Recalibrating Offensive Expectations and Other Bullets

## Recalibrating Offensive Expectations and Other Bullets

I’ve gotta take The Little Girl to a doctor’s appointment today, which means it’s good that the World Series is going on. A little less likely to have an explosive break of news today.

But there’s still plenty to discuss today, so I’ll just have to type quickly.

• I find it useful to recalibrate my thinking about statistics in baseball from year to year – what’s “normal”? what’s “good”? what’s “bad”? in the current environment – and I’d like to take a minute to do that with OPS. No, it’s not quite as effective at evaluating offensive performance as wOBA, but it has ubiquitous benchmarks that we all seem to instinctively know at this point, making it a pretty good measure for this kind of exercise. Remember when 1.000 was the measure of an elite offensive performer by OPS? How many guys would you say are “elite” in a given season? 20? The 20th best qualifying OPS in baseball this year was Jonathan Lucroy at .837(!). There were eight – just eight – players with an OPS over .900 this year. If you count every player in baseball, the league average OPS this year was a nice, even .700. If you take out pitchers, the number bumps up to just .711. That’s right: if you posted a .250/.306/.406 slash line in 2014, you were an “above average” offensive performer by OPS. How does Anthony Rizzo’s .913 OPS look now? How about Jorge Soler’s .903 or Chris Coghlan’s .804? And Brian Schlitter’s 2.000 OPS looks out of this world!
• All that said, .750 is clearly the new .800. Just 10 years ago, the league average OPS was .763. That’s 63 points higher than today. Wrap your head around this new benchmark: if a guy is putting up a .750 OPS, he’s probably having a pretty darn good year.
• Seeming to confirm a discussion some of us had in the comments after yesterday’s report on the Ricketts Family selling a minority share in the Cubs soon, Danny Ecker reports that the sale of a 20% interest in the Cubs will net closer to \$300 million, rather than \$400 million, despite the \$2+ billion valuation. You’re looking at your calculator and wondering how that works: well, I’m going to assume that the general idea here is that a minority interest (no control, and no meaningful voting rights) is worth much less than a majority/voting interest, even relatively speaking. So, while a 60% interest in a \$2 billion business would probably be worth a touch north of \$1.2 billion, a 20% interest is not worth \$400 million. You can’t just do straight math. Everything from yesterday’s discussion, however, remains the same. This sale is very likely a good thing for the organization.
• Joe Posnanski on Bill James might be the most MUST READ thing since Joe Posnanski wrote about Theo Epstein. There is so, so much good there. Indeed, there’s so much original wisdom that has been filtered a dozen times over the years and is probably worth getting straight from the horse’s mouth to recalibrate your perspective. Things like the WAR formulas have some serious problems; intangible things like leadership and chemistry do have a tangible impact on teams; statistical analysis exists to help us better understand the game, not to be its own end. I could go on. It’s such an impressive read.
• If you can get through it, Jesse Sanchez has a great take on the passing of Oscar Taveras, and his funeral.