What Does ERA Mean In Baseball? (Explained)

What Does ERA Mean In Baseball? (Explained)

Young boy swinging the bat for a hit in baseball game


When it comes to evaluating a pitcher, there are a few stats that you can use.

One of the most important stats is a pitcher’s ERA.

Teams and fans will use a pitcher’s ERA rating to determine their quality.

Knowing the rating is useful since it can tell the team if they need to switch their pitcher for someone else.

However, you may not know what the ERA stat stands for or represents.


What Does ERA Mean In Baseball?

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ERA stands for earned run average.

It describes the average number of runs a pitcher allows per nine innings.

The statistic doesn’t include errors that caused a run or a passed ball that caused a run.

As such, a lot of teams and fans will use the earned run average to evaluate the skill of a pitcher.

The ERA is the go-to stat to evaluate a pitcher because it describes exactly what a pitcher is attempting to avoid.

A pitcher’s goal is to strike out as many players as possible.

They don’t want the hitter to earn a run by hitting the ball.

Nor do they want the hitter to earn a walk.

As such, it’s a helpful stat used to describe the effectiveness of a pitcher.


How Do You Calculate A Pitcher’s ERA Stat?

American teenage high school pitcher on the mound during a game.


Calculating a pitcher’s ERA stat is relatively easy.

The stats you’ll need to run the formula are the number of earned runs and the number of innings pitched.

You’ll take those numbers and plug them into the following formula:

(earned runs × 9) ÷ innings pitched

Essentially, you’ll take their number of earned runs and multiply it by nine.

Then you’ll divide that number by the number of innings pitched.

That will give you a pitcher’s ERA stat.


Is ERA An Accurate Way To Measure A Pitcher’s Skill?

Mens' baseball pitcher throwing the curveball to the batter.


While ERA can give you a good idea of how many runs a pitcher allows to happen, it doesn’t always tell the whole story.

As such, when estimating a pitcher’s skills, it’s important to consider a few other stats alongside it.

Here are a few reasons ERA isn’t always the best or only stat that you should use to measure a pitcher’s skill.


1. Counts Defensive Mistakes

One of the reasons the ERA isn’t always an accurate portrait of a pitcher’s skill level is that it also includes defensive mistakes of other players on the field.

As long as the mistake isn’t ruled an error, it counts.

This means that an earned run isn’t always the pitcher’s fault.

While they may have failed to strike out the player, it may be the pitcher’s defense that fails to throw the ball fast enough to stop the player from scoring.

As such, the ERA can discriminate between pitchers with great defense and pitchers with not that great a defense.

To avoid this, it’s always worth checking the stats of the defense, too.

If the stats of the defense are great, it might be influencing the ERA, too.

If the stats aren’t great, that also influences the ERA.

The ERA isn’t always a great statistic to compare pitchers by because it includes mistakes made by the defense.


2. Great Defensive Plays Do Not Count

Another problem with the ERA stat is that it doesn’t take great defensive plays into account.

ERA measures earned runs.

It does not measure how well the pitcher then coordinates a defense to stop runs from scoring.

Nor does it include plays made by the defense and the pitcher to prevent runs from scoring.

As such, while the ERA might describe how many runs the pitcher allowed to happen, it doesn’t indicate how good they are at defending the bases after those runs occur.

Essentially, the ERA stat doesn’t show the whole picture of what a pitcher can do on the field.


3. Stadium Differences

The stadium can also make a difference when it comes to calculating the ERA of a pitcher.

Some stadiums are just naturally better at providing runs than others.

It might be because of the stadium’s design.

It might even be because of the fans.

Pitchers who aren’t playing at their home stadium, for example, aren’t used to throwing pitches in a new place.

They’re also subject to more pressure from the opponent’s fans who are screaming in the stands.

Stadium stressors can affect an ERA either physically or psychologically.

As such, teams and fans should also consider the stadium in which the pitcher played when considering their ERA stat.


4. Quality Of Hitters

The quality of hitters is another reason ERA isn’t always the best stat to evaluate a pitcher’s skill.

This is especially true when comparing pitchers from different leagues.

One league might have a season of great hitters while the other league doesn’t.

It’s not always the best way to compare two pitchers when they are up against a better quality of hitters than the other.

Their ERA will naturally be lower since they’re up against players who know how to hit or walk well.

If that pitcher were to play in the other pitcher’s league, then their ERA might be about the same.

The quality of hitters can also impact a pitcher’s ERA.


5. Relief Pitchers

A final reason ERA isn’t always a great way to compare or calculate a pitcher’s skill is if they’re relief pitchers.

Relief pitchers often only play a few rounds before the role goes back to the starting pitcher.

Some might be able to play an entire inning, but their sole purpose is to give the starting pitcher a break.

However, relief pitchers also receive an ERA.

Because they’re usually solely focused on getting outs, their ERA can suffer.

The fact that they don’t play as often also means that they have fewer attempts to improve their score.

Starting pitchers play more innings and thus have more runs to stop or cause.

Because relief pitchers don’t play as often, their ERA scores tend to be lower.

They may actually be great pitchers, but because they only play a little bit, their ERA suffers.


What Is A Good ERA In Baseball?

Baseball pitcher following through on pitch to right handed batter.


A good ERA in baseball tends to be around 2.00 and 3.00.

The average ERA in baseball is around 4.00.

As such, if a player is able to get their ERA below 4.00, then they’re considered a great pitcher.

If a pitcher is able to get their ERA to 2.00, then you’re extremely skilled and talented.

An ERA of 2.00 is very rare.

Anything below a 2.00 is essentially legendary.

A pitcher with an ERA below 2.00 is one of the greats.


Is A Higher Or Lower ERA Better?

Baseball pitcher following through on pitch to right handed batter


A lower ERA is better in baseball.

If your ERA reaches 5.00 or higher, then you’re likely to be let go from the team or transferred to the Minor League.

An ERA of 5.00 indicates that the pitcher allows far too many runs to occur.

It suggests that they’re unable to prevent the other team from scoring.

That usually means they’re letting the other team have a greater chance of winning.

The lower your ERA becomes, the more talented you are.

It indicates that you were able to strike out more players than you allowed players to earn a run.


Who Has The Best ERA In Baseball?

High school baseball player


The player who has the best ERA in baseball is Ed Walsh.

Walsh had an ERA of 1.816.

Considering his ERA was below 2.00, it’s clear that Walsh was a legendary pitcher.

In second place is Addie Joss.

Joss had an ERA of 1.887.

In third place is Jim Devlin.

His ERA score is 1.896.

Clearly, the top pitchers in baseball all had ERA scores below 2.00.

Considering how difficult it is to do, it indicates that these pitchers had extraordinary talent.


What Is The Average ERA In MLB?

Logo Major League Baseball on Sony TV


The average ERA of pitchers in MLB is between 4.00 and 5.00.

If a pitcher reaches an ERA above 5.00, then they’re usually let go or sent down to the Minor Leagues.

This also means that if a pitcher has an ERA below 4.00, then they’re considered an above-average pitcher.


How Can You Improve Your ERA?

White pitches thrown by a pitcher taking pitching practice to warm up his shoulder in the bullpen during a baseball game.


If you’re a pitcher and you want to improve your earned run average, then you may wonder what you need to do.

Since a lot of people use ERA stats to determine a pitcher’s skill, it’s a good idea to improve it as much as possible.

Here are a few ways you can improve your ERA stat.


1. Improve Your Understanding Of The Hitters

To become a great pitcher with a great ERA, you need to do some homework.

That means you need to understand the hitters you’re up against before the game begins.

It helps to know their strategies.

Do they prefer to hit or walk?

By understanding their preferences, you can then create your own strategy to get them out rather than give them what they want.

By understanding the hitters you’re up against, you can improve your ERA.


2. Practice Pitching At The Stadium

Sometimes the stadium can impact how well you pitch.

To ensure the stadium doesn’t affect your performance, you should do everything you can to get out on the field and practice some throws.

Once you get a feel for how the stadium affects your throws, you can ensure that it won’t impact your game when it matters.


3. Increase Accuracy

Perhaps one of the most important things a pitcher can do is improve their accuracy.

If you can throw the ball where you want it, then you can force the hitter to make a quick decision.

Do they try to hit or do they let it pass by?

By combining accuracy with speed, you can deliver some incredible pitches that hitters don’t know what to do with.

As a result, you improve your ERA.



Earned Run Average is a stat that many teams and fans use to determine the skill level of a pitcher.

However, there are factors that can influence the ERA in a certain way that isn’t always fair to the pitcher.

Luckily, there are a few ways that pitchers can improve their ERA scores, too.

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