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.

100 Responses to “The Language Of Fangraphs”

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  1. Bill B. says:

    Agreed on all counts except for WAR. When it say it, it rhymes with “bar”.

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  2. Chris says:

    But do you say RBI, RBI’s, or “ribbies”?

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    • Bill B. says:

      As Matthew Nolan says it, “are-bee-eyes”. If I want to be annoying, I say rib-eyes with a lot of superfluous emphasis on both syllables.

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      • Jason B says:

        Maybe Arby eyes – you know, like on that disconcerting oven mitt that’s always trying to sell me five regular roast beef sandwiches for five bucks.

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      • circlechange11 says:

        We just call em “steaks” instead of “rib-eyes”. Seriously, we call runs batted in “steaks”. Everyone likes steak.

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      • Choo says:

        Or if you’re a pirate: “Arrrrrrrrrrrgh-Bee-Eye!”

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      • bikozu says:

        Since when do pirates say “argh”? You must know some frustrated pirates. Either that or I don’t have a firm grasp on Somalian language.

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      • Kevin S. says:



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  3. Agreed on everything.

    I say Are-Bee-Eyes

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  4. Steve C says:

    7|-|1$ 1$ 4 9r3@ p0$7

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  5. Rut says:

    “O-P-S – not ops, as in operation, and never heard it said that way.”

    Jon Miller on one of the ESPN games last year said ‘ops” for O-P-S. At least he’s trying…

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    • JoeR43 says:

      Odds are, some guys told Miller what OPS is, and he’s still not really sure what it is, but it does sound better than AVG, so he rolls with it.

      BTW, Joe Morgan is 8 years OLDER than Jon Miller. Who would’ve guessed that?

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      • Matt B. says:

        Yeah, I was gonna reference Miller saying ‘ops’ as opposed to spelling, I thought I was wrong for spelling the whole time! But then I realized, it was Miller… relief…

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      • JoeR43 says:

        Look on the brightside, he could Joe Morgan it and rate a player’s OPS as a secondary skill to stolen bases, RBI’s, and batting average.

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      • NEPP says:

        Joe Morgan is the greatest 2B in the history of the game. Joe Morgan’s daughter goes to Stanford where she plays Lacrosse. Joe Morgan doesn’t believe in advanced statistical analysis. Joe Morgan is one of the lucky few to win a regular season MVP and WS in the same year, unlike any of his Big Red Machine teammates…Joe Morgan also believes…

        ~blows brains out~

        Where was I?

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      • Choo says:

        Speaking of Jon Miller, what’s the story behind his “hair muffs?” I’m talking about those thick flaps of hair that cover his ears, as if the army of follicles that once sheltered his bald dome marched down the sides of his head, attacked his ears and never left. They used to drive me crazy. I couldn’t concentrate on anything his mouth was saying because there were those damn hair muffs, accessorizing his Charlie Brown head like garland around a door, but not the top of the door, only the sides, and only if the garland were made of fur, like the same fur they used to make John Candy’s ears in “Space Balls.” In other words, like somebody’s front door around Christmas if they were to decorate the edges of it with giant wads of wolf hair.

        Jesus, where was I . . . oh yes, so I have come to realize Jon Miller’s repugnant hair muffs serve the purpose of muffling out the sanctimonious ramblings of Joe Morgan. Unfortunately, I’m not sure there is anything anyone can do to drown out Joe Morgan. Once he gets in your head, he never leaves. Seriously, check for yourself. Yep. There he is, right where you left him last summer . . .

        Joe: “Well, Jon, since you mentioned it . . . “
        Jon: “I didn’t mention it, actually-“
        Joe: “Back when I played we didn’t have the benefit of getting to face guys who weren’t me.”
        Jon: “But that was in a day and age, long ago it seems, and so-“
        Joe: “As I was saying, today’s ballplayer has a lot of advantages that we didn’t, in particular, they don’t have to face the cream of the crop day after day. The talent pool has been so diluted by expansion that I’m pretty sure I could still hit .400.”
        Jon: “But you never hit .400, Joe.”
        Joe: “I did, actually.”
        Jon: “This reminds me of the time when Glenallen Hill hit that moonshot onto the roof of the apartment building across the street from Wrigley Field. Remember that game, Joe? And didn’t you claim to have once hit a ball up there as well?”
        Joe: “I did say that, yes, I remember that, Jon.”
        Jon: “And it was soon proven thereafter that you never hit a ball to that spot, or anywhere remotely close?”
        Joe: “Yes, that is true. I was mistaken.”
        Jon: “So, in retrospect-“
        Joe: “Excuse me Jon, but I never said I hit my homerun to left field where Glenallen hit his homerun. I actually hit the apartment building across the street in right field. I’m not even sure if it hit the building, actually. I think it may have gone completely over.”
        Jon: (reminds himself, yet again, to grow his hair muffs even thicker)

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  6. Devon F says:

    I use baseball acronyms in conversation only occasionally. When I do, however, I usually either spell them out with the exception of FIP and WHIP.

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  7. DavidCEisen says:

    I like Bah-Bip

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  8. Jerry says:

    This is great… I spell some and pronounce others and I’ve always wondered what other people do…

    My list is similar to yours, except I spell FIP and ISO, and (like Bill B up there) I pronounce WAR to rhyme with “bar”…

    And whenever I read UZR, I actually hear it as “oozer” in my head, but I don’t think I’ve ever said it aloud that way. Weird.

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  9. JoeR43 says:

    And I pretty much say everything here the same way, except I still pronounce the acronym wOBA.

    Also do for wRC, and wRC+ I would say “Adjusted wRC”.

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  10. The A Team says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I say SLG, WHIP, ISO, LOB, and WAR are words. All the rest I say letter by letter.

    As far as i can tell, the ones I say are either already words (slug, whip, war) or fairly common prefixes (ISO-lated, LOB-ster).

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    • The A Team says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      Actually now that I reflect on it, ISO and LOB are words too…Iso is a common football/basketball term and lob is…well you don’t need me to tell you.

      So I say the ones that are already words and spell out all the other ones.

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    • archilochusColubris says:

      Yeah i’m pretty much with you. Can’t get behind pronouncing FIP and BABIP. Those just sound silly…

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  11. Kipp says:

    UZR- I pronounce it like ‘user’. Even if it does hate my beloved Jacoby.

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  12. dan woytek says:

    whenever i refer to BABIP in conversation saying it as spelled always sounds forced and weird. I was talking to a friend the other night and called it “Soto’s ‘ball in play average'” and it didn’t sound that bad to me. I’m going with that from now on.

    As for UZR, I always hear “you zer” not “oozer” which sounds like something you would need a doctor to check out, or at least some anti-biotics.

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    • Paul Tomita says:

      Now that you mention it, BIPBA makes more sense to me – balls in play batting average – and sounds better too. Bip Baa. Or drop the second B – BIPA. Bip Pa.

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  13. phill says:

    I heard Harold Reynolds call OPS “ops”. As in special ops. Cracked me up

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  14. FreeZorilla says:

    I say Bah-Bip, Whip, Fip, Eye-Soh, War
    I use initials for wOBA, OPS, OBP, ERA, WPA, WRAA, UZR
    LOB%= I say “strand rate”
    SLG= I say “slugging percentage”
    OBP= “On-Base Percentage”
    BA= Batting Average

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    • Norm says:


      I think Buster Olney is a “RBI” guy even in plural since the “I” shouldn’t have the apostrophe S after it if it were written out.

      “Pujols had 6 RBI last game”
      I can’t stand that!

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      • diderot says:

        This is a particularly touchy subject with a couple of baseball friends of mine. So to make their pain even more acute, I have started pronouncing it “ares-bee-eye”, since that’s the literal contraction of runs batted in.
        I like watching their heads explode.

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      • Chill. Are Bee Eye sounds much less like we live in our mothers basements than Ares Bse Eye. plus, when should you ever use the word RBI/RsBI in non-fantasy conversation lol. Don’t go all steve phillips on us now

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    • CircleCircle11 says:

      I have taken a personal vow, out of principle, to never say “Bah-bip”. If I get to that point where my baseball vernacular sounds like the way my mom talks to our our 2yo, I’ll quit. *grin*

      I just say “he hit .283 on balls in play” rather than saying “he has a .283 BABIP”. Basically the same.

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  15. Mike K says:

    I do WAR like “bar” as well, and RBI I either do RBI’s or “ribbies”. LOB% – if I actually say it – I say it, “left on base”. Besides that I think I’m with the consesus on the rest of them.

    Any of the many two-letter ones, I either say the actual term (IP I say “innings pitched”) or I’ll spell it out (rarely).

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  16. scott says:

    pretty dead on, though i think “ice-oh” sounds more like the way (i’m guessing) most of us pronounce it. eye-soh sounds too….long.

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  17. Danny Wind says:

    When I first heard of OPS years and years ago, I pronounced it “oh-pee-ess.” But after a little while, I decided that nobody could possibly pronounce it that way when it could so easily be said as one syllable, so I switched to saying “ops.” And then much later, I learned that most people really *did* spell it out, for some reason, but it’s become ingrained in my head as “ops,” and it’s really too late for me to switch now.

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  18. Ben Hall says:

    The only one I say is ISO, since it’s short for “isolated power.” I spell everything else, except I say slugging percentage and on base percentage. Oh, and I say whip. Don’t know why.

    Here’s a theory towards what you’re doing (and what I think most people do), Dave. With the exceptions of ERA and SLG, all the stats you say can be said phonetically. All the ones you spell can’t, without fudging letters that aren’t there. If someone says “oo-zer” he/she is putting an e in between the z and the r.

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  19. Reuben says:

    yeah i totally say oozer. like fragut has more ooze than jason bay. he’s UZR.

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  20. tyrone says:

    I tend to say WHIP, WAR (rhymes with “bar”), ISO, and wOBA, but I usually spell out everything else. It’s funny, because saying FIP sounds strange to me, but saying WHIP sounds fine. Maybe it’s because FIP is in my mind as a substitute for ERA.

    A while back I heard someone say “lob percentage”. For a second, I thought he was talking about the rate at which a pitcher “lobbed” his pitches. Needless to say, for that second I was very confused.

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  21. Adam says:

    For some unknown reason I say OOHz.r. Like I’m surprised: OOH! ZR!

    I spell everything mostly, with th exception of WHIP.

    Of course none of this really matters, since none of my friends know what any of these terms are and hence they don’t really come up in the spoken form a whole lot.

    Except when Rob Johnson is at the plate and I’m listing to myself all the reasons he’s terrible.

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  22. Bradley says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I’ll admit I say UZR as “uzer” or “you-zer.”

    But it shouldn’t matter anyway because I talk out loud about Sabermetrics only when I’m trying to put someone (usually my wife) to sleep, like a Vulcan neck pinch.

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  23. joshpeterson34 says:

    As I understand it, it’s only an acronym if it can be said as a word anyway. “Acronyms I spell” are really initialisms.

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    • William says:

      I agree. Well, I should … I teach “writing across the curriculum/disciplines” for non-English depts. who want to include writing assignments in their classes.

      To-whit: Our newsletter was “What’s up WID/WAC?”

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    • paperboyz says:

      joshpeterson is right that acronyms are pronounceable words, but I don’t think it’s right that “acronyms I spell are initialisms”; rather, both acronyms and initialisms are types of abbreviation. So an acronym is a pronounceable abbreviation, and an initialism is an abbreviation that is spelled out in letters.

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  24. I say “ops”, but I think that’s because I came across the term in text, only experienced it as text over the internet for years before I finally actually heard someone say it. And by that point it’s become mental habit.

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  25. gej says:

    I say all the words in BABIP and call it “weighted O-B-A.”

    This is a weirdly entertaining topic.

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  26. Judy says:

    It really doesn’t occur to me much to try to pronounce acronyms as if they’re words unless I hear others do it first. But I don’t feel the need to abbreviate much when I’m talking.

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  27. noseeum says:

    I say “ops”. It’s just easier. Why say “O-P-S” when you can say “ops?”

    I also say B-A-B-I-P because I just think “bah-bip” is a bit ridiculous.

    For SLG, I always say “slugging percentage”, as SLG does not look like “slug” to me, and “S-L-G” does not roll off the tongue.

    Nice topic!

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  28. GK Larsen says:

    I’ve always pronounced BABIP like “Bay-Bip,” and like a commenter above, WAR like it rhymes with bar. Although most of my friends don’t really know what I’m talking about with either, so I usually just say “yeah he’s pretty good” instead.

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  29. JCA says:

    WAR I say in a way that you can respond, “what is it good for?”

    BABIP? Am I the only one to say “Bay Bip?”

    As for YouZeeAre, I sometimes think it should be pronounced like a gun-toting Rabbi – Uzi, R.

    Wobah, as in the Dweaded Piwate Wobahts.

    I never use Lob except when I’m referring to Johnny Damon throws.

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  30. Mark says:

    How about ‘ba-beep’? Not a literal translation, but it sounds a little less awkward than ‘bah-bip’ to me.

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  31. Sandy Kazmir says:

    I can’t wait for the regular season.

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  32. Mastication Is Natural says:

    I spell them all out, except for ISO.

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  33. Newcomer says:

    The only ones I regularly read as acronyms: WAR (rhymed with bar, but I’ve recently been trying to say “war” after seeing what is it good for) and WHIP. And I guess VORP, if I ever need it.

    I spell out FIP, ERA, RBI sometimes (RsBI, that’s great! :)), tRA, UZR, BABIP, a great deal of things.

    And then I say the represented words for a lot of the others.. batting average, on base percentage, weighted on base average, isolated power, runs batted in sometimes, strikeouts per nine…

    Which brings up another point… when you see K, do you read “kay” or “strikeout”? I say strikeout most of the time, but if the K has a suffix I switch to k. So strikeouts per nine but he kayed (K’d) 6 per nine. Yes, I’ve thought through this topic many times before. It’s a topic I wonder about all the time, not just in baseball. For instance, sometimes you’ll see an article quoting someone saying “He hit 25 HR last year with 125 RBI in 650 AB.” Clearly he didn’t say “H. R.”, but did he say “R. B. I.” or “runs batted in”? Should there be journalistic standards for not abbreviating within a quote?

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  34. MarkE says:

    All said in my mind, never out loud:

    BABIP gains an extra ‘b’, pronounced “BABBIP”. Just feels easier.
    WAR pronounced, but as “WAH”
    OPS pronounced.

    I can’t bring myself to abbreviate Left On Base %age, it just feels too weird. As per the above, I don’t shorten Home Runs to anything.

    Also, I’ve taken to a ‘zee’ instead of a ‘zed’ in UZR (“you zee are” instead of “you zed are”) since hearing it mentioned on a radio show.

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  35. Nate says:

    This article has ruined my ability to read other articles on this site. I can’t read an acronym without my brain struggling to pick a pronunciation. It’s killing my reading time.

    This is the first time I would’ve perferred to remain ignorant of a topic on this site.

    Great read though.

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  36. Elijah says:

    For OPS, I’ve always pronounced it letter by letter. However, I would also turn it into a verb. For example, Albert Pujols OPSed (oh-pee-essed) over 1100 last year! Or if it were during the season, “Emilio Bonifacio is OPSing (oh-pee-essing) under 600.

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  37. BATTLETANK says:

    i don’t say half of these out loud.

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  38. Eric says:

    Haha wow this is a really awesome post Dave. I would have to say that your pronunciation of “BABIP” is a bit weird, but I might just adopt that. I don’t ever talk to anyone in person about these types of statistics because all my friends still live in BA and RBI land, but I’m glad to know the consensus is that wOBA is pronounced “whoa-buh,” because that is one awesome word to pronounce.

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    • wobatus says:

      Yeah, I have to say bab-ip isn’t comfortable to me. Ba-bip is easier. I think James Caan says bada-bip, bada-bap, bada-boop.

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  39. joser says:

    I never say any these out loud because there’s nobody I know who would want to actually hear them, or anything about them. Even when I go to USSM events I just listen and leave without talking to anybody. It’s kind of like church.

    When I’m watching baseball in the presence of others, like at a bar, I might be thinking something like Yeah, that’s what happens when you swap in a high UZR centerfielder behind a high FB% lefty in Safeco but what I actually say is “Damn, Gutierrez made a heck of a catch there!” and grunting in a vaguely affirmative way when someone else says “Washburn’s pitching a nice game!”

    SABR may be my religion, but I’m no missionary.

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    • Dingo says:

      Amen to that. Most of the time whenever I talk to people about baseball, I’m forced to talk in general terms (“defense is worth more than people think,” “Mike Cameron is criminally underpaid”), rather than getting anywhere near actual quantitative measures.

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  40. bagofries says:

    I feel it’s far more elegant to say “JA Happ left 99% of runners on base in 2009” or “Albert Pujols slugged seven-hundred last year” than to try to shoehorn a SLG or LOB% with a number into a sentence.

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  41. Choo says:

    I wonder if some of the variations are regional, similar to pop/soda/coke, etc. I pronounce everything exactly as Dave does, as do my friends here in the Pacific NW. I never gave much thought to variations. For example, if I heard somebody pronounce WAR like “bar,” I would probably assume he was either a lobster jockey from coastal Maine or Speedy Gonzalez.

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  42. Newcomer says:

    Here’s another one. Someone’s got an 1.100 OPS. Is that “one point one hundred,” “eleven hundred,” or “one thousand one hundred” (then O. P. S. or “ops”)? What do people say?

    wFB/C (weighted fastball per hundred)
    O-Contact% (outside contact percent)
    BB (am I the only one who feels wrong saying “walk” when it’s written “BB”? I say bases on balls unless it keeps repeating)
    BB/K (walk-to-strikeout ratio? walks per strikeouts? bases on balls per strikeout?)
    HR/FB (I’d say home runs per fly ball, but I think others might say home run to fly ball ratio)

    :) (“smiley”)

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    • Choo says:

      1.100 OPS = “eleven hundred.”

      And if you’re a Hobbit, “eleventy.”

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    • Bradley says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      For BB/K, I either say “walks-to-strikeouts” or just “control ratio,” even though it may not be the best measure of control.

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  43. Travis says:

    Whip, Iso, War and Babip are the only ones I read.

    Every other one I use acronyms. “Fip” and ‘Woba” sound awful to me. W-O-B-A and F-I-P sounds way better.

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  44. James says:

    I say “Slugging”, “are-bee-eye”, and “oozer”, and I think I might start saying “ops” now. However, I have a couple of odd pronounciations. I guess I learned WAR before RAR so I pronounce them “war” and “roar”; I thought that was more common than it is I guess. The one I can’t explain is BABIP, which I say as “ba-pip”. I don’t know where I got that p instead of the b, but I noticeably say it that way.

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  45. jsolid says:

    for UZR i say OO-zer. sounds like uzi.
    and by “say” of course i mean “hear in my head”, because lets face it we are writing and posting and blogging, but we are not using these words in conversation… YET!

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  46. Alireza says:

    I agree that U-Z-R should be said that way.

    For BABIP, I say Bay-Bip.

    I also heard the Daly Ops comment. I don’t think anyone actually told him what it was, I think he just read it off the graphic.

    The hilarious thing about Joe Morgan is that stats specifically show just how good a hitter he was. His career OBP of .392 is insane.

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  47. Adam says:

    I spell out F-I-P and L-O-B.

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  48. Hark says:

    I spell out everything. R-B-I, F-I-P, w-O-B-A…I must be weird.

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  49. Choo says:

    You spell out FIP as if were “H-E-Double-L” or some other profanity uttered in the presence of a toddler? Shameful.

    I would like to propose the first unofficial and completely unenforceable rule:

    1. The FIP Rule

    When it is not necessary to buy a vowel from Pat Sajak because there is already a perfectly good vowel bookended by one consonant each, making a three-letter, single-syllable word a 1-year old could pronounce (like “FIP” for example) the acronym shall be spoken as if it were an actual word.

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  50. Mikel says:

    I am going to start calling it “oozer” haha. This article was hilarious.

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  51. Poochie says:

    FIP – Fielding Independent
    wOBA- Weighted on-base
    SLG- Slugging
    BABIP- Average on balls in play
    ISO- ISO
    WHIP- Whip
    LOB%- Strand (are they different?)

    ERA- E-R-A
    OBP- It’s much easier to say “on base”
    OPS- O-P-S
    UZR- U-Z-R
    WPA- W-P-A
    WRAA- would probably say it out longhand

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  52. Larry Smith Jr. says:

    I say these acronyms as words:

    FIP, ISO, WHIP, and WAR. I pronounce all of them the same way that Dave does.

    * – xFIP = “Ex-Fip”

    * – K/9 = “Canine”

    * – I do not use an acronym for BABIP when I’m speaking. I actually say “Batting average on balls in play”. Same for SLG. I say “slugging percentage”, or sometimes just “slugging” or in verb form: “He slugged……”.

    * – I very rarely have the need to reference LOB% when I’m speaking, but when I do, I actually will say “Left on base percentage”, or I may just say “strand percentage” or “strand rate”. Or again, as a verb: “He strands…..”

    * – BB/9 = “Walks per nine innings”, “Walk rate”, or “Walks per nine”

    I spell out:

    wOBA, ERA, OBP, OPS, tRA, UZR, WPA, wRC+

    All that said, I agree with Dingo. I very rarely break out any of these terms because the people I know who talk about baseball either will not or cannot talk about the game qualitatively, living in BA/RBI land, so just like him I tend to make general statements: “I think moving Inge back to 3B and signing Everett to short helps ground ball pitchers like Porcello to do better than he otherwise might”, instead of delving into UZR and actual GB% and what not.

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  53. verd14 says:

    Bah-Bip… the Korean dish

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  54. LeeTro says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    I can’t believe there hasn’t been a Cool wHip joke yet.

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  55. philosofool says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    This is a great post.

    For tRA, when reading to myself, it sounds like “tee ra” with the “ra” pronounced like the first bit of “rally fries.” I think this is obnoxious and hope that no one else does it because it sounds totally stupid. But I’m pretty sure if I ever actually talked about this stat, I would say “true runs allowed.” (On a side note, I hate rally fries.)

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  56. Wow this is a must read, bookmarking your website now. Please continue to write, your style is very outside the box.

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