In discussions among baseball fans today, advanced analytics have become more prominent than traditional statistics. Offensive metrics like WAR (wins above replacement) are cited more often than batting average. On defense, errors and fielding percentage have been supplanted by defensive runs saved and outs above average.
One exception is OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). While not as cutting-edge as some newer metrics, OPS has been around for decades. However, it is rapidly gaining popularity as the single number that best captures a hitter’s overall production, preferred by many over the more traditional batting average. Is this topic of interest to you? Then we invite you to learn more about the world of sports on our Lumen website.
What is On-base percentage stat?
OPS, or on-base plus slugging percentage, has become one of the most popular advanced metrics for evaluating a baseball hitter’s overall offensive production. While traditional statistics like batting average only measure how often a player gets a base hit, OPS aims to provide a more comprehensive assessment of a hitter’s contribution.
The calculation for OPS is simple – it’s just the sum of a player’s on-base percentage (times reached base divided by plate appearances) and their slugging percentage (total bases divided by at-bats). On-base percentage credits players for walks, hit-by-pitches, and other ways of getting on base besides just hits. Slugging percentage weights hits differently based on their value – singles are worth one base, doubles two, triples three, and home runs four. This distinguishes a player who gets a lot of extra-base hits from one who only gets singles.
By combining these two percentages into one metric, OPS accounts for a hitter’s ability to both get on base consistently and hit for power when at the plate. For example, Player A with a .300 batting average comprised of only singles would have a lower OPS than Player B with a .250 average but half of his hits being home runs. This additional context helps explain why players with high OPS are generally the top offensive producers.
While no statistic is perfect, OPS has become a preferred alternative to batting average in evaluating hitters. It offers a more nuanced and insightful measure of total offensive contribution.
What is slugging percentage?
Of the two components that make up OPS, slugging percentage is the more complex calculation. While on-base percentage only factors in how often a player gets on base, slugging percentage aims to measure a hitter’s power by weighting hits differently based on their value.
When determining slugging percentage, the denominator is simply a player’s number of at-bats. The numerator tallies up their total bases with singles counting as one base, doubles as two, triples as three, and home runs as four. Walks, hit-by-pitches, and other times reaching base are excluded – only hits matter.
By multiplying the bases from extra-base hits, slugging percentage distinguishes power hitters from those who only get singles. For example, a player who hits 40 doubles, 10 triples, and 45 home runs would have a tremendous slugging percentage even if he bats .220 and strikes out frequently. This illustrates how slugging percentage focuses solely on quantifying raw power rather than overall batting average or consistency.
In summary, while on-base percentage rewards players for reaching base by any means, slugging percentage hones in on the value of hits to evaluate a hitter’s power. Combining the two statistics into one OPS metric helps paint a more complete picture of a player’s offensive profile and production.
What is On-Base Percentage?
On-base percentage (OBP) measures how frequently a hitter reaches base per plate appearance. It accounts for any time a batter gets on base via a hit, walk, or hit-by-pitch. However, reaching on an error, dropped third strike, or fielder’s choice does not count towards OBP.
To calculate OBP, you divide the total times on base by hits, walks, and hit-by-pitches by the player’s total plate appearances. For example, if a player reaches base 34 times out of 100 plate appearances, his OBP would be .340. This OBP is then added to his slugging percentage to determine the player’s OPS.
What Constitutes a Good OPS in Baseball?
Unlike metrics like OPS+ and wRC+ that are weighted to league average each season, OPS does not adjust year-to-year. However, the league average OPS tends to fall around .725. As a general guideline, any OPS over .800 indicates an above-average to excellent hitter.
An OPS of 1.000 or greater is elite – only a handful of top hitters reach this milestone in a given season. In 2022, Shohei Ohtani, Corey Seager, and Ronald Acuña Jr. posted OPS over 1.000, while stars like Matt Olson and Mookie Betts were above .980.
It’s also important to consider OPS benchmarks relative to position. Catchers typically produce lower OPS than shortstops or outfielders, for example, so .750 could be excellent from a catcher while more mediocre from a first baseman. But broadly speaking, .800 OPS and above equates to a productive offensive player.