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What is ERA in Baseball and How to Calculate It

If you are looking for tips on calculating ERA (Earned Run Average), this article will be a helpful read. Here you will find the accurate procedure for calculating it in softball and baseball.
Omkar Phatak
Last Updated: Oct 06, 2017
Sportspeople must measure up to certain specified parameters of excellence. Statistics provide objective parameters for comparison of the performance of different baseball players. One such parameter, that a pitcher in baseball is judged by, is Earned Run Average (ERA), while a batter is judged by his batting average.
As you know, statistics matter a lot in baseball and the numbers need to be crunched out for every player as per his performance in past games. The players listed in the hall of fame are known for their impeccable batting averages or ERAs. There is a dedicated body of statisticians who devote their time to calculation of game statistics which also provides selectors with objective parameters for selection of their future squads. You may find this statistic quoted on baseball cards. Let me first explain what exactly is meant by ERA and then elucidate how to calculate it.
An ERA is a number that sums up a pitcher's performance, based on his past performance. It is a measure of how many runs a pitcher gives up over a game of nine innings, on an average. It is the earned runs that he would have if he pitched for nine innings straight in a game.
The method of calculating it is a sort of extrapolation, based on the career performance of a pitcher. While the average ERA of pitchers in Major League Baseball (MLB) tends to be around 4.5, the best pitchers have averages between 2.5 and 3. You can evaluate the ERA of any pitcher on your own, with knowledge of certain parameters that include his earned runs and the total number of innings pitched by him. Let us have a look at the formulas used to calculate it.
Calculation in Baseball
Calculating it in baseball is quite simple. Just get hold of the number of total earned runs of a pitcher and the total number of innings for which he has pitched, and use the following formula.
Formula for ERA Calculation in Baseball = [(Earned Runs) x 9] / (Innings Pitched)
To put it simply, just divide the earned runs by the total number of innings pitched and multiply the result by 9 to get the ERA. There is one rule that must be remembered regarding fractional number of innings pitched, which need to be rounded up with a value of 0.333 per out. If a pitcher has the number of pitched innings to be 12.1 (twelve innings and one out), then convert it to 12.33. If the number of innings pitched is 12.2 (twelve innings and two out), then convert it to 12.666, before dividing the earned runs with it. Remember to consider earned runs only and do not confuse it with total runs.
Calculating it in Softball
In softball, the calculation remains almost the same, with the only difference being, that you multiply by 7 instead of 9. The formula used in softball is as follows:
Formula for ERA Calculation in Softball = [(Earned Runs) x 7] / Innings Pitched
All that you have to do is plug in the numbers, after rounding up the number of innings pitched and then calculate. Lower the value of ERA, better is effectiveness of pitching and higher rated is the player. Now you are better informed to understand and appreciate baseball records.