority of their tools rate in the 30-50 range, with legitimate prospects possessing multiple above average tools, and potential superstars possessing multiple tools that grade out as a 70 or higher. Some examples of 20 and 80 tools

Joe Mauer’s Hit Tool = 80. Multiple batting titles, no real platoon split, incredible hitter for average
Ryan Howard’s Power Tool = 80. He is one of the strongest players in baseball, and can hit home runs out to any park. Perennial 45 HR power
Ozzie Smith’s Glove = 80. The best defensive shortstop ever? Probably.
Ichiro’s Arm = 80. Incredible arm strength and accuracy in RF.
Carl Crawford’s Speed = 80. One of the most dominant basestealers of this generation, both in terms in stealing bases and taking the extra base on a ball in play.

Bengie Molina’s Speed = 20. Runs like he has a piano on his back
Juan Pierre’s Power = 20. He has no leverage in his swing, and no raw power.

You get the idea.

For pitchers, 80 grades are more rare. Stephen Strasburg has 80 arm strength, as does Justin Verlander.

Statistics to Know

ISO = Isolated Power. Calculated as (slugging % – batting average). This is essentially used to figure out how much actual extra base power the player is displaying. A player with a very high batting average can have a high slugging percentage, but it could be misleading. A player with a .225 batting average and a .400 slugging percentage has a .175 ISO, while a player with a .300 batting average and a .400 slugging percentage has a .100 ISO. The .225 hitter has more isolated power.

DICE = Defense Independent Component ERA. Calculated as ((13*HR + 3*(BB+HBP)) – 2*K)/IP). This statistics was derived to try and eliminate some of the luck involved with ERA, ie, the defense behind you. It focuses only on the three statistics a pitcher has the most control over, walks/HBP, strikeouts, and home runs allowed. Comparing a pitcher’s DICE to his actual ERA could help identify guys who are quite unlucky/lucky.

BABIP = Batting Average on Balls In Play. Calculated as ((H-HR)/(AB-K-HR+SF)). BABIP is used to figure out how lucky/unlucky a batter or pitcher has been on balls put in play. While its not exact, the league BABIP is around .290, and its been proven that its very difficult to maintain a very high or very low BABIP over an extended period of time. Some unique players have had historically higher/lower than average BABIP’s, but the average player should be somewhere around .290.

Roster Management

The 25 Man and 40 Man Rosters

There are three categories of players within each organization; non-roster, 40 man rosters, and 25 man rosters

Most draft picks (all picks signed except those given major league contracts) fall under non-roster players.

All players drafted or signed via the international market who are 18 and under must be placed on the 40 man roster after their 5th pro season. Example; Jon Singleton, who turned 18 in September of 2009, his draft year, will have to be placed on the 40 man roster after the 2013 season, which will be his 5th pro season.

All players drafted or signed via the international market who are 19 or older must be placed on the 40 man roster after their 4th pro season. Example; Vance Worley, who turned 21 in September 2008, his draft year, must be placed on the 40 man roster after the 2011 season, which will be his 4th pro season.

Players on the 60 day DL do not count against the 40 man roster


Options are one of the most confusing aspects of roster management, so here are some details

* Every player, when added to the 40 man roster, has three option years, not three total options. A player can be optioned up and down as many times as the team sees fit, though the player must remain in the minors for 10 days unless he is replacing a player going on the disabled list.

* If a player spends less than 20 days on optional assignment, an option year is not used. Example; the Phillies option Matt Rizzotti down to the minors at the end of spring training next year, he spends 1 week in the minors, then comes up and remains on the active roster all season without being optioned again. An option year is not burned.

* After 3 option years, a player is considered to be “out of options” and he has to clear waivers before being sent down to the minors again.

* There is a rare case in which a player who has used his 3 options can be eligible for a 4th. If he has less than 5 years of full season experience. Scott Mathieson falls under this case, and you can read about it here.

Service Time

You often read about a player’s service time, or his arbitration clock. Teams control a player until they have accrued more than 6 years of service time. Here are the basics.

* 1 year of service time = 172 days on the big league roster. When you see a player’s service time number at a place like Cots Contracts, its given in days. So, 2.86 is 2 years + 86 days.

* Players with less than 3 years of service time can have their contract renewed by their Major League team for any amount they deem appropriate, as long as it is equal to or greater than the MLB minimum.

* Players with less than 3 years of service time, but more than 2.86 years of service time who qualify as a “Super 2” are eligible for salary arbitration. To qualify for Super 2 status, you must have more than 2.86 years of service, less than 3 years of service, and rank among the top 17% of 2 year players in service time. The general cutoff for this is 2.128 and 2.140 years, per Cots.

Links and Further Reading

* Cots Contracts – The definitive site for all contract info.

* Biz of Baseball – Nitty gritty on options/service time/waivers, source for most of the info above

* Wikipedia – The sabermetrics page, with explanations and links

11 thoughts on “Primer

  1. Thanks James, this is great. Now hopefully some posters will bother to read it before posting questions…

  2. Good stuff. I always wondered how DICE was calculated. This is a great site for Phillies fans.

  3. I will try some of these stats. Thanks.
    I tried WHIP and it showed me that Savery essentially trades
    walks for basehits with men on while Drabed is great with bases empty. Enlightening

  4. James, what is your e-mail, I have to ask you a couple questions about the word press set up and getting a website going. The link to your email at the top of the site is only viewed after you download Outlook and I don’t want to do that.

  5. The donations button is very close to the recent posts section. If you are checking recent posts using a smart phone, it is very easy to click the PayPal/donations button. That is probably why the clicks are much higher than the amount donated.

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