what is ops in baseball

What is OPS in Baseball: On-Base Plus Slugging Explained

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what is ops in baseball

What is OPS in baseball? This term, short for ‘On-base Plus Slugging,’ is an important statistic that combines a player’s proficiency in reaching base with their power-hitting ability. Recently, OPS has risen in popularity as it offers a more holistic view of a baseball player and their offensive performance. For both avid fans and those new to the sport, understanding OPS is key to appreciating the game’s complexities.

This article aims to clarify how OPS is calculated, distinguish what constitutes a strong or weak OPS, and compare it to other baseball statistics.

What Is OPS In Baseball?

OPS is a sabermetric baseball statistic that measures how many bases a hitter reaches base in light of how many times they go up to bat, regardless of how they got on base. Plus how often they got on base due to hitting the ball while at bat. 

This number is slightly different from a player’s batting average. The batting average only calculates the number of hits by total at-bats. While that number is important, it doesn’t take into consideration the success of those hits. OPS dives a little deeper into the player’s success when they do end up hitting the ball.


How Is OPS Calculated? 

On-base Plus Slugging is calculated by adding two important metrics. On-base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG). Let’s explore these components to understand how OBP and SLG come together in the OPS calculation.

The OPS calculation in baseball might look complicated at first, but it’s pretty straightforward once you get to know the terms used. Let’s start by looking at the key terms involved in figuring out a player’s OPS:

  • H: How many times the player hits the ball.
  • BB: Base on Balls, meaning how many times the batter got on base due to being walked.
  • HBP: How many times the batter got on base due to being hit by a pitch.
  • AB: How many plate appearances.
  • SF: Sacrifice flies are where a batter hits a fly ball deep enough to allow a baserunner to score after the ball is caught.
  • SLG: Slugging percentage
  • R: Run
  • TB: Total number of bases a player reaches. 

Combining OBP and SLG

For the OPS calculation, to get the value, simply add the sum of OBP and SLG. By combining these two numbers, you’ll get a better view of a player’s overall offensive performance. So, to calculate OPS:

OPS = OBP+SLG


What Is OBP In Baseball?

On Base Percentage (OBP) measures how often a player reaches base, either through hits, walks, or being hit by a pitch. The formula for calculating the On Base Percentage (OBP) is:

OBP = Hits+Walks+Hit by Pitch / At Bats+Walks+Hit by Pitch+Sacrifice Flies

Simply put, OBP is how often a player gets on base compared to how many times they bat. However, it doesn’t count any times they reach base because of fielding errors.

what is obp in baseball

Slugging Percentage (SLG): How Is It Calculated?

Slugging percentage (SLG) is determined by the total bases a player earns from each type of hit. 1 base for a single, 2 for a double, 3 for a triple, and 4 for a home run. Then, divide this total by their at-bats. This metric highlights how often a player gains extra bases per hit, recognizing the value of each type of hit, in contrast to the batting average, which considers all hits equally.

slugging percentage calculation

While it is defined similarly to OPS in baseball, this figure represents the total number of bases the player has to how many times they are at bat


What is a Good OPS In Baseball?

Knowing what OPS is, is helpful, but learning how to interpret it in terms of a player’s performance, league norms, and historical records gives us a deeper understanding of its impact on a baseball game.

A good OPS in baseball varies based on league averages and the era of baseball. Generally, people consider an OPS over .800 as above average, while they might see an OPS below .700 as below average. Here’s a general guideline:

  • .900 and above: Excellent
  • .800 to .899: Above Average
  • .700 to .799: Average
  • .600 to .699: Below Average
  • Below .600: Poor

The yearly average MLB OPS usually sits around .750, with minor fluctuations each season, typically not more than .01-.03. Achieving an OPS of .800 or above not only places a player in the top tier among all baseball players but also marks them as an above-average hitter. The .800 to .899 range can be considered a good OPS in baseball; anything above that is rated as an excellent OPS.

This high OPS indicates that for every 10 at-bats, the player gets on base or accumulates 8 bases. While this doesn’t guarantee scoring every time, it does reflect a player’s ability to earn total bases consistently.

what is ops in baseball

Comparatively, some players reach .900 and even 1.000. Reaching an OPS of this rate likely indicates that the player is one of MLB’s best hitters and is having an MVP season.  

All Time Highest OPS in MLB History (At least 3000 Appearances)

In the rich history of Major League Baseball, there have been some great hitters. You know those players who just seem to have a knack for knocking it out of the park every time they step up to bat? Well, we’re about to shine a spotlight on those heavy hitters who’ve engraved their names in baseball legend.
Let’s take a stroll down memory lane, revisiting the glory days of baseball and highlighting the players who made opposing pitchers break into a sweat. These aren’t just one-hit wonders; these are the legends who consistently delivered season after season. Let’s discuss some of the best career OPS of some baseball greats. Here is a list that presents the top players boasting the most impressive OPS averages in baseball history.

PlayerOPS Number
Babe Ruth1.1636
Ted Williams1.1155
Lou Gehrig1.0798
Barry Bonds1.0512
Jimmie Foxx1.0376
Hank Greenberg1.0169
Rogers Hornsby1.0103
Manny Ramirez0.9960
Mike Trout0.9941
Aaron Judge0.9824

Single Season Highest OPS (Top 20)

Sometimes, while watching a player, you feel like they’re on a whole other level. They’re hitting every other pitcher like there’s no tomorrow. We’re talking about those jaw-dropping single-season performances that make you believe in magic. We’re diving into OPS territory, where hitters become superheroes, combining on-base skills with raw power. We’re about to unveil the top 20 single-season highest OPS performances in MLB history. From the all-time greats to the modern sluggers, these guys made baseball look easy(Trust me, it’s not). So, get ready to witness some serious baseball fireworks as we celebrate the hitters who turned diamonds into playgrounds. Baseball legends like Barry Bonds, Babe Ruth and Ted Williams have dominated the list with some other greats. Barry Bonds topped the list with an OPS of 1.422 in the year 2004 when playing for the San Francisco Giants. Here is the complete list of the top 20 single-season highest OPS numbers:

RankPlayerOPSYearTeam
1Barry Bonds1.422 (1.42173)2004San Francisco Giants
2Barry Bonds1.381 (1.38071)2002San Francisco Giants
3Babe Ruth1.379 (1.37908)1920New York Yankees
4Barry Bonds1.379 (1.37851)2001San Francisco Giants
5Babe Ruth1.359 (1.35863)1921New York Yankees
6Babe Ruth1.309 (1.30891)1923New York Yankees
7Ted Williams1.287 (1.28745)1941Boston Red Sox
8Barry Bonds1.278 (1.27781)2003San Francisco Giants
9Babe Ruth1.258 (1.25819)1927New York Yankees
10Ted Williams1.257 (1.25659)1957Boston Red Sox
11Babe Ruth1.253 (1.25295)1926New York Yankees
12Babe Ruth1.252 (1.25172)1924New York Yankees
13Rogers Hornsby1.245 (1.24492)1925St. Louis Cardinals
14Lou Gehrig1.240 (1.23955)1927New York Yankees
15Babe Ruth1.225 (1.22479)1930New York Yankees
16Mark McGwire1.222 (1.22235)1998St. Louis Cardinals
17Jimmie Foxx1.218 (1.21805)1932Philadelphia Athletics
18Frank Thomas1.217 (1.21675)1994Chicago White Sox
19Rogers Hornsby1.203 (1.20307)1924St. Louis Cardinals
20Jeff Bagwell1.201 (1.20094)1994Houston Astros

OPS and Pitchers

OPS is an offensive baseball statistic for evaluating hitters, but you can also apply it to pitchers in the form of OPS against. This measurement helps assess how effectively a pitcher is preventing opposing hitters from reaching base and getting extra base hits.

Are There Better Stats Than OPS?

Though OPS is widely used, it is not without its critics. Some argue that other baseball statistics like wRC+ (Weighted Runs Created Plus) or wOBA (Weighted On-Base Average) may provide a better view of a player’s ability.


OPS and Major League Baseball

Technically, OPS is not an official statistic in light of MLB standards. While that may be the case, it is still a good figure to use to evaluate players.

Rise of OPS in MLB

In the past, traditional metrics like batting average, home runs, and RBIs were the main ways to evaluate hitters. However, as baseball stats evolved, analysts and teams started looking for more comprehensive ways to assess a player’s value.

Sabermetrics and OPS: The emergence of Sabermetrics brought OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) into the spotlight. Teams began to recognize the importance of both getting on base and hitting for power.

OPS and Player Evaluation

Scouts and player development staff use OPS to identify talent and gauge a player’s progress through the minor leagues. Players with a high OPS in baseball at lower levels are often considered promising prospects.

General Managers and other front-office staff also rely on OPS as one of the critical metrics when evaluating players for trades or free-agent signings.

OPS can also play a role in salary negotiations and arbitration hearings, with players and agents using high OPS numbers as evidence of a player’s value to his team.

OPS and the Evolution of the Game

As OPS and other advanced stats have grown in popularity, they have influenced on-field strategy. Managers and players have adapted their approaches, valuing walks more and focusing on both power and on-base ability.

While this stat has become a standard measure in MLB, it is not without its flaws. Critics point to its equal weighting of OBP and SLG, even though OBP is generally considered more valuable. As mentioned previously, teams may complement OPS with other metrics like wOBA and wRC+.

OPS Career Leaders

Major milestones, such as reaching an OPS of 1.000 or more in an MLB season, have become celebrated achievements. Power hitters like Babe Ruth, Mike Trout, Mark McGwire, Ted Williams, and Barry Bonds have posted some of the highest OPS seasons in history.


What Is OPS+ In Baseball?

OPS+ is an adjusted version of OPS that takes into account park factors, reflecting how a player’s ballpark affects their performance. It’s calculated by dividing a player’s OPS by the league average OPS, adjusted for park factors, and then multiplying by 100.

An OPS+ of 100 is considered average, while an OPS+ of 150 means the player is 50% above average. OPS is a favored metric because it effectively predicts runs scored and is straightforward to calculate and understand. However, it’s important to note that OPS doesn’t factor in a player’s defensive skills or baserunning ability.


MLB OPS Leaders

2022OPS2021OPS
Aaron Judge1.102Bryce Harper1.044
Paul Goldschmidt1.016Vladimir Guerrero Jr.1.002
Yordan Alvarez1.003Juan Soto.999
Freddie Freeman.929Fernando Tatis Jr..975
Nolan Arenado.910Shohei Ohtani.965

Final Thoughts On Baseball OPS

In conclusion, OPS stands out in baseball analytics for its ability to blend two critical aspects of a player’s performance. Their skill in reaching base and their power-hitting capability. While OPS, a combination of on-base and slugging percentages, offers a comprehensive view of a player’s offensive skills, it’s not without limitations.

It doesn’t reflect defensive skills and treats on-base and slugging percentages equally, despite the latter often being more impactful. Nevertheless, OPS remains a valuable offensive metric, providing a better assessment of a player’s contribution than traditional stats like batting average or home runs.


Frequently Asked Questions

What’s a bad OPS percentage in baseball?

An OPS (On-base Plus Slugging) below .700 is often considered below average in professional baseball. This metric combines a player’s on-base percentage with their slugging percentage, and a low number may indicate a lack of both power and the ability to get on base.

How is OPS different from slugging in baseball?

OPS combines a player’s on-base percentage and slugging percentage, measuring both their ability to get on base and their power. Slugging percentage measures a player’s power, looking at the total bases a player achieves per at-bat.

Why do people care more about OPS than the batting average?

OPS provides a more comprehensive view of a player’s offensive ability. The batting average only accounts for hits and doesn’t consider other ways a player can contribute offensively, such as drawing walks.

Is OPS the number one thing to look at in baseball stats?

OPS is an important stat for evaluating a player’s offense, but it’s not the only measure to consider. Other statistics, such as WAR (Wins Above Replacement), defensive metrics, and situational hitting, can also be vital in evaluating a player’s overall performance.

What was Barry Bonds’s overall OPS during his career?

Barry Bonds’s overall career OPS is 1.051, which is one of the highest career marks in Major League Baseball history.

Does getting hit by a pitch affect a player’s OPS?

Getting hit by a pitch does affect a player’s on-base percentage, one component of OPS, as it allows the player to reach base. However, it does not affect the slugging percentage, so the overall impact on OPS is determined by how it affects the OBP of the player’s other statistics.

Chris F.

Chris F.

Chris Forbes is the founder and editor of BaseballMode.com, a leading blog in the youth baseball space. As a lifelong baseball player, coach and fan, he decided to team up with his young son to offer advice and share their experiences with the sport they both love. Chris lives in the Boston area with his wife and three children.

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