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).
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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.
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.