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Mark Trumbo, Nelson Cruz, low OBP, and high OPS+

Posted by Andy on July 11, 2011

Mark Trumbo and Nelson Cruz are both in line to join a pretty exclusive club for players who have a high OPS+ despite a low OBP.Here are the last 25 guys to qualify for a batting title with an OBP of .310 or less and an OPS+ of 110 or more:

Rk Player Year OBP OPS+ Tm G PA AB 2B 3B HR RBI BB IBB SO BA SLG OPS Pos
1 Mark Trumbo 2011 .303 118 LAA 83 314 293 15 0 16 39 15 4 64 .259 .474 .777 *3/9
2 Nelson Cruz 2011 .293 114 TEX 72 300 277 15 1 20 55 20 0 79 .242 .520 .813 *97/D
3 Sammy Sosa 1993 .309 111 CHC 159 641 598 25 5 33 93 38 6 135 .261 .485 .794 *98
4 Juan Gonzalez 1992 .304 133 TEX 155 632 584 24 2 43 109 35 1 143 .260 .529 .833 *87/D9
5 Joe Carter 1992 .309 119 TOR 158 683 622 30 7 34 119 36 4 109 .264 .498 .808 *9D/73
6 Matt Williams 1991 .310 129 SFG 157 635 589 24 5 34 98 33 6 128 .268 .499 .809 *5/6
7 Andre Dawson 1991 .302 116 CHC 149 596 563 21 4 31 104 22 3 80 .272 .488 .790 *9
8 Bo Jackson 1989 .310 124 KCR 135 561 515 15 6 32 105 39 8 172 .256 .495 .805 *7D/8
9 Dave Parker 1989 .308 110 OAK 144 600 553 27 0 22 97 38 13 91 .264 .432 .741 *D/9
10 Tim Wallach 1985 .310 115 MON 155 617 569 36 3 22 81 38 8 79 .260 .450 .759 *5
11 Steve Balboni 1985 .307 111 KCR 160 662 600 28 2 36 88 52 4 166 .243 .477 .783 *3
12 Tony Armas 1984 .300 121 BOS 157 679 639 29 5 43 123 32 9 156 .268 .531 .831 *8D/9
13 Ted Simmons 1982 .309 112 MIL 137 581 539 29 0 23 97 32 5 40 .269 .451 .759 *2D
14 Tony Armas 1981 .294 125 OAK 109 462 440 24 3 22 76 19 6 115 .261 .480 .774 *9/8
15 Gorman Thomas 1980 .303 112 MIL 162 697 628 26 3 38 105 58 4 170 .239 .471 .774 *8/D
16 Tony Armas 1980 .310 126 OAK 158 666 628 18 8 35 109 29 4 128 .279 .500 .810 *98
17 Andre Dawson 1979 .309 111 MON 155 684 639 24 12 25 92 27 5 115 .275 .468 .777 *8
18 Gary Alexander 1978 .304 111 TOT 148 563 498 20 4 27 84 57 5 166 .225 .444 .748 D2/793
19 Dave Kingman 1976 .286 128 NYM 123 510 474 14 1 37 86 28 4 135 .238 .506 .793 *93/7
20 Phil Garner 1976 .307 111 OAK 159 603 555 29 12 8 74 36 1 71 .261 .400 .707 *4
21 Dave Kingman 1975 .284 117 NYM 134 543 502 22 1 36 88 34 5 153 .231 .494 .778 *735/9
22 Lee May 1975 .308 111 BAL 146 626 580 28 3 20 99 36 8 91 .262 .424 .732 *3/D
23 Al Oliver 1975 .309 111 PIT 155 666 628 39 8 18 84 25 3 73 .280 .454 .763 *8/3
24 Dave Roberts 1973 .310 123 SDP 127 503 479 20 3 21 64 17 3 83 .286 .472 .782 *54
25 Lee May 1973 .310 117 HOU 148 590 545 24 3 28 105 34 10 122 .270 .479 .789 *3
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 7/11/2011.

Most of these guys had a low-ish batting average, good power, and didn't walk very much. That got them good slugging percentages, and hence good OPS+ values, despite low on-base percentage.

One thing to note is the lack of guys from the Steroids Era. I think the main reason is that with offense soo prevalent during this period, it was just really, really hard to have a high OPS+ with an OBP in the very low .300s.

This entry was posted on Monday, July 11th, 2011 at 7:06 am and is filed under Uncategorized. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

64 Responses to “Mark Trumbo, Nelson Cruz, low OBP, and high OPS+”

  1. Dave Kingman and Phil Garner on the same list!

  2. Andy, what an interesting way to parse the statistics to produce a very thought-provoking list! Well done.

    Low OBP but decent SLG pits the two pieces of OPS against each other in an interesting way.

    And, as you point out, no seasons between 1993 and this year. Surprising since an OPS+ of 110 is not setting the bar very high in terms of the search.

    Also, Joe Carter, is getting almost as much ink as Juan Pierre in these blogs with your list. :-) Actually, this search almost perfectly defines Carter's batting accomplishments ....... and in a World Series-winning season!

    What I like best about your blog, Andy, is if you had put this question to me without allowing me to search it, I would have been unable to name very many of the qualifiers.

  3. Is OPS+ (and ERA+) just a translation from their respective traditional statistics? So like if someone had a .900 OPS when the league average is .800, you would get a 113 OPS+ since .900 is about 13% higher than .800?

  4. Or are other statistics involved and they're just called that?

  5. Richard Chester Says:

    @4

    To determine how OPS+ is calculated go to any batter's Standard Batting stats and place the cursor on the letters OPS+.

  6. Phil Garner's inclusion is one that sticks out to me. Lowest home run total (8) and slugging percentage (.400) by a good deal. Barely made the list under the requirements - .307 OBP, 111 OPS+. It's a good thing he was fast - tied Dawson for most triples on the list (12), but I'm guessing offense must have been down league-wide for him to make the cut on a list like this.

  7. Joe Carter was certainly one of the most overrated players of his time. His OBP year after year is pretty damn bad. A guy with a .292 OBP should be able to get to 35 HR in a season. If only we could go back in time to give a hint to those pitchers "HEY GUYS, THROW IT OUTSIDE OF THE ZONE, PRRRRRETTY GOOD CHANCE HE'S GONNA SWING AT IT"

  8. shouldn't*

  9. 7 The guy drove in runs.Overrated?Definately.

  10. oh yes, let's have another epic Joe Carter debate!

    One thing's for sure--he was better than Juan Pierre.

  11. I don't see how anyone could have a Joe Carter debate. Does someone really think based on a .464 career slugging percentage that he's a hall of famer or something?

    If you want a great Joe Carter stat, look up most RBI's per RE24 point. Or just highest RBI production with <50 RE24 (his is 49.4 career).

  12. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    1978 was the only season Gary Alexander (#18 in Andy's list) had enough PAs to qualify for the batting title. Just another reason to love those late-'70s Indians. (-;þ

  13. There are a lot of interesting details to be mined from this blog.

    For example, compare Juan Gonzalez's 1992 season to Tony Armas' 1984. The difference in offensive context of the decades is, arguably, shown by the fact that Gonzalez and Armas had identical home run totals, 43, and SLG, 0.529 to 0.531, yet Gonzalez has a 133 OPS+, the highest on the list, while Armas has only 121. Why? That can't all be park effects.

    Only one seasonal RBI leader on the list, 1984 Armas. How does that happen? Anybody sense Wade Boggs and his high OBP close by in the batting order?

    Six seasonal strike out leaders on the list and three seasonal home runs leaders and only one in the same season.

  14. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    compare Juan Gonzalez's 1992 season to Tony Armas' 1984. The difference in offensive context of the decades is, arguably, shown by the fact that Gonzalez and Armas had identical home run totals, 43, and SLG, 0.529 to 0.531, yet Gonzalez has a 133 OPS+, the highest on the list, while Armas has only 121. Why? That can't all be park effects.

    League OPS was a little higher in '84 than '92. Fenway played as a hitters' park and Arlington a slight pitchers' park. All in all, Armas is being compared to a baseline OPS 35 points higher.

  15. OK, Mustachioed Repetition, go out on a limb with me here. Winners of tonight's home run derby?

    Loser buys drinks. :-)

    I'll go with the experience of Ortiz and Fielder as finalists, with Fielder winning it all. Bautista is a newb to this spotlight.

    How about it BBRef buddies? Anybody willing to put their predictions on the line in advance? :-)

  16. Joe Carter played before the computerized on-screen strike zone. Id love to see how many times the guy tried to take a pitch out of the strike zone & it was called a strike by the ump anyway. Especially on a 0-0 count. Amazing how a guy that would supposedly swing at anything started with so many 0-1 strike counts after taking the first pitch. Is there any way to check that?

  17. John Autin Says:

    @12, Kahuna -- The '79 Indians were a lot of fun for Strat-O-Matic. My buddies and I used to take 2 teams each, merge their rosters to form super-teams (we sometimes played with 30-man rosters to maximize platooning), and have a 30-game series. If you could pair the Indians with a team that had 3 solid SPs and a decent DP combo, you could make a surprisingly good team.

    The '79 Indians had Bobby Bonds's last hurrah, the on-base machine of Mike Hargrove, Toby Harrah's rounded offense, Andre Thornton in a sub-prime year but still with plenty of walks and power, Cliff Johnson's .538 SLG, plus a random superb year by closer Sid Monge. They had no rotation -- and I never could tell Rick Wise from Rick Waits, anyway -- and the Veryzer/Kuiper tandem was as bad as they get -- but they were fun to roll the dice with.

  18. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Joe Carter played before the computerized on-screen strike zone. Id love to see how many times the guy tried to take a pitch out of the strike zone & it was called a strike by the ump anyway. Especially on a 0-0 count. Amazing how a guy that would supposedly swing at anything started with so many 0-1 strike counts after taking the first pitch. Is there any way to check that?

    We have pitch data for most of Carter's career. The breakouts available on B-R do not reveal how many times he started with a called first strike (but I bet it's something the powers-that-be could look up, as the data is available).

    However, only 22% of the strikes Carter saw were called, compared to league average of 37%. Furthermore, he swung at 37% of first pitches, compared to league average of 32%. Based on those two pieces of data, I would guess it is not true he took more first pitches for called strikes than other players.

  19. John Autin Says:

    Nelson Cruz has hit 15 of his 20 HRs at home. Anyone have a line on the biggest home/road ratio for a 30-HR season?

  20. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I see you neatly set the parameters to eliminate Ned Williamson, who hit 25 of his 27 HR at home in 1884.

    You referred to Mel Ott earlier, but it looks like his HR splits were fairly consistent from year to year, no seasons where he went 30 and 5 or something.

  21. John Autin Says:

    Followup to the tangent #19 -- Adrian Beltre, who didn't quite make this list this year (.314 OBP), has hit 16 of his 19 HRs at home. He has a .953 OPS in Arlington, .669 on the road. Cruz is at .927/.666.

    Here are a few players with more road HRs than Adrian Beltre so far:
    Johnny Damon, Cody Ross, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Raburn, Wily Mo Pena, Daniel Murphy, Kevin Kouzmanoff, Erick Aybar, Jason Varitek, Juan Miranda, Cameron Maybin, John Mayberry Jr., Jason Bay....

    The Rangers as a team have hit 81 HRs at home (4.4% of PAs), 31 HRs on the road (1.9% of PAs). They're batting .288 with an .860 OPS at home, .253 and .683 on the road.

  22. John Autin Says:

    M.R., I have always done whatever I could to obliterate the memory of Ned Williamson. He and his whole mistaken-identity band of Chicago White Stockings just make my brain hurt.

    But it sure does seem like the Rangers are playing in Lake Front Park II this year...

  23. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    The Rangers as a team have hit 81 HRs at home (4.4% of PAs), 31 HRs on the road (1.9% of PAs).

    Wow. I'd venture to guess no team has come close to such a split in at least 50 years. That's certainly getting into 1884 Chicago territory.

  24. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    The 2000 Rockies hit 112 HR at home, 49 on the road, a 2.3:1 ratio, compared to Texas's current 2.6:1. I'd assume Texas will even out as the season proceeds, but we'll see how they end up.

    The '95 and '96 Rockies also hit more than twice as many HR at home as on the road.

  25. That 1982 season was an aberration for Ted Simmons, he was an all around good hitter and much underrated.

  26. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Bichette went 31/9 in '95.

  27. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Timmy, would you put Simmons in the HOF? I know he has support in certain pockets.

  28. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Chuck Klein went 29/9 in '32.

  29. Simmons has good numbers, compare him to Gary Carter or Johnny Bench and he isn't that far behind. He was easy to steal on if I remember correctly. He didn't play on many good teams. He probably doesn't belong in the HoF, but he was a fine hitting catcher.

  30. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Simmons allowed at least 90 stolen bases in 7 seasons. I wonder if there is anyone worse (probably, but I have no idea).

  31. John Autin Says:

    MIKE PIAZZA.

  32. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Wow, Gary Carter allowed more than 90 nine times. That's despite a good defensive reputation, at least early in his career. A combination of catching a lot of games and playing in the SB era.

    I guess every team was giving up a lot of SB at that time, no matter who was catching (especially in the NL).

  33. John Autin Says:

    Sorry for going all-caps, but Mike Piazza had 8 seasons allowing 108 SB or more (including a 155 -- record???), and another at 97 with just 13 CS.

    I haven't run the stats, but I can't imagine that there was ever a long-career catcher who was more brazenly, rampantly abused by base-stealers than Piazza. He allowed an even 1,400 career SB and threw out just 23%.

    Essentially, Piazza was to base thieves as Rickey was to catchers.

  34. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Yup, Piazza did it 9 times too, and 7 of those were at least 110. Adjusted for era, a much worse performance than the others. He allowed 1 SB every 9.7 innings, while throwing out 23%.

  35. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I haven't run the stats, but I can't imagine that there was ever a long-career catcher who was more brazenly, rampantly abused by base-stealers than Piazza.

    I think I saw a study on this a few years back. Piazza was at the bottom, taking into account volume and success rate. The difference between him and I-Rod was worth like hundreds of runs.

  36. John Autin Says:

    Carter did allow 98 more career SB than Piazza, but that was in 28% more defensive innings, and he threw out 35%.

    P.S. You could probably win a bar bet somewhere by knowing that Carter allowed more SB per game caught than did Simmons, 0.73 to 0.67 -- and Simmons was just a tick behind him with a 34% CS rate.

  37. John Autin Says:

    (Which is not to say that Simmons was as good a catcher as Carter, or even as good against the running game. Different times.)

  38. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    This is not the study I referred to, but it's one look at things:
    http://baseballevolution.com/keith/piazzacsr2.html

  39. Gary Carter or Joe Carter, I'll take Joe.

  40. Does Gary Carter get a pass for having a bad OBP because Joe Carter's is worse?

  41. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    I didn't realize Gary had a bad OBP.

  42. Oh, why didn't you know that?

  43. Hahaha, yeah, I too would love to take the outfielder that played a corner outfield position almost three times as much as centerfield, as well as some first base, and has a 105 career OPS+, over the catcher that has a 113 OPS+.

  44. Hozchelaga Says:

    Timmy P@39, 40 and 42 respectively: objectively incorrect; GC's career OBP is 29 points higher than JC's and he's a catcher; smug.

  45. Richard Chester Says:

    @19, @26, @28

    Ken Williams went 32/7 in1922
    Ralph Kiner went 31/9 in 1948

    Reversing to a road/home ratio:
    Matt Williams went 25/7 in 1997
    Frank J. Thomas went 26/9 in 1958

  46. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Oh, why didn't you know that?

    Because it's not true.

  47. .335 is a good OBP?

  48. @44 good point, but comparing someone's OBP to Joe's is not a winning formula. As far as comparing a corner outfielder to a catcher, Gary was way overrated as a defensive catcher. He's in the HoF because he hit like a corner outfielder. His hitting stats are about the same as Joe Carters.

  49. @18 Thanks for the info. Interesting. Way below average at getting a called strike. Yet he still swung at first pitches at an above average rate & rarely got a base on balls.

  50. I did a poll on Ted Simmons and the Hall of Fame back here:

    http://www.baseball-reference.com/blog/archives/7596

    He got a lot of support.

  51. @18 again. The stats would seem to suggest that Joe Carter rarely started with an 0-1 count when he took the first pitch. Only 22% called strikes. I don't think that was the case. I would not know for sure though.

  52. I never realized what an offensive black hole Tony Armas was. He was big during my time playing Strat-O-Matic and all I saw was the homers and thought he was good.

  53. Kahuna Tuna Says:

    . . . the on-base machine of Mike Hargrove, Toby Harrah's rounded offense, Andre Thornton in a sub-prime year but still with plenty of walks and power . . .

    John, follow-up note to your #17: I'm pretty sure the '82 Indians, who had shed Bonds and Alexander but still had Hargrove, Harrah and Thornton, are the last team to finish the season with more batter walks than strikeouts. Again, they weren't very good, but they made for a lot of fun in the paper-and-dice leagues.

  54. Thomas Court Says:

    My sister is a huge Jorge Posada fan. She recently asked me what his chances are for the Hall of Fame. I told her, well, if Ted Simmons is not in, then Jorge is not getting in.

  55. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    .335 is a good OBP?

    I didn't know the only choices were "good" and "bad." It was above average, so I guess it has to be considered "good."

  56. It's hard to believe that some of you let Timmy P's comments upset you. You do realize that he writes things he doesn't believe just to get a rise out of certain posters, don't you? I think I'm going to take a page out of Timmy P's book and see what happens:

    I believe that Mickey Morandini was a better second baseman than Bill Mazeroski because he had a higher BA and a much higher OBP. Discuss.

  57. Thomas Court Says:

    @56

    I know exactly what you mean Jeff. You just have to resist taking the bait. Like what in the world is Timmy P talking about when he says about Bernie Williams in a recent post, "His career was cut short under some suspicious circumstances."

    About Bill Mazeroski, I find that his comparison to Willie Randolph in the Historical Baseball Abstract to be very interesting.

  58. @56 Jeff - You are wrong, my point about Gary and Joe Carter is serious. I'm trying to point out that in the case of Joe Carter, many are guilty of group-think mentality. As far as Bernie Williams, that story is well known.

  59. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Not well known to me.

  60. Didn't Bernie hurt is hand in a freak guitar string accident??

  61. Bernie Williams hit 65/12/61 and 281/332/436 in 2006, a slight uptick from his 2005 season but his second consecutive sub 100OPS+ season with his usual subpar defense. With his contract up, he hoped to return to the Yanks as a backup outfield, but was offered only a non-roster invitation to spring training. Insulted by the offer, he opted to retire instead.

    http://newyork.yankees.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20070221&content_id=1809854&vkey=spt2007news&fext=.jsp&c_id=nyy

  62. Mustachioed Repetition Says:

    Is that what was meant by "suspicious circumstances"?

  63. I suppose it was suspicious that Bernie Williams didn't hang on for 5 more seasons, pad his stats with some sub par efforts, and ensure his enshrinement in the HOF. WHAT DID HE KNOW?!?!

  64. Williams $12.5 million/year for 6 years up to 2005. The Yankees announced on August 2, 2005, that they would not pick up the $15 million option on Williams' contract for the 2006 season, opting to pay a $3.5 million buyout instead. On December 22, the Yankees re-signed Williams to a 1-year, $1.5 million contract. He started 77 games in the 3 outfield positions, more than expected due to injuries of Matsui and Sheffield.

    The article above @61 said "that the emergence of young outfielder Melky Cabrera contributed to making Williams an expendable piece. The Yankees also intend to carry seven relief pitchers and are entertaining a platoon at first base, filling up roster space that could have gone to Williams as a fifth outfielder."

    He was interested in playing but the Yankees weren't interested in keeping him unless he could prove himself in Spring training and I would guess he saw little hope in making the club and apparently no other club was interested.