Baseball is a very straightforward sport. Batters attempt to score runs, while pitchers try to prevent them. With regards to statistics, baseball gets a little bit more complicated because there are so many of them. Here are the most basic pitching statistics that any fan should know about. Note, however, that there are plenty of other statistics, including sabermetrics and others. Also, note that all statistics can be used to represent an entire career or a single season.

W – Wins. This represents that number of wins a pitcher has accumulated over their career or a single season, depending on the context it is used in. Of course, pitchers want the highest number of wins possible throughout their career.

L – Losses. Obviously, this represents the number of losses a pitcher has through a career or season. All pitchers want to minimize the number of losses they suffer each season. Having more losses than wins is a negative occurrence.

ERA – Earned Run Average. This is the mean number of runs allowed by a pitcher per nine innings. A low ERA is desirable by all pitchers. Anything under 4.00 for ERA is considered good and anything under 3.00 ERA is considered fantastic.

* **For relief pitchers, wins and losses aren’t as important as they are for starting pitchers.**

G – Games. Representing the number of games a pitcher has played in. Starting pitchers typically play in 30 or more games per season. On the other hand, relief pitchers appear in many more games than starters.

GS – Games Started. A typical starting pitcher should start 30 or more games per season. On occasion, relief pitchers may start a game in an emergency or any special situation. Most relievers, however, don’t usually start any games.

*** Injuries can lower a starting or relief pitcher’s games and games started since they won’t be playing during that time.**

CG – Complete Games. Any starting pitcher that pitches a complete nine inning game will be awarded with a complete game. In any given season, a good amount of pitchers are likely to throw one or more complete games. They aren’t extremely rare, but it takes an effective pitcher to accomplish this feat.

SHO – Shutouts. A shutout can only occur when a single pitcher throws a complete game and doesn’t allow the opposing team to score any runs. These are much more rare than complete games and only a handful of them occur each season.

SV – Saves. A save can occur in multiple ways, but the winning pitcher can never record the save. In order for a save to occur, one of these conditions must be met: a pitcher must be brought in for at least one inning with the difference in score at three or less runs; the pitcher is brought in with the potential tying run on base; the pitcher throws three innings. Closers usually handle most of a teams saves, but other pitchers will occasionally be brought in for a save situation.

*** On the other hand, a blown save is when the pitcher is brought in and allows the game to become tied or they allow the other team to pull ahead in the count.**

SVO – Save Opportunities. This is the number of opportunities a closer (or other pitcher) has had to record a save. A typical closer will usually get over 30 chances per season to record a save.

*** A closer with a low number of saves and a high number of opportunities is considered ineffective as a closer.**

IP – Innings Pitched. This represents the number of innings a pitcher has thrown for. Aside from rookie pitchers, most starters should pitch around 200 innings per year.

H – Hits. Also known as hits allowed, this is the number of hits a pitcher has given up. Pitchers attempt to keep this number as low as possible each game.

R – Runs. Representing the number of runs a team has scored while a pitcher was on the mound, Obviously, the fewer the runs allowed during each game means a team is more likely going to pick up a win.

ER – Earned Runs. This is the actually number the pitcher themselves have allowed. Sometimes, certain runs are not the result of the pitchers pitching, so these are not counted as earned runs. Home runs and hits without errors with runs scored are always counted as earned runs.

HR – Home Runs. This is how many home runs a pitcher has allowed. Of course, pitchers want to allow as few home runs as possible.

HB – Hit Batters. Obviously, this is how many batters a pitcher has hit with a pitch. Knuckleball throwers are have especially high rates of hit batters because the pitch is extremely wild.

BB – Base on Balls. Base on balls represents the number of walks a pitcher has given up. Similarly, the intentional base on balls (IBB) occurs when a pitcher intentionally walks a batter (typically done to face a weaker batter and record the out).

SO – Strikeouts. A strikeout occurs when a batter throws a called third strike or a swinging third strike (also when a batter foul tips a ball). Strikeouts are seen as a measure of a pitcher’s dominance and power, but its not as important of a statistic for some pitchers who are dominant but lack the power to strikeout a ton of batters.

AVG – Average. Also known as batting average against, all pitchers want this statistic to be low. A pitcher with a low AVG (or BAA), allows less hits and gives his team a better chance to win. A batting average against that is lower than 2.80 is considered great.

WHIP – Walks + Hits per Inning Pitched. This is a general statistic that shows how many batters a pitcher allows to get on base. A WHIP close to 1.0 or lower is considered great for any pitcher, so it’s best for a pitcher to have the lowest possible WHIP.