#### Hitting a baseball is one of the toughest skills in all of sport. The entire sequence, from the pitcher's release of the ball to the contact with the bat, happens in the blink of an eye. This quick series of events combines two of the most important skills for a baseball player: hand-eye coordination and power development. Hand-eye coordination helps the batter locate the ball during its flight and appropriately maneuver the bat. The power element is crucial for adding distance to hits and building a well-rounded batter.

Slugging percentage (SLG): Compared to most of the other "old" statistics, slugging is beautiful in its simplicity -- it's simply total bases divided by at-bats, and gives us a nice snapshot of a player's power. Think about it, with batting average you have to factor in fielder's choices, errors and walks and the such, while slugging is easy (although, it is a derivative of batting average, as you need at-bats instead of plate appearances). It also passes my test for a useful stat -- immediate understanding of what it means when you glance at the number. - Rosecrans

Barry Bonds, who set the record for the most home runs in a season than any other player in Major League Baseball history, is often cited as a power hitter. His career was later bogged down by issues regarding performance enhancing drugs. However, he managed a total of 762 home runs while also earning a comparatively high ISO compared to his rivals, with the publication Business Insider labeling him #3 in a list of the greatest power hitters of all time.[2]

__That's a difference of about one error every two games. This seems insignificant, but we can use Tom Tango's run environment generation program to see what kind of effect those extra errors would have on offense. Plug in the 2013 MLB batting statistics (counting HBP as BB and ROE as hits) and the program estimates a run environment of 4.8 R/G*. But double the amount of errors, and that number jumps by half a run to 5.3 R/G.__

`We’ve looked at the players with the higher batting averages, now let’s look at some of those players with low averages who were cursed at and ignored in fantasy. We’ll start with last years whipping boy Carlos Santana and his .231 batting average. We all loved his power and RBI numbers, but he dragged our averages down like the Titanic. It might surprise you to know that Santana had a .365 OBP thanks in part to his 113 walks. As a catcher we can tolerate low averages if a player hits for power, but not from someone who plays first (or third). Using OBP though, Santana’s numbers were equal to Morneau in 3 categories and he had 10 more home runs.`

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**To show an example on this comparison of statistics, two ballplayers who play the same position but have drastically different approaches will be examined: Robinson Cano (Yankees 2B) and BJ Upton (Devil Rays 2B/CF). Both have somewhat similar batting averages this season - despite a slow start, Cano is hitting .263 while Upton is at a clip of .271. The difference between batting averages is less than 1 hit per 100 at bats, so they are nearly the same. When comparing their on base percentages, though, a huge difference is discovered. Cano, who almost never walks, has an on base percentage of just .298, way below the major league average of .330. Upton, on the other hand, carries a .381 on base percentage. So although the two reach base almost exactly the same amount on hits, Upton reaches base nearly 1 more time every 10 at bats than Cano simply because he is willing to take a few strikes in order to draw monumentally more walks.**

^{On base percentage (OBP) or on base average (OBA) is an important component in a sabermetrics styled view of offensive productivity, but it is by no means the ultimate statistic to measure a hitter’s value. Unlike AVG and SLG, OBP does take walks into account, but it gives the same weight to a home run as it does to a single or a walk. Obviously, those are events in a baseball game that don’t have the same value in terms of producing runs. Billy Beane was quoted once as saying that OBA is three times as important as SLG. Well, is it? Not from a sabermetrics view point. Sabermetrics isn’t based on money at all. Bill James and the folks that blazed the trail for the development of sabermetrics certainly know that a home run has more value than a walk. It just so happens that players that had an ability to get on base were not paid as well as some of those who racked up RBIs. Obviously, the players who do it all get paid the most. }

_{Slugging percentage (SLG): Compared to most of the other "old" statistics, slugging is beautiful in its simplicity -- it's simply total bases divided by at-bats, and gives us a nice snapshot of a player's power. Think about it, with batting average you have to factor in fielder's choices, errors and walks and the such, while slugging is easy (although, it is a derivative of batting average, as you need at-bats instead of plate appearances). It also passes my test for a useful stat -- immediate understanding of what it means when you glance at the number. - Rosecrans }

While all those stats can be very helpful individually, using them all to establish a batted ball profile will help you to get a solid idea of what a player’s hitting skill set really is. For the most part, a player with a solid LD% and IFH% can be expected to put up an above-average BABIP, while a player with a large FB% and IFFB% can be expected to post a below-average mark. With that framework in mind, let’s look at a quick example from the 2014 season:

#### Just before the pitcher pitches the baseball, you should be standing in a perfect stance so that you can hit the ball right. A good stance includes planting your feet firmly on the ground, slightly wider than your shoulders and your weight should be balanced on the balls of your feet. Such a stance will give you the rapid swinging freedom which you need when swinging the bat at the incoming ball.

_{It is important to remember that there will almost certainly be some “bleeding” of the phases. As much as a hitter might train, their will always be tiny little timing and mechanical mistakes leading to some of the “bleeding effect” of the phases. The most important thing to remember as a hitter is really to be great at preparing to swing properly followed by being great into Phase 1. If the the transition from your load into Phase 1 is executed at a high level, then Phase 2 and 3 will require very little attention. Eliminate early mistakes and prepare to feel effortless power. }

*"Look at it like this: If you have a team with average offense, average defense, average pitching, it should get about 81 wins," Correa says. "What that average means is different, depending on the context. There are lots of theories as to why offense is down, but the reality is that somebody hitting .260 with a .320 on-base percentage and .400 slugging is actually an above-average player today.*

`Back in the day when fantasy baseball was in its infancy, the standard 5×5 categories many leagues still use today seemed like a good thing. Well times they are a changing. Stats have evolved over the years, especially with the introduction and advanced use of sabermetrics throughout our real and fake teams. So if things have come this far, then why are we still using the same archaic scoring methods that were instituted by our founding fathers?`

In the final iteration of the "MLB's Worst Tools" awards, today we will discuss hitting for average. Right off the bat I have a problem with describing "hitting for average" as a tool because batting average is a statistic not an innate ability. Additionally, at a blog that champions sabermetrics it probably isn't worth talking about batting average a great deal. In fact, I'm pretty sure the higher ups wouldn't let me. [Editor's Note: He's right] I know that if I mention RBI's in a non satirical way I will be shot on sight. Partly because of my personal distaste for describing the fifth tool in this series as "hitting for average" and partly because I fear the violent wrath of Beyond the Box Score's cruel overlords, from this point on the tool discussed today will be referred to as "hitting for contact".