Top Ten OPS Hitters for 2014
OPS, a stat which combines on-base percentage and slugging percentage, has become the new favorite fantasy statistic, replacing the traditional batting average in many leagues. It reflects more than just hits and outs, rewarding things like walks and home runs which show who the best hitters truly are. While many of the elite talents are on this list of top OPS performers, you’ll notice that some players with great OPS numbers can be found outside of the first few rounds. For reference, the projected 2014 OPS numbers are courtesy of Yahoo Sports.
2014 OPS Projection: 1.043
In baseball’s dictionary, when you look up OPS there should be a nice picture of Miguel Cabrera at the plate. He is downright the best pure hitter in the game, and he doesn’t need Prince Fielder or anybody else around him to show that. If you have the second overall pick, don’t be upset that you missed out on Mike Trout (assuming he goes first.) Instead, cherish Cabrera, who will be eligible at both 1B and 3B, and take solace in the fact that you can find speed later on.
2. Mike Trout
2014 OPS Projection: 1.015
When you draft Mike Trout, the general consensus #1 overall pick, you don’t do it for the OPS, and you don’t do it for the Runs, the HR, the RBI, the SB or the BA. You do it for all of the above. Yes, he is almost .030 points below Miguel Cabrera in the OPS projection, but he more than makes up for it in the runs and stolen bases, so you should be willing to take the OPS hit and select the best player in the game today as the #1 overall pick.
2014 OPS Projection: .969
Clearly , the two aforementioned names are on a whole other planet in terms of production, but ‘Mike’ is still a great earthly value. The average leaves a little bit to be desired, but he will still destroy the ball and drive in runs at an impressive rate. Also, if I can get a bit conspiracy-ish here for a minute, I’m convinced that he’s going to be traded, and if he does, his owners can only pray that he lands on a team with shorter OF walls and a better supporting cast around him.
4. Buster Posey
2014 OPS Projection: .958
Posey is great when he is on the field, and it’s great seeing him back to himself after his nasty injury. Now that all of his questions have been answered, we know he simply is the best offensive catcher in the game. Hitting for both average and power at a very thin position is a luxury that is worth the early pick, considering what you could be left with down the line. Backstop is always a shallow pool, and when you have the chance to be at the top, it is a great advantage.
5. Joey Votto
2014 OPS Projection: .957
This man never truly gets the recognition he deserves. He hits for power, maintains a .300+ BA, scores 100 runs and still he is ranked outside the top 10 overall. Seriously, I’m not even going to get into deep statistical analysis here, I’m just going to rant-- how is Votto ranked 15 when Edwin Encarnacion, another 1B, is one spot ahead of him? Minus a slight bump in HR and the ability to play 3B, how the heck would anybody take E5 over Votto? The dude is projected a whole .80 points less in OPS and .45 points in BA than the face of the Reds. Go with Votto.
2014 OPS Projection: .945
Hands-down the best fantasy SS statistically, his production will never come into question when he is on the field. But his ability to stay on the field will be what keeps owners hesitant. Every owner who has drafted Tulo surely has a story about shuffling through waivers for potential replacements. That said, with Hanley Ramirez being Tulo’s only competition at the elite level of shortstops, it might be better to look for OPS help at a different position and instead go after Segura, Reyes and Desmond for your SS needs.
7. Joe Mauer
2014 OPS Projection: .929
After already running down Posey earlier, I’m going to try and sell you on why Mauer may just be the better value. Posey and Mauer are 48 and 52 on Yahoo’s big board, so odds are if you are looking to get a catcher, they’re both on your queue. While their stats are virtually identical, the difference, and key to which one you pick, may not be in the stats, but rather in what those stats tell us. Mauer is now a full-time first baseman who retains his catcher status for 2014. What this means is that Mauer will be playing more games and getting more AB-- in turn, this means more hits and more counting stats across the board. The best approach to the catcher position (like Mike Napoli last year) is not to use a catcher at all.
2014 OPS Projection: .925
These next two players are ranked eighth and ninth in OPS, but the real argument is whether Goldy is worth the third overall pick over McCutchen. While I have no problem taking him fourth, I can’t see the argument to take the D-Backs slugger over Pittsburgh’s outfielder. Yahoo’s projection says the two players are about even with 98-99 R, and Goldy even has the HR and RBI advantage (31-26/110-89.) However, McCutchen has the greater projected SB and BA totals (25-15/.313-.295). I personally think that looking to the next few draft rounds, it’ll be easier to take McCutchen with the third pick and then find another power-hitting 1B later on.
2014 OPS Projection: .922
Much like Trout, while McCutchen is an elite OPS player, you don’t want him for just the one stat. Cutch is the second-best all-around fantasy hitter in the game. 25 HR and SB along with 100 R and 90 RBI on the now NL Central contender Pirates sells itself. He’s ninth on this list, but should be even higher in overall performance projections.
10. David Ortiz
2014 OPS Projection: .922
Clearly the odd man out of these ten guys, the older Ortiz is still a nice option if you miss out on the elite tier of first basemen. Yahoo has him ranked at eleventh among all 1B, which is about right when you weigh the injury risk with his upside. He has always struggled in April, and could be a candidate for decline. While this is a possibility, Big Papi could just as easily take over where he left off with his dominant 2013 postseason. My opinion (as a Red Sox fan) is that if you miss the top-tier 1B, skip over Ortiz and target somebody like Adrian Gonzalez, Eric Hosmer or Mark Trumbo.
That's it for now. Make sure to follow @JustBerglund and @RotoBaller for all your fantasy baseball updates.