How to Handle Different Categories: SLG and OPS

In the leagues I run that have inexperienced and/or casual team owners, I always use the standard 5×5 roto categories because I feel that it would give me and the other experienced players an advantage. I know that the casual players in my leagues are using the rankings provided by the website on which we’re drafting or some other set of rankings from a major industry source. And almost all of those rankings are based on standard categories. If I replaced, for example, home runs with slugging percentage, I would be able to identify the players whose valuation or ranking would change with the different category. But the noobs would be using rankings made with home runs in mind.

I polled my Twitter followers to find out the most common uses of non-standard categories so that I could determine the players whose valuation/ranking changed the most when non-standard categories are used. The most common answers were OBP replacing batting average (which I covered here), slugging percentage replacing home runs, and OPS being added as a sixth category to the standard five hitter categories. Sorry if your league has a different non-traditional format.

Below are charts showing the biggest changes in SLG and OPS leagues. For an explanation of the methodology used, check out the OBP piece I just linked to. And if you’d like to see how all 242 hitters that I have projected are affected by SLG replacing HR or OPS being a sixth category, you can find the SLG list here and the OPS list here.

First up, guys who get a bump when slugging percentage replaces home runs.


Miguel Cabrera and Paul Goldschmidt are even more valuable in slugging percentage leagues, and they close the gap between them and Trout in auction leagues. Joey Votto shows up on this list just as he did in my OBP post. He’s obviously excellent, but the standard categories aren’t the best measure of his excellence.

Unsurprisingly, we see a few young first basemen here who haven’t reached the ‘power potential’ some thought they might. But really they just haven’t put up big home run totals. Freddie Freeman and Eric Hosmer may never settle in as 30+ HR regulars or even 25-30 HR regulars, but if you play in a slugging percentage league, their power plays. And Brandon Belt gets the biggest boost by switching to SLG. It’s possible his ballpark has something to do with it, but he’s very much in the Freeman/Homser mold. The only non-1B/DH player on this list is Yadier Molina who was 4th in the league in doubles last year.

Now the guys who you would prefer in a home run league.


This shouldn’t be a surprise, but this list is populated by low batting average power hitters. Because slugging percentage is just total bases divided by at-bats, a slugging percentage will take a hit if a guy doesn’t hit his way on base all that much. Guys like Dan Uggla are a perfect example of this. He’s bad enough at this point that he’s irrelevant in home run leagues, but he’s even less of a consideration in SLG leagues. The guys that join in that irrelevance despite having small value in home run leagues are Curtis Granderson, Nick Swisher, and B.J. Upton. Let someone else take them. And then of course you have Wil Myers, Yoenis Cespedes, Pedro Alvarez, and Josh Hamilton who still have value in SLG leagues but significantly less value.

Switching gears, here are the guys who get the biggest boost when OPS is added as a sixth category in addition to the five standard categories.


The rich get richer. This chart tells us that the elite talent is worth even more when OPS is added to the mix. Just Trout and Cabrera alone are worth a combined 14 more dollars in an OPS league. If people in your league are spending big on top talent, don’t be afraid to join them. And if everyone is spending conservatively, don’t hesitate to go a little more towards stars and scrubs.

And finally, let’s look on the other end of the OPS spectrum.


Woof. Most of these guys aren’t worth drafting in standard leagues either, but there are a few speedsters with standard league value who lose relevance in OPS leagues, Billy Hamilton, Michael Bourn and Alcides Escobar. I’m guessing some of you may think Hamilton’s potential to win you the steals category on his own is certainly worth drafting. I have him leading the league with 61 steals, but I also have him finishing with the lowest OPS among the 242 hitters I ranked. I would find your speed elsewhere.

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You can find more of Brett's work on or follow him on Twitter @TheRealTAL.

6 Responses to “How to Handle Different Categories: SLG and OPS”

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  1. Luanne Lui says:

    This is interesting. But I’m confused by the first paragraph.

    Why would using the normal 5×5 categories give the experienced owners an advantage? I would think that if the casual players are just using the numbers on the draft site, and those were geared towards normal 5×5, the advantage you gain would be minimal. If you change up the categories, then only the experienced owners would be using their own updated rankings. THEN they would have an advantage. No?

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  2. Brett Talley says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    Yeah I see what you’re saying. The very first sentence should end with ‘if we used non-traditional categories.’ I was saying the advantage would come when using something other than the standard cats.

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  3. shibboleth says:

    Brett, this is great, thanks for sharing. Would you consider something similar for leagues where, say, OPS replaces AVG in a 5×5 league? Or is there not much difference between a 5×5 OPS and 5×5+OPS?

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    • Brett Talley says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      No I’m sure there are some big differences when OPS replaces average. But I don’t have room in my schedule to do a piece on that.

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      • Pete Wheeler says:

        I tried to replicate the process, but replacing AVG with OPS in a 5×5 league and (if I did it correctly) came up with a top 10 gainers of:

        1. Giancarlo Stanton Ranked 25 using 5×5 with AVG to ranked 12 using 5×5 with OPS
        2. Jose Bautista 20 to 11
        3. Chris Carter 131 to 82
        4. Chris Davis 8 to 5
        5. Josh Willingham 125 to 83
        6. Dan Uggla 205 to 163
        7. Pedro Alvarez 83 to 49
        8. Curtis Granderson 145 to 99
        9. Edwin Encarnacion 10 to 8
        10. Mike Napoli 139 to 95

        And bottom 10 losers in this switch
        208. Erick Aybar 111 to 154
        209. Alexei Ramirez 109 to 153
        210. Jose Iglesias 196 to 212
        211. Omar Infante 148 to 193
        212. Marco Scutaro 183 to 207
        213. Alcides Escobar 155 to 196
        214. Elvis Andrus 56 to 94
        215. DJ LeMahieu 165 to 205
        216. Norichika Aoki 71 to 111
        217. Jose Altuve 50 to 97
        218. Ben Revere 157 to 204

        – The list above was ranked by difference between FVARz for 5×5 using AVG and 5×5 using OPS.
        – The numbers are the player’s rank among the 218 hitters in the pool, before and after the switch from AVG to OPS.
        – The player pool was all hitters projected to have at least 400AB by an averaged projection of Zips, Steamer, and Fans.

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