Originally written on Pirates Prospects  |  Last updated 11/14/14

Earlier in the year I noted that the Pirates low BABIP wasn’t driving their poor offense. The conclusion being that both OBP and SLG proved to be more valuable in scoring runs. Really, nothing all that enlightening. But at the time there had been a lot of chatter about how unlucky the Pirates had been and I thought it was worthwhile to take a look at BABIP more closely.

Recently a discussion at a message board I frequent noted that the Pirates OBP was awful. The question was posed: how often do teams with a poor OBP wind up with a good record? So, since I figure 90 wins will put this club into the post-season, I looked at every team that won 90 games or more over a full season since 2007. I checked their rank in the National League in OBP, SLG and also in ERA.

All data from baseball-reference.com and here it is:

Year Team OBP SLG ERA 2012 Pittsburgh Pirates 15 7 4 2011 Arizona Diamondbacks 7 3 9 2011 Milwaukee Brewers 5 1 7 2011 Philadelphia Phillies 6 7 1 2011 St. Louis Cardinals 1 2 8 2010 Atlanta Braves 1 9 3 2010 Cincinnati Reds 2 1 7 2010 Philadelphia Phillies 5 5 5 2010 San Diego Padres 13 15 2 2010 San Francisco Giants 10 6 1 2009 Colorado Rockies 2 2 8 2009 Los Angeles Dodgers 1 7 1 2009 Philadelphia Phillies 8 1 6 2009 St. Louis Cardinals 10 6 4 2008 Chicago Cubs 1 1 3 2008 Milwaukee Brewers 10 5 2 2008 Philadelphia Phillies 7 2 4 2007 Arizona Diamondbacks 16 9 4 2007 Colorado Rockies 2 4 8

The 2010 Padres are an outlier, with a second to last SLG. That’s somewhat easily explainable given their home park. Their raw OPS put them at 14th in the league. But the adjusted OPS+ put them in eighth.

A couple of things that I thought were interesting. First, no team has won 90 games while finishing worse than fifth in both SLG and ERA. The Pirates aggregate score (the sum of the rank in OBP, SLG and ERA) would be the third worst in this study behind the 2007 Diamondbacks and the 2010 Friars.

The average rank in OBP among 90 win teams is 5.9. That number is 4.8 for slugging (4.2 if you take out the 2010 Padres). For ERA, the average rank is 4.6.

In summary, it is unusual for a team with such a low ranking OBP to win 90 games. But it isn’t unheard of. Also, generally, a team that slugs and pitches well can overcome a deficiency in OBP.


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