What is OPS in Baseball?

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Baseball is a sport that runs on acronyms. But they aren’t all created equal. Some are more important than others. So, what does OPS mean in baseball?

Simply, it’s one of the most used and important figures for batters. Use this guide to break things down and work out: what is OPS in baseball?

what is ops in baseball?
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What does OPS Mean in Baseball?

OPS is technically an acronym, which stands for On-base percentage Plus Slugging percentage, or OPS for short. It is one of the most important MLB stats available to fans, analysts and bettors today.

OPS in baseball was brought into the mainstream vernacular by Peter Gammons, the longtime baseball columnist and commentator who began referencing the term in the 1990s on ESPN.

Calculating OPS in baseball is as simple as adding a player’s on-base percentage and his slugging percentage to produce a number that is not a percentage or average. Thus, a player’s OPS could be more than 1.00, even though the two percentages that make up the number can only be up to 100.

A good OPS is .800 or greater, and an elite OPS is above 1.00. Negro League superstar Josh Gibson holds the record for best single-season OPS (1.474) in 1937.

What is Slugging Percentage?

Slugging percentage is a metric used to determine how good a hitter is at getting extra-base hits, since those generally produce more runs. Slugging percentage is the number produced when dividing a player’s total bases by his at-bats.

Total bases are the number of bases a player records via hits, meaning a single is one total base and a double is two, etc. Walks and hit-by pitches are not recorded on a player’s total bases since they are not official at-bats.

Slugging percentage has become a more valuable MLB stat than batting average to many since doubles and home runs are more valuable to run production than singles.

Plus, in the analytics-fueled launch-angle era, hitters have amended their approach to try for more extra-base hits rather than hitting ground-ball singles.

Bettors working out how to bet on baseball also latched on to this new stat to try and better predict game outcomes and find value in prop bets.

A good slugging percentage is .450 or better, but there have been full-season examples of players registering slugging percentages of .500 or more.

When you want to work out what OPS means in Baseball, slugging percentage is a key component.

what is ops in baseball?
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The greatest single-season slugging percentage was from Barry Bonds in 2001, who posted an .863 slugging percentage in the year where he posted 73 home runs, 137 RBIs and scored 129 runs. Shohei Ohtani led the majors in slugging percentage in 2023 at .654.

Productive players can have a sub-.400 slugging percentage, since speedy players who record singles can get on first and steal bases or go from first-to-third easily. But hitters with higher slugging percentages produce runs more efficiently.

What is OBP?

On-base percentage is a metric that calculates how often a hitter reaches base.

Where batting average is calculated by a player’s total hits divided by his at-bats, on-base percentage is a player’s hits, walks and hit-by-pitches divided by his total number of plate appearances.

On-base percentage is deemed a more valuable MLB stat than batting average since walks and hit-by pitches are as valuable as singles, yet aren’t calculated in a player’s batting average, since walks and hit-by-pitches are not official at-bats.

Though players technically reach base via errors and fielder’s choices, they are not incorporated for a player’s OBP.

A good on-base percentage is .350 or higher, though exceptional hitters can surpass .400 in a single season. The 2023 OBP leader was Ronald Acuna Jr at .416, and Bonds holds the single-season MLB record for OBP at .609 in 2004.

How to Use OPS in Baseball Betting

OPS is a predictive metric, which means players who produce higher numbers are more likely to hit home runs and produce more total bases.

Though anomalous outcomes occur, players with higher OPS are more likely to surpass their total-base prop and record home runs in an individual game.

The best MLB sportsbooks will produce higher prop numbers and shorter odds for players who are more inclined to hit home runs, and lower numbers and longer odds for those who are not.

Thus, betting the under total bases for players with sub-.700 OPS, or the over on players whose average are well above .800, will generally produce favorable outcomes.

Where to Find OPS Stats

Every major sports website with an MLB stats page will give fans OPS data, since it has become a mainstream stat in the analytics age.

Even some TV broadcasts will provide a player’s OPS on graphics since the stat is a widely relied-on metric, perceived as better than traditional stats like batting average or RBIs.

One of the best places for finding MLB stats is Baseball Reference, since it is simple to search an individual player’s page to find stats like OPS, slugging percentage and on-base percentage.

Parsing through Baseball Reference’s leaders page can be tricky though, which is why I would also consider MLB.com or ESPN.com when trying to find out the leaders for OPS, OBP and slugging percentage.

Players with the Best OPS in Baseball History

Bonds is considered the player who brought OPS to the mainstream, since he produced incomprehensibly high OPS numbers just as Gammons was referencing it on shows like Baseball Tonight.

The internet explosion of the 2000s, and the growth of online sportsbooks that it brought with it, led sports fans to assess modern players and those of bygone eras using a consistent metric.

Thus, Babe Ruth (.690 SLG, 1.164 OPS) and Ted Williams (.482 OBP, 1.116 OPS) have the two best career OPS in baseball history, and Bonds is fifth (1.051) behind them are Oscar Charleston and Lou Gehrig.

Bonds is the only player in the top-10 in career OPS not in the Hall of Fame, due to suspicion of steroid use. Here’s the top-10 list of players in career OPS in MLB history.

  1. Babe Ruth (1.164)
  2. Ted Williams (1.116)
  3. Lou Gehrig (1.08)
  4. Oscar Charleston (1.063)
  5. Barry Bonds (1.051)
  6. Jimmie Foxx (1.037)
  7. Turkey Stearnes (1.034)
  8. Mule Suttles (1.027)
  9. Hank Greenberg (1.017)
  10. Rogers Hornsby (1.010)

Manny Ramirez, the long-time outfielder for Cleveland and Boston, is 11th and Mike Trout, widely considered the greatest player of the modern generation, is 12th. Aaron Judge is second in OPS among active players with at least 3,000 plate appearances, followed by Juan Soto, Ohtani and Acuna.

Conclusion

OPS in baseball is a predictive stat that has come into the mainstream in the past 30 years. It isn’t like home runs or RBIs, which are stats players can actively try for, but the best players inevitably end up with the highest OPS figures.

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Patrick Pickens
US Sports Expert
Patrick Pickens
US Sports Expert

Pat Pickens is a veteran versatile sportswriter who has covered pro sports since 2013 and has written about sports gambling since 2021. He is the author of the 2021 book "The Whalers: The Rise, Fall, and Enduring Mystique of New England's (second) Greatest NHL Franchise.