In baseball, a commonly encountered yet often misunderstood term is OPS or On-Base plus Slugging. So, what's a good OPS in baseball? Is it .750, 1.000, or is it even higher? And why should you, as a baseball player, care about this advanced stat? These are the questions we will be answering as we explore OPS.

The Short Answer: A good OPS is baseball is consider to be anything above .800 over the course of a career.

What is OPS?

OPS is a sabermetric baseball statistic designed to evaluate a player's offensive performance. It is a combination of two critical variables - how consistently a hitter reaches base (On-Base %) and how effective they are at hitting for extra bases (Slugging). This all-encompassing statistic assigns value to a player's ability to avoid making outs, get on base, and deliver high-value hits. It's used by baseball analysts, coaches, and fans alike to quantify a player's offensive prowess and compare it to others, adding an extra layer of depth to the already gripping game of baseball.

OPS Gives Valuable Insights

MLB history is filled with great hitters like Mickey Mantle, Ty Cobb, and Rogers Hornsby who incredibly managed to maintain high OPS throughout their careers, being consistently good at both getting on base and slugging. Keep reading as we dive deeper into OPS – breaking down its components, exploring what constitutes a good OPS, and looking at how some of the best hitters in Major League Baseball history have used this indicator to cement their legacy.

Deep Dive into the Components and Calculation of OPS

Now that we've established the overarching importance of the OPS statistic in baseball, let’s explore what exactly goes into calculating it. OPS is a calculation that requires two core components: On-Base Percentage (OBP) and Slugging Percentage (SLG). Each of these stats provides unique insights into a player’s offensive capabilities, and together, they form the OPS score. 

Calculating On-Base Percentage (OBP)

The On-Base Percentage (OBP) is a valuable measure of how frequently a player reaches base per plate appearance, this includes every official time they bat, except for instances of fielder obstruction or catcher’s interference. It's calculated as the sum of hits, walks, and times hit by a pitch, divided by official plate appearances. This includes at-bats, walks, sacrifice flies, and times hit by pitch. A higher OBP means a player is less likely to make an out and has more chances to score runs, both vital to winning games.

Formula: OBP = # of trips to first base / Total At-Bats

Calculating Slugging (SLG)

Moving onto Slugging Average (SLG), this measures a player's power. Simply put, it shows how many bases a player achieves per at-bat. It's calculated by dividing the total number of bases from all hits, by a player’s at-bats. Although generally similar, don't confuse slugging percentage with batting average which only considers hits and doesn't differentiate a single from an extra base hit. Slugging percentage, on the other hand, gives more weight to extra-base hits such as doubles, triples, and home runs, which are more valuable in scoring runs.

Formula: SLG = Total Bases / Total At-Bats

Calculating OPS

These two critical statistics are summed up to calculate a player's On-Base plus Slugging (OPS). The OPS gives a relatively comprehensive view of a player's offensive skill, incorporating their ability to get on base (OBP) and their ability to hit for extra bases (SLG). But what do the numbers actually mean? A player with an OPS that’s over 1 is considered excellent, as it means the player is both getting on base frequently and hitting for power. 

Formula: OPS = OBP + SLG

So What is a Good OPS?

Now that we've gone through how an OPS score is calculated, it's time to talk numbers. What exactly is considered a good OPS in Major League Baseball?

What is an Average OPS?

Before we dive in, remember that the league average can fluctuate from year to year. But generally speaking, an OPS of .750 or so is generally close to the league average. Therefore, if a player has an OPS of .750, they're considered an average hitter.

What is an Above-Average OPS?

Surpassing an OPS of .800 is a distinction of an above-average hitter. A player who consistently achieves an OPS of over .900 is often amongst the league leaders and is perceived as an excellent hitter. The truly elite, a select group, often hover or exceed an OPS of 1.000.

History of MLB Players with a Great OPS

But how do these numbers translate in real-life scenarios? Let's look at some historical examples from baseball history. Ted Williams, noted as one of the best major league players of all time, retired with a whopping career OPS of 1.116. Another titanic figure is Babe Ruth, who holds the highest OPS for a career sitting at 1.164, cementing his status as one of the greatest hitters of all time.

In more recent times, modern-day legend Barry Bonds retired with a career OPS of 1.051. His outstanding performance only further validates the importance of OPS in evaluating offensive prowess. Mark McGwire, famous for his power-hitting prowess, achieved a career OPS of .982, indicating his immense contribution to his team's offense during his career.

The Place of OPS in Baseball History and Today’s Game

OPS is an acronym that might not have carried much weight in the world of baseball some decades ago, but today it is one of the significant factors considered when assessing a player's offensive ability. OPS combines the best of both worlds i.e., a player’s batting average and power. It's no surprise that it's earned such a prominent place in the modern game.

How Baseball Statistics Have Evolved

The significance of OPS was not always recognized. In the early days of baseball, traditional statistics like home runs, batting average, and runs batted in (RBIs) were the go-to indicators of offensive performance. However, as baseball progressed, the understanding of the game’s nuances intensified. It took insight from industry changers and legendary figures such as Bill James, the father of sabermetrics — a collection of baseball statistics that measures in-game activity — to appreciate OPS.

The Moneyball Theory

The sabermetrics founded by Bill James were then popularized by Billy Beane, the General Manager of the Oakland Athletics. This theory, famously depicted in Michael Lewis's 2003 book "Moneyball," fundamentally challenged the conventional wisdom of player evaluation in baseball. Beane shifted focus away from traditional metrics like home runs and batting averages to more predictive indicators of a player's ability to contribute to wins: on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG). By combining these into a new metric called on-base plus slugging (OPS), Beane underscored the value of a player's ability to get on base and advance runners without the necessity of power hitting, which he believed could be developed over time.

OPS in Today's Game

In comparison to an era gone by, today's game looks very different. OPS has become a preferred statistic to evaluate a player's performance for those in the know within Major League Baseball. It’s now commonplace to see OPS listed on baseball cards beside traditional statistics and used within baseball prospectus analyses for player evaluations.

Around the Horn: How BRUCE BOLT Can Help Enhance Your OPS

Having thoroughly explored what constitutes a good OPS, the players who have achieved it, and its role in the modern game, you might be wondering: how can I improve my own OPS?

Choosing the Right Gear

Although important, performing at a high level in baseball isn't just about raw talent or countless hours of practice. It also involves using top-tier equipment that aids you in enhancing your performance out on the field. Whether you’re in the later stages of the Little League regular season, or striving to improve your OPS during spring training in the Major Leagues, having the right gear matters. That's where we come in.

BRUCE BOLT is a family-owned and operated company out of Austin, Texas, with a straightforward mission: to build the highest quality, longest-lasting equipment in baseball. Our batting gloves, protective gear, compression sleeves, and premium wood bats are designed with one thought in mind — helping you improve your game, no matter what level you play.

Explore BRUCE BOLT's premium baseball gear now and take the next step towards hitting excellence!

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