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What is a Slugging Percentage?

A man playing baseball.
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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 03 April 2014
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A slugging percentage is a measurement of a batter’s ability, that takes into account the kinds of hits a batter makes. This differs from batting average, which is merely a proportion representing hits over times at bat.

In fact, the slugging percentage should convince most young baseball players that learning math might in fact be practical and useful, since the formula is somewhat complex. To compute it, one adds single hits (s) plus double hits (d) times 2, plus triple hits (t) times three, plus home runs (hr) times four. This total is divided by times at bat (AB).

The formula may look like this: (s + 2d +3t + 4hr)/AB. Sometimes double hits are not given extra points and the formula is computed as (s + d + 2t + 3hr)/AB.

The slugging percentage is often considered a better measurement and predictor of a player’s overall batting performance than the batting average. It determines the likelihood of a player being able to hit a home run, for example, or a double play, rather than just getting a single hit. The higher the overall percentage, the more likely the player is a good batter.

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For example, Barry Bonds, considered one of the best home run hitters in the league, has a 21-year career slugging percentage of .608. He has had some significant seasons where his percentage has been much higher. In 2001, he had 156 hits, including 32 doubles, 2 triples, and a stunning 73 home runs. This gave him a percentage of .863 for the 2001 season which is the highest season slugging percentage recorded in Major League baseball. Prior to Bond's record, Babe Ruth had the highest record.

Sometimes, slugging percentage is combined with on base percentage, another complicated formula. For the 2006 season, Barry Bonds ranks number four in the top ten list of players with these numbers combined. Babe Ruth holds the number one position for career slugging percentage, and also for this percentage plus on base percentage.

Often, slugging percentage is now given greater weight than batting average. Hitters who have career highs of home runs may have a relatively low batting average. They are more likely to strike out when trying to knock a ball out of the park. In fact, batting average has steadily declined from the early great statistics of the masters like Babe Ruth. However, this percentage remains fairly consistent among career players in modern times, as compared to the players of the past.

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Discuss this Article

comfyshoes
Post 4

@Bhutan - I think that you are right. Baseball is such a commercial sport that some players are trying to do whatever they can to stand out. The problem is that the fans are getting turned off and don’t idolize the players like they used to. This has really damaged the sport in many ways.

Bhutan
Post 3

@BrickBack -I can understand why baseball officials discount Barry Bonds record and fans now boo him at the game because they feel that he somehow cheated in order to get to where he is and no one respects a cheater.

I think that if he took performance enhancing drugs then his record should not be considered or discussed because it is cheating. However, I do also understand the pressure that many of these players are under to perform.

These players realize that their multimillion dollar contracts are based on their statistics and how well they perform. In addition, the baseball world has looked the other way with a lot of these steroid cases which makes it even more likely that a player would use these drugs.

I think that it is sad that it comes to this because I truly love the game of baseball and wish it could go back to its initial roots. Now when someone breaks a historic record you almost always assume that it was because they were on steroids even though the player may not have ever touched the stuff.

I think that there should be mandatory testing for all players to make sure that they are not using steroids because this drug can also adversely affect their health.

BrickBack
Post 2

I know that Barry Bonds is considered one of the baseball players with the highest slugging percentage in a season. He had a slug percentage over .800 for a period of five years which was only second to Babe Ruth.

However, Barry Bonds has faced a lot of scrutiny about his amazing baseball statistics because many feel that he was involved with performance enhancing drugs and his statistics are therefore invalid.

Many people think that it is unfair to compare him to Babe Ruth because; Babe Ruth earned his slug percentage and had a natural talent for the game. By contrast, people feel that although Barry Bonds is talented, he was able to beat Babe Ruth’s record because people feel that he took steroids in order to be able to do it. It is really sad because most baseball players would be celebrating these accomplishments but instead there will always be a cloud of doubt with respect to his record because of the steroid scandal. This is why he has not been admitted to the Hall of Fame because baseball officials are brushing his record aside.

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