Sunday Stats! (OBP, SLG, OPS, OPS+)

Sunday Stats

Reminder:   The one thing I love about twitter is meeting other Cubs fans, talking baseball, and getting to know them.  There is never anything wrong with talking baseball, and I want to give fans an opportunity to share their thoughts on the Cubs here on the blog.  So our first new feature will be all about stats, the advanced kind, so you know what I’m talking about if I throw some sort of weird numbers at you.  Brandon has volunteered to introduce readers to some of these stats every Sunday, I hope you enjoy the feature, and give Brandon a follow on twitter to talk some baseball.

  Welcome back to the second Stats Sunday (which is tentative to change). Sorry I couldn’t get one in last weekend as I was on vacation. Today we are going to talk about 3 stats that are the foundation of your understanding of batting stats. These 3 are the Adam and Eve of Baseball sabermetrics. We are talking about OBP, or On Base Percentage, SLG, or slugging percentage, and finally OPS, or On Base plus Slugging.

  To have a solid understanding of OBP, is the first step to understanding every other stat that’s ever been created. Let’s talk about what goes into OBP. The formula is as follows: OBP=    The purpose of OBP is to account for all the ways a hitter can get on base or influence baserunners. Critical fact: It was the first sabermetric to incorporate getting on base via a walk. Back twenty or thirty years ago, this was like landing on the moon for baseball nerds. However, nothing is perfect. It doesn’t account for the value of say a homer or a triple, which is where slugging percentage comes in.  SLG = (1B + 2 × 2B + 3 × 3B + 4 × HR) / AB. The genius of slugging percentage is just the problems of OBP. A double is given more value than a single but less than a triple. Here comes the most inclusive stat thus far, OPS (On Base plus Slugging). Actually, that is the formula, super simple. All of the problems of OBP and the problems of SLG are fixed by this one stat. It represents all of the ways a hitter can get on base and represents the value of hits.

  Let’s get into why you should be using these stats and how to use them. Why should you use OBP? Very simply, to determine how often a hitter is getting on base. Joey Votto led the league in 2012 with an OBP of .474, that is absolutely ridiculous. The OBP average from 1901-2014 was .329, and last year the league average was .321.  A VERY good OBP is normally around .390. The league average from 1901-2014 for SLG is .382. The average from 1980-2014 was 406. Let’s say anything below .390 is below league average and anything above .390 is above league average. Finally, league average OPS is around 740, 800 is good, 1000 is less than what Kris Bryant had in his minor league career. This is not a joke.

  SURPRISE! ONE MORE STAT TODAY! We call it OPS+. This is by far the easiest stat of the bunch to understand.  League average is set at 100 and for every point you are above, you are 1 percentage point better than league average. The same goes for an OPS+ under 100.  Another cool thing about OPS+ is that it is adjusted to park factors. So a hitter’s park like Coors field would inflate an OPS+. With a pitcher’s park, you would normally have lower numbers. The single season leader for OPS+ EVER is 266 from Barry Bonds. He was kind of good at the baseballs. On average, I like a known hitter to have an OPS in the 130-150 range. That’s where Rizzo falls in. Let’s take a look at the OPS+ from the 1984 Cubs who were known as being a really, really good hitting team. The following chart is sorted by OPS+ from largest to smallest using Excel. Which reminds me, if you ever want any data I use in the articles, send me an email, and within the hour you will have more Cubs stats than you can possibly imagine.

OBP article graphic

  Unfortunately, I am having a little trouble with Tableau and how to make the data consolidated, so that it is easy to read. There is a way to make the data more interactive and fun to play but am not sure how. And because of this, I can’t get the data into a picture that everyone can see. Just for a little taste of the action, Rogers Hornsby is the career leader for the Cubs with an OPS over 1000. Let me know if you can help out. Send me an email if you want to mess around with the picture. It’s just way too much data to put in a graph that will fit in the articles.  Looking at the chart, we see number 1, Hall of Famer, Ryne Sandberg. He consistently came through with good seasons and by the way, THE NUMBER OF PLATE APPEARANCES. HOLY COW! I left the pitchers in because it’s fun to see how bad pitchers are at batting.

  So that’ll wrap it up for this week. Next week we will look at a stat that is simple, yet tells a lot about a player’s power. Go Cubs!  

          — Brandon

Hope everyone enjoyed the first “Sunday Stats,” if you are interested in sharing something about baseball just give me a shout on twitter.

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More Cubs Organizational Shuffling; David Bell Hired

Dale Sveum has rounded out his coaching staff for 2013 yesterday, he removed the interim tag from hitting coach James Rowson, and added David Bell to the staff as the third base coach.

More on David Bell from

Bell, 40, managed in the Reds’ Minor League system the last four seasons, most recently guiding the Triple-A Louisville club in 2012. Prior to Louisville, Bell was the manager for Double-A Carolina from 2009-11. The ’09 season was his first as a manager or coach at the professional level after a 12-year Major League career, which ended in 2006.

A former infielder, Bell batted .257 in 1,403 Major League games for six different teams — the Indians (1995, ’98), Cardinals (1995-98), Mariners (1998-2001), Giants (2002), Phillies (2003-06) and Brewers (2006). Sveum was Milwaukee’s third-base coach in ’06.

So David Bell fills the role of what Ryne Sandberg would have been if he was still in the organization in my opinion.  I like adding Bell to the staff, he’s only six years removed from playing in this league, and was always one of those smart ball players, hopefully he brings a lot to the development side of this team.  I also think having Rowson stick around as the full-time hitting coach makes sense, the results might not have been there for everyone but no use in bringing in someone new before Rowson can have a full season to work with players.

Those weren’t the only moves yesterday as the Cubs announced that assistant GM Randy Bush has been given a three-year contract extension.  Bush was the assistant GM under Jim Hendry in 2011 and is in the good graces of Theo Epstein given how much he helped Epstein with the transition to President of Baseball Operations. has the other moves announced.

The Cubs also announced Louie Eljaua has been promoted to special assistant to the general manager and director of international scouting. Paul Weaver, who was the director, will now be an international cross-checker and coordinator for the Pacific Rim. Alex Suarez was promoted to assistant director of player development.

The team also said Mark O’Neal, the Cubs’ athletic trainer since 2004, will stay with the organization but in a different role.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Pat Listach Not Returning to Cubs Staff Next Year

Add Pat Listach to the list of coaches that are part of the old regime and no longer have a position with the Cubs.  Listach was informed after the game yesterday that it was his last as third base coach for the Cubs.  The organization has decided not to bring back Listach, whose contract expired at the end of this season.  I see this as nothing more than out with the old, and in with the new.  The Organization, which is led by Theo Epstein, is bringing in their guys, not only on the field but in the front office as evidenced by Jaramillo, Fleita, and now Listach being shipped out.   My previous post just mentioned Sandberg as being named as the Phillies third base coach, so you don’t even have to let your mind wander in that direction, it ain’t happening.  What I didn’t know about Listach was how much of a role he played in the development of Darwin Barney as a defender.

Brett from Bleacher Nation touches on that point…

“Interestingly, Listach also worked extensively with Darwin Barney over the last two seasons as he transitioned to second base, and evolved into arguably the best defensive second baseman in baseball. If results are the measuring stick, it’s easy to say that, in that area, Listach succeeded.”

Add third base coach to the “holes to fill” list, that I’m sure will get longer before it gets shorter as we have officially entered the off-season.

Thanks for reading,
– George

Ryne Sandberg Inches Closer to Becoming a Major League Manager

Ryne Sandberg is my favorite Cubs player of all time, so this is bittersweet as I always had a sense or maybe it was just hope, that Ryno would become the manager of the Cubs sooner than later.  Well, Ryno got some good news today as he was named to the Philadelphia Phillies coaching staff.  Starting next year he will serve as the Phillies third base coach, and lines him up to what many feel will be his first managerial job at the Major League level, with the Phillies, after Charlie Manuel is gone.  I wish him nothing but the best, just wish it was with the Cubs organization.

Thanks for reading,
– George