What exactly is “power”? Is it the ability to hit home runs? Doubles? Triples? Should we consider how far a player hits a ball, or are we just concerned with the outcome? How would you define it?
If we were to try and define power from the ground up, obviously you’d have to start with home runs. Power hitters are guys that mash lots of home runs, right? When I think power, I think of players like Jose Bautista, Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, and Barry Bonds. Home runs are so flashy, they steal the show.
But there’s more to power than a player’s raw home run total. You can’t completely ignore other extra base hits, which is why there are statistics like Slugging Percentage and Isolated Power. Slugging Percentage measures a player’s total bases and Isolated Power measures a player’s extra bases*, so both statistics count doubles and triples as well as home runs.
*Quick refresher course for everyone. Slugging Percentage = Total Bases / At Bats ; Isolated Power = Extra Bases / At Bats
Or if you prefer to think about it another way, Jose Bautista has a .330 ISO this season. That means he averages nearly one extra base every three at bats.
Both these stats have the same problem, though: not all bases are created equal. If a player has accumulated 30 extra bases in 100 at bats, isn’t there a big difference if those extra bases were accumulated through 10 home runs versus 30 doubles ? Both players have the same Isolated Power, but which one has provided their team with more value through their power production?
Good question, I’m glad you asked.
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