Recently I was watching a baseball game on TV where there were two home runs in the same inning by the same team. This is a fairly uncommon thing to see in baseball, but it got me thinking about how often home runs occur in the MLB. Home runs seem to happen more often, but what percentage of hits are home runs? I decided to dive into some statistics to find the answer.
In general, 12.10% of hits are home runs. From the 2001 season through the 2020 season in the MLB, there were a total of 831,932 base hits and 100,690 home runs. When calculated together, 12.10% of base hits resulted in a home run in Major League Baseball.
Although if we break out this percentage year-over-year, we see that the trend of hits resulting in a home run has been steadily increasing over this 20-year period.
Percentage of Hits That Are Home Runs By Year
When we look at the graph above we can see there is a trend of a higher percentage of hits resulting in a home run. In 2001, 12.44% of hits were a home run while in the 2020 season, 15.96% of hits were a home run.
To break it down even further, let’s take a look at those statistics year-over-year. If you’re interested in seeing where the total number of hits and home runs came from, check out the year-by-year batting totals from Baseball Reference.
|Year||Hits||Home Runs||Home Run Percentage|
One piece of interesting information to notice from the chart above is that the total number of hits seems to be declining over that 20 year period while the total number of home runs has remained relatively stable (usually between 4,800 to 5,500 home runs per year).
Since we’re wondering about the percentage of hits that are a home run it would make sense that the percentage of home runs has been slightly increasing over that same period of time.
What is a Home Run in Baseball?
To help us understand the charts above, it also helps to take a step back and revisit what a home run is in baseball.
A home run in baseball is when a player hits a fair ball over the outfield fence or when a player gets a base hit and safely runs around all bases without an error occurring by the defense. The latter is known as an in-the-park home run, but the statistic is counted the same as a traditional home run.
So when looking at how many home runs a player has, the number we are looking at can be a mix of home runs where the ball is hit over the fence and inside the park home runs, where the player was able to safely make it around all four bases.
In general, inside-the-park home runs are much harder to come by the traditional home runs. In fact, they are so rare that people typically assume the number of home runs a player has was a result of them hitting the ball over the outfield fence.
Percentages of Hits That Are Singles, Doubles, and Triples
Now that we know roughly 12% of hits result in a home run in the Major Leagues, the next question you might be wondering is what the other 88% of base hits are.
To find out the answers, I looked through the same data gathered from the year-by-year batting totals from Baseball Reference.
What Percentage of Hits Are Singles?
The data from Baseball reference didn’t specify the total number of singles, so to find out how many singles there were in a season I took the total number of hits and subtracted out the doubles, triples, and home runs. Once I found the total number of singles there were in a season I was able to calculate what percentage of hits are singles over a twenty-year period.
In general, 65.86% of hits are singles. From the 2001 season through the 2020 season in the MLB, there were a total of 831,932 base hits and 547,935 of those hits were a single. When calculated together, 65.86% of base hits resulted in a single in Major League Baseball.
The chart above shows the percentage of singles that occurred year-over-year for a twenty-year period. Even though the percentage has decreased a little bit in that time frame, the percentage of singles that occur each year is usually around 65%.
What Percentage of Hits Are Doubles?
To find what percentage of hits are doubles, I looked at the same twenty-year period as I did for home runs. And to calculate the percentage I took the total number of doubles and divided it by the total number of hits within that time frame.
In general, 19.98% of hits are doubles. From the 2001 season through the 2020 season in the MLB, there were a total of 831,932 base hits and 166,221 of those hits were a double. When calculated together, 19.98% of base hits resulted in a double in Major League Baseball.
The chart above shows the percentage of MLB hits that resulted in a double for each year. When compared to the other types of hits, the percentage of hits that result in a double seems to be the most predictable – at around 20% each year.
What Percentage of Hits Are Triples?
Similar to calculating the percentage of doubles that happened in the Major Leagues, I found the total number of triples from that same twenty year period and divided it by the total number of hits. The number I found was a lot lower than I had originally anticipated.
In general, 2.05% of hits are triples. From the 2001 season through the 2020 season in the MLB, there were a total of 831,932 base hits and only 17,086 of those hits were a triple. When calculated together, 2.05% of base hits resulted in a triple in Major League Baseball.
From the chart above, which shows the percentage of triples year-over-year, we can see just how rare it is to see a triple. From looking at this chart, we can see that roughly 2% of all base hits result in a triple and that percentage seems to be decreasing a bit with time.