Monday April 06, 2015
Opening Day 2015: Your Active Leaders
SLIDESHOW: Opening Day! OK, so technically it was yesterday, at least for two teams (Cards/Cubs), but I'm a Monday traditionalist, not to mention a Mariners fan, which is why this annual look into the active leaders in the major (and a few minor) categories appears today. The big retiree is, of course, Whatshisface. Dejer Something. Minka Kelly's ex. Shortstuff for the Highlanders. I think he runs a website now? A shame his team didn't appreciate him more when they had him. I mean, can't a brother get a proper goodbye? Or a gift certificate to Baskin Robbins or something? Anyway, he's gone, but the following guys are still bringing it ...
BATTING AVERAGE: A year ago, the active batting champion was Joe Mauer, and for several years before that it was Albert Pujols, and even earlier it was Ichiro. All of those guys are still playing, but their batting averages keep dropping: Mauer hit .277 last year, Albert .272 and Ichiro .284. That's why Miguel Cabrera's on top of this category with a .320 career mark.
ON-BASE PERCENTAGE: Joey Votto's lifetime .417 OBP is the 21st-best in baseball history, sandwiched between Halll-of-Famer Stan Musial (.416) and future Veterans Committee Hall of Famer Edgar Martinez (.418). But it, too, is dropping. For the first time since 2008, Votto's OBP last year was below .400 (.390) and for the first time since 2010 he didn't lead the league in the category (Andrew McCutchen, at .410, did). But barring disaster he's got this category for a while: only two other active players have OBPs over .400: Uncle Albert, whose OBP in the past five years has dropped nearly 25 points (.426 to .403); and Joe Mauer, at .401 and falling.
SLUGGING PERCENTAGE: Albert has led this one since 2005, when his career slugging percentage was .621. It topped out a year later at .629—which would have been behind only Babe Ruth, Ted Williams and Lou Gehrig on the all-time list. Now it's down to .588 (T-7th all-time). Expect lower: for the last two years he's slugged in the .400s. Miggy is currently second at .563, A-Rod (welcome back!) is third at .558. Then Braun, Ortiz, Votto, Howard.
OPS: Albert again, way in front with .991; then Miggy (.950), Joey (.949) and A-Rod (.942). Albert's is 9th-best all-time.
GAMES, AT-BATS, HITS: And now onto the counting categories. Last year, games, at-bats and hits all belonged to Dejer the Munificent, but now they‘re the province of his one-time teammate, and even more one-time pal, A-Rod, who has 2,939 hits in 9,818 at-bats in 2,568 games. The top three in hits, by the way, are all former Mariners: Ichiro with 2,844 and Adrian Beltre with 2,604. A lot of longevity there. Just not in Seattle.
SINGLES: Speaking of: Jeber led in this category last year, too, and retired with 2,595 one-baggers—fifth on the all-time list. Now it’s Ichiro's turn to lead: He's at 2,311 and counting. (And you know he's counting.) No active player is close. A-Rod is second with 1,736, Beltre is third with 1,650, and Jimmy Rollins fourth with an even 1500.
DOUBLES: It's Uncle Albert with 561, followed by David Ortiz (547), A-Belt (528) and A-Rod (519). In a year or two, Albert should become the 15th man in baseball history to hit 600+ doubles. Only four men have done 700+: Speaker, Rose, Musial, Cobb. Craig Biggio (5th) came close at 668.
TRIPLES: Last year, it went Carl Crawford (117), then Jose Reyes (111) and Jimmy Rollins (107). Last season, Crawford hit 3 triples, Reyes 4, Rollins 3. So not much change. Crawford's 120 is tied for 97th all-time.
HOMERUNS: Can A-Lex come back after a year away, at the age of nearly 40, with new hips and thinner biceps, and started hitting homeruns and driving in runs again? He last went deep on Sept. 20, 2013 with a grand slam, his 24th, breaking Lou Gehrig's longtime career mark. I wrote about it here. With 654 career dingers, he needs just seven to pass Willie Mays for fourth all-time.
RBIs: A lousy season and A-Rut could still move from 6th all-time in ribbies (1969), past Gehrig in fifth place (1995), and past Barry Bonds (1996) to claim fourth place. He just needs 28. Third place is a fer piece ahead: Cap Ansen with 2,075. Then Ruth, second, Aaron, first. Actively, A-Puj is second with 1,603, then D-Ort with 1533 and A-Belt with 1384.
BASES ON BALLS: Last year, this was Jason Giambi, followed by Adam Dunn. Both retired, A-Rude returned, so now it's his. He's at 1,240. Tapping him on the shoulder is David Ortiz with 1,162, then Uncle Albert with 1,115. That's it for the over-1,000 crowd. No young bucks yet. The 20-something player with the most lifetime walks is Andrew McCutchen. With 445.
INTENTIONAL BASES ON BALLS: Albert rules. He's at 286—third all-time—and he needs only eight more free passes to move past Hank Aaron into second place. But it's a long climb to first. Someone named Barry Bonds has the all-time record with ... wait for it ... 688. That's right. More than twice the amount of Hank Aaron. Roids or not, that's pretty amazing. On the active list, second-place Miggy is nearly 100 behind Albert at 190.
STRIKEOUTS: What a shame Adam Dunn retired before he could break Reggie's all-time mark. Dunn left us with 2,379 whiffs (third all-time), while A-Yuk, the active leader, is currently fifth all-time with 2,075. Torii Hunter, returned to Minnesota, is second on the active list with 1,636, while Ryan Howard, stuck in Philly with the overpaid blues again, is third with 1,591.
STOLEN BASES: Can Ichiro get 500 this year? He's at 487 and last year stole 15 bases, so he's got a good shot. He's followed by Carl Crawford (470, 23 last year), José Reyes (455, 30), and Jimmy Rollins (453, 28). Ichiro or Crawford would be the 38th man in baseball history with 500+ steals.
SACRIFICE HITS: Elvis Andrus is the youngest active leader in any of these categories (he's only 26) but he's already slowing down in this one. From 2010 to 2013 he averaged 16.5 sacs a season; last year, he was down to 9. Of course, last year, who did he have to sacrifice? Elvis has 87 SHs lifetime, which is one more than 37-year-old platoon player Endy Chavez. The all-time leader? Hall-of-Famer Eddie Collins has 512, which is 120 more than second-place finisher Jake Daubert. The closest recent player is Omar Vizquel, tied for 35th with 256. We don't sacrifice like we used to. Blame Babe.
GROUNDED INTO DOUBLE PLAYS: This is the GDP you don't want, and Albert rules. Last year he led the league with 28, bringing his career total to 297. That's 10th all-time. Another 28 and he's fourth all-time. if he does it again he's first: Cal Ripken holds the record with 350. Second place on the active list is Torii Hunter with 248, followed by A-Rat with 240.
WINS: A year ago, this category was a tie, at 205, between Tim Hudson and C.C. Sabathia. Neither went the full Chesbro, or even a quarter Chesbro. Hudson had a 9-13 mark for the Gints, while Sabathia went 3-4 for the Yankees Suck; so it's now Hudson alone at 214. Bartolo Colon won 15 games last year to join them in the 2000 club: He's got 204. Mark Buehrle's at 199.
LOSSES: A year ago, this read Mark Buehrle (142), A.J. Burnett (132), and Bartolo Colon (128). But Buehrle went 13-10 for the Blue Jays while Burnett went 8-18 for the Phillies. So now it's neck and neck. If you‘re a betting man, you might go Burnett ... except he’s with the Pirates now. He actually gave up $4.25 million to play with them rather than the Phils. Ouch. That's a W.C. Fields-sized insult.
STRIKEOUTS: C.C.'s still got it with 2,437, followed by Burnett (2,370) and Colon (2,101). The up-and-comer here? King Felix, at 29, has 1,951 strikeouts, sixth-best on the active list.
BASES ON BALLS: Burnett, at 1,051, is the only active pitcher with more than 1,000 BBs. That's 96th all-time. Odd, isn't it? In an era when it seems more guys are walking, there are fewer pitchers with massive amounts of walks.
ERA: It's Clayton Kershaw and then everyone else. He's at 2.48, followed by Adam Wainwright at 3.00, followed by King Felix at 3.07. Their numbers are getting lower, by the way. Post PEDs, pitchers are partying like it's 1968.
INNINGS PITCHED: Buehrle is the active leader with 3,084, followed by Tim Hudson (3,003) and C.C. (2,821). Where do they rank all time? 121st, 134th, and 166th, respectively. Career leader is Cy Young with 7,356. Bon chance. No pitcher in baseball history is within 1,350 IP of him.
COMPLETE GAMES: Last year C.C. had 37, Bartolo 35 and Mark Buehrle 29. This year? The same three lead with the same numbers. Stick a fork in this stat. If C.C. manages one more C.G., he‘ll wind up in a six-way tie ... for 997th on the all-time list.
SHUTOUTS: Same deal. Active leader Roger Clemens retired in 2007 with 46 shutouts, active leader Randy Johnson retired two years later with 37, then active leader Roy Halladay left us with 20. Now the active leader is Tim Hudson with 13. But there’s hope: both King Felix and Kaiser Clayton have 9 apiece. We might see 20 again. All-time leader: the Big Train with 110.
SAVES: The story isn't the top 3 in this category—Joe Nathan (376), Francisco Rodriguez (348) and Jonathan Papelbon (325)—but the man in ninth place, Craig Kimbrel, who, at 26, already has 186 saves. For the past four seasons, he's averaged 46.25 saves. If he does that for another 10 years, he‘ll be only 4 away from mighty Mo.
WAR FOR PITCHERS: Buehrle, Hudson and Sabathia are the curent leaders (58.2, 56.9, 53.9), but in fourth it’s the young buck, King Felix, at 45.4. Kershaw, two years younger, is at 39.7. This could get interesting in a few years.
WAR FOR POSITION PLAYERS: It goes A-Rod (116), then Albert (97.0), then Beltre (77.8). Wait, Beltre? Right, because he gains 23.2 in defensive WAR while Miggy loses 13.2. Based on bat alone, it goes A-Rod, Albert, Miggy.
DEFENSIVE WAR: Quick quiz: On the all-time defensive WAR list, who is the only player in the top 10 who didn't play on the left side of the infield? The active leader in this category is another left-side guy, Beltre at 23.2 (24th all-time), followed by Yadier Molina (18.7), Chase Utley (17.6), and then Clint Barnes, J.J. Hardy and Brendan Ryan. As for the all-time list? It goes Ozzie Smith (43.4), followed by three Orioles (Belanger, Brooks, Cal). The only non-SS/3B in the top 10 is Ivan Rodriguez tied for 8th place at 28.7.
EXIT MUSIC FOR A SLIDESHOW: Damn right. ¿Por qué no nosotros? *FIN*