If WHIP is a measure of a pitchers Hits and Walks per 9 innings, shouldn't a 'hit batter' be part of the equation? Isn't a 'hit batter' the same as a walk?

  • My guess is mostly because hitting a batter isn't intentional and doesn't really happen all that often. Walks aren't always intentional either, but they are a part of the game that happens quite often, so it's more important. – New-To-IT Aug 28 '17 at 15:21
  • Another reason I think hit batter isn't counted as part of WHIP is because some batters are more adept at getting out of the way of pitches than others - so there is a certain aspect of it that is out of the pitcher's control. Some batters see a ball coming at them and just stand there and don't move and are happy to exchange getting hit for getting on base. Other batters take extreme measures to get out of the way and don't like getting hit. That variation in avoiding the ball isn't something the pitcher can control. – jamauss Aug 28 '17 at 18:33

One of the appeals of using WHIP as a statistic is that it's very simple to understand and calculate, and the resulting numbers hold some real value as far as describing a pitcher's skill. If you were to add something to the formula (namely HBP numbers), you'd want to first look at how it affects the balance between 1. ease of use and 2. value of adding the new part.

In this case, we already have a statistic that can be easily understood and calculated by any average fan. Yes, an average fan should be able to handle adding in the HBP but is that small burden worth it? Just choosing a random league and year, I looked at the National League in 2016 and Jimmy Nelson led the league by hitting 17 batters. His actual WHIP of 1.517 would have been 1.612 if you include HBPs--a difference of about 1/10 of a point. Keep in mind that that's the biggest effect you would have seen for that year in that league. Also, practically every pitcher would have a slightly higher WHIP, just not by 1/10 of a point. For a simple stat like WHIP is intended to be, there's probably not enough value in adding the HBP numbers to be worth the trouble.

On the other hand, you're right that HBP is often a controllable thing and there are plenty of advanced stats that do take it into account, for example Field Independent Pitching. These types of stats, though, are called advanced for a reason--they're not for the casual fan to memorize and calculate on the spot, but they do have a lot of value for people who love to dig into the numbers and value precision over ease.

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    While I generally agree with this, Nelson's stat isn't necessarily the biggest effect - if Tanner Roark with his 13 hit batters had pitched only half as many innings as Jimmy Nelson, the effect would be larger as it's a per innings stat (in actual fact, Roark pitched more innings than Nelson, but the principle applies!) – Philip Kendall Aug 29 '17 at 12:08
  • @PhilipKendall, that's very true. Instead of being the most extreme example, it's just then illustrative that for even those pitchers that hit a lot of batters, there's not a ton of value added to the WHIP numbers. – Dr.DrfbagIII Aug 29 '17 at 13:15
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    @PhilipKendall if Roark had pitched only half as many innings, wouldn't it also likely mean that he would have fewer hit batsmen? (If his ratio of batters faced to hit-by-pitch remained constant) – jamauss Aug 30 '17 at 10:25
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    @jamauss, that's probably right in actuality but what PhilipKendall is proposing is a hypothetical where some pitcher has a higher hit-by-pitch rate than Nelson, in this case arbitrarily choosing Tanner Roark and saying what if he had 13 hit batters in half the innings as Nelson? The point being that the biggest "effect" on WH(+HBP)IP isn't always necessarily from the league leader. – Dr.DrfbagIII Aug 30 '17 at 14:45

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