On Base Percentage and Batting Average are very similar statistics, although they do have their differences. On Base Percentage measures exactly what it says, the number of times a player gets on base divided by their plate appearances. Batting Average is a little bit different, it measures how many times a player gets on base via hit divided by a player's total at bats (excludes walks, sac flies, ect.). Both statistics are very important to the game of baseball, but which one should be valued more?
If you haven't seen the movie Moneyball, I highly recommend watching it, because this article is based on the "Moneyball theory." In Moneyball, Billy Beane (Brad Pitt), the Athletics general manager, has 30 million dollars to try and build a championship winning team. To do that, Beane tries to use statistics as a matter of judging if a player can contribute to winning baseball games. One thing Beane stresses a lot, how much a player gets on base. In reality, is a player who hits .250 and has a OBP of .400 better than a player who hits .330 and has an OBP of .350? Yes. Because the player with the higher OBP is able to get on base, not always by a hit, but he gets on base.
If you take a look at Sunday's Padres-Reds tilt, watch the bottom of the thirteenth inning. Notice how Jack Hannahan starts the rally with a walk. Walks are as good as singles, and if you beg to differ ask this, how many bases does a player advance on a single? One. How many does a player advance on a walk? One. Unless you're hitting extra-base hits every time you get up, a rally-starting walk is just as good as a rally-starting single. So, although one player may have a better batting average then another doesn't mean that he's starting more "rallies" than the other.
OPS is, in my opinion, another better way to measure how well a hitter is hitting than average. In the last paragraph, I wrote, "Unless you're hitting extra-base hits every time you get up, a rally-starting walk is just as good as a rally-starting single." Extra-base hits are doubles, triples, and home runs, therefore they are "extra-bases" than just you're average single. OPS is a measurement of OBP plus SLG (Slugging Percentage = Total Bases/Plate Appearances), which is a great way to see not only how much a player is getting on base, but if he's hitting, how often is he getting extra-base hits? So, of the three statistics I prefer OPS because like I said, it measures OBP and SLG, which is a very good way to see how well a player is playing.
Yesterday, I wrote about the AL MVP race, and how I thought that Chris Davis and Miguel Cabrera were my finalists to win the award. Many of my readers felt that Mike Trout should've been in my comparison, and believe me, Trout is a great player. Using OBP and SLG, I'm going to compare all three of my "finalists" and still show why Chris Davis should win the AL MVP using OBP, SLG, and OPS.
The reason I had Davis and Cabrera as my finalists are based on that last number, their OPS. Trout's OPS isn't quite as good as Davis' or Cabrera's, so that's why he was left out of my article. And, the reason I picked Davis? I've seen Davis play, and think that his home runs are what's going to make him MVP. But, Cabrera isn't far behind. And, with a Davis slump, and a Cabrera consistency, he could easily win MVP. Mark my words.
In conclusion, average is an important statistic in the game of baseball, but the development of OBP and OPS have swayed me to using those stats for when I'm comparing players, and choosing which one has been the most productive, in a single number.