Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
May 22, 2003
BASEBALL: Mike on OPS'
Mike's Baseball Rants runs the numbers to see what is, historically, the best measure of offense: batting average, on base percentage, OPS, or Rob Neyer's modified OPS', which weights OBP more heavily than SLG. Unsurprisingly, for most of baseball history, it's OPS' - OPS - OBP - SLG - Avg.
A couple interesting observations:
1. Historically, OPS beats plain old OBP by only a narrow margin.
2. As I noted in my May 2001 column on the Ichiro phenomenon, batting average really was the best measure of offense back in the 1870s, but the changes in the game in the 1880s & 1890s (dropping the number of balls for a walk from 9 to 4, cutting down errors, moving the mound back) brought enough walks and extra base hits into the game to change that.
3. The correlation of any of the stats to team runs scored was lower in the 1880s, 1890s, and 1910s than in later years, and dropped off sharply again in the 1980s & 1990s. Slugging average also had a brief heyday in the 1980s. Why? This is just a guess, but I think that the Earl Weaver-Gene Mauch tug of war had something to do with it: stolen bases and other 1-run strategies were on the rise in the 1960s-70s, but by the 1980s, there were large divergences between teams in the use of such strategies, and that may have undermined the relationship that would exist between traditional base-advancement measures and team scoring (i.e., some teams were losing a lot more baserunners than others).
Or maybe it was just that the Red Sox hit into so damn many double plays.
Either way, I'd be interested to see whether there's a particular type of team that tended to deviate more from the expected relationship between OPS' and runs.
(Mike's post is the one titled "You're So Money, Baby!", if you have trouble with the Blogger permalinks. Mike, come over to Movable Type: all the cool kids are doing it! Make you feel good!)