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