Among baseball’s array of statistical abbreviations, OPS has become a popular analytical measure. But what exactly does OPS represent and how is it calculated? This guide covers everything about On-Base Plus Slugging – from its formula origins to real-world applications evaluating players and teams.
What Does OPS Stand For in Baseball?
OPS stands for On-Base Plus Slugging.
It is a statistic combining two vital hitting metrics into one number:
- On-Base Percentage (OBP)
- Slugging Percentage (SLG)
Adding these percentages together produces a hitter’s overall OPS rating.
How is OPS Calculated in Baseball?
The formula for OPS is simple:
OPS = On-Base Percentage (OBP) + Slugging Percentage (SLG)
OPS = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies) + Total Bases / At Bats
The two percentages are equally weighted and just added together.
What Does OPS Measure?
OPS consolidates a hitter’s ability to both get on base consistently and accumulate extra bases:
- On-Base Percentage – Frequency of reaching base by any means.
- Slugging Percentage – Power hitting productivity based on total bases.
- Combined – Creating an aggregate score from the two main pillars of batting – reaching base and advancing bases.
The statistic indicates overall offensive competency and production.
Why is OPS Useful?
OPS carries advantages over other common stats like batting average:
- Accounts for walks and hit by pitch, not just hits.
- Values extra-base hits greater thanks to slugging’s inclusion.
- Easy to compute and interpret.
- Correlates strongly to overall run production.
OPS condenses the wide variety of hitting contributions into one metric weighted by value into a single output.
What is a Good OPS in Baseball?
A rough scale to evaluate OPS scores:
- 0.900 and Above – Exceptional
- 0.800 to 0.899 – Great
- 0.700 to 0.799 – Above Average
- 0.600 to 0.699 – Solid Average
- 0.500 to 0.599 – Below Average
The league-wide OPS fluctuates annually but typically averages around .730.
An elite OPS begins around .900+, with the very best exceeding 1.000.
All-Time Highest Single Season OPS in MLB
The top OPS totals ever produced in a year:
- Barry Bonds (2002) – 1.381
- Babe Ruth (1920) – 1.379
- Ted Williams (1941) – 1.287
- Babe Ruth (1921) – 1.225
- Barry Bonds (2004) – 1.422
Bonds set the record thanks greatly to 120 intentional walks from pitchers fearfully avoiding him. Ruth dominated during the hitter-friendly 1920s.
How to Calculate On-Base Percentage
On-base percentage constitutes half the OPS equation:
OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit By Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit By Pitch + Sacrifice Flies)
Essentially, how frequently does a hitter reach base per plate appearance by any means except errors and fielder’s choice?
What is a Good OBP in Baseball?
Quality MLB OBP benchmarks:
- Excellent: .400+
- Above Average: .360+
- Solid: .330+
- Poor: Under .300
The MLB average yearly is around .320 OBP. The very best hitters aim for .400 or better thanks to pitch selectivity drawing more walks.
How to Calculate Slugging Percentage
Slugging percentage accounts for a hitter’s power and production:
SLG = (Singles + Doubles x 2 + Triples x 3 + Home Runs x 4) / At Bats
Total bases off hits are weighted and divided by opportunities.
What Constitutes a Good Slugging Percentage in Baseball?
Quality slugging levels:
- Excellent: .550+
- Above Average: .490+
- Decent: Around .450+
- Poor: Under .400
The MLB norm hovers around .430 SLG as scoring has increased. Elite power hitters slug over .550 thanks to abundant extra-base hits.
Advantages of OPS Over Batting Average
While batting average enjoys popularity, OPS improves hitting analysis:
- Accounts for walks, hit by pitch, and extra-base hits.
- Indicator tied closely to producing runs.
- More accurate predictor of player performance than BA.
- Helps quantify well-rounded contributions beyond average.
- Scales to ballpark effects by using percentages.
The all-encompassing nature of OPS makes it more insightful than limited BA.
Comparing a Player’s OPS to League Average
Comparing a hitter’s OPS to the league average that season gauges their production:
- OPS+ is a metric adjusting OPS relative to league average in a given year.
- OPS+ over 100 is above average. Under 100 is below league average.
- Helps compare players from different eras by normalizing to peers.
- Indicates how much better or worse than league hitting standards a player performed.
OPS+ provides useful historical context alongside the raw OPS totals.
Using OPS to Evaluate Teams Offensively
Team hitting prowess ties directly to OPS totals:
- Summing players’ OPS indicates a team’s run production potential.
- Top offenses annually lead MLB in collective OPS.
- Shows which lineups blend power, patience, contact skills best.
- Reveals teams that may overly rely on homers at the expense of other ways to score.
Team OPS forms part of the blueprint guiding roster construction and targets.
OPS Limitations and Criticisms
OPS falls short analyzing hitting in certain aspects:
- Weights OBP and SLG equally, which may not accurately reflect their true run value.
- Still misses key factors like speed, situational hitting, strikeouts.
- Can be inflated by walks if taken instead of attacking hittable pitches.
- Downplays defense, pitching, baserunning that complete baseball.
While insightful, OPS alone does not provide a complete picture of offensive contributions.
Key OPS Statistics Takeaways
- OPS combines On-Base Percentage and Slugging Percentage in one metric.
- It measures a hitter’s effectiveness reaching base and accumulating extra bases.
- OPS condenses team hitting performance into one easy number.
- Over 1.000 is elite. .900+ is exceptional. .800s are strong.
- Compare to league average OPS to gauge player production vs. peers.
- Useful for evaluating both hitters and offenses despite some limitations.
Understanding OPS provides fans a reliable indicator and quick shorthand for gauging batting aptitude through an all-in-one metric.
OPS in Baseball Glossary
On-Base Percentage (OBP) – Times reached base per plate appearance via hits, walks and hit by pitches.
Slugging Percentage (SLG) – Total bases off hits per at-bat, weighted to reward extra-base power.
On-Base Plus Slugging (OPS) – Combined score from OBP + SLG measuring overall hitting productivity.
OPS+ – Metric adjusting OPS based on league average each season for simple historical comparison.
Total Bases – The cumulative number of bases a player has gained off their hits. Singles are 1, doubles are 2, triples 3, and home runs 4 total bases.
OPS Frequently Asked Questions
Who originated OPS for baseball analysis?
OPS was created by writer and statistical innovator John Thorn in his book “Hidden Game of Baseball” in 1984 and quickly gained popularity in analytic circles.
How is OPS different from traditional stats like AVG, HR, RBI?
Unlike those limited measures, OPS accounts for all ways of reaching base while also factoring extra-base power. It bundles everything into one comprehensive hitting metric.
Can OPS be inflated by lots of walks?
Yes, since OBP counts walks. A player with a high walk total but less production can post a slightly inflated OPS. Context is still important.
Which is more important for a good OPS – high OBP or SLG?
A balanced combo is ideal. Elite hitters typically excel at both reaching base consistently while also racking up high extra-base power numbers through a diversity of hit types.
How should I use OPS to evaluate hitters?
Compare their OPS to league averages that season. Look at OPS trends over careers. Analyze components like Walk Rate, AVG, ISO power, etc that comprise OPS. Consider age, ballparks, era.
Why has OPS become so prevalent in baseball analysis?
The simplicity and predictive precision won over many. OPS correlates extremely closely to key team offensive measures like runs scored. It reliably indicates individual and team offensive potency.
What are some alternatives or variations on OPS used today?
wOBA applies more precise weighting. OPS+ adjusts for park and league effects. There are also split-specific versions like vs. lefties (OPSvL). Different custom models exist.
While not perfect alone, OPS elegantly combines diverse offensive contributions into one insightful metric to quantify hitting aptitude and value. The widespread adoption of OPS reflects its utility evaluating baseball players and teams.