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By The Numbers: What Is The “Slob”?

Statues of Babe Ruth, Ted Willams (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Statues of Babe Ruth, Ted Willams (credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

By Father Gabe Costa
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Ted Williams knew a thing or two about hitting. He loved a statistic called Production (PROD), also known as On Base Plus Slugging (OPS). In fact, in a book he authored with the help of writer Jim Prime, the Splendid Splinter called OPS “the bottom line in hitting” (please see Ted Williams’ Hit List, ISBN 978-1570281808).

As the name suggests, OPS is simply defined as On Base Average plus Slugging Percentage:

fr gabe equation 1 By The Numbers: What Is The Slob?

where H, W, HP, AB and TB denote hits, walks, hit-by-pitch, at bats and total bases, respectively.  It should be pointed out that the definition used here for OBA can be modified to include sacrifices.

This instrument is often used in sabermetrics and is a respected measure. However, there is one mathematical fly in the ointment: you can’t add fractions unless the denominators are the same.

Well, I don’t think this flaw bothered The Thumper very much; nor does it seem to cause sabermetricians to lose sleep.

However, for mathematical purity, we can circumvent this issue by merely multiplying the two terms (OBA and SLG) instead of adding them, thus creating the new measure of “On Base Average times Slugging Percentage”, which we will call the SLOB. That is,

fr gabe equation 2 By The Numbers: What Is The Slob?

To give the reader an idea of this metric, listed below are the lifetime SLOB statistics of ten players, seven of whom are Hall of Famers, two are still active, and one who stopped playing a few years ago.

PLAYER

OBA

SLG

SLOB

Barry Bonds

0.444

0.607

0.270

Ty Cobb

0.433

0.512

0.222

Jimmie Foxx

0.428

0.609

0.261

Lou Gehrig

0.447

0.632

0.283

Rogers Hornsby

0.438

0.577

0.253

Mickey Mantle

0.421

0.557

0.234

Albert Pujols

0.423

0.619

0.262

Alex Rodriguez

0.386

0.570

0.220

Babe Ruth

0.474

0.690

0.327

Ted Williams

0.482

0.634

0.306

Regarding all time leaders, and as in many other cases and measures, Ruth and Williams top the list. I suspect Pujols has a very good chance of winding up in the top five. What do you think?

One final observation about the SLOB. If one wishes to compare OPS vs. SLOB, it is theoretically possible for one player to have a higher OPS than another player, while, at the same time, having a lower SLOB than the same batter. For example, consider the following scenario:

PLAYER

OBA

SLG

OPS

SLOB

A

0.200

0.800

1.000

0.160

B

0.400

0.500

0.900

0.200