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Advanced MLB DFS: OPS+

We continue our breakdown of the basics for MLB DFS. In this section, we look at the OPS+ statistic, with definitions and some basic strategy.

Joey Votto #19 of the Cincinnati Reds bats against the Milwaukee Brewers at Great American Ball Park on September 24, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images

If you have reached this level, you’ve likely been playing some form of fantasy baseball for a while now. We might think about fundamentals as applicable to beginners, but there are fundamentals even an expert level player can learn — or at least brush up on. For DFS, that means understanding how the OPS+ statistic can help you build your lineups.

OPS+

Definition

OPS+, or On-Base Percentage Plus Slugging Percentage, adjusts for ballpark factors by looking at averages for each park. The baseline is set at 100, so anything under 100 is an OPS below average, while anything over is above average.

Strategy

Hitters

OPS+ is a great way to find consistent power hitters, which is what we are looking for in DFS. OPS+ is similar to ISO, but tries to give you better adjusted numbers for different parks. Both are good numbers to use when looking for power. If you can find a player with elevated OPS+ but a lower average, you’ve found a good player for upside and possible value.

GPP vs. Cash

OPS+ numbers are useful in all contests, but if you want to win a GPP, you must have good power numbers accumulate across the board. OPS+ is a good predictive statistic for power numbers long term, which means it is the best to use when evaluating hitters for upside. If you are playing in a cash matchup, ISO isn’t the best statistic to rely on. You want a little more safety and will want players who can get on base more often. If that player also has a good OPS+, that’s great, but not the most important.

Splits

Checking splits on any statistic is a step you should take in evaluation. As a basic rule, right handed hitters see the ball better against left handed pitchers and end up putting up better statistics against them and vice versa. For some batters it is more pronounced than others and in some rare cases a batter bucks the trend and hits better or at least equally against pitchers of the same “handedness.”

Pitchers

Pitchers also have an OPS+ statistic, but it is based on what hitters accomplish against them. Basing performance on OPS+ will help you find pitchers who don’t give up many extra base hits while also helping you find pitchers who do. Look for the extremes on a slate and you can find the best pitchers to face, especially in GPPs.

Splits

We can’t be assured that a pitcher will face a certain number of lefties or righties in any matchup, but we can see how many lefties vs. righties each team sends out in their average lineup. Some teams are going to be stronger against one side of the plate than the other and if your pitcher matches up well against a lineup based on splits, you are in business.