Monday November 09, 2020

Leading the League in Doubles, Triples and Homers: 2020 Update

Now that that's over (kinda), my mind is free enough to be curious enough to see if this year's shortened baseball season helped us come any closer to having a player who has led the league in doubles, triples and homers at some point in their career. Reminder: the last guy to do this was Johnny Mize in the 1940s. So a long time ago.

And the answer is ... kinda sorta. But not really.

I did this as a weekly quiz for SABR a few months back and we included this proviso at the end:

There are only three active players who've led the league in more than one extra-base hit category. None are likely candidates to complete the trifecta:

  • Miguel Cabrera: homers and doubles two times each; hasn't hit a triple since 2016
  • Albert Pujols: homers twice, doubles once, hasn't hit a triple since 2014
  • Nolan Arenado: homers three times, doubles once, his career-high in triples was 7 in 2017, which tied for fifth-best in the NL. Last year he had 2.

Active players who might have a shot at this include Cody Bellinger, Mookie Betts, Juan Soto and Mike Trout, but they all share one thing: They've never led the league in any of the three categories.

Guess what? Though Betts led the Majors in bWAR, and Soto in OBP and slugging, none of these four led the league in any of the extra-base hit categories in 2020. However, someone has joined Cabrera, Pujols and Arenado as a leader in two of the three.

Here are the 2020 league leaders in each:

  • Doubles
    • AL: Cesar Hernandez, CLE
    • NL: Freddie Freeman, ATL
  • Triples
    • AL: Kyle Tucker, HOU
    • NL: Trevor Story, COL; Trea Turner, WSN; and Mike Yastrzemski, SFG
  • Homers
    • AL: Luke Voit, NYY
    • NL: Marcell Ozuna, ATL

Spot the two-fer guy? Look again. Hint: I would've had no clue.

It ain't Ozuna. He led the league in homers, ribbies and total bases, but those are the first time he'd led in anything. Voit just led the AL in homers, and ... same. Tucker's practically a rookie; he only had 144 plate appearances, spread out over two seasons, before this year, so no. As for the NL trifecta, all tied with four triples each. You'd think maybe Story for homers, considering how he began his career, but his career high of 37 in 2018 was one behind teammate Arenado. And no for Turner or grandson Yaz.

Which leaves our doubles guys. And it turns out that, yes, Freddie Freeman has led in one of the extras before. But it was doubles in 2018. Which leaves only Cesar Hernandez, who, yes—really yes this time—led the NL in triples with 11 in 2016. Which is amazing. So all he needs to complete the trifecta is dingers ... which probably won't happen. Kid is 30, he's got 49 career homers with a season-high of 15 in 2018.

Nevertheless, he does join Cabrera, Pujols and Arenado as the only active two-fers in the extra base categories. Nice things can happen even in years like this one.

Posted at 06:03 PM on Monday November 09, 2020 in category Baseball  
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