PrOPS at Sports Illustrated

Jacob Luft at SI.com uses PrOPS to break down the luckiest and unluckiest players this season. If you’re unfamiliar with PrOPS you can read further here and here. Players who have been lucky, and putting up numbers better than they way they have hit the ball are likely to decline over the rest of the season, while unlucky players ought to improve. Luft explains:

Because breaks tend to even out as the sample size of data grows, PrOPS is a powerful tool in figuring out which players will benefit and which ones will suffer as their statistics regress to the mean. For example, Reds outfielder Austin Kearns posted a real OPS of .785 last season, but his PrOPS was .840, indicating that he was a better hitter than his statistics were giving him credit for. This season, Kearns’ real OPS is almost identical to his PrOPS from last season: .852. If you look back at the top 25 underperformers for 2005 as calculated by PrOPS, you’ll find others who have improved this season, including last year’s leader, Jason Giambi, and Mike Lowell.

Jacob indicated to me that PrOPS influenced him to pick up Austin Kearns for his fantasy team this year—thankfully that’s worked out well, so far. I’m not a fantasy player, but I’m curious how many people find PrOPS helpful or unhelpful. Drop me a line if you have a comment. Thanks to Jacob for furthering awareness of the statistic. Also, thanks the The Hardball Times for keeping track of it.

5 Responses “PrOPS at Sports Illustrated”

  1. It’s an interesting stat, but the notion that Suzuki is “lucky” seems counterintuitive since he wracks up well over two hundred hits every year. In other words because of his speed from the plate to first what would be a lucky hit for others is a perfectly ordinary hit for him. In other words he may regress down to his normal .330 average but he is perfectly capable of continuing to hit .365–he has in the past.

  2. JC says:

    Thanks Chris,

    I did look at speed when I developed the metric. In fact, in it’s early stages, when it was based off one year of data, I used Bill James’s speed scores to help predict PrOPS. However, when I redid PrOPS for the THT Annual, I used 4 years of data, and the speed elements ended up no longer being important. Furthermore, I found no relationship pointing to consistent over/underperformance of players from year to year.

    Also, Ichiro is not just lucky. He is an extremely talented player and has been lucky only in the sense that some of his numbers are overstating his already good performance.

  3. Tom G says:

    I haven’t used PrOPS for fantasy stuff yet, but I have often thought it would indeed be a good idea. Take a look at your team, see who is performing over and above their expectations and trade them.

  4. JoeArthur says:

    It’s counterintuitive to me that speed should not have a measurable impact on ProPS. When I examine the BIS hit type data on baseball graphs, I see a little less than .07 infield hits per ground ball. Very slow players have a multi year average of .02-.04 infield hits per ground ball; very fast players like Ichiro or Carl Crawford average .11 infield hits per ground ball. I assume .15-.16 ground balls should go through the infield for hits pretty much unrelated to the speed of the batter. Speed might only gain a handful of extra bases turing singles to doubles and doubles to triples and therefore might not enhance isolated power very much, but an extreme ground ball hitter like Ichiro should be gaining 12-15 additional hits each year from extra infield hits due to speed, not luck.

    That said, Ichiro specifically does seem to have been somewhat lucky overall so far this year – he still has many more singles than I would expect, though fewer doubles and homeruns.

  5. Trace Wood says:

    It might help to remove triples from the speed score equation. Triples are as much as result of a player’s tendency to hit line drives, the ballpark he plays in and, with the unbalanced schedule, the outfield defenses he faces. Or is there another reason that Dmitri Young has more career triples in 1000+ fewer at bats than ARod, or BJ Surhoff more than Eric Davis?