From The Fantasy Oracle 2016 MLB Draft Guide Is Here! 

BPA: A Measure Of Offensive Effectiveness

We're often too focused on fantasy numbers while trying to determine a player's value. In this piece we'll look beyond 5x5 values.

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Numbers are everywhere. Some matter, some don't. Almost all of them need context. In fantasy baseball though many fall in love just with a players “fantasy” performance. How many homers or runs scored does he have? Are his ERA and WHIP great? In so doing, many neglect to pay attention to the underlying factors that really matter. What is the approach of the player. What does the totality of data say about the player. Is he over or under performing? That's the constant goal for me, to help people to answer that last question.

You may or may not be aware, but there are quite a few metrics out there that could help you to determine a hitters overall effectiveness. In this piece we will discuss a sabermetric measure which is used to gauge a hitters overall effectiveness, and that is Bases per Plate Appearance, or BPA.


There are a plethora of measures out there that can tell you how much power a guy has in his bat, how good a base runner he is or how many beers a guy could drink before passing out, but if they are so flipping complicated that you need to have a couple of degrees from MIT to understand them what’s the point? It's hard enough to get folks to read a 1,000 word article. I don't want to turn someone off in the second paragraph of said article, so I try to avoid presenting things that require calculators. Luckily for you, BPA is a simple idea that is pretty straightforward.

BPA is a measure which presents a way to quantify how many bases a hitter earns per Plate Appearance (PA). Notice that this metric focuses on plate appearances and not the more traditionally referred to idea of at-bats. The reason is that we are concerned with every time a hitter comes to the plate regardless of the outcome of the event, so BPA considers such occurrences as walks and hit-by-pitch, events that count in the PA column but not in the AB one (one of the reasons that batting average is limiting is that it only records at-bats and doesn't give credit to the other things that an offensive player accomplishes. This is why leagues that use batting average could very easily transition to on-base percentage if they are interested in rewarding the offensive skill of batters more accurately). To that end, here is the full formula for plate appearances:

Plate Appearances = AB + BB + HBP + SF + times reached on defensive interference

With that understanding of why BPA uses plate appearances instead of at-bats, let’s move on to BPA itself.

Here is the formula for BPA:


I told you it was simple right? BPA measures which batters are capable of generating the most bases when they come to the plate, it is really as simple as that. BPA Therefore would favor any hitter who has a high average, extra-base power and a discerning eye.

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Here are the BPA leaders for 2014 based on 100 plate appearances.

BPA Player   BPA Player
0.776 Troy Tulowitzki   0.593 Victor Martinez
0.661 Giancarlo Stanton   0.589 Mike Trout
0.634 Charlie Blackmon   0.588 Andrew McCutchen
0.634 David Ortiz   0.583 Dee Gordon
0.630 Jose Abreu   0.577 Ryan Braun
0.619 Carlos Gomez   0.577 Shin-Soo Choo
0.618 Derek Norris   0.573 Brian Dozier
0.617 Seth Smith   0.573 John Jaso
0.615 Yasiel Puig   0.571 Adam LaRoche
0.614 Jose Bautista   0.564 Justin Morneau
0.606 Mark Teixeira   0.561 Todd Frazier
0.600 Justin Upton   0.557 Yangervis Solarte
0.599 Chase Utley      


Not a shock at all to see Mr. All World – Tulowitzki – at the top of the list.

Stanton has been an absolute monster. Did you know he has a 16-game hitting streak right now?

It's pretty remarkable that Blackmon is third given that he has all of seven walks in 166 plate appearances. Nine homers and nine doubles certainly help.

Ortiz has 15 hits in his last 29 at-bats. That will boost ya up the leader board.

Abreu leads baseball in homers (15) which helps to offset his low walk total (10). He's also wrapped out 11 doubles.

Norris is batting .352 with a .998 OPS. I know, right?

Smith seemingly never makes an out. He's up to third in the NL with a .336 average, and check out his last five games: five doubles, two triples an a homer.

Trout has had an excellent fantasy season, but with 50 strikeouts in 180 plate appearances all those zero's pull him down the list a bit.

Gordon won't stay on the list, but his start has been simply amazing an it includes eight doubles and three triples.

I thought Braun sucked?

Jaso is the second Athletics catcher on the list. Think about that for a moment.

Solarte has been stupendous, he leads the AL in batting average (.336). He won't be on the next BPA review. Book it.

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Notable missing players from the 2014 top-25 include the following players.

BPA Player   BPA Player
0.555 Brandon Moss   0.516 Melky Cabrera
0.550 Nelson Cruz   0.516 Buster Posey
0.545 Joey Votto   0.512 Neil Walker
0.543 Adrian Gonzalez   0.510 Michael Morse
0.542 Paul Goldschmidt   0.506 Alexei Ramirez
0.528 Albert Pujols   0.506 Nolan Arenado
0.521 Freddie Freeman   0.503 Edwin Encarnacion


Moss almost made it another Athletic in the top-25. Just missed out.

Votto, like Braun, sucks right? Wrong. Bash the guy all you want but he's been off his game and still sports a .412 OBP and .874 OPS. Most players would kill someone, literally (if no one found out), to ever have one season at those levels and both numbers would be six year lows.

Though batting only .263 Gonzalez has nine homers, 10 doubles and 17 walks. Pretty shocked to see him slightly ahead of Goldschmidt aren't you? Why is that the case? Goldschmidt has only 13 walks, and though he has 16 doubles he's hit only seven homers which leads to nearly identical BPA numbers.

Most shocking thing on this list? How about the fact that Melky Cabrera (.516) has outpaced Miguel Cabrera (.484). My goodness. Not one person on the planet saw that coming.

Walker has been dynamite with all the homers, but his mark has been under .460 the past three years.

Ramirez, like Walker, is performing over his head. The last two years he's failed to record a mark of .415, and over the past five years he's never reached .445.

Encarnacion started slowly, but his game is slowly starting to round into form.

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Here are the BPA leaders for 2013 based on 502 plate appearances (the number of PA's required to qualify for the batting title).

BPA Player   BPA Player
0.670 Chris Davis   0.557 Michael Cuddyer
0.663 Miguel Cabrera   0.547 Jose Bautista
0.649 Mike Trout   0.545 Robinson Cano
0.588 Paul Goldschmidt   0.542 Giancarlo Stanton
0.587 David Ortiz   0.539 Freddie Freeman
0.585 Jayson Werth   0.538 Josh Donaldson
0.577 Carlos Gomez   0.534 Will Venable
0.574 Troy Tulowitzki   0.531 Jason Kipnis
0.574 Andrew McCutchen   0.530 Brandon Belt
0.574 Shin-Soo Choo   0.529 Matt Carpenter
0.572 Edwin Encarnacion   0.529 Jacoby Ellsbury
0.568 Brandon Moss   0.528 Domonic Brown
0.567 Joey Votto      


Look a the separation the top-3 have compared to the rest of baseball. Pretty amazing isn't it? Now recall that Tulowitzki is current at .776 – a mark that would clear anyone in baseball in 2013 by more than .100 points (see the final part of this article for the historical context of Tulowitzki's start).

Cano has seen a drastic tumble in 2014 down to .413. The last five years the number has been over .500. Have to think he rebounds, pitcher's park or not in Seattle.

Venable posted BPA marks between .488 and .534 the past five years. Pretty sure he's going to improve on the .290 mark he's sporting in 2014.

Carpenter blasted an insane total of 55 doubles last season while getting in base at a .392 clip. This season he has only six doubles an a .359 OBP. The result is a .113 point drop in his BABIP from his 2013 level in 2014.

Brown owns a career mark of .446. In 2014 that mark is only .342 (he has one homer in 37 games). I'm positive he doesn't rebound full,y but he has to be a bit better, doesn't he? Maybe not. As I wrote in the offseason in his Player Profile – even his 2013 effort was the result of a couple of weeks of insane work.

Notable missing players from the 2013 leader board include the following players.

Mike Napoli (.526)
Hunter Pence (.525)
Evan Longoria (.525)
Adrian Beltre (.525)
Joe Mauer (.522)
Justin Upton (.520)
Jay Bruce (.516)
Matt Holliday (.510)
Adam Jones (.509)
Carlos Beltran (.501)

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For a little more perspective let’s look at the leaders in BPA for the past three years since we are into threes in the fantasy world.

2011-13 Leaders
* Minimum 1,250 PA

BPA Player   BPA Player
0.638 Mike Trout   0.566 Paul Goldschmidt
0.634 Ryan Braun   0.562 Edwin Encarnacion
0.626 Miguel Cabrera   0.561 Troy Tulowitzki
0.610 Jose Bautista   0.555 Prince Fielder
0.595 David Ortiz   0.550 Robinson Cano
0.592 Carlos Gonzalez   0.550 Carlos Gomez
0.589 Joey Votto   0.548 Adrian Beltre
0.586 Giancarlo Stanton   0.543 Jacoby Ellsbury
0.579 Matt Kemp   0.541 David Wright
0.576 Chris Davis   0.537 Josh Hamilton
0.570 Andrew McCutchen   0.536 Aramis Ramirez
0.569 Curtis Granderson   0.535 Evan Longoria
0.568 Mike Napoli      

What we can glean from this list is that, with health, guys like Granderson, Fielder, Beltre and Hamilton all should have a chance – varying based on the player of course – to be an offensive weapon moving forward, even if the early returns on their 2014 efforts are roundly negative.

A few names that missed the list.

Justin Upton (.534)
Jay Bruce (.532)
Shin-Soo Choo (.528)  
Hanley Ramirez (.523)  
Albert Pujols (.518)  
Buster Posey (.514)  
Adam Jones (.506)  
Freddie Freeman (.503) 

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And please keep your PED comments to yourself...

.907 B. Bonds 2001 .790 B.Ruth 1924
.885 B.Ruth 1920 .788 B.Ruth 1930
.885 B.Ruth 1921 .785 J.Foxx 1932
.882 B.Bonds 2004 .781 T.Cobb 1911
.869 B.Bonds 2002 .781 T.Williams 1941
.820 B.Ruth 1927 .770

H.Wilson 1930

.818 B.Bonds 2003 .770 L.Walker 1997
.818 B.Ruth 1923 .768 J.Bagwell 1994
.806 L.Gehrig 1927 .768 B.Ruth 1928
.801 B.Ruth 1926 .767 T.Williams 1957
.799 M.McGwire 1998 .765 M.McGwire 1996
.795 R.Hornsby 1925 .761 L.Gehrig 1930

* Minimum 502 PA

Amazing isn’t it? As great as Miguel Cabrera (career bet .663) and Mike Trout (career bets .649) are, neither has come close to cracking the best of the best yet. Not even close. Also don't forget that Troy Tulowitzki's current mark is .776. Will he be the first player to be added to the best of all-time list since 2004?

Base Per Plate Appearance is another interesting bit of information to stash away in your noggin as we work our way through those measures that help us to define what it is to be a fantastic hitter.



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