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There were six Phillies position players who were key parts of the overwhelming majority of their 5-year NL East dominance from 2007-2011. For this story, Carlos Ruiz was taken out as his offensive numbers were so far below the other five.
Aside from the 500-foot restraining order Ruben Amaro has against them, the sabermetric community has really come to light in the post-Moneyball baseball world. Now, to measure a player’s offensive talent, fans are starting looking beyond the back of the baseball card where batting average, home runs, and RBI are listed. One stat that is now commonplace is OPS (on-base percentage + slugging percentage). It combines two important aspects of the game (getting on base and power). But, it doesn’t go far enough.
If Player A hits a double, it helps his on-base percentage and slugging percentage because a double is better than a single when calculating slugging percentage. Then, Player B hits a single and steals second. Both players reached base and ended up on second base in scoring position. Player C hits a single and gets caught stealing. That player did a good job by getting on base (maybe he even knocked in a run), but after getting caught stealing he’s made an out and reduced his team’s chances of scoring that inning.
So, this new metric (STOPS – ‘ST’eals + OPS) takes the running game into consideration. Basically, it just changes how slugging percentage is calculated.
Currently, slugging percentage is: Total Bases / At Bats
This new method calculates it as : Total Bases PLUS Steals MINUS Caught Stealing / At Bats
This is a simple change, but an important one. STOPS represents three (not two like OPS) key parts of offense – getting on base, power and the running game.
Using this metric, this is how the five best offensive players for the Phililes during their dominating 5-year reign in the NL East. (Note – Jayson Werth’s numbers only represent 2007-2010 as he left after the 2010 season. His four-year sample size was big enough to compare to the 5-year sample size of the other players).
1 – Chase Utley (.955) (2.8% higher than his OPS)
2 – Jayson Werth (.915) (3.2% higher than his OPS)
3 – Ryan Howard (.900) (0.0033% higher than his OPS)
4 – Shane Victorino (.838) (5.1% higher than his OPS)
5 – Jimmy Rollins (.820) (3.2% higher than his OPS)
To me, the biggest surprise is Rollins.His on-base percentage always left a lot to be desired as a leadoff hitter, but his combination of power and success on the base paths was always the most important part of his offensive game. But, he just couldn’t overcome his lackluster .330 on-base percentage during that 5-year run. This isn’t a Jimmy Rollins bashing article. In fact, I was shocked when I ran the numbers. Hell, he won an MVP during this time period. But, using this new metric, he’s 5th.
Utley dominates because this was his prime, and he did everything STOPS measures very well. He hit for power and average, walked a lot and lead the league in hit-by-pitch three times in those five years. He also had a 93.6% success rate stealing bases.
Howard’s numbers are relatively unchanged because adding his steals and subtracting the times he was caught stealing were very inconsequential as that’s not part of his game. But, these numbers would indicate that Jayson Werth’s 2007-2010 numbers are better than Howard from 2007-2011. Howard has a higher OPS but not by much. Werth’s success in the running game made him a more valuable offensive player in the end. Maybe that’s why Washington threw $126 million at him to head down I-95.
In the end, the only goal on offense is to score runs. The running game can help do that, so STOPS is a much better overall metric when measuring a player’s offensive contribution to the team.