In the world of baseball, a number of specialized terms and abbreviations are used to evaluate and measure player performance. One such statistical term is WHIP, an acronym which stands for “Walks plus Hits per Innings Pitched”. This is a traditional measure used in baseball to assess the effectiveness of a pitcher.

In simpler terms, WHIP is a statistic that quantifies the number of baserunners a pitcher has allowed per inning pitched. This means it calculates both the hits and walks a pitcher allows, thereafter dividing them by the total innings that the pitcher has played. This metric offers a view into how well a pitcher prevents opposing players from reaching base.

WHIP was first popularized in the early 1980s by writer and sabermetrician, Daniel Okrent. Since then, it has become a commonly used statistic in both amateur and professional baseball realms. Primarily, WHIP is included in a class of statistics known as “Defense Independent Pitching Statistics”, which aim to measure a pitcher’s performance irrespective of the fielding behind that pitcher.

In calculating WHIP, walks and hits are combined because they are the two primary ways that a batter reaches base against the pitcher, excluding errors and hit-by-pitches. Additionally, the value is typically reported to two decimal places, such as 1.15 or 1.23, to enhance its meaningfulness.

Lower WHIP values are generally better, indicating that a pitcher is proficient at preventing batters from reaching base. Because a pitcherâ€™s job is to prevent runners from reaching base, a low WHIP is desirable as it offers a good assessment of a pitcher’s effectiveness.

For instance, if a pitcher has a WHIP value of 1.00, it means they, on average, allow one player (whether by hit or walk) to reach base per inning pitched. Great pitchers often have a WHIP value lower than 1.00, implying they let less than one batter reach base per inning on average.

In terms of benchmark, the Major League Baseball average WHIP tends to hover between 1.30 and 1.40, and WHIP values below 1.20 are considered excellent. The lowest single-season WHIP in MLB history is 0.7373, achieved by Addie Joss in 1908.

In conclusion, WHIP in baseball is a significant statistical measure that helps to evaluate a pitcher’s performance by assessing their capability to prevent batters from reaching base. It forms a crucial part of the statistical framework used in the sport and is often used in conjunction with other pitching statistics to get a comprehensive picture of a pitcher’s effectiveness.