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:
|2011||St. Louis Cardinals||1||2||8|
|2010||San Diego Padres||13||15||2|
|2010||San Francisco Giants||10||6||1|
|2009||Los Angeles Dodgers||1||7||1|
|2009||St. Louis Cardinals||10||6||4|
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.