What’s wrong with the OPS analysis in baseball

In recent years the OPS ratio in Baseball (On-Base Plus Slugging Percentage) has gained widespread acceptance as an analytical tool in evaluating a player’s skills. However, OPS has major flaws. Read more on the limitations of the OPS stats.

Judging a Season by its Cover
By Jesse Goldberg-Strassler

Knee-jerk reactions are a cornerstone of the sports world, perhaps best exemplified by the weekly overreaction of the college and pro football fan.  Yet it is the smug sweeping expectation, antonym of the knee-jerk reaction, that reigns most supreme.  Call it the ‘knee-jerk preaction,’ to coin a term, and it dooms and crowns without conscience – and often without accuracy.

It was the knee-jerk preaction that declared the 2007-2008 New England Patriots as pro football’s all-time greatest team without bothering to wait for the Super Bowl – where the Pats were upset by the New York Giants.  Just two years earlier, the same ‘greatest’ hyperbole was thrown around with the USC Trojans of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush – who were then defeated in the National Championship game by the Texas Longhorns of Vince Young.

This is not to ridicule all knee-jerk preactions, for many are borne out.  Tiger Woods and LeBron James (and Michael Phelps as well, to a lesser extent) have lived up to everything that was predicted for them and then some.  Additionally, the majority of a sport’s championship-contending teams can often be predicted accurately entering the start of a season; so can the majority of the cellar-dwelling squads.

Here, for example, is a knee-jerk preaction preview of the upcoming baseball season, based on the prevailing opinion of fans and analysts:   Read more.

Click here to see the PER Analysis of the All-Time Greatest Hitters in MLB History


Click here to see the PER Analysis of the All-Time Greatest Pitchers in MLB History

AL top Hitters 2008 season
Rank Player Team Hitting PER
1 Alex Rodriguez NYY 91.95
2 Shin-Soo Choo CLE 91.32
3 Carlos Quentin CHW 91.08
4 Mark Teixeira LAA 90.82
5 Kevin Youkilis BOS 89.13

NL top Hitters 2008 season
Rank Player Team Hitting PER
1 Manny Ramirez LAD 101.51
2 Albert Pujols STL 98.22
3 Lance Berkman HOU 92.37
4 Ryan Ludwick STL 91.87
5 Chipper Jones ATL 89.60

AL top Pitchers 2008 season
1 Mariano Rivera NYY 84.94
2 Joe Nathan MIN 82.31
3 Joakim Soria KCR 81.07
4 Grant Balfour TBR 80.59
5 Jonathan Papelbon BOS 80.04

NL top Pitchers 2008 season
1 C.C. Sabathia MIL 79.91
2 Rich Harden CHC 78.59
3 Hong-Chih Kuo LAD 78.47
4 Brad Lidge PHI 78.27
5 Cory Wade LAD 77.78

Baseball Performance Efficiency Rating

The PER Baseball methodology measure a Baseball hitter's and pitcher's performance relative to plate appearances and innings pitched respectively. It is a very compre-hensive analysis as it assesses a hitter's complete performance at the plate, on the bases, and in the field, and a pitcher's complete performance on the mound.

Hitting PER
For Hitters, the concept of a Batting PER is developed which comprises a player's Run Contribution Average, and Earned Base Average (a statistic measuring all bases earned, whether by hits or walks, or stolen bases, per plate appearance and steal attempt). Accordingly, we've developed the following concepts of Run Contribution Average, Total Earned Bases, and Earned Base Average to complement the Batting Efficiency Rating. Click here to read more ...

Pitching PER
For Pitchers, the concept of a Pitching PER is developed, distinctly for starters and relief pitchers. It comprises that pitchers Earned Run Average (ERA), Walks to Strike outs Average, Opposition On Base Average and a statistic measuring success depending on the role of the pitcher. Click here to read more ...


See insightful Baseball Articles from our regular columnists Jesse Goldberg-Strassler and Keith Thompson

More Baseball Notes

Alex Rodriquez wins his third AL MVP Award with 26 out of 28 first-place votes. See his PER rank among AL hitters during the 2007 season.

In a close vote for the NL MVP Jimmy Rollins marginally edged out Matt Holiday for the award. See the 2007 NL hitters rank.

Jake Peavy emphatically won the NL Cy Young Award in unanimous fashion, while C.C. Sabathia won the AL Award decisively over Josh Beckett of the World Series Champion Boston Red Sox. See the PER rank among AL pitchers during the 2007 season.

See the PER rank among NL pitchers during the 2007 season.