This is a list that I will continually update of things to know to make understanding everything I write on this site a little easier. If you would like to add to this list or suggest a term be explained feel free to do so in the reply box.
Arbitration–After a baseball player has been in the Majors for several years, he enters the arbitration period of his career. In this case the team and the player send representatives with a desired salary for the coming season, and based on their arguments and archaic statistics such as RBI and batting average, the arbiter chooses the number s/he sees fit. This number is then the salary for the upcoming season, and once a player hits arbitration he generally sees his salary increase, whether or not his real value increases (assuming he avoids an astronomical drop in production or chooses a clueless agent). Teams have begun “buying up” players’ arbitration years recently, essentially giving younger players longer-term contracts for a high number, but one that probably saves the team at least some money, if not the hassle of the arbitration process.
Draft Pick Compensation–In baseball when a team’s free agent, who has been offered arbitration, signs with another franchise, the team the player is leaving receives a compensation package. Depending on the type of free agent (meaning type A, B, or worse–all based on ratings given by the Elias Statistics Bureau) a team may get the player’s new team’s first round draft pick (top 15 protected) as well as a “Sandwich” round pick, a round held between the first and second rounds, or a later pick.
OPS–This means on-base percentage plus slugging percentage. It’s a quick and overly simplistic way to measure a batter’s value, but it’s the easiest one to figure out without a statistics degree. It’s faulty because studies have shown that on-base percentage is substantially more important in terms of creating runs than slugging percentage, but it’s still a nice stat to have at hand. It beats having to calculate a player’s runs created, win shares, or VORP (Value Over Replacement Player).
PER–John Hollinger, a basketball writer for ESPN.com, created the Player Efficiency Rating to measure a player’s total value. It doesn’t address defense other thans steals and blocks because quantifying defense is quite difficult, so a great defensive player who lacks offensive skills will sometimes appear to be awful in this scale (think Bruce Bowen). A rating of 15.00 is the average for every season, so below 10.00 is miserable and above 20.00 is excellent. If a guy puts up a 30.00 PER you’re looking at a historically good season.
+/- –This stat is used in both hockey and basketball to measure what a team’s output is when a certain player is on the ice/court. Hockey’s version only recognizes instances of even strength play, so no power play or penalty kill stats go into the final number. In each case, the higher the better, while a negative number is certainly not something you want next to your name.
PROD–This hockey term is short for ‘production.’ It’s the average time spent on the ice a player takes to produce a point (a goal or an assist). Obviously then, the lower the number, the better.
WORP/VORP–Wins Over Replacement Player and Value Over Replacement Player. Pretty self-explanatory, the higher the number the better. The replacement player is a standard crappy player essentially. Used for baseball, although the stat could be converted to other sports.