OPS Index & Buy/Sell Ratings at the All-Star Break

Joe Gavazzi

Saturday, July 18, 2015 6:12 PM GMT

This sports handicapper deciphers an OPS index and looks at MLB teams where this index is not directly correlated to their W/L record at the All-Star break. He will apply this data to MLB picks.

In the first part of May 2015, I authored two articles which proved a direct correlation between a team’s OPS batting numbers and OPS pitching numbers with their W/L percentage. To review the OPS concept once again, please note that OPS is the combination of OBP (on base percentage) and SLG (slugging average, which is total bases divided by at bats). Every offense, every pitching staff, and every individual hitter and pitcher have an OPS number. 

For the purposes of this article, we will look at teams whose OPS index is not directly correlating with their W/L record.  Once we have proven the correlation, as we did in early May, we can assume the team will return to the norm, and that way we can create “BUY” or “SELL” ratings on teams that we can look to “play on or against” with our MLB picks.

To create the OPS Index, I use a norm of .710 OPS.  This has been the average OPS in recent seasons and is once again the average OPS after approximately 90 games this season.  A team gets a “+” rating for the number of OPS points they are above .710 in their batting OPS and below .710 in their pitching OPS.  A team gets a “-“ rating for each point they are below .710 in their batting OPS and above .710 in their pitching OPS.  Combining the batting and pitching number for each team gives us the combined OPS Index.

The first OPS Index BUY and SELL ratings were issued on June 2, 2015. There were 7 (BUY) ratings including Pittsburgh, Arizona, Cincinnati, Oakland, Toronto, and Tampa Bay. The Pittsburgh Pirates, who went 27-11 from the time of their BUY sign through the ASB, and Oakland, which went 21-17 in the same span, provided nice profit. The other three, Arizona, Cincinnati, and Tampa Bay, played basically .500 ball without hurting their backers. There were 7 teams who offered Sell ratings; those were the New York Mets, Atlanta, San Diego, Minnesota, Los Angeles Angels, Texas, and Chicago White Sox. We made money playing against Atlanta, San Diego, Minnesota, and Texas, broke even with Chicago White Sox, and had our only losing proposition with the LA Angels, who went 19-16 after flashing the Sell signal. 

Today we will take a look at our BUY ratings and SELL ratings based on the team’s records and OPS index at the ASB. The following chart, developed by league, will rank each team in each league by W/L record. It will also include the team’s OPS hitting index, the OPS pitching index, their combined OPS index, their index ranking, and their W/L record. When the index ranking does not match up with the W/L rank of a team, we have a BUY or SELL rating. 

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National League

Team

OPS

Bat Index

OPS

Pitch Index

OPS

Comb. Index

Index

Rank

W/L

Rank

W/L

Record

St Louis

+2

+53

+55

2

1

56-33

Pittsburgh

-12

+65

+53

3

2

53-35

LAD

+47

+48

+95

1

3

51-39

Washington

+10

+27

+37

4

4

48-39

Chicago Cubs

-20

+47

+27

5

5

47-40

NYM

-50

+52

+2

7

6

47-42

SF

+24

+03

+27

6

7

46-43

Arizona

+14

-35

-21

10

8

42-45

Atlanta

-23

-39

-62

13

9

42-47

San Diego

-52

-27

-79

14

10

41-49

Cincinnati

0

-06

-06

8

11

39-47

Colorado

+47

-87

-40

11

12

39-47

Miami

-25

+19

-06

9

13

38-51

Milwaukee

-11

-35

-46

12

14

38-52

Philadelphia

-50

-84

-134

15

15

29-62

 

 

National League Buy Ratings
Miami… Cincinnati… LA Dodgers

Miami, with an index rank that is 4 positions higher than their W/L rank, as the biggest BUY sign in the National League. It sure won’t hurt now that Fernandez is back in the rotation. Cincinnati, with the 8th ranked index and 11th ranked W/L record, also offers nice value. And I will throw in the Dodgers, who have the 3rd best record, but an index that is #1, 40 index points higher than St Louis and Pittsburgh, the top two teams. 

 

National League Sell Ratings
Atlanta… San Diego

You will note that both the Braves and Padres were on our SELL ratings in early June. They responded by going 17-22 (Atlanta) and 16-22 (San Diego), yet their index ranks remain four positions worse than their W/L rank. Continue to look to fade these teams, who figure to drop in the standings in the second half of the season. 

 

American League

Team

OPS

Bat Index

OPS

Pitch Index

OPS

Comb. Index

Index

Rank

W/L

Rank

W/L

Record

Kansas City

+22

+24

+46

3

1

52-34

Minnesota

-03

-26

-29

13

2

49-40

NY Yankees

+38

-02

+36

5

3

48-40

LA Angels

0

+23

+23

6

4

48-40

Houston

+13

+37

+50

2

5

49-42

TB Rays

-28

+37

+09

9

6

46-45

Baltimore

+22

-07

+15

7

7-8

44-44

Detroit

+61

-47

+14

8

7-8

44-44

Toronto

+62

-23

+39

4

9

45-46

Cleveland

-05

+14

+09

10

10-12

42-46

Texas

+02

-33

-31

14

10-12

42-46

CWS

-61

-19

-80

15

10-12

41-45

Boston

+08

-35

-27

12

13

42-47

Seattle

-32

+06

-26

11

14

41-48

Oakland

-01

+56

+55

1

15

41-50

 

As a precursor to the American League BUY and SELL ratings, it must be noted that there is extraordinary parity in the American League standings. With a 52-34 record, the Royals are 6 games better than the next best team in the loss column. But, the other 14 teams have a W/L percentage ranging from a best of 49-40 (.551 for Minnesota) and the Oakland A’s, who have an American League worst record of 41-50 (.451). A bit mind-boggling, don’t you think?

 

American League Buy Ratings
Oakland… Toronto… Houston

Oakland, with 278 wins the previous 3 seasons, the best in MLB, is last in the league in W/L rank, but has the No. 1 Index Rank. See above for my comments on parity. A’s may have a shoddy defense and leaky bullpen, but their AL best pitching OPS of .654, clearly implies good things to come in the 2nd half of the season. Toronto Blue Jays have an MLB best .772 batting OPS at the break. It fuels their No. 4 Index Rank, which far belies their sub-.500 No. 9 W/L rank. Houston Astros, much like the big bats of Toronto have lifted the Astros to a huge turnaround season. The Houston pitching is even better than Toronto, though, giving them a No. 2 Index Rank which is superior to their 5th best W/L rank.

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American League Sell Ratings
Minnesota… CWS… Texas

We profited from fading the Minnesota Twins in their 11-17 slide in June.  Yet, they still have the league’s 2nd best record. The fall from grace for the Twins, a perennial loser, will continue in the 2nd half of the season as they have both a negative batting and pitching index, resulting in a No. 13 Index Rank. CWS has by far the worst Index Rank at 49 combined points lower than Texas. Yet, the White Sox are tied for the 10th best record in the league. OPS rankings virtually guarantee that the White Sox will take a dive in the 2nd half of the season. The peripatetic Texas Rangers (a 29-15 surge sandwiched between dives of 8-16 and 5-15) are due for a further dip based on their No. 14 Index Rank. Certainly can’t count on the unsettled Texas’ rotation.