OPS in baseball combines the On Base and the Slugging Percentage metrics into one complete statistic. Instead of looking at two columns for a baseball player, you can combine these two (on base and slugging) to measure how often a player gets on base and the quality of their hits to get on base. The OPS metric can go even further with OPS+, where it factors in the MLB stadium that a player plays in and how they would fare at more hitter-friendly venues. This metric tells a complete picture of how often a player reaches base via walks and the type of base hit they got. For example, a batter who hits more doubles to reach base instead of a player hitting weak singles during the season will have a higher OPS if they both walk the same amount.

So, how do you calculate OPS in baseball? What is an example formula, and what is a good number in baseball? How does OPS work for pitchers? What are some of the best OPS seasons in baseball and what does OPS+ mean? How does OPS differ from batting average? What are the flaws of relying on OPS to measure a baseball player’s worth?

Here is the complete breakdown of what OPS means in baseball.

## What is OPS in Baseball?

What is OPS in baseball exactly? To start, OPS (on-base plus slugging) measures two things. First, it calculates how often a player gets on base via hits and walks. Second, it measures what type of hit that the baseball player got at the plate. This formula expands upon batting average since batting average does not factor in walks or hits by pitches. Along with that, batting average gives the same value of a single and a home run, which shouldn’t be the case.

For example, let’s say that a baseball player came up to bat four times in a game. They walked once, and they got one single, so they got on base two out of 4 plate appearances. The OBP formula counts the at bats (4) with the HBP (1) to make 5, so the OBP comes out to .400 since you need to take two out of five. Thier slugging for the game would be .250 since it is one base hit out of 4 at bats. Add the two together and you get an OPS of .650.

Next, let’s take another baseball player that had the similar stats, but instead of a single, they had a triple. Therefore, their OPS would be (On base = 2/5 times (.400) + Slg 3 single base hits out of 4 at bats (.750) means their OPS would be 1.15.

## Example OPS Formula

Let’s say a baseball player had four plate appearances in a game where they hit a homerun and walked once. Below is how you get to their OPS for that game using slugging and then on base.

**OBP=** (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitches) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitches + Sacrifice Flies)

**Example Player in a Game OBP: **(1 Hit (homerun) + 1 walk) / (4 At bats + 1 hit by pitch + 0 sacrifice Flies) = (2/5) .400

**SLG= **(1*single + 2 * double + 3 * triple + 4 * homerun) / Total AB

**Example of a Player in a Game via SLG:** (No singles + no doubles + o triples + 1 home run) / Total AB = (4/4) 1.00

Therefore, when you add up their OBP (.400) and their SLG (1.00), they had a 1.4 OPS that game, which is excellent.

**How is OPS Calculated in Baseball – More Detail**

OPS is one of those statistics that depend on *other* statistics to make sense. To calculate On-base plus slugging, we’ll first need two statistics:

**On-base percentage (OBP)**

On-base percentage refers to how often a baseball player successfully gets on base out of their total at-bats. Positive stats that help raise the OBP of a baseball player are below.

- Walks
- HBP (hit by pitch)
- Base hit

**Slugging average (SLG)**

This stat is a rare formula that evaluates the *quality* of a player’s hits. For example, a player’s batting average doesn’t tell you *what* they hit, only that they scored a hit. SLG incorporates the quality of those hits by using the number of bases achieved as part of the calculation.

Theoretically, a player could have a slugging average of 4.000, which means a perfect ratio of home runs to at-bats. In other words, a slugging average of 4.000 occurs when a player has one at-bat and hits a home run. A SLG of 1.000 reflects hitting a single in one at-bat, and so on. The easiest way to understand this formula is that there are four bases on the diamond. If you hit a home run in one at bat, you got 4 bases out of 1 at-bat, which results in a 4.000 SLG average.

## How OPS Combines Both Metrics (SLG + OBP)

Let’s pretend that a player has the following slash lines. They have an on-base percentage of .385 and a slugging percentage of .435. To get to OPS, you add .385 + .435, which comes out to a .820 OPS. That .820 OPS puts that example player as a good MLB hitter, but probably not an All-Star or MVP that season.

Meanwhile, you have another player with the following slash lines. Their on-base percentage is .475, and their slugging percentage is .505. Therefore, when you add the two metrics together, they have a .980 OPS, which would put them into consideration for an All-Star and MVP season. That means they got on base often and hit for power.

**What is a Good OPS in Baseball?**

During the 2022 MLB season, the average OPS of a player was under .700. Typically speaking, a baseball player who had a .800 or higher during the first-half of the season would be in contention for an All-Star game appearance. Anything that was .900 or better would most certainly get the starting position in the All-Star game due to how lethal they were at the plate.

To put the average OPS in 2022 into perspective, Aaron Judge, who hit over 50 home runs in 2022 and won the MLP Award, had an OPS of 1.111. Yordan Alvarez was in second place with a 1.019 OPS, and Mike Trout was in third with an OPS of .999.

Finally, a player that has an OPS of under 600 tends to be struggling at the plate. Their struggles are a combination of getting on base via walks and hitting the ball with authority.

## What about High OPS Seasons in Recent Years?

- Aaron Judge had the highest OPS in 2022 with a 1.111
- The highest OPS in 2021 belongs to Bryce Harper, with a 1.044.
- In 2020, Juan Soto had the highest OPS with a 1.185. However, the 2020 season had a limit to the number of games that season.
- In 2019, Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers hit 1.1001, good enough for a top 100 OPS season of all time.
- Mike Trout had the highest OPS in 2018 with a 1.088.

## How Does OPS Work for Pitchers?

OPS can work with evaluating how well pitchers are in baseball. The statistic is referred to as OPS against. In theory, you just reverse the formula to show how many at-bats they faced against and how often they let hitters on the base. Then, you review the type of hits that they gave up and add the two metrics together.

## Do Sacrifice Flies Count in OPS?

A sacrifice fly does not impact a player’s batting average, but it will lower their on-base percentage. Since on-base percentage calculates how often a player gets on base from an at-bat, hitting a sacrifice sly will count against that metric. Therefore, a sacrifice fly will count negatively against a player’s on-base percentage, which then will lower their OPS.

Remember, when calculating the on-base percentage of a player, you need to count up sacrifice flies in their total at bats. Therefore, a player who goes 1-5 during a baseball game and had a sacrifice fly would have an OBP of .166 since you are taking 1 over 6 into the equation.

However, sacrifice bunts will not count against a players on base percentage.

## How is OPS Different from Batting Average?

OPS measures how often a hitter safely reaches a base via a walk and the power they have when they make contact. For example, a hitter who hits doubles and triples is more valuable than a player who only hits singles. Since walks don’t help a batting average, the On-Base part of OPS credits a hitter for getting to first via a walk.

Meanwhile, the batting average counts every hit as the same. For example, two hitters can both go 2-5 in a baseball game, which comes out to a .400 batting average. However, one of the hitters hit a double and a home run, while the other only had two singles. The batting average counts them both as the same, but the OPS (slugging part of the formula) would give more credit to the double and homerun hitter since those were more quality hits.

## What are the Highest OPS in Baseball History?

Babe Ruth has a career 1.1636 OPS, which may never be eclipsed.

Below are the top OPS seasons in baseball history.

- Josh Gibson (1937) with 1.4744
- Job Gibson (1943) with 1.4271
- Barry Bonds (2004) with 1.4217

**Are there Better Stats than OPS?**

Baseball WAR tends to be a more complete metric to evaluate a player over OPS. Baseball WAR bundles in the (Wins Above Replacement) to show the value a player has against a regular backup who would play their position. Essentially, the higher the WAR, the better and more valuable you are to a team.

If you want to learn more about this stat, check out the What Does WAR Mean in Baseball article.

## What about OPS+?

There is also OPS+, which takes this statistic and “normalizes” it across the league. OPS+ factors in external issues such as the ballpark in which a player was hitting. This measurement curves so that an OPS of 100 is the league average, which gives people an immediate insight into how a player’s offensive production compares to the entire league.

For this reason, a Cubs player’s statistics might look different from a Dodgers player, who might look different than a Cardinals player or a White Sox player. A player’s OPS with the “+” at the end of it seeks to even the playing field. OPS+ is significant during free agency because a player may benefit from primarily playing in a smaller ballpark where it is easier to hit home runs.

## What are the Flaws of Using OPS in Baseball?

One major flaw of relying on OPS is that it overlooks batters who are not power hitters but can consistently get on base via singles. From there, that hitter might be fast, which means they can steal second base and get into scoring position. While the stolen base is impressive, OPS won’t factor that into their equation and therefore put, devalue a hitter who only hits singles and then uses their speed to steal a base or two during a game.

Another flaw of the OPS model is that some hitters will face easier pitching than others. For example, playing in a weaker division with pitchers with high ERAs and WHIPS will make average hitters look even better. Meanwhile, batters in a more pitcher-dominant division will tend to struggle due to the quality of the pitches they are seeing, and therefore their OPS will be lower than some.

Finally, another area for improvement of the OPS model is that it doesn’t measure the clutch ness of a hitter at the plate. For example, some hitters might pad their stats during a blowout game, like hitting a grand slam against a position pitcher pitching, which will help their OPS number grow. These games and at-bats are treated like any other at-bat. Meanwhile, some hitters who hit well in pressure situations, like hitting a home run on the run in the ninth inning to tie a game, won’t receive any extra credit in their OPS statistic. Therefore, the model can sometimes be flawed where some situations are more important for a hitter to get a base hit or get on base than others.

## Conclusion: What Does OPS Mean in Baseball / What is OPS in Baseball?

Overall, taking the on-base average and combining it with the slugging percentage can give insights into a player’s offensive performance. But as with any other sabermetrics in baseball, it’s not always easy to measure everything without seeing it for yourself. One of the best suggestions is to consider using OPS and combining it with additional metrics to help tell a complete picture of a baseball player’s performance.

However, while the formula does have value, there are flaws to remember. First, the formula does not give credit to a hitter who gets on base and then steals a base to get in scoring position. Some hitters are not power hitters and can only hit singles, but then they use their feet to get into scoring position to help their team score runs.

Second, the formula doesn’t factor that some hitters will see tougher pitching than others. For instance, if you are playing in a division with weaker pitching, you tend to have an easier time hitting, which means a higher OPS.

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