This is part one of the series “Advanced Stats by Pat” that describes and gives examples of all of the advanced statistics that you hear flying around the MLB nowadays. I’ll feature an offensive, defensive, and pitching advanced metrics that can better help you digest what is actually going on.
Offensive - OPS+
OPS stands for On Base Plus Slugging. It’s one of the easiest advanced statistics to comprehend because it’s simply your on base percentage plus your slugging percentage.The MLB average floats around .775.
OPS+ takes that .775 and makes it 100. If your OPS+ is 125, you are 25% more effective as a batter than the average MLB player. It also accounts for park factors like how Colorado has further hit balls, and San Francisco is the opposite. I’ll explain park factors in more details at a later date. Once you mix the two together, you have OPS+.
This year's example is Trout versus Yelich. Yelich finished with a higher OPS (1.100) than Trout (1.083) but because Yelich played in friendlier parks more than Trout, Yelich’s OPS+ was lower (179 to 185).
Defensive - DRS
Defense can be tough to quantify. Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) tries to capture defense. It should be noted that all defensive stats are taken by humans, meaning that judgement calls have to be accounted for. It accounts every play that is made, from home run saving catches to outfield assists. DRS also values the more difficult positions heavier (SS, CF, C). It’s fairly easy to follow because the value is measured in actual runs. The basis is 0 meaning the average MLB player. -15 is awful and +15 is gold glove worthy.
Roberto Perez led the league this year with 29 DRS. An interesting note is Cody Bellinger is 4th with 19 DRS. It’s interesting because DRS accounts for arm strength in outfield assists and turning doubles into singles. Schwarber, Gallo, and other slower OF get a boost because of this fact.
Pitching - FIP
FIP stands for Fielding Independent Pitching. Fielding is stripped completely out, giving an accurate value of what value the pitcher has. For example, pitcher “A” may have a 4.50 ERA, but this could be due to a sub-par defense in not turning double plays correctly, or making routine plays. Pitcher “B” may have a 3.25 ERA, but that’s because he has players that make spectacular plays that save runs.
FIP takes into account what pitchers can control: strikeouts, walks, hit batters, and home runs allowed. Much like OPS+, FIP fluctuates year by year. League average this year was 4.50. Active career leaders are very interesting. Kershaw (2.74), deGrom (2.78), and Sale (2.90) just show you by their numbers show how dominant they have been.