The Most Useful Hitting Statistic

Yankees’ OF Aaron Choose; Picture by way of Keith Allison

One of many extra fascinating stats of the day, OPS appears to be a bridge of kinds between in the present day’s superior stats (wOBA, xwOBA, wRC+) and the outdated, fundamental stats of baseball (BA, OBP). This bridge, the simplicity of the stat, and the convenience at which it may be used to guage gamers make it the premier offensive metric.

What’s OPS?

OPS has been round for for much longer than most individuals know. It was first drummed up in 1979 however didn’t instantly grow to be extensively used. Baseball has an extended historical past of being in opposition to change, so it is sensible that such a standard and necessary statistic in in the present day’s recreation took some time to first catch on.

Earlier than inspecting why OPS is so useful, it must be shortly defined. OPS stands for “On-Base plus Slugging” which merely means on-base share plus slugging share. On-Base share is as described, the proportion at which a participant will get on base. Slugging is a bit more tough however nonetheless simple to digest. It’s the variety of bases a participant hits for per AB. If a participant’s SLG is .650, then, on common, they hit for .650 bases per AB. Including these two stats collectively will get you OPS.

That’s simply comprehensible, and most baseball followers are conversant in OPS. What most followers aren’t conversant in is that OPS is an all-encompassing stat that may give a whole image of a hitter’s capability. Earlier than OPS, batting common was thought-about crucial hitting stat, nevertheless it has clear holes. First off, batting common fully ignores walks, which could be a huge a part of a hitter’s recreation and are an important a part of hitting. It additionally fully neglects energy, and there’s no method of understanding a participant’s extra-base hit capabilities by taking a look at his batting common. OPS eliminates each of these flaws and reveals how usually a participant will get on base and the facility a participant displays.

The best way to use OPS accurately:

Similar to some other stat, OPS should be used accurately so as to correctly consider gamers. As an example, OPS may be seen from two totally different angles. It makes use of two different stats in its computation, which might result in some ambiguity when evaluating gamers. There may be two gamers with related OPSs who’re very totally different hitters. For instance, in 2022, Corey Seager and Steven Kwan had the very same OPS at .772, but they had been fully totally different hitters. Seager’s .772 resulted from a really excessive SLG, due to 33 HRs and a fantastic energy swing. Kwan’s .772 was boosted by his 62 walks and .373 OBP, not by energy numbers. One might have a look at these two OPSs and assume Seager and Kwan are related hitters, however that would not be farther from the reality. This is the reason you will need to use OPS within the right context.

One other difficulty in using OPS is making an attempt to set a baseline for hitters that they have to attain so as to be thought-about profitable. For instance, I heard a school coach say that his hitters need to get to a .800 OPS to be good for the season. This mindset must be modified, as OPS, regardless of its deserves, shouldn’t be the end-all, be-all baseball statistic. As seen with my Seager and Kwan instance above, hitters may be very totally different however nonetheless produce worth. Each hitter is totally different and may concentrate on what makes him good. A excessive OPS will observe. Having a baseline OPS as a objective might presumably make a hitter do stuff that isn’t part of their recreation. If Steven Kwan, for instance, determined his OPS wasn’t excessive sufficient and tried to extend it by hitting for extra energy, that may possible harm his plate self-discipline and elite OBP. The most probably results of that situation is a counterproductive lower in Kwan’s OPS. Hitters have to concentrate on and create their very own skillset with out utilizing OPS as a selected objective.

Why OPS is in the end extraordinarily useful:

OPS is an important stat in baseball in the present day and can be for years to return. It’s one stat that anybody can have a look at and perceive simply, and it is without doubt one of the few stats on the market that may present a hitter’s on-base and energy talents in only one quantity. On high of this, OPS is a very simple stat to know and calculate, making it relevant throughout all ranges of baseball. When used and understood accurately, it’s the greatest stat for any fan to guage hitters.


Aaron Judge in 2017” by way of Keith Allison licensed beneath CC BY-SA 2.0