What Is OPS In Baseball? A Helpful Guide

We look at how OPS in baseball is calculated and what is a good OPS.

The world of baseball statistics can be overwhelming to understand and keep track of with all the different metrics available to evaluate players. One metric that an average fan may not be very familiar with is OPS (On-Base Slugging), which is often referenced by analysts and commentators during games.

OPS in baseball is actually a combination of two perhaps better-known stats, as you will see in the next section.  In this beginner’s guide to OPS, we will look at what it is as a baseball statistic, why it can be valuable in evaluating player performance, as well as how to calculate it.

Baseball Player Hitting Ball In Plate Appearance To Demonstrate OPS In Baseball

What Does OPS Mean in Baseball Stats?

OPS in baseball is a stat that combines a player’s on-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG). On-base percentage is based on the number of times a player reaches base, whether by hit, walk, or hit by pitch, divided by their total plate appearances. Slugging percentage is calculated by dividing a player’s total bases earned by their total at-bats. By combining these two statistics, OPS gives a more complete picture of a player’s offensive value and overall performance from the plate.

Understanding the Components of OPS: OBP and SLG

As we saw in the previous section, OPS is a combination of a player’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage. OBP measures a player’s ability to reach base safely, while SLG measures their ability to hit for extra bases. A high OBP means a player is safely getting on base frequently, while a high SLG means a player is hitting consistently for power. 

In combining these two statistics, OPS gives a better overall picture of a player’s offensive ability.  A player with a high OPS is producing more opportunities for runs by reaching base more frequently as well as getting more extra bases on average with each plate appearance.

How Do You Calculate OPS in Baseball?

To calculate OPS, you simply add a player’s OBP and SLG together. If a player has an OBP of .400 and an SLG of .500, their OPS would be .900. It is important to remember that OPS is based on a player’s total plate appearances and not just their total hits or at-bats.

What is a Good OPS?

Generally, a good OPS in baseball is considered to be above .800. However, the exact threshold for what is considered a “good” OPS can vary depending on the league and level of play. In recent seasons, the league-wide average in OPS for Major League Baseball has been around .750, so a player with an OPS above .800 would be considered above average.

You can see from the MLB Leaders in OPS sections below that a player with an OPS above .900 would be considered elite.  The average OPS of the top 5 players in 2022 was .990, while the average of the top 5 in the history of MLB is 1.090.

Why is OPS Important in Baseball?

OPS is important because it provides a more accurate view of a player’s overall offensive performance than traditional statistics alone like batting average or RBIs might. 

These statistics just measure a player’s ability to hit for average or drive in runs.  They do not take into account both a player’s ability to get on base and hit for extra bases. Since OPS does exactly this, it can help identify players who may be undervalued by traditional statistics but are overall valuable offensive contributors.

Limitations of OPS

OPS is just one of many advanced statistics used to evaluate players in baseball. Other statistics often used in player evaluation include:

  • WAR (Wins Above Replacement)
  • wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average)
  • wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus). 

While each of these statistics has its own strengths and weaknesses, OPS remains one of the most commonly used and easily understandable advanced statistics.

MLB Leaders In OPS for the 2022 Season

Players with high OPS values are typically the most valuable offensive contributors in the league each year. The following major league players were the top 10 leaders in OPS for the 2022 season (minimum of 3.1 plate appearances per team game):

  1. Aaron Judge (NYY) – 1.111
  2. Yordan Alvarez (HOU) – 1.019
  3. Paul Goldschmidt (STL) – 0.981
  4. Jose Altuve (HOU) – 0.921
  5. Freddie Freeman (LAD) – 0.918
  6. Manny Machado (SDP) – 0.898
  7. Nolan Arenado (STL) – 0.891
  8. Rafael Devers (BOS) – 0.879
  9. Austin Riley (ATL) – .0878
  10. Shohei Ohtani (LAA) – 0.875

SOURCE: https://www.statmuse.com/mlb/ask/ops-leaders-2022

To see the leaders in OPS for the current season, click this link https://www.statmuse.com/mlb/ask/this-years-ops-leaders.

MLB All-Time Leaders In OPS

You can see how OPS in baseball truly tells the value of a player and their offensive prowess by reviewing the career leaders in OPS for Major League Baseball.  The top three players of all time in OPS are three of the top overall legends to ever play the game – Babe Ruth, Ted Williams, and Lou Gehrig.

With a minimum of 3,000 career plate appearances, the top ten MLB players in career OPS are:

  1. Babe Ruth – 1.164
  2. Ted Williams – 1.116
  3. Lou Gehrig – 1.080
  4. Barry Bonds – 1.051
  5. Jimmie Foxx – 1.038
  6. Hank Greenberg – 1.017
  7. Rogers Hornsby – 1.010
  8. Mike Trout – 1.002
  9. Manny Ramirez – 0.996
  10. Mark McGwire – 0.982

SOURCE: https://www.statmuse.com/mlb/ask/career-ops-leaders

Conclusion: How to Use OPS in Evaluating Players

OPS in baseball is a valuable statistic for evaluating a player’s offensive performance, as it combines a player’s ability to get on base and hit for power. While it is not a perfect statistic, it provides a more complete picture of a player’s offensive ability than traditional statistics alone like batting average or RBI. 

When evaluating players, I believe it is important to consider a variety of statistics, including OPS, in order to get a complete picture of their value to a team. 

By calculating and analyzing OPS for different players, you can gain a better understanding of their offensive value and make more informed decisions about their value to the team.