SaberMETrics: ESPN Poll, Batting Average v. OBP

An article by posted on May 6, 2010

There’s no possible way I could’ve let this go without a quick blog. This is for all of those fans out there that have called sabermetrics crap when referencing OBP. I still don’t get that really since OBP wasn’t invented with sabermetrics.

ESPN did a poll of 100 MLB Players. They asked the players 20 quick questions, allowing them to remain anonymous.

Now for the readers out there that say they never look at OBP, or that OBP is a useless stat. Explain this to me.

Question: What’s the most overrated and underrated statistic in baseball?This one got 23 different responses, including “the one that says Derek Jeter is the worst defensive shortstop in baseball” and “any new one.” The biggest loser: batting average (16 percent, just ahead of ERA, 13 percent). “Who cares if you get a bunch of singles and end up hitting .320?” says an AL outfielder who didn’t approach .320 in 2009.” 

“Most underrated stat was on-base percentage (14 percent), beating runs and WHIP (10 percent each). Says the singles-hitter hater: “OBP shows the true impact of a hitter.”

Most overrated

1. Batting average: 16%
2. ERA: 13%
3. Saves: 12%
4. Pitcher’s win-loss record: 11%
T5. Holds, on-base percentage: 6% each
7. Home runs: 4%
T8. Four stats tied with 3% each
T12. Six stats tied with 2% each
T18. Eight stats tied with 1%

Most underrated

1. On-base percentage: 14%
T2. Runs; WHIP: 10% each
T4. ERA; batting average with runners in scoring position: 4% each
T6. 12 stats tied with 3% each
T18. Eight stats tied with 2% each
T26. Six stats tied with 1% each

So I ask you, the hater of sabermetrics, the one who claims OBP is useless, or claims it has little to no importance in the game of baseball. I ask of you to explain to me why the men who suit up every night claimed that OBP is the more underrated stat, and also included WHIP in there as well. While the old fashioned stats that people like myself believe paint only half the picture such as AVG, ERA, W-L etc. were listed among the most overrated?

If this does anything, maybe it will at least open your eyes to the fact that OBP is as important of a stat as you will find for an offensive player. You don’t have to fall head over heels for the stat, but you do need to start paying attention to it. Don’t listen to me, listen to the guys we write about. As the hitter quoted above states, “OBP shows the true impact of a hitter.”

About the Author ()

Michael Branda grew up a Mets fan watching the mid 1980's teams and his favorite Met of all-time is (and was) Wally Backman. When it comes to sabermetrics versus old school thinking, he's in the middle and believes adopting new ways to get answers is helpful, especially when the old way has not produced results.

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