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A handy sabermetric primer

Feb 16, 2012, 12:03 PM EDT


Some of you are statheads. Many of you aren’t.  I don’t care what you are, but I do hope that if you take issue with sabermetrics that you at least know what the hell it is you’re criticizing.

To that end, go read Amanda Rykoff’s very useful yet very accessible sabermetrics primer over at espnW.  It’s great, with one minor exception:

Let’s start with a pretty straightforward metric: OPS (pronounced: opps, not oh-pee-ess).

Um. I’ve been pronouncing it “oh-pee-ess” for years. And I really don’t think I’m gonna stop.  I’m just gonna do what British people do when they mispronounce something: do it loudly, do it clearly, do it with confidence and don’t give a single damn that they are doing it incorrectly, to the point where the person who deigns to correct them starts to think they’re wrong.

Anyway: good read. Go read it.

  1. Bryz - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:06 PM

    Let’s start a HBT vote, including Craig and Rykoff. I spell it out.

    Oh-pee-ess: 2, “Black” OPS: 1

    • phukyouk - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:12 PM

      O.P.S. any other way is just wrong

    • Joe - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:14 PM

      I vote Black OPS, which makes it 2-2.

      I actually did a survey of a forum I am on, and out of about 10 respondants, I was the only “opps” person.

    • Lukehart80 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:30 PM

      Oh-pee-ess. In my experience, that is how the vast majority of people pronounce it.

      I am SHOCKED that ESPN would get anything wrong though.

    • The Common Man - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:28 PM


      • stlouis1baseball - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:22 PM


  2. Old Gator - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:15 PM

    I have a British wife. Craig is wrong. Whatever way they pronounce something is the right way.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM

      Rolling pin pointed at the skull again Gator?

      • Old Gator - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:19 PM

        What are you, some kind of Tea Party right wing religious fundamentalist Jesus freak gun nut? You don’t point a rolling pin. Do you point a frying pan? Do you point the dishes?

        You brandish a rolling pin. Remind me never to ask you to bake me a pie crust.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:59 PM

        Tea party? Nope. Right wing? Nope. Religious fundamentalist Jesus freak? Nope. Gun nut? Why, hell yes. Why give the criminals ALL the advantages? 😉

      • Old Gator - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:25 PM

        Yeah, and you’re just the kind of fringe extra Y chromosomist “rolling pins don’t brain people; people brain people” apologist who would repeal all the rolling pin control laws – including the PMS and postpartum depression prohibitions. And you probably think that Citizens United didn’t go far enough, and that rolling pins are a form of speech! And you’d let women carry rolling pins into their workplaces, schools and beauty parlors, not to mention on blind dates. That, with the octopus threatened already! One shudders to imagine the consequences.

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:53 PM

        I’m just for freedom man. People should be free to own and bear rolling pins as they wish as long as they don’t infringe on the rights of others.

      • schlom - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:04 PM

        I’m impressed that you were able to find a picture with someone pointing a rolling pin. Is there anything the internet can’t do?

    • nategearhart - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:55 PM

      As long as she’s happy.

      • Bryz - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:18 PM

        I first read this as “As long as she’s scrappy.”

    • badmamainphilliesjamas - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:08 PM

      Wherever your wife is from, whatever way she pronounces something is the right way.

    • nworca - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:22 PM

      Are we talking about British people generally, or BBC announcers, specifically. The former category have widely varying pronounciation. The latter, well, I really find the way they pronounce Nicaragua to be quite over the top, but at least they’re consistent.

  3. frankenderek - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:16 PM

    Either way. I mean, don’t we call RBI’s R-B-I or Ribbies?

    • b7p19 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:28 PM

      Nobody says Ribbies. And for the love of Pete please tell every Mom of a little leaguer that nobody says “Ribbies.” I still have my Mom’s voice in my head to this day yelling “We need a Ribby!” while I was at the plate. And I played in college….horrible thing to have rattling around up there.

      • rollinghighwayblues - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM

        Remind of a friends mother who, I am not lying, once called the left fielder the “left basemen.” Incredible.

      • Old Gator - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:21 PM

        I think my dog has ribbies. This wound is getting ugly….

      • Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:15 PM

        I had ribbies before too. But they took away too much of the feeling for me.

    • catsmeat - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:49 PM

      The appropriate pronunciation is, of course, “rib eye steak(s).”

    • manifunk - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:07 PM

      No, we call them “irrelevant” and “archaic”

    • 18thstreet - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM

      I pronounce batting average as “Baah.”

    • clydeserra - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:07 PM

      ares be eye.

    • stlouis1baseball - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:24 PM

      Frank: Yes…some people DO say “ribbies.”

  4. drunkenhooliganism - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:20 PM

    It’s oh pee ess. I talk to real people about baseball, not just type things on the internet, and every person to ever mention OPS, has pronounced it oh pee ess.

    If someone came into our elite group of baseball minds and pronounced it “opps” we’d ridicule them until they soiled themselves.

  5. drinkpeepee - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:23 PM

    guarantee you a man told her it was pronounced “opps” so she would be taken even less seriously when she continually mispronounced it throughout her career and looked even more foolish when she admonished people for pronouncing it the correct way, “oh-pee-ess.”

  6. Lukehart80 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    Rykoff’s piece has been changed, it now reads, “let’s start with a pretty straightforward metric: OPS (can be pronounced opps or oh-pee-ess).”

    I bet she read Craig’s take and all of our comments and realized the folly of her ways. I guess that makes us guest-editors at ESPN.

    • phukyouk - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:44 PM

      who do i give my address to for the check?

      • phukyouk - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:39 PM


      • chadjones27 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:59 PM

        Me. Please also include your full name and SSN. Thanks.

      • phukyouk - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:47 PM

        Name: Mike Hunt
        SS: 000-000-0001

      • chadjones27 - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:52 PM

        Mike Hunt, you should meet my friend, Jenny Tulwortz

      • phukyouk - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:11 PM

        damn… that took me two minutes to get.

  7. IdahoMariner - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:46 PM

    I could swear I read a Dave Cameron article about pronouncing this stuff, but when I searched, I only found two SB Nation articles, one insisting it it like black-ops and the other insisting it’s o-peee-essss.

    I’m thinking it doesn’t really matter, but then, I am not a fan of acronyms that aren’t painfully obvious or so old that we all know what it is (like IBM and RBI and FUBAR) (okay, FUBAR is my favorite, I admit it). So I just say “on base percentage,” or whatever. But then, I’m a lawyer and i like to hear myself talk, so….

    Anyway, here are the articles I found:

  8. frankenderek - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:52 PM

    Some girl on my softball team says “outerfield”

  9. Walk - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    O P S as well for my vote not ops as in black ops.

  10. Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 12:53 PM

    “How many times have you been watching a game and the shortstop (I’m not naming names) can’t quite get to that grounder between short and second base.”


    Nothing about gift baskets though.

  11. phillyphreak - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:06 PM

    It has to be O-P-S. Saying it as opps conjures up some awful recent memories of Brain Wilson and those stupid commercials.

    In other news, I had no idea ESPN-W existed.

  12. aaronmoreno - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:09 PM


  13. Walk - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:22 PM

    I would not consider myself a saber guy. I like the stats a lot for ease of comparing players and seasons but while i am all for them i lack a true understanding of them. I will use them, the saber stats, but while i understand what those stats measure i have little understanding of how the equations work. I was introduced to them years ago in pasing reading columns but it was hard to get an in depth explanation. I got my first real explanation playing computer baseball games, one of the stat columns kept an advanced metrics page and from there i was able to find the relevant data on fangraphs and such. As far as pronounciation i was really just guessing, that primer was a great read.

  14. Bryz - Feb 16, 2012 at 1:28 PM

    By my count, it’s oh-pee-ess: 7, “Black” OPS: 3

    I apologize if I missed some, but I was distracted by brandishing rolling pins and rib-eye steaks.

    • Jonny 5 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:13 PM

      Make it 8 for the one with pee in it.

      • wlschneider09 - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:26 PM


  15. hep3 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:30 PM

    Yes, but is it APBA (App-Buh) or Ay-Pee-Bee-Ay? I am so confused.

  16. rooney24 - Feb 16, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    O P S, not opps.

    But, I was surprised to see that the article referenced was on ESPNw. While I realize there are a LOT of women baseball fans, I would expect that the vast majority of stat-heads would be male. My wife loves baseball, but would have zero interest in that article. She knows the basic stats, and that is enough for her. I found the article interesting and think it should not be buried on ESPNw, where I am guessing few people actually go.

  17. chadjones27 - Feb 16, 2012 at 3:07 PM

    As far as the Wins Above Replacement; is it pronounced war (as in World War II) or warr (with a similar sound to the band, Gwar)?

    From what I’ve heard on TV (SportsCenter, Clubhouse Confidential, etc…), I have never heard anyone say “opps”. Would it be wrong? Don’t know. It’s just more common to say O-P-S.

    And let’s not get into the conversation about how to use the plural form of RBI. (17 RBI’s vs 17 RBI)

    • foreverchipper10 - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:55 PM

      We can talk about that after I return from the ATM machine.

  18. stlouis1baseball - Feb 16, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    Years ago I was at a buddies house watching the all star game.
    His Grandmother thought it was strange that all the Umpires were named “Al.”
    True story…she actually though they were all named “Al.”

  19. stevem7 - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:37 PM

    Lets see … a sabermetric. WAR … Wins Against Replacement. Here is one handy dandy piece of information. How much is a major leaguer worth versus some guy who winds up as a player to be named later. Makes as much sense as a Heart Doctor telling a 450lb man with high blood pressure that he needs to run a test to see if the man is at risk for a heart attack. Yeah, we sure couldn’t tell that Mickey Mantle, Willie Mays, and Duke Synider were a real cut above some AAA loser till the sabermetric WAR was discovered. WAR is better suited as What A Ridiculous writer Craig Calcaterra is.

  20. PanchoHerreraFanClub - Feb 16, 2012 at 5:54 PM

    There is one general rule about using linear statistical approximations to predict non-linear dynamic processes: how well to they correlate with what actually happens. When anyone presents you such approximations without providing said correlations you should be very skeptical of them whether they are accounting ratios about the health of a business, stock market tracking logarithms or baseball talent evaluations. Knowing the limitations of much approximations is often more important than what said approximations purport to tell you.

  21. fckll - Feb 16, 2012 at 7:31 PM

    FYI. The text of the article is now changed:

    “(can be pronounced ops or oh-pee-ess)”

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