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Cubs' Sveum looks beyond the basics

Rookie Anthony Rizzo has the Cubs' highest OPS this season. AP Photo/Paul Beaty

CHICAGO -- Chicago Cubs manager Dale Sveum is a throwback in many ways, yet a forward thinker when it comes to breaking down an edge.

Don’t expect to see Sveum at a SABR Conference any time soon, but he has not only found the value in statistics like OPS and WHIP, he considers them key in judging the value of a hitter and pitcher, respectively.

Could it only be a matter of time before UZR and WAR are considered just as valuable by the manager?

OPS -- or rather on-base percentage plus slugging percentage -- is far more valuable to Sveum than RBIs when judging a player’s run production.

“I think it's the one stat that truly shows the wins and losses a guy can produce on the offensive part of it by being on base and having slugging percentage to be able to score easier, to be able to score quicker,” Sveum said. “All those things come into play.”

Just how telling can OPS be? The Cubs are 27th in baseball in OPS at .684 and are 29th in the overall standings at 58-89. On an individual basis, Sveum says an .800 OPS or higher is the mark of a solid season.

Anthony Rizzo (.834) and Alfonso Soriano (.817) are the two Cubs regulars over the .800 mark in OPS.

“You score more runs with slugging percentage and you score more when people are on base,” Sveum said. “To me, it's the most defining offensive stat there is. I think it defines you as an offensive player.”

As for WHIP -- or, walks plus hits per inning pitched -- Sveum puts value in that as well, but it isn’t as much of a stand-alone stat as OPS. Sveum said a pitcher with a poor WHIP can still have a quality season if the power numbers are kept to a minimum.