In Part 1, we'll take a look at the method to the madness of on base percentage (OBP) and slugging percentage (SLG) and see if we can give them their due respect on the scale of importance. In part 2, we'll explore why wOBA is a better stat to use than OPS and produce a scale so we can easily see what wOBA is above or below average and how the Tigers' players fit in.
Josh Donaldson hit .255 and scored 93 runs; think some of those 76 walks helped him out? Brandon Moss was the man to own in the first half even with a .268 BA, but was dropped like a rock in the second half where he hit .173. His OBP slipped from .349 down to .310, but at least he was still playable thanks in part to 14.8% walk rate. Adam Dun hit .219 in 2013 and while he hit 34, owners cursed him. Forget the 76 walks and .320 OBP though, it doesn’t count in fantasy. In 2012 Dunn hit 41 home runs and scored 87 times, but a .204 batting average had him on America’s most hated list. Using OBP you could have had .333 thanks in part to his 105 walks which batting average didn’t take into consideration. Dunn’s value in 2012 using OBP was slightly above Adam Jones and his 34 walks. Dunn had 71 more walks and Jones had 76 more hits, similar results but Jones is rewarded for being on base an equal amount of times.
Equal power and equal run scoring abilities, yet using batting average, Dozier is inferior. It doesn’t seem fair that two players of equal skills are ranked so far apart in fantasy, but player X had 31 more hits while Dozier had 31 more walks with the same results. If you’re a numbers guy you might have guess who player X is, but for those that haven’t figured it out, it’s Anthony Rendon. Rendon is shooting up draft boards while Dozier is left waiting until the mid-early rounds. If there was a poster boy for using OBP over BA, it’s Dozier.
There is a very important Biomechanical Principle that pertains to the initiation of the baseball swing. The principle states: "A ballistic motion, once initiated, produces trajectories that can only be changed at its margins." This means, the forces applied to the bat during initiation produce trajectories that will set the tone for the entire swing. If the swing is not initiated correctly - little can be done to compensate for it.
“These results show that batting is a sequence of coordinated muscle activity, beginning with the hip, followed by the trunk, and terminating with the arms. Power in the swing is initiated in the hip, and therefore exercises that emphasize such strength development are indicated. The maintained, high muscle activity in the trunk muscles indicates a need for back and abdominal stabilization and rotation exercises.”
Statistical analysis to measure player performance has become so sophisticated over the last quarter century that traditional tools like batting average and earned run average have been augmented and in some cases even replaced by more encompassing measurements like on-base percentage, which became an official statistic in 1984, and the more revolutionary OPS--a term that combines a player's on-base percentage and slugging percentage.
The best way I can explain “Hitting for Average” is that this tool is not just solely focused on a person’s batting average. This tool is more about having the ability to have a consistent swing, the ability to keep the bat on-plane for a long period of time, and the ability to square up baseballs on a regular basis. I wrote another article about having the ability to “Repeat Your Best Swing.”