October 17, 2021

Choose Your Own Lineup Adventure: On-Base vs. Slugging (FanGraphs)


Let’s get right down to the question that all baseball analysis is asking at its core: Which of these two players would you rather have on your team, all else being equal?

Two Mystery Players

Player AVG OBP SLG wOBA
Player A .319 .387 .469 .371
Player B .267 .328 .556 .372

It’s a close one, right? That’s largely because I decreed it to be so; these aren’t real players, just stat lines I made up that have the same wOBA. Who would you rather have? They’re extremely different, of course; one gets a ton of value from walks and singles, with some doubles sprinkled in for good measure. You can surmise that the other gets a ton of value from home runs — look at that slugging percentage — but does worse elsewhere.

Oh yeah, a few other caveats. These are underlying talent levels; you might look at Player A and say that the BABIP can’t continue, or Player B and say the HR/FB rate can’t be real, but for our purposes, these are the lines they’ll put up over 1,000 PA, or 10,000, or 1,000,000. This is their real skill level. Given that, in most cases, it doesn’t matter much which one you choose, because they’re about the same. That’s the point of wOBA,…

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