Have you ever heard the term “OPS” in baseball and wondered what it meant? Are you confused about how it’s calculated and what it indicates?
Baseball has many statistics and metrics used to measure a player’s performance, and OPS is one of them. It stands for On-Base Plus Slugging and has become a popular tool for evaluating a player’s offensive contributions to their team.
Understanding OPS can give you a better understanding of a player’s overall offensive impact, beyond their batting average or the home run count. In this article, we will break down what OPS means, how it is calculated, and why it is a useful metric in evaluating a player’s offensive skills in baseball.
What Is Ops?
Ops stands for “On-base Plus Slugging” and is a statistic used in baseball to determine a player’s overall offensive performance. Ops considers a player’s ability to get on base (on-base percentage) and their ability to hit for extra bases (slugging percentage). It provides a more well-rounded view of a player’s offensive abilities.
Ops is calculated by adding a player’s on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG).
OPS = OBP + SLG
On-base percentage is calculated by dividing the number of times a player reaches base (hits, walks, hit by pitch) by the number of plate appearances.
OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
The slugging percentage is calculated by dividing the total number of bases a player has earned (singles, doubles, triples, home runs) by the number of at-bats.
SLG = (Singles + (2 * Doubles) + (3 * Triples) + (4 * Home Runs)) / At Bats
Ops is an essential metric in baseball because it helps to measure a player’s overall offensive performance. It takes into account a player’s ability to get on base as well as their ability to hit for extra bases. While traditional statistics like batting average and home runs can be useful, they don’t provide a full picture of a player’s offensive abilities. Ops provides a more well-rounded view of how effective a player is at the plate.
Ops is also valuable in evaluating players across different eras and ballparks. Different ballparks may favor hitters or pitchers, and the way the game is played has changed over time. By using Ops, we can compare players from different eras and ballparks more accurately.
Why Is Ops Important In Baseball?
Ops is an important statistic because it gives a more comprehensive picture of a player’s offensive ability than traditional statistics such as batting average, home runs, or RBIs. It takes into account a player’s ability to get on base (OBP) and hit for power (SLG), both of which are important aspects of offensive performance. Ops allows for a more accurate evaluation of a player’s overall contribution to the team’s offense.
Comparison Of Ops To Other Statistics Used To Evaluate Players:
While traditional statistics such as batting average, home runs, and RBIs are still widely used, they can be misleading when evaluating a player’s offensive performance. For example, a player with a high batting average may not necessarily be contributing much to the team if they have a low on-base percentage or slugging percentage.
In contrast, Ops takes into account both on-base percentage and slugging percentage, providing a more complete picture of a player’s offensive ability.
Examples Of Players With High And Low Ops:
Here are some examples of players with high and low Ops:
High OPS Players:
- Mike Trout – Trout, the Los Angeles Angels outfielder, is considered by many to be the best player in the game today. He has a career OPS of .990, thanks to his elite skills in both on-base percentage and slugging. His on-base percentage is regularly above .400, while his slugging percentage hovers around .575.
- Joey Votto – Votto is a first baseman for the Cincinnati Reds and has a career OPS of .956. Like Trout, Votto’s on-base percentage is usually more than .400, while his slugging percentage stays in the high .500s.
- Barry Bonds (career OPS: 1.051) – Bonds is regarded by many as one of the greatest hitters of all time, with an OPS value that backs it up. His on-base percentage was regularly above .400, and he hit more than 500 home runs in his illustrious career.
Low OPS Players:
- Dee Gordon – Gordon, a second baseman for the Seattle Mariners, has a career OPS of .630. His on-base percentage has never gone above .332, and his slugging percentage is usually below .300.
- Billy Hamilton – Hamilton, an outfielder for the San Francisco Giants, has a career OPS of .644. Like Gordon, his on-base percentage struggles, and his slugging percentage is also underwhelming.
- Omar Vizquel – Vizquel, a former shortstop, had a career OPS of .688. Although Vizquel was known for his excellent defense, his offensive production was often lacking, with a career on-base percentage of .355 and a slugging percentage of .333.
How Is Ops Used In Baseball Strategy?
A. Explanation Of How Ops Can Be Used To Create A Lineup
Ops can be used to create a lineup by identifying the players who are most likely to contribute offensively. For example, a manager might use Ops to determine the batting order, placing players with higher Ops at the top of the lineup and those with lower Ops further down. This can help ensure that the team’s best offensive players are getting the most at-bats and have the greatest impact on the game.
B. Explanation Of How Ops Can Be Used To Identify Weaknesses In The Opposing Team
Ops can also be used to identify weaknesses in the opposing team. For example, a team might target pitchers with low Ops against left-handed batters, knowing that they are more likely to struggle against hitters who have a high SLG against lefties. This can help the team create a strategy that plays to their strengths and exploits their opponent’s weaknesses.
C. Examples Of How Ops Has Been Used In Real-Life Situations
Ops has been used in real-life situations in a variety of ways. For example, in 2021, the Toronto Blue Jays signed Marcus Semien to a one-year, $18 million contract based in part on his high Ops. Semien had a career-high Ops of .887 in 2020, indicating that he was a valuable offensive player who could contribute to the team’s success.
In another example, during the 2016 World Series, the Chicago Cubs used Ops to help create their batting order. Manager Joe Maddon used the metric to identify the team’s most productive hitters, placing them in positions where they would be most likely to contribute to the team’s offense.
Criticisms And limitations Of Using Ops As A Sole Metric Of Player Value
While OPS can provide valuable insights into a player’s performance, it is not without its criticisms and limitations. Here are some factors to consider when using OPS as a sole metric of player value in baseball:
1. Ignores Other Aspects Of The Game
While OPS is a useful metric for evaluating a player’s ability to get on base and hit for power, it does not take into account other important aspects of the game, such as defense and baserunning. A player who has a high OPS but is a liability in the field or on the basepaths may not be as valuable as a player with a lower OPS who excels in these areas.
2. Biased Towards Power Hitters
OPS heavily favors players who hit for power, as slugging percentage is a significant component of the metric. This can disproportionately benefit power hitters while undervaluing players who excel in other areas, such as getting on base or utilizing speed to steal bases.
3. Doesn’t Account For Context
OPS does not consider the context in which a player accumulates their stats. For example, a player who accumulates most of their hits and home runs in low-pressure situations, such as blowout games, may have a higher OPS than a player who consistently performs well in high-pressure situations.
4. Not Effective For Comparing Players From Different Eras
OPS is not an effective metric for comparing players from different eras due to changes in the game’s rules, equipment, and playing conditions. For example, players from the “dead-ball era” of the early 20th century would likely have lower OPS values than modern-day players due to differences in the game’s equipment and rules.
Ops has become an increasingly important statistic in baseball, providing a more comprehensive measure of a player’s offensive performance than traditional statistics. By taking into account both OBP and SLG, Ops allows for a more accurate assessment of a player’s overall contribution to the team’s offense. It can be used to evaluate individual players, create a lineup, and identify weaknesses in the opposing team. As the game of baseball continues to evolve, it is likely that Ops will become even more important in helping teams evaluate and strategize their approach to the game.