If you think a hitter’s performance is assessed with batting average, your love for baseball is outdated. That’s how much the sport has evolved and developed over the years. With more statistics and new terms to evaluate each type of player in baseball, the game has upped its quality. Slugging percentage is one of such prominent statistics in baseball.
Slugging percentage indicates the number of bases for each at-bat of a player. It disregards hit-by-pitches and walks in calculating the percentage.
Slugging percentage has several unique points making it to the list of best statistics to analyze and evaluate performances. Let us understand how this factor works in baseball.
How Does Slugging Percentage Work?
A slugging percentage enables baseball analysts to evaluate a hitter’s batting productivity by considering variables like doubles, triples, singles, and home runs.
Slugging percentage stresses extra-base hits and disregards variables like hit-by-pitches, walks, flies, and catcher interference.
The term gained popularity when on-base plus slugging (OPS) was applied in baseball. The statistic is focused on the total number of bases gained by a batter at each at-bat. This needs proper skill and capability to achieve a winning performance.
Let us look at the history of this statistic before we dive into the technical aspect. Henry Chadwick invented the average of the total bases in 1867, intending to list total bases for each game. As the game evolved, slugging percentage came into use in 1923 when National League included it to assess pitchers and batters.
The problem with the average of the total bases is that it considers the base of the batter but does not regard errors during the process. There are chances when batters actually collect a double but land in a higher base. The total bases average gives credit to the batter according to the base. Hence, slugging percentage addressed this flaw. Since 1981, slugging percentage has gained huge application and popularity due to their precision and approach.
SABRmetrics later used slugging percentages to derive new formulae like “runs created.”
How Is Slugging Percentage Calculated?
Slugging percentage is calculated as the ratio of the number of bases to the number of at-bats as follows:
- 1B = singles
- 2B = doubles
- 3B = triples
- HR = home runs
- AB = At-bats
The slugging percentage is always presented with a number followed by three decimal places.
Let us take up a real-time example to calculate the slugging percentage.
Let us assume that a player was hit by three pitches and walked ten times. He also had two sacrifice flies. The batter has also made 100 plate appearances.
The slugging percentage, as mentioned earlier, disregards walks, pitches, sacrifice flies, and sacrifice bunts.
Number of at-bats (AB) = Number of plate appearances – walks – sacrifice flies – pitches – sacrifice bunts
AB = 100-10-3-2-0 = 85
Total bases = 1B + (2Bx2) + (3Bx3) + (HRx4)
Assuming that the batter has collected a total of 25 hits in 85 at-bats, it can be further classified into two singles, five home runs, seven doubles, and two triples.
SLG = (1B + 2x2B + 3x3B + 4xHR)/AB = (2+14+6+20)/85 = 42/85
Slugging percentage (SLG) = .494
This means that the batter has recorded .458 for every at-bat. The value implies the power of a hitter.
What Is A Good Slugging Percentage In Baseball?
A good MLB slugging percentage is .400-.500. A value above .550 is exceptional, while below .350 is poor.
According to SABRmetrics, a .450 slugging percentage is good and can push the player to the next level.
To further judge the performance of two players, here is another example.
Player 2 has achieved more hits compared to player 1. This also means that the batting average of player 2 can increase significantly.
Let us now calculate the slugging percentage using the formula mentioned earlier.
Player 1 = 14(1)+4(2)+3(3)+3(4)/100 = 43/100 = 0.43
Player 2 = 26(1)+6(2)+4(3)+5(4)/100 = 70/100 = 0.70
Player 1 has a low number of hits compared to player 2, but when slugging percentages are compared, player 2 holds an exceptional SLG value compared to player 1.
An SLG value above .550 is exceptional but is quite rare. Perhaps, player 1 has a good slugging percentage, but player 2 is exceptional. There are more chances for player 2 to score better and climb higher positions in baseball.
SLG is one of the inputs used to calculate the OPS of a player. It also influences the offensive production of a player.
Who Has The Highest Slugging Percentage Of All Time?
Babe Ruth holds the highest slugging percentage of .6897. Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig follow Babe Ruth with SLG values of .6338 and .6324, respectively.
Here is the list of the top 5 players marked as career leaders for their slugging percentages.
Like other stats, players are ranked for slugging percentages under different categories – all-time leaders and single-season leaders.
Here is the list of the top 5 players with high slugging percentages under the single-season record category.
Slugging percentages above .650 are considered exceptional, and all of these players make it to the elite category.
Here is the list of the top 5 players with high slugging percentages under the active leaders category.
Players with exceptional slugging percentages are recognized in the hall of fame in national baseball. Mike Trout also maintains an excellent on-base plus slugging value. This is one of the reasons to be regarded as the best player on several platforms.
As of the major league baseball that happened in 2019, the mean slugging percentage was .435.
Let us also look at average slugging percentages in the last decade.
In the last decade, the average slugging percentage has remained at .380-.435. This range indicates the average levels of players. However, the range remains steady and does not record major fluctuations.
If we look at the slugging percentage team-wise per season, Houston Astros recorded the highest SLG of .495 and achieved 288 home runs. Two other teams followed this team – New York Yankees and Minnesota Twins, which secured .490 and .494 SLGs, respectively.
Slugging Percentage vs. Batting Average
Batting average is the ratio of the number of hits to the number of at-bats while slugging percentage analyzes each hit before calculating it.
Slugging percentage is particular about the quality of hits and prioritizes extra-base hits. A batting average informs the time taken by a batter to get a hit or an out. Contrarily, slugging percentage considers two factors – time taken by a batter to get a hit and the number of bases achieved for every at-bat.
The batting average is quite generic and does not ensure external validity. If a team wants to analyze the quality of a hitter, the batting average might not be the perfect stat. The official evaluator might have to use the slugging percentage to consider extra-base hits and then measure the quality.
Let us now understand the differences with an example.
When a player achieves a hit in 4 at-bats, the batting average is .250. Converting the value into a percentage, the likelihood of hitting an at-bat is 25%.
In baseball, a batting average above 400 is considered good.
If we look at the same set of inputs for the same player, the number of hits is further analyzed to determine the quality. This can affect the hitting percentage. The batting average can be calculated quickly with limited inputs, but this is not the case with the slugging percentage.
If you are a fan of baseball and want to know if your favorite player has good stats, you need to check if the batting average is over 400 and slugging percentage above .400.
What Is A Perfect Slugging Percentage?
The highest and perfect slugging percentage is 4.000. During the 2016 season, several MLB players recorded career slugging percentages of 4.000 at-bats.
Achieving the perfect slugging percentage is a complicated task as the player needs to focus on accumulating home runs and avoiding outs. If the player makes an out, the slugging percentage depreciates, and the player loses his position. Maintaining a slugging percentage of 4.000 is feasible but not easy.
The player needs to achieve an exceptional slugging percentage and score several extra-base hits.
My Favorite Baseball Equipment
Thanks for reading this article. I hope it brought you great value that you can implement into your own life! Below you can find my favorite baseball bat, baseballs, and a glove that I think will take your game to the next level!
- Bat: My favorite baseball bat is the Easton Project 3 Fuze. This bat has a composite end cap, reduced post-impact vibrations, balanced swing weight for the fastest swing speed, and a carbon core that makes this bat perform very well! As I’m not a professional baseball player, I like to use alloy bats as you can swing faster and hit further.
- Baseballs: Rawlings Competition Grade Practice Balls are my choice for something to hit. I love these balls because they fit all levels of play, so regardless of who you are playing with, you can use them. They come in a 6 or 12 balls box, and you can choose between raised or flat seams! I prefer flat seams as the balls tend to fly further!
- Glove: When it comes to the glove, my choice is the Rawlings Sandlot Glove. This glove is available for both lefties and righties. The same glove is also available for infielders, outfielders, pitchers, catchers, and 1B mitt. This glove has a nice vintage look, and it’s made from oiled leather. It has palm pads that protect your hand from impact, and it is pre-broken-in, so you are good to go as soon as you have it! A glove I’m proud to recommend.
- Fan Equipment: If you’re a fan more than a player, you don’t want to miss Fan Equipment by Fanatics. You can find items from various sports that bear your favorite team’s logo, such as jerseys, gift ideas, or other surprising things.