Advanced statistics part II: on-base plus slugging percentage

Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

We are less than a month away from Coach Tadlock and the 2020 Red Raider baseball team take the field against Houston Baptist at Dan Law Field. Here at Viva the Matadors, we have a ton of content planned for the upcoming season ranging from exclusive podcasts to advanced stats.

With all those comes the chance that there may be terminology thrown out in articles or podcasts that the average person may not understand. The LAST thing we want is to ostracize our readers with the content we work hard on! Instead I’ll be doing these weekly(ish) features to highlight advanced baseball statistics that will come up throughout the season.

The use of analytics and sabermetrics is minimal in college baseball, as it’s typically managing your resources by “feel”; however, that doesn’t mean some of these stats or concepts are not utilized by Coach Tadlock and his staff during the season.

Last week we covered two basic offensive advanced stats, which you can find here. This week we will combine both of those concepts to get a nice, rounded number that illustrates a solid idea of a player’s offensive worth.

On-base plus Slugging (OPS)

On-base plus Slugging (OPS) is exactly what it says. It is the sum result of a player’s on-base percentage and their slugging percentage. Due to its simplicity to calculate in a pinch and is widely understood, it is the one advanced stat that has made it mainstream to broadcasts and even baseball cards.

It is listed as OPS+ here, which is OPS but adjusted for the park and league that the player played in, or basically MLB specific.

It’s better to use to judge a player than batting average or RBI because it captures a player’s ability to get on base including their ability to hit for extra bases. For the most part, OPS captures the two elements of the two things hitters are trying to accomplish when they are at the plate: hit the baseball and get on base. Generally speaking, when you look at the OPS of a hitter, you are looking at their overall production with some minor exceptions.

The formula for OPS is below:

OPS = OBP + SLG

But, if you want the technical calculation, you will need to calculate them separately, then add:

OBP = (H + BB + HBP) / (AB + BB + HBP + SF)

SLG = (1B + 2*2B + 3*3B + 4*HR) / AB

Again, while OPS is really simple and easy to comprehend, it isn’t without its own faults. One point of OBP and one point of SLG are not equal. OBP is about twice as valuable as SLG, meaning that OPS has the tendency to overrate power hitters and underrates hitters that are consistent on-base guys.

As with all baseball stats in general, OPS also needs a decent sample size to truly give an accurate picture of a hitter’s worth. It’s easy for a really good hitter to have a stretch of 20-30 plate appearances and have a produce a low OPS, even though they are the best hitter on the team.

Below is a scale to provide context when interpreting OPS, from excellent (think Mike Trout) to Tyler L…which is plain awful.

Next week, we cover one of my personal favorite stats, which can be used to evaluate hitters AND pitchers, Batting Average of Balls in Play (BABIP).

Source: Viva the Matadors