OPS+ The number one stat to measure hitters

Recently I was informed by a very wise Sabermetrics professor, if there was one stat to quantify hitting, the statistic to use would be Adjusted OPS+.

The formula given at http://www.baseball-reference.com/leaders/onbase_plus_slugging_plus_career.shtml

100*(OBP/lg OBP + SLG/lg SLG -1) Adjusted to the player’s ballpark.

There is no definition of how each ballpark is adjusted. Shouldn’t they be adjusted differently for left and right handed batters? A left handed batter in Yankee Stadium probably would hit more home runs than in Fenway Park, and the opposite for right handed hitters.

However the formula is determined, it really does not matter, because by using this number you really could rate every hitter that ever played the game.

Babe Ruth Wearing Crown

If you start from 1900 the top ten lifetime  list looks like this:

1 Babe Ruth                                    206

2 Ted Williams                             190

3 Barry Bonds                               182

4 Lou Gehrig                                  179

5 Rogers Hornsby                       175

6 Mickey Mantle                          172

7 Shoeless Joe Jackson           170

8 Ty Cobb                                          168

9 Albert Pujols                               168

10 Jimmie Foxx                            163

Looking at this statistic one would say that Albert Pujols is one of the greatest hitters in the history of the game.

Last season Buster Posey led all of baseball with an OPS+ of 172, Mike Trout was next at 171. If Trout can keep that up for 20 years he will end up right between Mickey Mantle and Shoeless Joe Jackson.

When you look at the single season record for OPS+ you can see where Barry Bonds does not deserve to have his name on any of these records.

The top ten seasons for Adjusted OPS+ are scarred by Barry Bonds and his PED inflated numbers.

1 Barry Bonds (37)              268   2002

2 Barry Bonds (39)              263   2004

3 Barry Bonds (36)              259   2001

4 Babe Ruth    (25)            255   1920

5 Babe Ruth    (28)               239   1923

6 Babe Ruth    (26)               238   1921

7 Ted Williams (22)       235   1941

8 Ted Williams (38)            233   1957

9 Barry Bonds  (38)            231   2003

10 Babe Ruth   (31)             225   1926

10 Babe Ruth   (32)       225   1927

Barry Bonds ended up number three lifetime, but his four best individual seasons were all in the top ten ever from 2001-2004.

Baseball needs to take this fraud out of all of the MLB record books. Bonds does not deserve to be up there with Williams and Ruth.


The top ten seasons ever for OPS+ should read like this:

1. Babe Ruth                  (25)   255   1920

2 Babe Ruth                   (28)   239   1923

3 Babe Ruth                   (26)   238   1921

4 Ted Williams             (22)    235   1941

5 Ted Williams             (38)    233   1957

6 Babe Ruth                  (31)   225    1926

7 Babe Ruth                  (32)   225    1927

8 Rogers Hornsby (28)  222    1924

9 Mickey Mantle         (25)  221    1957

10 Lou Gehrig         (24)  220    1927

Babe Ruth had the next three highest 1924, 1931, and 1919. followed by Ted Williams in 1942 and 1946.

Ruth’s 1919 year was in Boston. In 1957 both Mantle and Williams had two of the top ten hitting seasons ever in the same year. Mantle won the MVP award.

These numbers rate all the great hitters of the game. Now lets take Barry Bonds out of these record books and restore the Glory of the Game.

Do you agree that Barry Bonds name should not be included in the records.

About Rick Swanson
Rick Swanson has been an online feature writer for numerous websites since 2005. He was also a speaker at Boston SABR meetings from 2007-2009. Rick has created three statistics for baseball.... Reaction over Range: A new way to measure defense. Divide reaction time of any play, by the range distance. Umpire Strikezone Score: Take the total number of correct pitches called, divided by the total number of pitches called. Power Pitching: Add WHIP plus ERA and subtract the number of strikeouts per inning. Rick's current title is Consultant, Red Sox and Fenway Park History. In 2007, he was nominated for President of Red Sox Nation by Red Sox team president, Larry Lucchino. You can email Rick here: rickswanson AT cox DOT net

6 Comments on OPS+ The number one stat to measure hitters

  1. Basically, an age 36-39 Bonds is better than an in his prime Babe Ruth? What a joke. PEDs aided Barroid immensely in the “twilight” of his career. Babe Ruth is the greatest player ever, period. Until someone can pitch and hit at HOF level, no contest.

  2. Ruth played in a watered down pool of talent. The league didn’t allow black people, which, if you take a look at some of the incredible talents from the Negro Leagues at the time, would’ve knocked his #s down a peg or two. Replacing many of the bum-ass pitchers that he hit homers off of with the top Negro League pitchers would have hurt. It’s impossible to say how much, but it’s a safe bet he wouldn’t have touched 60 home runs or an .847 slugging%. The pitchers also had an 85 mph “fast”ball back then, and they pitched FAR past when they should’ve been taken out of the game. Put Ruth, in his prime, in today’s game, with pitchers regularly throwing 100+mph fastballs, along with all the middle relief and dynamic closers of today, and he’d be lucky to slugg .600 or hit 35 home runs.
    P.S. Barry Bonds was an amazing hitter before he took PEDs, but he also had an all-around game, and had a top 5 OPS every year in a much more difficult era to play in. Each era leads to heavier competition and players with better training and more athletic prowess. Ruth wouldn’t have been able to just casually switch from pitching to hitting today; they’re too specialized for that. Sorry to burst the mythical bubble of the Bambino.

  3. No, let’s believe a a 39 year-old guy could be walked intentionally 120 times and slug over .800? give me a break. Bonds was using every illegal substance he could ingest. How many Negro League pitchers would actually be in the league? 10-20. Now, there aren’t even ten african-american pitchers in the league. Your arguments are faulty at best considering OPS+ takes everything into context.

  4. When Ruth played the NFL barely existed and the NBA started 20 years after the Babe hit 60 homers. Other sports take talent away from baseball.

    On integration, read these two posts from my blog:

    Friday, May 29, 2009
    Babe Ruth never batted against Satchel Paige. Neither did Jackie Robinson.


    Sunday, January 24, 2010
    How Would Integration Have Affected Ruth and Cobb?


    A little less hysteria from the steroid zealots is in order. Bonds batted against pitchers who used PED, the Babe did not. You cannot simply ban records in a team sport. I’ve posted about this, too. Check my posts about Melky Cabrera in 2012.

  5. i know people think bad of bonds and others who took illeagle remember it wasnt illeagle than so we cant ban and hof

  6. Gregory Crouser // February 28, 2013 at 11:41 am // Reply

    I’m no Barry Bonds fan, but removing his name from record books will not restore any so called “glory” to the game of baseball. I’ve been playing hardball pretty much all of my life (I’m 48 & still playing) & the game is as great as it ever was. Your problem is with MLB. Your larger issue is a deification of the “hallowed” Hall of Fame. Get it over it. Your opinions are fine, but the greatest game in this great land, exists between the 2 foul lines, & is far above your petty arguments of who was better than whom.

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