Tuesday, June 1, 2010


We took a trip back to the Middle Ages (home) where I guess I should be happy there is a color television with NESN, if not a computer or Internet access. While I upheld my commitment to watch or listen to every game, I was not able to follow the baseball buzz or blog about what I learned.

Back in the 21st Century (Boston), I spend the early morning catching up. As I drink my early cup of coffee and catch cheerios being thrown off the highchair tray by my daughter, I read the latest baseball news- go Roy Halladay with the perfect game! Every so often I turn to wikipedia to refresh my memory- what is a perfect game again?

Did you hear that among designated hitters David Ortiz has the highest OPS? For the season. Not just for May when he's been on fire.

In fact, at .929 his OPS is higher than it's been since 2007, when it reached 1.066.

Great news... but what is an OPS?

OPS stands for on-base plus slugging percentage. Now I could break down on-base percentage and slugging percentage and how they combine to form OPS, but I don't feel like doing algebra this morning. Basically OPS takes into account hits, bases on balls, times hit by a pitch, at bats, sacrifice flies, and total number of bases. Thanks, Wikipedia!

Pinkhats, think of it as a measure of hitting awesomeness.

Bluehats, think of it as another measure you invented to confuse us pinkhats.

According to Wikipedia, OPS is part of Sabermetrics, which has an even less self-explanatory acronym than OPS. Sabermetrics are baseball statistics driven by information from the Society for American Baseball Reference-the SABR, hence SABeRmetrics. The term was coined by Bill James, who also pushed it into popularity and wrote it's manifesto.

I will have to learn more about this Bill James fellow. For now, I blame you bluehats for allowing this nonsense, unless some of you can explain the importance of Sabermetrics and the need for a manifesto.

The more I learn about baseball, the more appealing it sounds to move to Amish Country North (home), where they might not play baseball with a stick and stone, but they don't have Wikipedia to ruin your morning cup of coffee.


  1. Just found you from the feature at Boston.com (congratulations!). What a great idea this is. I'll be back because I'm sure I can use this stuff with my son.

  2. Don't throw the useful statistics out with the more obscure SABREmetrics bathwater.

    At root, that SABRE stuff is simply trying to get appropriate quantification into the game. Since baseball has had so many games, it's a statistician's playground: you really CAN use statistics to measure, for example, how more or less likely you are to score using a sacrifice bunt or not.

    Two good books about that movement: Moneyball and - for the numerate - The Numbers Game.


  3. Thanks Kei and Lisse!

    I will definitely check out those books Kei (okay, maybe not the The Numbers Game, but definitely Moneyball).

    Lisse, thanks for the congratulations... what is this feature you mention on Boston.com.


  4. Hey! I just saw your blog on Boston.com. I am girl and love baseball and all that is sabermetrics. I applaud you on your efforts to watch all the games this season! It is a long season, especially the West coast legs coming up in July.

    For more of a background, I defintely recommend Moneyball. It explains alot, including OPS, in more non-saber sense. Feeding the Monster by Seth Mookin is a good book as well. Its long (600+) pages and chronicles the history of the team to the signing of Dice-K. Even though it is long, it will give you a good background on the evolution of baseball and the team in general.
    There are a few more books that are a little more advanced if you are interested but I don't think you are there yet. :o)

    I look forward to following your blog! Let me know if you want any help explaining anything. :o)

  5. Alli - check out the bottom of the page at boston.com As of 5:20 this evening, your post was still linked.

  6. There are enough theories and layers in Baseball Statistics to create a doctorate program on the subject. You may be able to increase your fluency on the subject - but it will take years to be able to think along your own lines, instead of following the bouncing ball laid out by gurus like Bill James. I'm impressed that you're attempting this, although I'm not sure if it's out of a real desire to learn the sport or if it's an opportunity to create an audience for your opinions.

    Now if you really want to delve into the stat you wrote about, Papi's OPS, then consider the elements around the stat. Is the DH no longer as much of a power threat because of drug testing, thereby paving the way for a plus hitter like Papi to look like an all-out threat? Is he evolving past a strict pull hitter because of the shift? To what degree does his OPS answer the question of bat speed? The list goes on and on.

    Good luck and enjoy!

  7. Thanks for all the well-wishes everyone... and for letting me know the blog was listed on Boston.com. So cool.

    To the anonymous poster who left the list of really good questions... I'm trying to get there. I know all these acronyms and statistics mean something, although they sometimes distract (me) from what's happening on the field. At some point I am hoping that the game and the statistics will meld together for me... I've come really far this season, so maybe there will be a few 2010 Sox players left when all this starts to make sense.

    And of course, gotta respond to the "audience for my opinions". I didn't know I had opinions about baseball or the Sox until I started this project. I could however rant for hours about environmental issues. And reality television of course.

    XOXO, Alli