Miami Marlins: Importance of OBP/BA
By Neil Raymond
It has been a busy week for the Miami Marlins. Batting average (BA) and on-base percentage (OBP) are pretty common statistics these days, with BA being around for as long as basically the start of Major League Baseball. It has caught me by surprise however to find out that there are some Miami Marlins fans who don’t understand how these statistics work. I previously explained WAR, so now I’ll explain these two so that any misconceptions can be cleared up.
BA and OBP are important statistics for the Miami Marlins and the team’s fans.
BA is explained here and as MLB.com says:
"One of the oldest and most universal tools to measure a hitter’s success at the plate, batting average is determined by dividing a player’s hits by his total at-bats for a number between zero (shown as .000) and one (1.000). In recent years, the league-wide batting average has typically hovered around .250.While batting average is a useful tool for measuring a player’s ability at the plate, it isn’t all-encompassing. For instance, batting average doesn’t take into account the number of times a batter reaches base via walks or hit-by-pitches. And it doesn’t take into account hit type (with a double, triple or home run being more valuable than a single)."
An average BA is .250, so below that is “below average” and above that is “above average”. As you can see here, .250 is average and the closer you get to .300, the more “great” it is. Typically BA above .270 or so was seen as “good”.
What if the league average is something like .240? Would that mean that a hitter with a .244 BA such as Christian Walker this year is suddenly “above average” in contact? Look at it this way, it’s possible for a team with a losing record to win a division (it happens frequently in the NFL for example). Does that mean that a team with a losing record is good? Or just the best of the bad teams? A .244 BA is below average for a hitter period.
Turning to OBP, we have this explanation to help us….
"OBP was a big leap forward ten or twenty years ago because it gave credit to hitters who reached base via walk or HBP when batting average ignored those things. Any time you don’t make an out, you’re contributing positively to the run scoring process and OBP captures that better than batting average because it incorporates a big slice of offensive activity that batting average doesn’t consider."
You can see that .320-.339 is average so .340 and above is above average. Other sources put .333 as the average OBP. Regardless, a .325 OBP is not above average OBP production, regardless how the average player does in the Majors in a given season. I hope this helps anyone who didn’t understand these statistics before.