SLG Fest: A Selective Stat Study

Cherry picking. It seems so wrong to use only part of the whole story to present one’s own version of the truth as factual.

But this is a fantasy baseball column, not a court of law. No rules! No objections to my testimony, and definitely none of that “glowing in the blacklight” evidence here. With that in mind, let’s have a little fun and study one of the more universally enjoyable hitting statistics in fantasy baseball, slugging percentage.

In general, it stands to reason that a fantasy hitter providing top tier overall value would contribute to your squad in most categories. For top end talent, this holds true across rotisserie and H2H formats. Simply put, the best players are the ones who categorically do the most things well, but is there one particular hitting measurement that matters more in fantasy than any other? Here were the top 10 performers in the 2016 fantasy baseball season & their respective SLG %, their 2016 SI Preseason Top 100 Rank (those without a ranking were ranked outside of this list, according to SI), and their final fantasy rankings (according to CBS.com).

 

Player 2016 SLG % SI Preseason Top 100 CBS Final Ranking
David Ortiz .620 N/A 6
Daniel Murphy .595 N/A 13
Nolen Arenado .570 4 5
Freddie Freeman .569 57 23
Miguel Cabrera .563 14 9
Nelson Cruz .555 38 14
Kris Bryant .554 11 10
Charlie Blackmon .552 27 11
Joey Votto .550 31 16
Mike Trout .550 1 3

I get it, these are known heavy hitters, and SI certainly can’t be faulted for NOT cherry picking statistics, as I CLEARLY am here. But the far right column does show that  9 out of the 10 players, ranked only on their slugging percentage,  finished top 20 or better overall, in a rankings system that includes counting stats like batting average, steals, and home runs. In fact, 5 of them were top 10 overall. What this seems to demonstrate is that, of all the stats you could measure a batter on, slugging percentage perhaps directly correlates to high level overall fantasy performance better than any other.

Now, how is this information practical to your success in 2017? Well, beyond taking the value an offensive players slugging percentage can be seemingly be tied to their overall performance, you may also look at 2017’s projected SLG % leaders.  According to FantasyPros Zeile Projections, here are your top 10 projected SLG-ers and their projected SLG % for ‘17, along with their 2017 SI Preseason Top 300 Rank, and their FantasyPros Consensus ADP (average draft position). And as with the previous chart, this list runs from highest projected SLG% to lowest.

 

Player Projected ‘17 SLG% SI Top 300 Ranking FantasyPros ADP
Mike Trout .568 1 1
Nolan Arenado .558 4 4
Miguel Cabrera .535 10 13
Giancarlo Stanton .535 28 36
Josh Donaldson .535 12 10
Kris Bryant .525 3 5
Bryce Harper .525 6 9
Anthony Rizzo .525 9 11
Manny Machado .521 13 8
Nelson Cruz .520 38 38

It would appear that fantasy baseball gurus agree with most of us, power is a premium. What’s different this year, is that their consensus ADP’s reflect that belief. 

So what can the chart above help you with? Well, not necessarily a ton, except that if you draft in a 10/12 team league and find yourself drafting late, applying this information & targeting a corner control pair of Cabrera & Donaldson could put you in the best position to build your championship caliber roster on as solid a foundation as you’re likely to find. In the 3rd and 4th rounds, a pair of outfielders that some may be hesitant to draft provides you with the potential to balloon your power totals. If you’re a big believer in the waiting on pitching approach, fantasy owners with late first round picks might be hard pressed to find a better start to their 2017 draft.

But what about beyond the “household” names? It’s unlikely you’ll be the only owner in your league targeting this list of names, right?Here are some other notable batters with projected high SLG% with mid round (or later) ADP:

 

Jose Abreu- Projected SLG%: .491, 2017 Consensus ADP: 51

Gary Sanchez- Projected SLG%: .487, 2017 Consensus ADP: 56

Khris Davis- Projected SLG%: .490, 2017 Consensus ADP: 90

Justin Turner- Projected SLG%: .482, 2017 Consensus ADP: 109

Evan Gattis- Projected SLG%: .487, 2017 Consensus ADP: 137

Eric Thames- Projected SLG%: .483, 2017 Consensus ADP: 213

Pedro Alvarez, SLG%: .491, 2017 Consensus ADP: 500+

 

“El Toro” still rakes, and while he may not be a draft day target, he’s certainly a player whose AB’s and performance should be monitored early on (assuming he makes the Orioles opening day roster). He’s a one tool hitter in a park that caters to precisely that tool, a fitting end to such a narrowly focused article.

-Matthew James
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