#Staturday: OPS/OPS+

Staturday took a bit of a hiatus but now back beginning with a series for the off-season breaking down specific statistics you may have seen but maybe don’t fully understand. Yes, most of them are considered advanced, but that doesn’t mean they’re difficult to understand. If anything, the reason they exist is to explain better and determine the successes and failures of the game, teams, and players.

The first two to kick-off the series are similar. You might’ve seen these stats on the Dodger Stadium scoreboard over the right-field pavilion: OPS & OPS+. On-base plus slugging percentage or OPS sums together on-base percentage and slugging percentage. Before explaining OPS+, I’ll further clarify OPS.

OPS

Unlike batting average, which only accounts for hits per at-bat, on-base percentage includes hits, walks, and hit by pitch, allowing for a better interpretation of how a batter reached base.

Slugging percentage records the number of bases touched per hit. Again, since batting average factors only for when a batter reached base via hit per at-bat, it fails to specify how many bases were touched. This makes SLG a better representation of a batter’s ability to hit for extra-bases.

Adding both OBP and SLG together (OPS) allows evaluating a batter’s abilities at the plate better.

For 2019, Cody Bellinger had the 3rd best OPS in baseball at 1.035. His OBP was .406, and his SLG was .629. Usually, when a player has an OPS above .800, it’s considered good. But that’s not the league average, which tends to change from year to year.

OPS+

OPS+ normalizes on-base percentage plus slugging by taking into account its yearly league average as well as including ballpark factors into the equation. It then interprets the statistic by using a score of 100 as the league average with any number above being so many points better than average and any number below, so many points worse.

The point of this statistic is to realize better how well a player is doing compared to the league average while adjusting for the parks where they played. An excellent example of how OPS+ is park-adjusted is Nolan Arenado. His OPS was .962 in 2019, 9th best in MLB, but his OPS+, 129, was tied for 33rd in baseball. Since he plays half his games in Coors Field, a well-known hitter’s park, OPS+ adjusted the score to reflect that fact.

This past season, Cody Bellinger had an OPS+ of 169. So, he was 69 points better than average. As for the rest of the Dodgers OPS+ (minimum 100 plate appearances):

David Freese 161

Will Smith 134

Max Muncy 133

Justin Turner 131

Joc Pederson 127

Alex Verdugo 114

Corey Seager 113

AJ Pollock 108

Chris Taylor 108

Matt Beaty 102

Kiké Hernandez 87

Russell Martin 79

Austin Barnes 68

Now here’s the top 5 Dodgers career OPS+ with the team (minimum 1500 PA) in the live-ball era (since 1920):

  1. Gary Sheffield and Mike Piazza 160
  2. Jack Fournier 157
  3. Reggie Smith 152
  4. Pedro Guerrero 149
  5. Cody Bellinger and Babe Herman 144

Oskar is a writer/editor for Dodgers-Lowdown. Follow him on Twitter @2rawsko94. Graphic credit: Alberto