What Does WP Mean in Baseball? A Simple Explanation
Maybe you're watching a game or looking at a player's stats and you notice an unfamiliar statistic labeled WP.
What does that mean, exactly?
If that's you, then you're in the right place.
This article describes what WP is in a baseball context and helps you to quickly get up to speed on the term.
What Does WP Stand for in Baseball?
In baseball, the abbreviation WP stands for "wild pitch". Please note that it does not stand for "winning pitcher", as that is given just a W and not a WP.
The WP statistic is simply the sum total of all wild pitches thrown by one pitcher in a single season.
A wild pitch occurs when both of the following things happen:
- A pitcher throws the ball so far outside the strike zone that the catcher can't field it in a ordinary manner, and
- A runner advances due to the pitch.
When a wild pitch happens, it's charged to the pitcher and it's reflected in their personal stats.
If there are no runners on and the pitcher throws the ball away, a wild pitch is not charged.
The Difference Between a WP and a PB
Wild pitches have a close relationship with another baseball statistic known as PB, or "passed ball".
Generally speaking, wild pitches are the fault of the pitcher and passed balls are the fault of the catcher.
When a pitcher throws a ball that should be caught with normal effort, but the catcher cannot hold onto the ball, that is a passed ball.
The official scorekeeper of the game is the one who ultimately decides what to charge to pitchers or catchers in these situations.
The WP Statistic and Catchers
As mentioned above, a wild pitch is the "fault" of the pitcher and they are recorded in each pitcher's stat line.
Interestingly enough, catchers that are on the other end of wild pitches have the statistic recorded on their stat line as well, even though they are not at fault.
For example, Oakland A's catcher Sean Murphy was on the receiving end of 34 wild pitches (and just 1 PB) during his gold glove winning season in 2021.
Why is WP an Important Statistic in Baseball?
WP is an important statistic because it helps to quantitatively communicate the general accuracy of an individual pitcher.
It's also important because a WP is costly. Whenever it occurs, it means one or more runners have advanced at least one base.
Therefore, a high number of WPs means a higher probability of more runs scored against you. In the analytics-heavy environment that baseball is in, this matters a lot.
WP Leaders in the MLB
Which Pitcher Has the Most WP All-Time?
When we talk about the pitcher with the most WP, we have to mention not one but two former players.
In the modern era of baseball (e.g., the last 100 years, give or take) the pitcher who has had the most wild pitchers is Hall of Famer Nolan Ryan.
Ryan had an incredibly long big league career that spanned 27 seasons, four teams, and four separate decades in the league.
Due generally to his longevity - and being one of the hardest throwers in the game - Ryan was credited with approximately 277 WPs in his career.
The pitcher with the most WPs all-time, however, is not Nolan Ryan but a guy by the name of Tony Mullane.
He played for 13 major league seasons in the late 19th century. In that time, Mullane racked up 343 WPs.
Top 3 WP Leaders in the 2021 MLB Season
Now that we've addressed the all-time WP leaders across the history of the game, let's zoom in to more recent times to look at WP leaders in the MLB.
During the 2021 MLB season, the top three pitchers with the most WPs that year were the following:
- Germán Márquez, Colorado Rockies - 15 WP
- Dylan Crease, Chicago White Sox - 13 WP
- Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox and Jordan Montgomery, New York Yankees - 12 WP (tied)
That's A Wrap!
We hope this post was helpful and answered questions you had about the WP stat.
If we can answer any other questions, please reach out and let us know.
Thanks for stopping by Catchers Home.