OPS leagues are greatest! So now you know. Or at least act like it. Coming off a 2016 with all the homers (even guys like Didi Gregorius) hit, now is the perfect time to jump in and join! OPS incorporates walks like OBP does, and adds in slugging percentage to make a super sexy combo, not unlike Emily Ratajkowski and Instragram.
OPS leagues are all about home runs and power guys. So speed guys, well, they’re tolerated. High average guys, well, they’re okay, as long as they hit triples. In that spirit I encourage every one of you to join an OPS league; once you do, you’ll never go back. I’ll have an OPS league to join if you want to try one with the info at the bottom (so you have to read, or at least scroll; I swear it’s worth it).
Now the 2017 season is basically almost upon us. It snuck up on me; month long new years hangover, I wasn’t even thinking about baseball, and then, I logged on to Razzball and there it was, Grey’s top 10 for 2017…and just like that, I was back! And there’s no time to waste!
Pitchers and Catchers report February 14th (which seems to me like a clever move by baseball employees to not have to fight the Valentine’s Day crowds; if you live in Florida or Arizona and want to see your favorite player and his significant other I’d convince your S.O. that the 13th is the night to go out, probably easier to get a reservation that way, too…dang I got off topic quick. Where was I? Power, yeah that’s it. It’s insane how many guys hit homers last year. After the last few season of pitchers dominating, suppressing power like a bunch of jerks, the hitters came back in a big freakin way.
The .739 OPS per game average put up last season was the highest since 2009; the league average of homers per game last year was 1.16. You know how the last time there was a home run rate that high? The year 2000. In the year two-thousand, the league-wide OPS per game was .782; the third highest IN BASEBALL HISTORY. Yeah, sure, those guys weren’t juicing. Not that I care, Bonds is still the greatest player of the last generation, and should be in the Hall of Fame.
But you know who, in my mind, was second? Vladimir Guerrero. He was ridiculous. No batting gloves, cannon arm, hit everything, World Series winner, no steroid allegations, just plain awesome. He owned in fantasy for years, even up until his last season. And he doesn’t get in, but Pudge does? Pudge was great at defense, and a guy you figure would get in eventually, but not before Vladdy. And Hoffman was on more ballots?? Guerrero had a .931 career OPS! I just wonder if he had 500 homers that would’ve gotten him in first ballot (he hit 449). Or had a great nickname like Pudge. Probably.
So you know how many hitters across baseball last year had better than a .931 OPS? Ten, which is decent, but only one had over a one OPS, and he’s not playing next year. Two were second basemen, Daniel Murphy and Jose Altuve. While working on my rankings for 2017 the power that came out of second base in 2016 was eye popping (I definitely typed pooping first; eye pooping would be…something I’m not going to google). As such, second base is where I’m starting my 2017 OPS rankings.
Twelve second basemen that qualified for the batting title (not including Trea Turner, OPS .924 in 324 PAs) had an OPS over .800; which I consider to be the Mason-Dixon line of OPS. Ergo, at 2B in an OPS league, you should have an .800 OPS guy manning the keystone. Besides those twelve, there were even more power guys that finished with a below .800 OPS: Jonathan Schoop with 25 homers, Starlin Castro with 21, Logan Forsythe with 20, and Rougned Odor with 33 homers. I have Schoop, Odor and Forsythe besting an .800 OPS this season.
Odor I may be the highest on as my #3 overall second basemen in OPS leagues. Here are my top 12 for OPS leagues, tiered:
- Tier 1: Jose Altuve, Trea Turner: You know they’re awesome, I know they’re awesome, let’s move on.
- Tier 2: Rougned Odor, Daniel Murphy, Robinson Cano: Love Odor this year, but I bought some cologne to mask it (boom!). Murphy is OPS gold and in that lineup he’ll be fine this season. Cano, I keep betting against, and I’m done with it.
- Tier 3: Brian Dozier, Jonathan Schoop, Matt Carpenter, Dee Gordon: Dozier, even at around 30 homers, will chip in some steals and keep an OPS over .800; this season I see Schoop adding the OPS to the homers; Carpenter should get his counting stats and a decent OPS; Dee brings the speed, but the putrid OPS with it. Try to balance him out with an over .900 OPS 1B/3B.
- Tier 4: DJ LeMahieu, Ian Kinsler, Jason Kipnis, Brad Miller; Mathieu is so much better in AVG leagues, Kinsler I’ve never been that high on (which is odd because as a Mizzou alum I should), Kipnis is more average now, and Miller I would be much higher on if I thought he’d have better counting stats, and, hitting 30 home runs with a .786 OPS is tough to do, and tough in a steak way, the kind you don’t want.
- Bonus Lucky #13! Yangervis Solarte
I just got done talking about all the power hitters, and you bring up a guy who hit 15 homers last year? Yeah, because I see a positive trajectory; the last 3 years he’s hit 10, 14, and 15 homers (in only 443 ABs) and his OPS has gone .705, .748 and .808 last season. Those numbers are going in the right direction, just like steel guitar maven Robert Randolph. Solarte was injured with a hamstring, but he didn’t have speed to begin with. Solarte is 29 years old, and I swear if he had a better nickname (Pudge?) than Slowarte (cause he’s not fast, get it?) or El Nino (yeah, no) and he didn’t play in San Diego he’d be more popular. But he’s not, and that’s to our benefit. He’s going to hit between 3-6 in San Diego, qualifies at 2B (and 3B, but try not to play him there, I implore you) and can be had in the later rounds, or for a buck, in most drafts.
- This list doesn’t even include Logan Forsythe (who, if he stays healthy, has a chance to finish top 5 at the position, as you can see where I have (not) ranked him, odds aren’t good), Ryan Schimpf, Devon Travis, Ben Zobrist or Javier Baez. These guys won’t be on many of my teams, shouldn’t be on many of your teams; aim forAim for a top 7 second baseman. If the chance to get one of tier 1 or 2 at a discount, make the move; if not, picking from tier 3 works, and tier 4 won’t ruin your OPS teams.
Lastly, I don’t know what order I’ll go in with my rankings; when I started writing I had no idea second base would be first. Who’s on second then? Not funny, I know. Don’t leave just yet. You’re still interested in joining your fellow OPSers out there in a league, right? Drop me an email at [email protected] if you’re interested. Thanks for having me back Razzballers and Razzballettes, Ready to rock the ride, 2017.