Last week, sporadic commenter/current roommate/expert foot masseuse Norm publicly wondered why the â€œOPS Againstâ€ statistic wasnâ€™t used more often to gauge the success of MLB pitchers. â€˜Twas a good question. Iâ€™ve used it in the past, but only sporadically, and when I began searching for the Twins staffâ€™s OPS Against numbers, I had the damndest time locating the info. Which led me to echo Normâ€™s question: why isnâ€™t this statistic â€“ flawed, but still more valuable than ERA, WHIP and the like â€“ not a commonly referenced number?
After finding no suitable answers to this query via Googling, I put out a call to two savvy baseball minds, Aaron Gleeman and Ken Tremendous. Gleeman never responded â€“ though, to be fair, heâ€™s probably swamped with his daily tasks of writing baseball columns and ogling over scantily clad lady pics â€“ but KT, that raccoon-wielding beet farmer, wrote to confirm my notions: â€œThe flaws are the same flaws that OPS has for hitters — it’s a little crude as a stat, since it’s just adding two things together.Â That being said, it’s way better than most of the stats people use…like wins.Â Peter Gammons has been using it for years, which is one more reason that Peter Gammons is awesome.â€
Good enough for me. Thanks Ken.
To sum up, two conclusions about OPS Against: (1) the stat isnâ€™t perfect. It weighs OBP and SLG the same (even though OBP is much more valuable), it doesnâ€™t include park factors, or, most importantly, BABIP. There are better, more intricate statistics to judge a pitcherâ€™s worth. (2) On the other hand, OPS Against is a vastly undervalued statistic; one I plan on using frequently, simply because itâ€™s more valuable than ERA/WHIP and more conducive to discussion amongst casual baseball people. (The next time I hear BABIP mentioned in a conversation will be the first, and will likely signify the apocalypse.)
And this concludes the fascinating story of how one man came to see the importance of a scarcely-referenced baseball statistic. The end.