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The Nats Report Style Guide
The Nats Report Style Guide is a reference that exists to guide writers and editors in creating consistent content. Consistency is essential not only to avoid ambiguity in published materials but for the sake of professionalism and quality. We at the Nats Report should pride ourselves on getting all the numbers right; this document will hopefully see to it they get all the letters and punctuation right, as well.
In the interest of full disclosure, this content is based on the SABR Style Guide. I felt no need to reinvite the wheel when there was an already finished product.
Setting one standard reference for our publications settles any argument that is definitive. There are many style guides and glossaries to choose from out there, and most are silent when it comes to baseball-specific terms and usage.
The two style guides most people tend to be familiar with (if they are familiar with any at all) are the Chicago Manual of Style and the AP Stylebook. Each has its advantages and disadvantages. The AP Stylebook specifies some sports terminology and usage, for use by newspaper beat writers and their editors. (For example, they choose RBIs for the plural of RBI because they consider RBI to be a formal term, requiring an “s” to pluralize it. For our purposes we chose RBIs over RBI for the plural for the sake of clarity and readability.) However, since most of the usage in the AP Stylebook is aimed at newspaper writers and the needs of the daily newspaper, it is NOT all appropriate for us. AP abbreviates all months, for example, to take up as little space as possible in a printed newspaper column. They not only eschew the “serial” comma, but they discourage listing more than two items in any sentence. That rule obviously would not serve academic writing or historical research terribly well.
Readability is very important to our readers and to ensure maximum ease of comprehension on the part of the readers of any SABR journal or publication, despite the often intellectually challenging content, we stick with the Chicago Manual of Style. Chicago’s choices usually reflect improved readability and comprehension. The Chicago Manual of Style with a focus on baseball emphasizes the serial comma to prevent the ambiguity that could come from such a sentence as: “In his speech, Commissioner Landis thanked his parents, Ty Cobb and Effa Manley.” Inserting the comma after “Ty Cobb” removes the need for the brain to double back and re-parse the sentence as a simple list of three equal items, instead of potentially tripping up and assuming the clause that follows the single comma is a subordinate clause to “parents.”
HOW TO USE THIS GUIDE
Generally speaking, we expect most users reaching this guide online will use the “search” or “find” function of their web browser to hit the word or usage they need. Trying to figure out if there is a comma after Ken Griffey’s name, before “Jr.” or “Sr.”? Do a search for any of the following and you’ll come to the relevant entry: junior, jr, senior, sr, or comma.
There is, of course, no single correct way to use a reference like this. If you’ve never considered before whether home run is one word or two (I assure you it is two), or whether a home-run derby should have a hyphen (in generic terms it should, in reference to the old television program or current MLB competition Home Run Derby, it should not), you might want to peruse all the terms here to see what usage might surprise you. (And any term not found here, the fallback reference is Dickson’s Baseball Dictionary, however, note Dickson’s is descriptive/all-inclusive, and this guide is meant to be prescriptive.)
Spoken language is always morphing and changing. The language of baseball evolves from a spoken vernacular used by players, coaches, and broadcasters, but it is our job as editors to fix what orthodoxy we can into the written expression of those words and phrases. Once upon a time “base ball” was two words. These days it is one. Home run is two words.
Table of Contents
Abbreviations for Sabermetrics
Newspapers and Periodicals
Possessives/Adjectives of team names
Quotation Marks and Italics
Abbreviations for baseball terms do not require periods. These abbreviations also are acceptable within a sentence. Do not start a sentence with an abbreviation. Spell out terms if there is any possibility of confusion arising from the use of an abbreviation or if the use of too many abbreviations has turned your paragraph into alphabet soup.
1B, 2B, 3B Spell out single, double, triple. Do not use 1B, 2B, or 3B in the text. For positions, spell out first base/baseman, second, and third. Abbreviations are acceptable in tables and charts.
AA is acceptable for the nineteenth-century American Association.
AL (not A.L.), NL, and FL for major leagues, but spelled out on the first mention.
AS should be spelled out for the All-Star Game.
BA, not B.A., for batting average. Should be spelled out in an article unless the term appears often. In that case, BA can be used.
BBWAA is alternatively used for the Baseball Writers Association of America.
CWS for College World Series.
DH should not be used as an abbreviation for a doubleheader. It is acceptable as an abbreviation for designated hitter.
ERA, not E.R.A.
FL for Federal League is acceptable
HR should be spelled out as home run in text, except in certain situations where multiple abbreviations are called for. The plural is HRs. Homer is equally acceptable for a home run.
HBP is acceptable for a hit by a pitched ball. The plural is HBPs.
IP is acceptable but spelling out is preferred for innings pitched.
IPHR is acceptable for inside-the-park home runs if the term is repeated a number of times within an article.
LCS is acceptable for the League Championship Series. NLCS and ALCS are acceptable.
LOHR should be spelled out as leadoff home runs unless it occurs often in the article.
LP is not used for “losing pitcher” except in tables/charts.
MGR should not be used for managers.
MLB for Major League Baseball is acceptable.
ML is not used for Major League Baseball or as a replacement for “major league” or “the major leagues.” Spell out.
OBP for on-base percentage.
PCL for Pacific Coast League, but spell out all other minor leagues, except AA for American Association.
RBIs (note plural, for clarity’s sake), not R.B.I.’s and not RBI.
RH is acceptable in tables and lists for right-handed pitcher. LH is acceptable for left-handed pitcher in tables and lists. Otherwise, please spell out the words. RHP/LHP is not acceptable. Righty and lefty are okay, though a bit slangy.
SLG is preferable for the slugging average.
Shutout is SHO, not SO, which can be confused with strikeout.
Strikeout. The preferred abbreviation is K, not SO.
SS, 2B, 3B, OF, RF, P, and C for positions should be spelled out in text, and abbreviated in tables, charts, or lists.
Co. is okay for Company
the Big Red Machine. Not The Big Red Machine
Names of teams: Boston Red Sox. Use uppercase.
Organized Ball. Uppercase.
vs. is preferable to versus.
WS is acceptable for the World Series. For the first time used in an article, it should be spelled out as World Series.
WP is acceptable for winning pitchers, and LP is acceptable for losing pitchers, except in lists or tables.
Abbreviations for Sabermetrics
For addresses, the postal code form for states may be used in text: Charlotte, NC. The two halves of California are capitalized: Southern California, and Northern California. But when referring to states outside the context of an address, see the entry STATES in part 2.
Though always preferable to spell out country names in order to avoid confusion, one may use with discretion the two-letter abbreviations for countries set by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). Examples of these are:
An s should be added after the apostrophe in a proper name ending in the letter s when it would be sounded in speech.
Jones’s, but not Matthews’
Mays’s but not Mays’
An s should always be added after the apostrophe in a proper name ending in x or z:
[Exception: plural names ending in x, e.g. Red Sox’, not Red Sox’s, though Boston’s is a preferable construction.]
Years. These should be given full as in 1967, 1932. Those following the first full year can take an apostrophe within the same phrase. EX: “In 1967, ‘69, and ’73 the Mets competed for the title.” For centuries and decades, the preferred usage is eighteenth century, nineteenth century, 1930s, 1950s.
Do not use an apostrophe at the end of a team’s nickname when using the nickname to identify the team’s personnel, except when the word “the” precedes the team nickname.
Reds outfielder Ken Griffey Jr., not Reds’ outfielder Ken Griffey Jr.
the Reds’ Ken Griffey Jr.
Also note that the plural form of a team name (Yankees, Cubs) does not need an apostrophe or a possessive form, nor a singular form, to be used as an adjective. EX: “a Yankees outfielder” not “a Yankee outfielder”, “the sorrow of Cubs fans” not “the sorrow of Cub fans.”
Please note that there is a difference between bibliographic references and endnote references. If using numbered notes within the text of an article, use the endnotes punctuation and style found in the Chicago Manual of Style and detailed in this style guide under Endnotes. If using a list of bibliographic references at the end, use the bibliography style found in Chicago as well. A quick guide:
Bibliographies should conform to the following style of punctuation:
Books: Author (last name, first name). Title. City: publisher, year.
Lowenfish, Lee. The Imperfect Diamond: A History of Baseball’s Labor Wars. New York: Da Capo Press, 1991.
Chapters: Author (last name, first name). “Title of Article.” In Author of Book, Title of Book. City: publisher, year, pages.
James, Bill. “Musings of a Statistician.” In George Will, Baseball: The Game. New York: Doubleday, 2006.
Stengel, Casey. “Musings of a Manager.” In In the Dugout: An Anthology of Ballplayers’ Writings, ed. Douglass Wallop. Boston: Beacon Press, 1950.
For periodicals: Author (last name, first name). “Title of article.” Periodical Title volume, number [if available] (date): pages.
Chamberlain, Ryan. “Boxing and Baseball in the Nineteenth Century.” National Pastime 1, no. 1 (1982): 28–37.
For multiple authors: first author (last name, first name). Subsequent authors (first name last name). Separate all elements by commas.
Gammons, Peter, and Terry Pluto.
Do not number the bibliography citations. They should be in alphabetical order by author. If there is no clear author, as in many large encyclopedias, list by title. Anonymous works may be listed under “Anonymous.”
An Internet Web address should be given in lightface roman text: www.mlb.com
When giving a person’s birth and death dates, do so as follows:
Taffy Wright (1911–81)
If a person is still alive, set as follows: Marty Pattin (b. 1943)
Following a colon, the first word is capitalized if it begins what by itself stands as a grammatically complete sentence. If the phrase following the colon is not a full sentence, the first word is never capitalized, unless it is a proper noun.
We couldn’t believe it: The catcher legged out an inside-the-park home run.
The question is: Who ranks on the all-time consecutive hits list?
The team was racked by injuries: hamstrings, a broken finger, and a Tommy John surgery.
Titles are not capitalized unless they are used as part of the person’s name. Commissioner Bowie Kuhn is a title, but the commissioner Bowie Kuhn (lowercase). The only President capped all the time is the President of the United States, not those of a team or league.
Captain, manager, coach, and umpire are all lowercase.
captain Derek Jeter
manager Tommy Lasorda
Use capitalization for full terms.
American League, National League, American League East, Organized Ball, Deadball Era, Negro League, Class A, Class B
For generic terms, use lowercase.
the league, the pennant in the West (note the exception: the Association for clarity)
Caps should be used for the World Series and the Series, but not the world championship. Games in the World Series are uppercase: e.g., Game Three.
When naming awards, always capitalize the word Award.
Most Valuable Player Award (not Most Valuable Player award)
Cy Young Award
Rookie of the Year Award
A.M. and P.M. are set in small caps with periods.
Derivations of the South are capitalized: Southerner, Southern. The same is true of the North, East, and South.
grapefruit and cactus leagues are lowercase.
Lowercase spring training.
Lowercase winter meetings.
All-Star player, All-Star, and All-Star Game are capitalized, especially when referring to MLB’s All-Star Game or All-Star selections. The word player is not capped. A generic all-star game or all-star selection is lowercase.
Opening Day (of the season) is capitalized. The opening day of a series is not.
A 12-inning 7–6 loss
His 10th-inning two-run homer
A 7–5, 14-inning loss (use comma only when two numerals otherwise abut)
It is preferable to set off a score by a comma. The Tigers beat the A’s, 9–8. Defeated the Dodgers, 12–2, on May 17.
The serial comma is always used. This includes phrases in which three items are joined by “and” as well as “or,” EX: “An out could be made at first, second, or third base.” “Frank Chance, Johnny Evers, and Joe Tinker are an immortal double-play combination.”
One cent . . . nine cents
10 cents . . . 99 cents
One dollar . . . nine dollars
$10, $11, . . .
$1 million, $2 million
Best avoided everywhere.
Months are spelled out. There is no comma between a month and the year. There is also no apostrophe for a full decade, but is one for the abbreviation of a decade.
September, not Sept.
(1993/8/14), not (8-14-93)
May 2, 1970; May 2 (with no year); May 1970. “On May 2, 1970, it rained on the parade.” Commas surround the year. But when only the month and year are given, the commas are not used: “In May 1970 seven games were rained out.” Commas are not used when only a year is given in a prepositional phrase: “In 1927 no one knew how well the Yankees were going to do.”
Use endnotes, not footnotes, because all notes should be listed at the end of the article (not on each individual page of a document). All notes should be represented by superscript numbers in the text, and footnotes should all be listed at the end of the article. Numbers must be used consecutively and each number can be used only once.
Inclusive page numbers should be connected by an en dash, not a hyphen.
All titles should be set in title case, not sentence case. Endnote citations should conform to the following style of punctuation:
-Be sure to italicize book titles, major newspapers, and journals/magazines.
-Do not use the abbreviations “pp.” “pg.” p.” et cetera for page numbers. Page numbers when given should be preceded by a comma and be indicated merely by the number.
-Use American-style dates month, day, and year. (i.e. April 17, 1967). Note no “th” on the number of the day. This is true in text writing as well, i.e. you would write “Opening Day was on April 4 at the big ballpark.” not “April 4th” No “nd” or “rd” either. No ordinals on dates.
-End each note with a period.
For books: Author (first name, last name, Title (city of publication: publisher, year), page numbers.
Lee Lowenfish, The Imperfect Diamond: A History of Baseball’s Labor Wars (New York: Da Capo Press, 1991), 14–19.
For periodicals or journals: Author (first name, last name) “Title of Article,” Periodical volume, number [if available] (date): page numbers.
Ryan Chamberlain, “Boxing and Baseball in the Nineteenth Century,” The National Pastime 1, no. 1 (1982): 28–37.
Trent McCotter, “Hitting Streaks Don’t Obey Your Rules,” The Baseball Research Journal 37 (2008): 62-70.
Mark Feinsand, “A-Rod to Skip HR Derby,” New York Daily News, June 30, 2008.
if not bylined:
“Selig Announces Format Change,” Washington Post, May 30, 1996.
Joe Torre, telephone interview, May 8, 2007.
Websites: When possible cite as if from a newspaper or magazine, but include the full URL to the article. “Date accessed” may also be added.
In headings, capitalize the first word, the last word, and all other words except:
articles (a, an, and the)
prepositions (e.g., in, about) up to six letters
coordinating conjunctions (and, but, or, for, nor)
Adjectives consisting of two separate words are connected by a hyphen
Adjectives and nouns consisting of two terms at least one of which is itself compound are connected by an en dash
Los Angeles–San Diego game
first baseman–third baseman
A general rule for compounds is to connect with a hyphen or en dash if it’s not a noun:
the first-place Cubs (but “finished in first place”)
hit a career-high .320
full- or part-time outfielder
Avoid such awkward phrases as “NL-record-fewest”
Scores should be shown as 7–3 (en dash), not 7 to 3
He batted 1-for-4 (hyphens)
30-year-old (n. & adj.) (hyphens)
his 653-game playing streak
an 11-inning no-hitter
a five-run outburst
a third-place finish
the second-place Dodgers
an 11th-inning sacrifice fly
his 16th-inning RBI
player-manager, not player/manager
the whip pennant
two-for-three. 2-for-3 is acceptable. Be consistent within an article as to which style you use. Do not have some sentences read “one-for-four” (spelled out) and others “2-for-5” (numerical).
Mets-Giants game, not Mets/Giants game
“a NL hitter,” not “an NL hitter”
native Cuban, not Cuban native
Jr. and Sr. are not preceded by commas.
African American is not hyphenated, either as a noun or an adjective, like Italian American.
In much of the nineteenth century, the word League was routinely capitalized when it referred to the National League. It is acceptable for writers of nineteenth-century pieces to maintain this usage.
A nickname should be set off in quotes if it is between the first and last name: Fred “Boot Nose” Hofmann. If the nickname is synonymous with the player, or well-known enough, no quotation marks are needed: Babe Ruth, Hoot Evers, Dummy Hoy, Bubbles Hargrave. A lesser-known nickname should be set off with quotes: Tony “Count” Mullane, Mark “Fido” Baldwin.
If the player has several nicknames, such as Buck and Bobo for Newsom, make sure that there is no confusion if both are used.
If the sobriquet is longer than one word, set it off with quotation marks: “Death to All Flying Things,” “Big Un,” The Apollo of the Box,” “Mandrake the Magician.”
Exception: Three Finger Brown.
If the nickname is a shortening of the last name, it is acceptable to use it without quotes. Make sure, however, that there is no confusion. In an article on Yastrzemski, using Yaz without quotes is acceptable.
First names: First and last names can be used separately in an article, according to author’s preference: “Williams hit .406” is as acceptable as “Ted hit .406.” However, do not use “Connie” for Mr. Mack.
The nickname is used interchangeably with the name of the city, unless using the name of the city might be confusing as to which team is playing. “Cleveland beat Detroit, 7–3” is acceptable since any reader would know it is the Indians and the Tigers. “Chicago beats New York, 7–3” is less clear and might be confusing.
Early nicknames of teams are acceptable, although often these are changed to the city rather than the nickname. Or referred to as the “Brooklyn Nationals” to show they were the NL entry from there. Any documented nickname used at the time by the press or fans is acceptable.
Earlier nicknames of teams often used the manager’s name as the nickname—for example, the Hugmen, for Miller Huggins’ team. Make sure there is no confusion.
If the nickname was one of several, then it may be used interchangeably. Robins and Dodgers for Brooklyn.
Exception: The Blue Jays for the Philadelphia Phillies of the 1940s should not be used unless it is explained. The Bees should be used for the Boston Braves in the late ‘30s.
Exception: Pittsburg may be used for Pittsburgh, for the historical period before the city added the “h.”
The nickname of a team is referred to as who.
The Mariners, who have been in first place for two months, dropped to second today.
The city as team is referred to as that or which.
The win catapulted them over Seattle, which had held first place for two months.
Spell out numbers from one through nine except when starting a sentence. Use numerals for numbers 10 and over. Numbers below 10 remain as numbers in tables and also when part of a series with numbers of 10 or above. Scores are always listed as numbers, not written out. In general, spell out numbers nine and under.
With baseball-specific terms, the following styles should be used:
Batting average is .312, not 0.312
ERA is 2.14
5.5 games out, not 5 1/2
Some sample uses of numbers:
first inning, seventh-inning stretch, 10th inning; first base, second base, third base, first home run, 10th home run; first place, last place. The pitcher’s record is now 6-5. The final score was 1-0. The batter went 1-for-4.
Heights are given in numbers. 6-foot-2, 5’6”
Round off batting averages and earned-run averages unless it is critical to the discussion.
Fractions of innings. The preferred style for SABR is the 1/3 and 2/3 rather than .1 or .2.
Example: 5 1/3 innings worked, not 5.1 innings worked.
Fractions of games out. The preferred style is 5 1/2 games out of first place, not 5.5 games out of first place. Note that a single half should be spelled out as follows: “They were a half-game ahead in the standings.” (Not a 1/2 game, not “half a game”)
Numbers are hyphenated when spelled out. Twenty-one, not twenty one.
Numbers one through nine are generally spelled out in text. “The Cubs went on a nine-game winning streak”. Not a “9-game winning streak.”
1 percent, 2 percent, 10 percent
Years (1914, for example) that start sentences need to be spelled out, though it looks awkward. But try to rewrite the sentence so the year does not begin
Newspapers and Periodicals
For the titles of newspapers, italicize both the city and the newspaper’s title. No cap or ital should be used for “the” in either newspapers or magazines, with the exception of The Sporting News (because of its common usage). Also, if The Sporting News is mentioned often in an article it is acceptable to intersperse the abbreviation TSN after the first time it is spelled out. We do not ital “The” in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, etc..
Possessives/Adjectives of team names
As per Major League Baseball’s guidelines, the plural form should be used when a team nickname precedes a player’s position. EX: “The best Yankees outfielder in decades.” “Yankees fans were disappointed by the loss.” But note possessive use with apostrophe: “The Yankees’ outfield has been affected by injuries.”
When the team nickname precedes the player’s name, use the singular form:
Yankee Red Rolfe; the Yankee Red Rolfe, (but Yankees pitcher David Cone)
Red Sox is singular: “It came down to the last Red Sox on the bench: Doug Mientkiewicz.”
When two or more players:
Indians Bob Lemon, Warren Spahn, and Rocky Colavito combined . . .
No apostrophe for:
The Yankees lineup, front office, dugout, etc.
Note the following:
The Indian run
The Braves’ 14–7 victory, win, championship, win streak, attendance.
A Braves victory, win, championship, win streak, attendance record. (Here the team name functions as an adjective, and so does not require an apostrophe.)
The Red Sox’ winning season…
The possessive of A’s is also A’s.
The two teams’ expenses.
Quotation Marks and Italics
A comma or period goes inside the quotation mark. A colon, semicolon, question mark, or exclamation point goes outside the quotation mark unless it is part of the quoted material. Examples:
The umpire asked, “Is there a doctor in the park?”
Did that man say, “I’m a doctor”?
Yes, he said, “I’m a doctor”!
Wally Schang’s manager said, “We wuz robbed!”
Books, magazines, and publications are italicized. (In titles of publications, initial articles are kept in Roman and lowercase, with the exception of The Sporting News.) Names of plays and musicals are in quotation marks. Song titles are in quotation marks; albums should be italicized. Dissertations, articles, and chapters in books are in quotation marks. All are set in the title case.