What Does OPS Mean In Baseball?

baseball OPS

What Does OPS Mean in Baseball?

Statistics have been used to evaluate player performance since the 1800s; slugging percentage was one of the first used, although not an official statistic until the early 1920s. The on-base percentage statistic was first used by the Brooklyn Dodgers nearly three-quarters of a century ago. It’s these two statistics that make up the OPS.

So now, let’s take a deeper look into what exactly OPS means.

How Do We Calculate OPS in Baseball?

The OPS stands for “on-base plus slugging” and combines the two statistics. OPS equals on-base percentage plus slugging percentage but note the statistic isn’t written as a percentage but as a decimal value. 

On-base percentage is the number of times a player gets on base divided by the total number of plate appearances. The slugging percentage is the number of total bases divided by the number of times at-bat.

Slugging percentage accounts for the number of total bases produced by the hitter, with singles being one base, doubles as two bases, triples as three bases, and a home run as four bases.

If you compare on-base percentage to slugging percentage, think of slugging as more of a power statistic. The players with the highest power generally have a higher slugging percentage.

However, this isn’t always true if a player has a woefully low batting average, with most of his hits as home runs, compared to a very high average hitter with little power. The combination of the two statistics gives an excellent way to judge a player’s overall offensive production.

Example OPS Formula

Suppose a player has 540 at-bats for the season with 165 hits, 30 doubles, four triples, 22 home runs, 75 walks, and five times hit by pitch. Let’s assume he had no sacrifice hits or sacrifice flies which would add to his plate appearances. This player had an on-base percentage of (165 + 75 + 5)/(540 + 75 + 5) = 0.395. 

Now to calculate the slugging percentage. He had 109 singles out of his 165 hits for a total of 165 bases. His 30 doubles added 60 bases. His four triples added 12 bases, and his 22 home runs added 88 bases.

Therefore, this player had 269 total bases in 540 at-bats for a slugging percentage of 0.498. His OPS for the season was 0.395 + 0.498 = 0.893.

What is Considered a Good OPS in Baseball?

Generally speaking, a player who had a “great” offensive season is an OPS is 0.9 or above. A “very good” OPS is between 0.833 and 0.9. A player with an OPS of 0.767 and 0.833 is considered to have had an “above average” offensive season.

Those with an OPS in the .7 to .767 range were merely “average,” from 0.633 to 0.7 is “below average,” and anything below 0.633 is simply a “very poor” year at the plate.

Comparing these numbers to all-time greats, Babe Ruth is the all-time leader at 1.164. Rounding out the top four are Ted Williams at 1.116, Lou Gehrig at 1.080, and Barry Bonds at 1.051.

The highest single-season OPS numbers recently by Juan Soto at 1.185 in 2020 and Christian Yelich at 1.100 in 2019. Last year’s 2021 NL MVP, Bryce Harper, had a league-leading OPS of 1.044.

Courtesy of Baseball Rebellion YouTube channel

How Can a Hitter Improve Their OPS?

There are a few ways that you can improve your OPS as a baseball player. One way is to focus on getting on base more often, meaning being more selective at the plate and not swinging at bad pitches. It also means using your speed to leg out infield hits and taking extra bases when possible.

Another way to improve your OPS is to hit for more power, hitting the ball hard consistently and trying to drive it into gaps. It also means working on your batting stance and swing to generate more power.

If you can improve your OPS in baseball, you will be a more valuable player to your team. Working on both aspects of your game to reach your full potential as a hitter is a good idea.

Are There Better Stats Than OPS?

The question with OPS is that the number doesn’t mean anything, per se. On-base percentage measures the percentage of times a player gets on base per plate appearance, whereas slugging percentage represents total bases per at-bat.

Therefore, adding them together doesn’t make sense, but people studying baseball statistics use this as a measure of the entire offensive production. 

We only know that the higher this number is, the better, but it doesn’t measure anything concrete.

When determining whether or not there are better stats than OPS, it boils down to what you’re trying to determine. Stats have their strengths and weaknesses; it depends on how and when they are used.

Many people like to use the “runs created per 27”, which gauges how many runs per nine innings a lineup with nine identical players would produce. The most basic version of this formula, created by Bill James nearly four decades ago, is (hits + walks)*(total bases)/(at-bats + walks) equals runs created.

Take runs created divided by (at-bats – hits + caught stealing + sacrifice flies + sacrifice hits)*27. This is a much more complex formula than OPS, which is easy to calculate and gives a quick answer to which players have the most productive seasons at the plate.

While OPS might not be the best statistic, it’s much more powerful than the straight-up batting average. Check team statistics, and you’ll see that the teams with the highest batting averages aren’t necessarily scoring the most runs, especially if the team lacks power.

What Exactly is OPS+?

This version of OPS considers other factors such as wind conditions, dimensions of the ballpark, and altitude. This can be combined into what is known as “ballpark effects.” With the OPS+, the score is normalized so that the median level is 100.

Be aware that the median is the middle value such that half of the OPS+ numbers will be below and half will be above this value. The normalized version significantly represents how well players perform compared to other players across the league.

OPS has no idea where the production is taking place, and a great way to see consistency or lack thereof is to examine a player’s OPS at home and on the road. The basis of OPS statistics is far more simplistic.

It doesn’t consider some parks, such as Busch Stadium, Citi Field, Progressive Field, Dodger Stadium, Safeco Field, and PNC Park, as pitcher-friendly. Other fields, such as Coors Field, Miller Park, Comerica Park, and Fenway Park, are among the most hitter-friendly parks in the Major Leagues.

The OPS + is a far better way to judge a player entering free agency. You can examine which parks the player hit well in and which parks a player struggled. If a general manager sees a free agent that struggled in his home park, he may wish to bypass him during the free agency period.


The interesting thing about OPS is that while the two components that make up the statistic have clearly defined meaning, OPS does not. This is because adding the two numbers together doesn’t create a number that makes sense. Nevertheless, OPS has become a commonly used measure to gauge the total production of a player at the plate.

On-base and slugging percentages consider everything a player wants to do offensively, particularly power-hitting, which is at the forefront of the modern game. Taking the statistic up a notch is the OPS+, which factors in ballparks and compares a player to others around the league.