MLB Picks: Proving That OPS Is The Best Indicator For Betting Success

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, May 14, 2015 5:16 PM GMT

The debate rages on between baseball handicappers. What percentage of the handicap should accrue to varying elements of the game, such as batting, pitching, bullpen and defense? Of equal importance, is determining the parameters to use, when measuring varying levels of success.

For years, simplistic numbers such as ERA to measure pitching and BA (batting average) to measure hitting were easy tools to use. With the onset of the computer age, more statistics became available. Pitching success is now measured by such variables as WHIP (walks plus hits allowed per inning pitched), K/BB (the strikeout to walk ratio of a pitcher) and BAA (an opposing team’s batting average against for a pitcher).  

In further defining a team’s offensive abilities, such measurements as OBP (on base percentage) and SLG PCT (slugging percentage with greater weight for extra-base hits) have become meaningful indicators.

But as this article will prove, it is OPS (the combination of OBP and SLUGGING PERCENTAGE) which is the ultimate arbiter of both batting and pitching success. With approximately 20% of the 2015 MLB season completed, this article will present 4 charts which isolate 4 different categories regarding OPS, in terms of both batting and pitching numbers. Following the charts, I draw conclusions that will prove the worth of the OPS statistics while placing MLB picks.

The four distinctive categories that we will look at include:

- Teams whose offensive OPS is greater than or equal to .735: the good offensive teams

- Teams whose offensive OPS is less than or equal to .670: the bad offensive teams

- Teams whose pitching OPS is less than or equal to .670: the good pitching teams

- Teams whose pitching OPS is greater than or equal to .733: the bad pitching teams

For relevance, please note that the average MLB OPS is .710, a bit higher than in previous seasons. 

Each of the charts will simply denote each team and each category with their OPS and their won-loss record.

 

Teams Whose Offensive OPB is Greater Than or Equal to .735

Team

OPS

Record

LAD

.830

20-10

KC

.778

20-11

Baltimore

.770

13-16

Toronto

.767

16-16

Colorado

.761

11-17

Detroit

.750

19-13

St Louis

.747

22-9

NYY

.744

20-12

The eight best offensive teams in MLB are a combined 141-104 for a .575 won-loss percentage. 

 

Teams Whose Offensive OPS is Less Than or Equal to .670

Team

OPS

Record

CWS

.669

12-16

NY Mets

.660

20-11

Milwaukee

.658

11-21

Texas

.658

13-18

Pittsburgh

.649

15-16

LAA

.637

15-17

Philadelphia

.614

11-21

The seven worst offensive teams in MLB are a combined 97-120 for a .447 won-loss percentage.

 

Teams Whose Pitching OPS is Less Than or Equal to .670

Team

OPS

Record

T Bay

.628

17-15

KC

.631

20-11

St Louis

.647

22-9

NY Mets

.650

20-11

LAD

.654

20-10

Houston

.655

20-12

Pittsburgh

.666

15-16

NYY

.668

20-12

The eight best pitching teams in MLB are a combined 154-96 for a .616 won-loss percentage.

 

Teams Whose Pitching OPS is Greater Than or Equal to .733

Team

OPS

Record

Texas

.733

13-18

Minnesota

.741

18-14

Philadelphia

.755

11-21

Cleveland

.761

11-19

Toronto

.761

16-16

Atlanta

.762

14-17

CWS

.762

12-16

Boston

.763

14-17

San Diego

.766

17-16

Milwaukee

.781

11-21

Colorado

.826

11-17

The eleven worst pitching teams in MLB are a combined 148-192 for a .435 won-loss percentage. 

 

The results of above four charts are clearly definitive. MLB odds makers realize that teams who have the better batting and pitching OPS have clearly superior records to those teams who have the worst batting and pitching OPS. But wait! We can make this better! By simply combining the teams who are in BOTH charts 1 & 3 (the GOOD hitting and pitching teams) we find there are four teams in the Los Angeles Dodgers, Kansas City Royals, St. Louis Cardinals, and the New York Yankees who have a combined record of 82-42 for a .661 won-loss percentage. 

In a similar way, if we combine the four teams who appear in BOTH charts 2 & 4 (the BAD hitting and pitching teams) we find that the Chicago White Sox, Milwaukee Brewers, Texas Rangers, and Philadelphia Phillies are a combined 47-76 for a .382 won-loss percentage.

We can let the sabermetrics analysts use all the convoluted stats they want. And devise any group of analytics they choose to put together. The bottom line as this article proves is that the combination of good hitting and good pitching as determined by the OPS is a simplistic, but very reliable way in which the fundamentals of a team can be analyzed.