What Does WHIP Mean in Baseball?

What Does WHIP Mean in Baseball? Exploring 15 Top Players With the Lowest Career WHIP

Baseball enthusiasts and stat junkies alike often find themselves mesmerized by the intricate numbers that define the game. Among these, WHIP stands out as a crucial metric, offering a window into a pitcher’s effectiveness.

WHIP, or Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched, is a statistic that measures how many base runners a pitcher allows per inning. This seemingly simple figure can be a powerful indicator of a pitcher’s dominance on the mound. The lower the WHIP, the fewer runners a pitcher allows, which often translates to better performance and more wins for the team.

In this article, we’ll explore 15 of the top players with the lowest career WHIP, shining a spotlight on those who have mastered the art of keeping batters off the bases.

Get ready to uncover the stories behind the stats and see why WHIP is a number worth watching.

Key Takeaways:

  • WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) measures a pitcher’s effectiveness by calculating the average number of baserunners allowed per inning. It is a critical statistic for evaluating a pitcher’s control and ability to prevent scoring opportunities.
  • A lower WHIP indicates better performance. Pitchers with a WHIP below 1.00 are considered elite, as they consistently limit baserunners and reduce the opposing team’s scoring chances, contributing significantly to their team’s success.
  • The top 15 players with the lowest career WHIP include historical figures like Addie Joss and modern stars like Jacob deGrom. These pitchers excel at keeping batters off bases, showcasing their mastery and dominance on the mound.
  • While WHIP focuses on baserunners allowed per inning, ERA (Earned Run Average) measures runs allowed per nine innings. Both statistics are essential for a comprehensive evaluation of a pitcher’s performance, highlighting different aspects of their effectiveness.
  • WHIP is used for evaluating pitcher performance, informing game strategies, aiding player development and scouting, negotiating contracts, and guiding betting decisions. It provides valuable insights into a pitcher’s ability to control the game and limit scoring opportunities.

What Does WHIP Mean in Baseball?

What Does WHIP Mean in Baseball

WHIP, or “Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched,” is a baseball statistic that measures a pitcher’s effectiveness at keeping baserunners off the bases. It is calculated by adding the number of walks and hits allowed by the pitcher, then dividing by the number of innings pitched. This formula provides insight into how well a pitcher controls the game and limits the opposing team’s scoring opportunities.

A lower WHIP indicates better performance. A WHIP of 1.00 or less is considered excellent, while the league average typically ranges from 1.30 to 1.40.

WHIP offers a crucial lens for evaluating pitchers, but it’s not the only measure. The caliber of the opposing team, where the pitcher plays, and the baseball era are major influences too. Despite these variables, WHIP stands as a key, widely accepted metric in baseball. It succinctly highlights a pitcher’s capacity to keep baserunners in check.

Why is WHIP an Important Statistic?

WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) is crucial in baseball because it quantifies a pitcher’s effectiveness in preventing baserunners. This metric combines the number of walks and hits allowed by a pitcher per inning, directly reflecting their control and command on the mound. A lower WHIP indicates a pitcher’s ability to limit scoring opportunities for the opposing team, which is essential for maintaining defensive strength and controlling the game’s pace.

By evaluating WHIP, coaches, analysts, and fans can compare pitchers’ performances accurately, identifying those who excel at keeping runners off the bases and thereby minimizing the opponent’s chances of scoring. This makes WHIP one of the most important statistics for assessing a pitcher’s overall effectiveness and contribution to the team’s success.

WHIP RangeInterpretation
Below 1.00Exceptional
1.00 to 1.20Excellent
1.21 to 1.30Above Average
1.31 to 1.40Average
Above 1.40Below Average

The table above outlines the meanings behind various WHIP values. A pitcher with a WHIP of below 1.00 is outstanding, allowing fewer than one runner per inning. Those between 1.00 and 1.20 are still superb, and the 1.21 to 1.30 range marks above-average performance. An average WHIP falls between 1.31 and 1.40, but anything over 1.40 is deemed below par.

WHIP also reflects a pitcher’s overall efficiency. Those with a pronounced whip in their throws often have better pitch control and command. This leads to fewer hits and walks. A low WHIP not only signifies efficiency but also the pitcher’s ability to prolong their game appearances. Such feats are vital for resting the bullpen and enhancing the team’s win probabilities.

What Does WHIP Tell Us?

It provides a clear indicator of a pitcher’s control and effectiveness. A low WHIP signifies that a pitcher is good at keeping batters off the bases, which is essential for limiting scoring opportunities and maintaining a strong defense.

Key WHIP Benchmarks:

  • Below 1.00: Elite control and dominance (potential Cy Young worthy).
  • 1.00 to 1.20: Excellent command and effectiveness.
  • 1.20 to 1.30: Above-average performance.
  • 1.30 to 1.40: Solid and reliable pitching.
  • Above 1.40: Struggles with control and allowing baserunners.

A pitcher with a WHIP below 1.00 is considered outstanding, demonstrating their ability to consistently limit baserunners. This level of control often correlates with a low ERA (Earned Run Average) and a higher winning record.

On the other hand, a WHIP above 1.75 suggests that the pitcher allows nearly two baserunners per inning, which significantly increases the chances for the opposing team to score.

Implications of WHIP:

  • Game Performance: A low WHIP indicates fewer baserunners and less pressure on the defense, often leading to better overall team performance.
  • Comparison Tool: WHIP allows for fair comparisons of pitchers across different eras and ballparks, as it is not influenced by external factors like park size.
  • Consistency: A stable WHIP suggests consistent pitching mechanics and reliable performance.

History and Origin of WHIP

DecadeKey Development
1980sWHIP introduced by Daniel Okrent and the Rotisserie League
1990sWHIP gains widespread adoption in baseball community
2000sSabermetrics and advanced analytics further solidify WHIP’s importance
2010s-PresentWHIP becomes a staple in pitching evaluation and baseball discussions

The term WHIP, which stands for Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched, emerged in the early 1980s thanks to baseball statistician Daniel Okrent. Around that time, he and a group of baseball fans founded the Rotisserie League. This league became the basis for fantasy baseball as we know it today.

They wanted to measure a pitcher’s performance in more depth. The common stat, Earned Run Average (ERA), didn’t show how many baserunners a pitcher allowed. So, WHIP was born. It offered a better look at how good a pitcher was at keeping players off the bases.

Since then, WHIP has become a popular way to evaluate pitchers. It’s simple: just calculate the total number of walks and hits given up by a pitcher per inning. This simplicity made it a hit with fans and professionals alike.

Over the years, scouts, teams, and the media have adopted WHIP. With the growth of advanced statistics in the 1990s and early 2000s, WHIP became one of the main numbers used to judge a pitcher’s skill.

Today, WHIP is considered essential in understanding a pitcher’s performance. Its simplicity and accuracy make it a go-to metric for evaluating how well a pitcher controls the game. This shows just how important WHIP has become in the world of baseball.

But, it’s crucial to remember that WHIP is just one part of the puzzle. When looking at a pitcher’s performance, it’s best to consider WHIP along with other key stats. Even so, WHIP has forever changed how we analyze pitchers and talk about the game.

How is WHIP Calculated?

Understanding WHIP calculation is key to deciphering vital baseball lingo. WHIP, short for “Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched,” measures a pitcher’s ability to prevent baserunners. This crucial metric combines the walks and hits a pitcher allowed, then divides by the innings pitched.

The WHIP calculation follows a straightforward formula:

WHIP = (Walks + Hits) / Innings Pitched

Breaking down the baseball slang, we have:

  • Walks: The count of walks (bases on balls) given by the pitcher.
  • Hits: The total hits the pitcher’s team allowed.
  • Innings Pitched: How many innings the pitcher played.

For a clearer picture, let’s use an example:

PitcherInnings PitchedWalks AllowedHits AllowedWHIP
Clayton Kershaw232.2421560.85

In this case, Clayton Kershaw threw for 232.2 innings, with 42 walks and 156 hits. Adding the walks and hits gives us 198. Dividing by innings pitched (232.2), his WHIP is approximately 0.85.

What do These WHIP Numbers Mean?

They signal a pitcher’s efficacy. Lower is better, showing fewer baserunners conceded per inning. A WHIP under 1.00 is excellent, while over 1.50 suggests a struggling pitcher.

What is the Average WHIP of MLB Players?

It’s vital to understand the average WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) of MLB players to gauge pitcher performance and success levels. Pitching mechanics and throwing techniques are essential. They help pitchers keep their WHIP low and limit baserunners. Analyzing historical WHIP data uncovers what’s considered a good or exceptional WHIP.

Let’s explore the WHIP averages of MLB pitchers across different eras:

EraAverage WHIP
Dead Ball Era (1901-1919)1.16
Live Ball Era (1920-1941)1.38
Integration Era (1942-1960)1.34
Expansion Era (1961-1976)1.30
Free Agency Era (1977-1993)1.34
Steroid Era (1994-2005)1.40
Post-Steroid Era (2006-Present)1.32

The average WHIP has varied due to changes in the sport like rules, player skill, and offensive strategies. The Dead Ball Era featured pitchers with remarkable performances. In contrast, the Live Ball and Steroid Eras experienced more offense, leading to higher WHIP averages.

Today, a WHIP of 1.20 or lower is considered excellent, whereas a WHIP exceeding 1.40 is seen as below average. It’s key to remember that the era and league context are crucial in evaluating a pitcher’s WHIP.

Top 15 Players With the Lowest Career WHIP

In the history of baseball, certain pitchers have been exceptional at limiting baserunners. They have mastered the art of pitching, with precise arm motion and incredible arm speed. These pitchers rank among the baseball elite due to their low career WHIP.

Let’s examine the top 15 in baseball history:

Addie Joss0.9678
Jacob deGrom0.9931
Ed Walsh0.9996
Mariano Rivera1.0003
Clayton Kershaw1.0042
Chris Sale1.0405
John Montgomery Ward1.0438
Pedro Martínez1.0544
Christy Mathewson1.0581
Trevor Hoffman1.0584
Walter Johnson1.0612
Mordecai Brown1.0658
Charlie Sweeney1.0673
Max Scherzer1.0767
Reb Russell1.0800

1. Addie Joss (0.9678)

Addie Joss holds the record for the lowest career WHIP in MLB history. A dominant pitcher in the early 1900s, Joss’s precision and control were unparalleled. His career, though tragically cut short by illness, remains a benchmark for pitching excellence.

2. Jacob deGrom (0.9931)

Jacob deGrom, a modern-day ace, boasts an exceptional WHIP just under 1.00. Known for his pinpoint accuracy and devastating stuff, deGrom has consistently been one of the most effective pitchers of his era, winning multiple Cy Young Awards.

3. Ed Walsh (0.9996)

Ed Walsh, a Hall of Famer from the early 20th century, was renowned for his spitball. His ability to control the game and limit baserunners places him among the all-time greats with a career WHIP just below 1.00.

4. Mariano Rivera (1.0003)

Mariano Rivera, the greatest closer in baseball history, combined a nearly unhittable cutter with impeccable control to achieve a career WHIP of 1.0003. Rivera’s dominance in the postseason further cements his legacy.

5. Clayton Kershaw (1.0042)

Clayton Kershaw, one of the best pitchers of the modern era, has maintained an outstanding career WHIP through a combination of superb control, a devastating curveball, and a fierce competitive spirit. Kershaw has multiple Cy Young Awards and a no-hitter to his name.

6. Chris Sale (1.0405)

Chris Sale’s career WHIP is a testament to his ability to miss bats and limit walks. Known for his unorthodox delivery and electric stuff, Sale has been a strikeout machine and a consistent ace throughout his career.

7. John Montgomery Ward (1.0438)

John Montgomery Ward, a 19th-century star, excelled both as a pitcher and a position player. His impressive WHIP reflects his skill on the mound during an era when pitching dominance was crucial to success.

8. Pedro Martínez (1.0544)

Pedro Martínez, one of the most dominant pitchers of the late 20th and early 21st centuries, combined power and finesse to achieve a remarkable career WHIP. His peak seasons with the Boston Red Sox are among the best in MLB history.

9. Christy Mathewson (1.0581)

Christy Mathewson, a legendary figure in early baseball history, was known for his control and intelligence on the mound. His career WHIP underscores his status as one of the greatest pitchers ever.

10. Trevor Hoffman (1.0584)

Trevor Hoffman, one of the all-time saves leaders, used a devastating changeup to keep hitters off balance. His ability to limit baserunners made him one of the most reliable closers in baseball history.

11. Walter Johnson (1.0612)

Walter Johnson, often regarded as the greatest pitcher in MLB history, combined a blazing fastball with exceptional control. His career WHIP reflects his dominance over a lengthy and storied career.

12. Mordecai Brown (1.0658)

Mordecai “Three Finger” Brown overcame a hand injury to become one of the best pitchers of the early 20th century. His unique grip and exceptional control are evident in his impressive career WHIP.

13. Charlie Sweeney (1.0673)

Charlie Sweeney, a 19th-century pitcher, posted an outstanding career WHIP during a time when the game was very different from today. His ability to limit baserunners was key to his success on the mound.

14. Max Scherzer (1.0767)

Max Scherzer, known for his intense competitiveness and strikeout prowess, has consistently been among the best pitchers in baseball. His career WHIP highlights his effectiveness in limiting baserunners and dominating hitters.

15. Reb Russell (1.0800)

Reb Russell, who played in the early 20th century, posted an impressive career WHIP, showcasing his ability to control games and keep opponents off the bases. His contributions on the mound remain notable in baseball history.


When looking at baseball pitcher performance, WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) and ERA (Earned Run Average) stand out. They reveal different aspects of a player’s effectiveness. Knowing how to use WHIP and ERA together is key to fully understand a pitcher’s skills.

WHIP shows how many times a pitcher lets others start out on base in each inning. It includes walks and hits to show a pitcher’s control of the game. A low WHIP means a pitcher keeps the other team from getting on base, reducing the chance of them scoring.

ERA, in contrast, tells us the average runs a pitcher allows in nine innings, focusing on their ability to stop runs regardless of the source. Quality of pitches, stranding runners, and the defense behind them impact ERA. A lower ERA suggests a pitcher is skilled at keeping runs off the scoreboard.

Though WHIP and ERA are both useful, they have important differences. WHIP is about baserunners, not runs, so a high WHIP can coexist with a low ERA if a pitcher is good at escaping jams. On the contrary, a low WHIP but a high ERA could mean they give up big hits or fail under pressure.

StatisticFocusFormulaKey Aspects
WHIPBaserunners allowed per inning(Walks + Hits) / Innings PitchedReflects control and ability to limit baserunners Does not directly account for runs allowed Lower WHIP indicates better performance
ERAEarned runs allowed per nine innings(Earned Runs * 9) / Innings PitchedMeasures effectiveness in preventing runs Affected by quality of pitches and defense Lower ERA indicates better performance

Evaluating pitchers requires looking at WHIP and ERA alongside factors like strikeout rate and opponents’ batting average. The technique and mechanics of a pitcher’s whip action play a big role. A good whip motion can mean better control and harder for batters to make runs.

The decision on using WHIP or ERA comes down to context and what’s being focused on in the evaluation. WHIP is clear about baserunner prevention, while ERA concentrates on stopping runs. Using both gives a full view of a pitcher’s contribution to their team.

5 Applications of WHIP in Baseball

WHIP, which stands for Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched, is a pivotal statistic in baseball analysis. It aids in gauging individual pitcher efficiency and enhances the development of game strategies and player growth.

We’ll dive into five crucial uses of WHIP that yield valuable insights and guide smart decisions in the sport:

ApplicationHow WHIP is Used
Evaluating Pitcher PerformanceAssesses a pitcher’s ability to limit walks and hits per inning
Game Strategy and ManagementInforms decisions on starting rotations, bullpen assignments, and in-game substitutions
Player Development and ScoutingEvaluates potential and projectability of young pitchers and prospects
Contract Negotiations and Player ValuationAssesses a pitcher’s value and potential impact for salary and trade discussions
Baseball BettingProvides insights for evaluating pitching matchups and making informed betting decisions

1. Evaluating Pitcher Performance

WHIP is instrumental in assessing a pitcher’s overall effectiveness. It quantifies the number of baserunners conceded per inning, offering a true sense of a pitcher’s control in limiting walks and hits.

A reduced WHIP implies superior command and efficacy, showcasing the pitcher’s ability to keep batters away. This metric is indispensable for evaluating a pitcher’s value to their team against others.

2. Game Strategy and Management

WHIP influences decisions in game strategy and management as well. Coaches and managers weigh a pitcher’s WHIP when selecting their lineups and deciding on game time substitutions.

A pitcher with a low WHIP is typically relied upon in critical game moments; in contrast, one with a higher WHIP necessitates strategic planning to mitigate potential threats. A deeper grasp of WHIP and its correlation to pitcher performance is thus essential for on-field success.

3. Player Development and Scouting

In the journey of player development and scouting, WHIP serves as a vital evaluation tool. It helps in assessing a pitcher’s potential and marketability, especially among young or aspiring players. A prospect demonstrating a consistently low WHIP is viewed as having the promise to excel at higher levels of competition.

Tracking a player’s WHIP progression enables coaches to identify areas needing refinement, guiding tailored training and developmental plans.

4. Contract Negotiations and Player Valuation

On the business end of baseball, WHIP is a critical component in determining a player’s worth. When contemplating the acquisition of a new pitcher, teams meticulously analyze the prospective player’s WHIP to forecast their contribution and significance.

A pitcher adept at maintaining a low WHIP might demand a higher pay or trade value, owing to their ability to effectively prevent runs and enhance team performance. WHIP often emerges as a persuasive point in contract talks, underscoring a player’s value.

5. Baseball Betting

WHIP also finds relevance in baseball-related betting activities. For sports enthusiasts and fantasy league participants, integrating WHIP statistics into pitcher evaluations and lineup selections can offer valuable insights.

A pitcher with an impressive WHIP is perceived as a more secure bet or fantasy choice due to their strong performance in limiting opponent’s baserunners. Familiarity with WHIP and its implications can indeed grant an advantage in making educated betting and fantasy sports decisions.


WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) stands as a pivotal statistic in baseball, encapsulating a pitcher’s ability to limit baserunners and control the game. This article has highlighted the importance of WHIP, tracing its significance and showcasing 15 legendary pitchers who have excelled in this metric.

Understanding WHIP not only enriches our appreciation for these pitching maestros but also enhances our grasp of the game’s strategic depth. Coaches, analysts, and fans can use WHIP to inform decisions, evaluate talent, and engage in meaningful discussions about pitcher performance.

To deepen your baseball insights, continue exploring WHIP alongside other vital stats. Engage with the baseball community to share your newfound knowledge and join in the conversation about the sport’s finest pitchers.

Embrace this understanding to elevate your baseball experience and expertise.

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What is a Good WHIP in Baseball?

A good WHIP (Walks plus Hits per Inning Pitched) in baseball is typically below 1.00, though elite pitchers often have WHIPs closer to 0.90 or lower.

Who has the Lowest WHIP in MLB History?

Addie Joss holds the record for the lowest WHIP in MLB history, with a career WHIP of 0.97.

What is the MLB Average WHIP?

The MLB average WHIP fluctuates each season but typically falls around 1.30 to 1.40.

Do Pitchers Want High or Low WHIP?

Pitchers want a low WHIP because it indicates they are allowing fewer baserunners per inning pitched, which increases their effectiveness and helps prevent runs from scoring.

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