The 2010 OBP > SLG Club

Although wOBA is demonstrably superior to OPS as a “go to” all-in-one offensive stat, the good old “three slash” (batting average/on-base percentage/slugging) is still useful, as a way to briefly describe offensive performance, if not to value it. From it, one can get an idea of much (or how little) a player relies on batting average to get on base, how much power a player displayed, and so on.

One sort of three-slash line that usually stands out to me is when a player’s OBP is greater than their SLG. It “looks funny” to me. Let’s take a look at which qualified players have an OBP > SLG so far this season and see how offensively valuable they are. So without further ado, if the season ended today, here are the members of the 2010 OBP>SLG club, ranked in ascending order from those with the smallest OBP-SLG gap.

Just made it in: Cesar Izturis (.234/.275/.274, .248 wOBA), Nyjer Morgan (257/.317/.316, .286, ), Ryan Theriot (.277/.325/.324, .292 wOBA). All three of these players just snuck in with an OBP one point higher than their SLG, and all three are having terrible seasons at the plate.

6. Brett Gardner (.280/.388/.379, .360 wOBA). Many people thought that Gardner could play, but few envisioned him as a five win player in 2010. We’ll save the proper pats-on-the back and a full analysis of Gardner’s value until after the season. While most thought that Gardner would be an excellent defender (and he has been) with potentially a non-terrible bat, few thought he’d be almost 17 runs above average on offense. It’s hard to be bad offensively with an OBP near .390, no matter how little power is involved. Given his speed, his BABIP isn’t excessive, either, and he has excellent strike zone judgment (18.3% O-Swing) and contact rate (90.5%). He’s definitely pulled off Nyjer Morgan’s 2009; now if he can just avoid Morgan’s 2010…

5. Yunel Escobar (.258/.339/.329, .306 wOBA). Bobby Cox‘s favorite shortstop has had a serious power outage this season, posting by far the lowest ISO of his career (.071). His OBP is also down, but given that his walk rate so far is actually the highest of his career, this is likely the result of his career-low BABIP (.284). Batted ball analysis is difficult, and there doesn’t seem to be a huge difference in his raw numbers — slightly fewer line drives and flies, and more ground balls. He still fields well, and given that he’s very likely much better at the plate than a .306 wOBA, Atlanta might be regretting this trade for a while.

4. Jason Kendall (.256/.318/.297, .278 wOBA). [INSERT JOKE HERE]

3. Juan Pierre (.273/.339/.314, .308 wOBA). Look, the guy has been terrible offensively. Even after including the steals, he’s about 10 runs below average. He has no power, and doesn’t walk much despite decent knowledge of the strike zone. This might be Brett Gardner’s future. But if you believe UZR, he’s been almost 10 runs above average in left field, about 1.4 WAR player. That’s better than critics of the White Sox’ acquisition of Pierre (including me) expected.

2. Chone Figgins (.249/.333/.294, .295 wOBA). Figgins’ 2009 was one of the better OBP>SLG offensive seasons of recent times, but 2010… well, he pretty much represents everything that went wrong for the 2010 Mariners. Even if he’d played average second base (he hasn’t), he’d still be a massive flop given this offensive production and paycheck. Figgins’ strike zone judgment is still good (20.6% O-Swing), but is actually signficantly worse than his previous seasons, although that translated into only slightly worse strikeout and walk rates. Figgins has always lived and died by his BABIP, and while there’s probably some degree of bad luck going on in 2010, there’s a chance he’s losing what little ability he used to have to drive the ball.

1. Elvis Andrus (.273/.354/.312, .308 wOBA). Andrus is still a very valuable player to the Rangers, given his youth, defensive skills, and price tag, but this is a bit of a let down after his surprisingly (given his prior minor league numbers) non-horrible 2009 at the plate. Yes, even for a player who is supposed to be a defensive specialist, a .308 wOBA while playing in the Rangers’ launching pad is bad, especially the .038 ISO. It is difficult to find much “bad luck” in the numbers for Andrus, and while he’s still extremely young (he just turned 22 a couple of weeks ago), the Rangers may have to settle for a good-glove, no-hit shortstop, as even a .354 OBP can only make up so much for a total lack of power.

Of these players, only Gardner has been an above-average contributor offensively in 2010, and none of the others are even close (Escobar’s true talent is probably better than he’s shown this season). On-base percentage is still more important that slugging, but unless it is really high, it can’t make up for everything. It hasn’t always been the case, historically, that most OBP>SLG hitters did poorly, and in the future, I’ll take a look at the best OBP>SLG seasons (and careers) of all time.



Print This Post



Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
Drew
Guest
5 years 9 months ago

To his credit, Yunel Escobar came to Toronto and promptly caught Cito Fever, cutting his walk rate in half while doubling his ISO. .400 SLG% as a Blue Jay. The air up there…

Torgen
Guest
Torgen
5 years 9 months ago

You can’t draw a walk when you bunt the first pitch.

Locke
Guest
Locke
5 years 9 months ago

“(Escobar’s true talent is probably better than he’s shown this season)”

I think that’s a pretty safe bet…

Matt K
Guest
Matt K
5 years 9 months ago

But the question is, will he ever play to his talent. Braves obviously didn’t think so.

don
Guest
don
5 years 9 months ago

I guess Luis Castillo didn’t have the ABs to qualify? His career line is .290/.368/.351 and he’s only slugged his OBP once. This year is no different. Well, it’s worse all around, but it’s the same idea.

MikeS
Guest
MikeS
5 years 9 months ago

“Although wOBA is demonstrably superior to OPS …”

Link to where it’s been demonstrated for those of us new(er) to advanced metrics and want to learn why please?

Kevin
Guest
Kevin
5 years 9 months ago
MikeS
Guest
MikeS
5 years 9 months ago

That was helpful but what I was really looking for was a study that actually demonstrated what this article said is demonstrable, that wOBA was superior to OPS. Has anybody done a study that shows that wOBA is more predictive of wins than OPS? The articles you linked to hint that it’s been done but don’t reference those studies.

We all agree that ERA, AVE, RBI and other traditional stats are lacking but you can’t just say you have something better, you have to prove it. Otherwise you just have something like Cistulli’s NERD scores. They’re fun but they don’t mean a whole lot.

Adam D
Guest
Adam D
5 years 9 months ago

also be aware that “demonstrably” does not mean the same thing as “has been demonstrated”. but since links have been provided, this is just semantics.

MarkV
Guest
MarkV
5 years 9 months ago

Some better links that show that wOBA is better than OPS (better correlated with team runs that is, not wins)

Finding EqA is better than OPS:
http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=2596

Finding wOBA may be better than EqA:
http://www.hardballtimes.com/main/blog_article/is-eqa-better-than-woba/

brendan
Guest
brendan
5 years 9 months ago

“but this is a bit of a let down after his surprisingly (given his prior minor league numbers) non-horrible 2010 at the plate” should be “non-horrible 2009” right?

Thomas
Guest
Thomas
5 years 9 months ago

Daric Barton and Jack Cust are good hitters right on the edge of this. Barton’s SLG is only .10 higher than his excellent OBP.

3rd Period Points
Guest
3rd Period Points
5 years 9 months ago

4. Jason Kendall [INSERT JOKE HERE]

-Worth his weight in Adderall.

-wOBA does not yet account for adjusted grit factor (GF+).

-Add 50 bonus points for expected future bobsled medals (EFBM).

WY
Guest
WY
5 years 9 months ago

“But if you believe UZR, he’s been almost 10 runs above average in left field, about 1.4 WAR player.”

It’s interesting to see the “if you believe UZR” disclaimer here, given that it is used in a sort of begrudging fashion, yet when other writers use UZR in support of one of their predictions (or an article about a player deemed valuable), the UZR value is tossed out almost as if it were a cold, hard fact with no margin of error.

djp
Guest
djp
5 years 9 months ago

Kenny Lofton equaled obp/slg in ’93. That’s got to have been a rare occurrence.

WarBird
Guest
WarBird
5 years 9 months ago

Well, OBP does have its utility for most of the players listed in the article: setting up RBI opptys for the HR sluggers who follow them in order.

The other point to consider within the context of this article, not suggesting OBP & SLG on equal 1:1 basis. I believe past studies available on the interent have indicated 2:1 as a more appropriate relative value comparison.

One reason why using OPS, imho, clouds the true value of players with similar OPS ratings, but how they get their is dramatically different depending on their offensive role & contribution expectations to the team.

Ryan Howard would not enjoy such a high WAR if he didn’t have the luxury of both Jimmy Rollins & Chase Utley setting up an excess of opportunities for him to SLG in.

ACWNS09
Guest
ACWNS09
5 years 9 months ago

That’s not how WAR works. What the people around you do has no bearing on wOBA (barring things like protection in the lineup).

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
5 years 9 months ago

I think what he’s saying is that the rest of the lineup is so good at not making outs, everybody gets more PA.

don
Guest
don
5 years 9 months ago

Rollins is quite good at making outs, though. One of the best.

Jake
Guest
Jake
5 years 9 months ago

I doubt Atlanta will be regretting the Yunel Escobar trade. There’s more to baseball than just numbers, and he was not well liked by the players or the coaching staff, to the point where he was almost cancerous.

Temo
Member
Temo
5 years 9 months ago

This.

When the trade was made, Wren said that he has “no doubt” Yunel will perform better than he had to date. But that the change was made to cut ties for “other reasons”.

The Braves know he’s better than he’s been this season. But they decided to make the move anyway. They won’t regret doing something if something they expect to happen happens anyway.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 9 months ago

He only has 392 PAs, but he’s at .290/.380/.341 right now, and when I was at Dodger Stadium two weeks back I nearly choked when I saw his OBP/SLG was .380/.330. That has to be pretty rare, even in just 350 PAs or so.

Matt
Guest
Matt
5 years 9 months ago

Ugh. “He” would be Jamey Carroll.

wpDiscuz