Howdy, gang! It's your old pal Petey, here to share another RR-exclusive stat for you to use and share with your friends!
Today's stat is ED'S OPS, which stands for EveryDay Starter On-base Plus Slugging. For a review of what OPS is, please visit here.
My concept here is to arrive at a stat that will help you when determining your starting lineup, and whom you should acquire for said job. The league averages are not relevant in their entirety, as the numbers are diluted by the call-ups, defensive replacements, and bench scrubs. I do not feel that it’s entirely relevant to compare Adam Dunn’s offensive numbers, for instance, to the league average within the discussion of who will be in your daily lineup, especially when that league average includes EVERYONE who ever put on a glove in the outfield that year. Laynce Nix is not the standard for MLB starting outfielders…he’s weaker than that. But if you do a search for the most "league-average offensive left fielder," Laynce Nix is whom you find (according to MLB Network). Laynce is a minor leaguer and bench fodder...not a very good benchmark.
What is most relevant, if you buy into my methodology/philosophy, is how Adam Dunn compares to the 20 starting left fielders in MLB. It doesn’t matter much to me how much better Adam Dunn is vs. Laynce Nix, but it is highly relevant to me how El Burro compares to Matt Holliday. I ran the numbers of “starting” position players since the beginning of 2000 (looking for a large, relevant sample size). I defined starters as those players who qualified for leaderboard stats, i.e. 502 PA/year.
Results and methodology after the break....
I took each SEASON of a qualifying position player (who played 50% or more of their games at a single position) and created a spreadsheet that listed the OPS stats for each qualifying season - thanks, baseballreference.com! (And a hat tip to Slyde for guidance). So if 20 players qualified for the batting title at a given position, I’d enter each of those 20 OPS averages into a column for that position for that year. Some seasons had more qualifiers than others, of course, due to injuries, platoons, and assorted whatnot. :P
What I found was that the numbers held pretty true over the decade. There were, on average, 20 position players who qualified for the batting title for each season at each position. For catcher, I needed to lower the qualifying plate appearances to 400 to achieve an average of 19.3 qualifying catchers per year.
Here are the “starting position players” average OPS that I found:
So when I evaluate players specifically in a starting capacity, I look to these offensive benchmarks rather than to “league averages” in making my judgments (along with tons of other stats, as we all do). But I find that these averages are highly useful in evaluating talent, and much more-so than using offensive averages by league or position, because those numbers include Juan Castro’s offensive stats, and no one wants to judge much of anything by that Oro Standard. To be fair, Slyde has taken issue with this methodology in the past.
This also gives you a quantifiable look at the offensive trade-off for defense at a given position, such as CF vs. LF, or SS vs. 3B. If you were thinking about Edwin Encarnacion as a starting left fielder, this shows how his career OPS of .790 is significantly below the threshold of an everyday starter in left field (.859).
You may now rip apart my methodology or philosophy, and/or you can constructively suggest how I might fine-tune these numbers. Enjoy!