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By The Numbers: Modified Slugging Percentage

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(credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

(credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Mathematicians love to tweak formulas, and baseball fans love to see sluggers. So for this episode of By The Numbers, we will look at the well known slugging formula of Slugging Percentage (SLG). As we know,

costa eq 1 By The Numbers: Modified Slugging Percentage

where TB stands for total bases and AB denotes at-bats. We see that walks (W) are not taken into consideration, though W do have a very definite positive value for the team which is batting.

Suppose we modify our SLG formula to incorporate W as follows:

costa eq 2 By The Numbers: Modified Slugging Percentage

where MSLG will stand for Modified Slugging Percentage. In effect, we are treating W as if they were Singles, although the possibility of moving runners more than the one “forced base” that follows from a W not apply. Nevertheless, let us see how some past and present sluggers “improve” with this new metric. We note that we have used statistics for active players, such as Albert Pujols, which have been recorded thru the end of August.

Player SLG MSLG
Hank Aaron .555 .600
Barry Bonds .607 .688
Joe DiMaggio .579 .623
Jimmie Foxx .609 .668
Lou Gehrig .632 .691
Hank Greenberg .605 .661
Ken Griffey, Jr. .538 .592
Rogers Hornsby .577 .624
Ryan Howard .573 .626
Mickey Mantle .557 .635
Willie Mays .557 .610
Mark McGwire .588 .660
Stan Musial .579 .615
David Ortiz .544 .605
Mel Ott .533 .605
Albert Pujols .626 .677
Manny Ramirez .589 .646
Alex Rodriguez .571 .619
Babe Ruth .690 .751
Sammy Sosa .534 .578
Frank Thomas .555 .630
Jim Thome .558 .634
Ted Williams .634 .701

As we can see, Babe Ruth tops the list with .751, the only player in history to break the .750 barrier. The Thumper, Ted Williams, is the only other slugger to be a member of the “.700 Club”, trailing the Bambino by fifty points. Lou Gehrig, at .691, ranks next, closely followed by Barry Bonds.

Among active players, St Louis Cardinal Albert Pujols, at .677, easily leads the pack. In fact, as Prince Albert approaches his prime, it not unreasonable to envision him surpassing even Ted Williams, winding up second only to the Bambino himself.

Regarding seasonal highs, Barry Bonds’ MSLG of .900 obtained in 2001 tops the list with Babe Ruth’s 1920 mark of .885 a shade behind.

We end this short blog with a question: Is there a way to modify the MSLG metric to incorporate other factors or terms such, for example, as Hit-by-Pitch (HP)?

Next Blog: What is the Power-Speed Number?

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