Understanding Sabermetrics- OBP and wOBA

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What is Sabermetrics?

It is the empirical analysis of baseball, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity. Sabermetrics was created in an attempt for baseball fans to learn about the sport through objective evidence.

Older statistics have been deemed ineffective and this new wave of evaluating players in many aspects the game, such as hitting, pitching and fielding use evaluation measure to determine player effectiveness on the field.

check out more articles at Baseball Spotlight.

Sabermetric Look at OBP

What is it?

OBP is he measure of how frequently a batter reaches base.

How Do I calculate OBP?

OBP= Hits+Walks+Hit By Pitch/At Bats+ Walks+Hit By Pitch+Sac Flies


OBP is a much better measure that bating average.Remember that all outs are bad and getting on base is good, Therefore, saying a walk is as good as a hit, is not necessarily correct.

Back in 1859, Henry Chadwick is credited with putting together the first box score. His idea was spawned from the primarily English game of cricket. Chadwick surmised that outs in cricket were different than baseball as it was more of e team game than its counterpart in England. At bats were used instead of plate appearances because in the early life of baseball  1865-1880, batters barely were issue a walk. The batter could ask for a pitch in a certain spot and could await and wait until they received the ultimate gift pitch. The walk walk is an important component to OBP as it gets you on base without a plate appearance . As OBP deals with almost every conceivable way to reach base.

It took many years to get OBP to gather steam as a legitimate stat and that came about when the movie Moneyball  was released in 2003.

Sabermetric comparison chart

Excellent             .390 or above

Great                    .370

Above Average  .340

Average               .320

Below Average   .310

Poor                     .300

Awful                   .290 or below


From 2016-2019 Mike Trout led the American League in OBP with his highest .460 in 2018 while Joey Votto head up the National League from 2016-2018 and had a .454 in 2017. the highest ever recorded in recent years was .609 in 2004 by Barry Bonds.

The highest recorded lowest score to lead the league was in 1968 by Pete Rose at .391. one would have to go all the way back to 1917 to find a league leader under the excellent mark by Heinie Groh at .385.


What is the Sabermetric wOBA?

It is a version of on-base percentage that accounts for not just whether a player reached base, but how they reached base. It is designed to measure a player’s overall offensive contributions per plate appearance.

Per Fangraphs, the formula for wOBA in the 2019 season was:



The formula changes every season.

The top3 wOBA leaders in the shortened 2020 season were:

  1. Juan Soto at .474
  2. Freddie Freeman came in at .462
  3. Bryce Harper with .453


Sabermetrics Comparison chart for wOBA

Excellent      .390 or above

Great            .370

Above Ave    .340

Average        .320

Below Ave    .310

Poor              .300

Awful             . 290 or below

more Sabermetrics articles coming at BaseballSpotlight



About the author– Tom Knuppel has been writing about baseball and sports for a few decades. As an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan he began with the blog CardinalsGM. Tom is a member of the United Cardinals Bloggers and the Baseball Bloggers Alliance. He also maintains the History of Cardinals website. More recently he has been busy at KnupSolutions and the primary writer of many sports at KnupSports and adds content at Sports 2.0. Tom is a retired High School English and Speech teacher and has completed over one hundred sportsbook reviews. He also can be followed on Twitter at tknup.

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