The Language Of Fangraphs

If the sabermetric crowd is known for anything, it is their love of acronyms. There are hundreds of statistics, most of which can be broken down into two and three letter abbreviations. FIP, UZR, wOBA, WAR – our language is full of words that are short and fully capitalized.

When written, this does not present any kind of problem. We all generally come to understand what the abbreviations stand for fairly quickly, and we don’t have to spend too much time saying the full version of the names of these things – I don’t remember the last time I said “Weighted On Base Average,” for instance.

However, increasingly, these terms are making their way into conversation. And that means we have to pronounce these things. I am quickly learning that everyone has a very different path to pronunciation for these acronyms, and there is no clear pattern or rules on how they should be spoken.

For instance, some of them I spell out, while others I pronounce. Why? I have no idea. It goes this way across all the numbers. Some get spelled, some get said, and I can’t for the life of me figure out why.

Acronyms I say:

FIP – rhymes with hip.
wOBA – woah-buh, emphasis on first syllable, rhymes with toga (sort of?).
SLG – slug, like the animal.
BABIP – bab-ip, rhymes with nothing, no idea why I say this.
ISO – eye-so, this is actually a word, so that helps.
WHIP – pronounced like Indy’s weapon
LOB% – lob percentage, said like it’s the rate of soft-tossed pitches
WAR – said like a really big fight

Acronyms I spell:

E-R-A – not sure why I don’t say era, like a period of time, but I don’t.
O-B-P – are you down with OBP? Yeah, you know me.
O-P-S – not ops, as in operation, and never heard it said that way.
U-Z-R – someone once called it “oozer”, and I tried not to laugh.
W-P-A – can’t even figure out how I would say this? “Whoop-a”?
W-R-A-A – no way I’m going to say “were-aahh” to someone.

So, that’s my list. I know everyone does it differently, though, so I’m curious: which ones do you spell and which ones do you say? And does anyone have any idea why?

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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.

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