- An OPS of approximately 1.05.
- Lou Gehrig ranks 1.07, good for third, while Ted Williams of the Boston Red Sox is the only other player outside of Babe Ruth with a 1.1+ OPS over a career. That’s among players with at least 3,000 at-bats.
Of course, that only gives us one end of the spectrum. What about the league average? A glance at MLB’s statistics shows the league average in on-base plus slugging tends to be around the 0.700 to 0.800 mark.
What is the Highest OPS in Baseball History?
We’ve already shown you that Babe Ruth of the New York Yankees holds the record for the best OPS in a professional career.
It’s possible that no one will ever hit better than his 1.1636 OPS over that many at-bats.
But you can look at these numbers in more than one way. By looking at stats like OPS for each season of a player’s career, you can better understand how amazing their best years were.
- Barry Bonds, 2004: 1.4217
- Barry Bonds, 2002: 1.3807
- Babe Ruth, 1920: 1.3791
- Barry Bonds, 2001: 1.3785
- Babe Ruth, 1921: 1.3586
- Babe Ruth, 1923: 1.3089
Then Ted Williams has the seventh-best OPS season of all time. Rogers Hornsby is the fourth player on the list, but he doesn’t show up until #13.
What about High OPS Seasons in Recent Years?
- In 2021, Bryce Harper had the best OPS of all players with 1.044.
- The best player in 2020 was Juan Soto, whose OPS was 1.185. Still, there was a limit on how many games could be played in the 2020 season.
- The Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich had an OPS of 1.1001 in 2019. This is one of the best 100 seasons in the history of OPS.
- In 2018, Mike Trout had the best OPS of any MLB player at 1.088.
Are there Better Stats than OPS?
People have said that adding a hitter’s slugging percentage to his or her on-base percentage is too simple a way to figure out how good he or she is. But it might be more complicated than it seems.
After all, a player’s on-base percentage is made up of hits, walks, sacrifice flies, and hits by pitch. The OPS metric is complete because it takes into account both at-bats and runs scored. Everything is taken into account, from hits to walks to HBPs to sacrifice flies.
When calculated for an entire team, OPS tends to match the number of runs scored by that club, which is why it’s so popular. Because of this, many people think it’s the best way to judge a batter’s offensive performance.
What about OPS+?
See OPS+ for a “normalized” version of this stat for the whole league. When figuring out a player’s OPS+, things like where he or she was hitting at the time are taken into account.
With 100 being the average OPS for the league, it is easy to see how a player’s offensive output compares to the rest of the league as a whole.
Because of this, a Cubs player’s number might look different from a Dodgers player’s number, which might look different from a Cardinals or White Sox player’s number.
The “+” at the end of an OPS is meant to help that player play on a level playing field. One reason OPS+ is important in free agency is that a player might be better off playing in a park with fewer outs to home runs.
Conclusion: What Does OPS Mean in Baseball?
When you add up a player’s batting average and slugging percentage, you can get a better idea of how well they do on offense. But it’s not always easy to measure everything without being there, and that’s true of all sabermetrics in baseball.
This is one of the best pieces of advice that can be given: combine OPS with other stats to get a more complete picture of a baseball player’s performance.