If you think that baseball is simply a game about bats, balls and bases, you’re partly right. It is about those things, as well as hitting, catching and running. But, the game is also about statistics, the“numbers” that help managers and baseball executives evaluate team and individual performance. OPS are one of the most important stats currently being used to judge player ability. But, you may wonder:“what Does OPS mean in baseball?”
Simply stated, OPS, a stat that was created in 1984 when it was mentioned for the very first time in a book called “The Hidden Game of Baseball,” which was co-authored by John Thorn and Peter Palmer, rates the offensive capability of individual players.
The stat, which actually measures a player’s on-base percentage plus his slugging average to determine his overall value to a team, grew in popularity when it became a regular weekly feature in the sports section of The New York Times and then began appearing on the backs of Topps Baseball Cards.
OPS stats are regularly used by all baseball teams at every level in which the game is played, from the Little League to the Minor Leagues to Major League Baseball.
The stat really helps teams to improve because it separates and highlights quality players from those who underperform offensively.
Here is how it all works …
This Is How OPS Stats Are Developed And How They Help Teams To Get Better
It has always been understood that baseball is a tough game to master, especially on offense, because it involves using a cylindrical bat to hit a small ball that is thrown at great speed. And yet, there are players that excel at making contact. They become “superstars” and earn huge amounts of money.
But how does management spot this kind of “great player?” They use the stat known as OPS. What the letters “OPS” actually mean are “on-base percentage plus slugging average.” An above-average offensive player normally has an OPS number of about .900. The OPS leader in both the American and National League normally has an OPS rating of about .1000.
Such players get on base frequently and hit for a high batting average. Perhaps more importantly, this star offensive performer also hits for power, socking lots of extra base hits and driving in runs to help his team win games.
There is actually a formula that baseball executives use to determine a player’s OPS. Here is what it looks like …
This Simple Formula Determines A Player’s OPS … And Value To The Team
It is OPS = OBP + SLG. Let me break it down even more so that it becomes even easier to understand.OBP (on-base percentage) is derived by dividing H (hits) + BB (bases on balls) + HBP (hit by pitch) by AB(at-bats) + BB (bases on balls) + HBP (hit by pitch) + SF (sacrifice fly balls).
In other words, add a player’s hits, walks, and the times he was hit by a pitch and divide the result by the same player’s total at-bats, walks, times he was hit by a pitch and every sacrifice fly he has hit. It may seem complicated at first, but, in fact, it is a simple formula that produces very effective and useful information.
Now, here’s how to break down “Slugging.” Once again, the math is simple. It works this way: compute a player’s total bases (a number derived by adding up his singles, doubles, triples and home runs) and divide that number by his total at-bats. Yes … it is that simple.
Let’s review this one more time …
If You Want To Determine - Just How Good A Player Performs When On Offense - The Answer Is “In The Numbers”
Remember: a player that gets on base frequently by hit or by walk and also hits for power and drives in runs is an offensive threat and an important part of the team. The formula, as shown earlier, is basic. It is as follows: OPS = OBP + SLG.
Hit for average and for power and you will have a high OPS and a reputation that causes opposing pitchers to fear you.
Here is something else you need to know …
There Is A Scale You Can Use - To Measure OPS For Players On Your Team
Simply use the formula above to determine a numerical OPS value for each of your players. The number you get will help you determine that player’s true value, based on the information below.
An “A” player (listed as great) is one whose OPS rating is .9000 or higher. A “B” player (very good) has an OPS of .8333 - .8999. A “C” player (above average) is listed as one whose OPS is .7667 - .8333. A “D” player (average) has an OPS of .7000- .7666. There’s still more …
An “E” player (below average) is rated as one with an OPS of .6334 - .6999. An “F” player (poor) can only produce an OPS that goes from .5667 - .6333. And a “G” player (very poor) has an OPS of just .5666 or lower.
These stats can help you, as a manager, to put together a lineup that places your best hitters in positions where they can do the most damage. And that can lead to lots of winning baseball.
Here is one last thing that may interest you …
These Players Produced The 10 Best OPS Ratings In Baseball History
The best hitters in baseball history have always batted from the left side of the batter’s box. And the best OPS for an entire season were produced by Barry Bonds when he played outfield for the San Francisco Giants. His Ops was a whopping 1.3807.
In fact, Bonds can lay claim to four of the top ten best OPS performances in baseball history. Babe Ruth also produced “special” numbers four times while Ted Williams, another “immortal” and legendary player, achieved two top 10 OPS seasons.
There is one final step you need to take …
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