Sunday April 02, 2017
Opening Day 2017: Your Active Leaders
SLIDESHOW: Another Major League Baseball Opening Day, and another slideshow of our active leaders. Expect turnover. Last year, David Ortiz was the active leader in doubles, for example, while A-Rod was the active leader in ... almost everything else: games, at-bats, hits, runs, homers, RBIs, Ks, BBs and WAR. In case you didn't hear, both guys are no longer playing. So who will replace them on the active leaderboard? It's generally one of three of the above guys. But, yeah, mostly one guy.
BATTING AVERAGE: Miggy is one of the three, but no, not him. He is our active leader in batting average, though, with a .320 mark. Then it goes Ichiro (.312), Joey Votto (.312), Joe Altuve (.311). Only 13 active players in the Majors (min.: 3,000 plate appearances) have a career batting average north of .300.
ON-BASE PERCENTAGE: Yeah, not him, either. Joey Votto kills in this category. He's at .424 (and climbing) and Mike Trout is at .405 (and ditto), and they‘re the only actives over .400. Then it’s Miggy (.398) and Paul Goldschmidt (.398). Last year, Trout led the Majors with a .441 mark.
SLUGGING PERCENTAGE: Yeah, this is the guy taking over for most of the A-Rod slots. Uncle Albert's been the active leader in this particular category since 2005, when it was a soaring .621. Since then, gravity has taken hold, but his current .573 is still 11th all time. Two other actives are in the career top 20: Miggy (.562, 14th), and newcomer Mike Trout (.557, 19th).
OPS: Same story. Albert has ruled OPS since his 1.049 in 2008 even though he's now down to .965. On his heels: teammate Mike Trout (.962) and Miggy and Joey Votto (both w/.960). After that, it's a 40-point drop to Paul Goldschmidt.
GAMES, AT-BATS: Top three for both of these categories is the same: 1) Adrian Beltre, 2) Ichiro, 3) Carlos Beltran. Interesting tidbit: Only eight players have ever played in 3,000 games (Ty Cobb, Stan Musial, Hank Aaron, Pete Rose, Carl Yastrzemski, Rickey Henderson, Eddie Murray, and Cal Ripken Jr.). Can Beltre be the ninth? He's only 280 away. Of course, I said the same thing last year about A-Rod, who was 281 away, and he managed only another 65 before the Yanks pulled his plug in mid-August.
HITS: Ichiro is on top with 3,030, and Beltre is second with 2,942—so he should become the 31st man to join the 3,000-hit club some time in ... June? Albert, third with 2,825, will have to wait until next year. If both make it that‘ll be five for the decade. Trivia: Half the members of the 3,000-hit club (14) joined in one of two decades: the ’70s and ‘90s.
DOUBLES: Only four players (Speaker, Rose, Musial, Cobb) have ever hit 700+ doubles and Albert is sitting on 602. Can he be the fifth? Well, he’s 37 and averaging about 20 per year. Beltre may be the better bet. He's nine months older and 11 behind, but he's hit 30+ doubles each of the last six years. That said, cliffs come fast.
TRIPLES: For a category that requires speed, this one has been poking along for years. Reigning champ Carl Crawford managed one triple in 2016 to make it 123, while Jose Reyes hit four to nip at his heels at 121. The all-time record, of course, is Wahoo Sam Crawford's 309. No one's touching that. When was the last time the active leader had even 200+ triples? 1928, Ty Cobb. How about 150+? Roberto Clemente in 1972. 140+? Willie Wilson in ‘94. 130+? Brett Butler, 1997.
HOMERUNS: Albert leads with 591, so he should reach 600 by May or June. No.2 is Miggy, waaaayyy back at 446. Beltre has 445, Beltran 421. Then a bigger dropoff. After Miggy and maybe Beltre, no 500-HR guys for a while.
RBIs: Pujols is 20th all-time with 1,817, and he added an impressive 119 last season. Only four players have ever driven in 2,000+: Aaron, Ruth, A-Rod and Cap Anson. Don’t see how Albert doesn't make it five. No one active is close to him: Beltre has 1571, Miggy 1553. BTW: 8th on the active list? Robinson Cano. Not a guy you think of when you think RBIs.
RUNS: Pujols again, with 1,670, but the top 10 is a slightly different crew than RBIs, including more speedsters: Jimmy Rollins (4th), Ichiro (5th), Jose Reyes (8th), and Ian Kinsler (10th). Who's top 10 for both RBIs and Runs Scored? Pujols, Beltran, Beltre, Miggy, Matt Holliday and Robinson Cano.
BBs, Ks: The fact that Pujols is first in active walks with 1,214 isn't what's impressive; it's that he's way back at 41st in active strikeouts (1,053). So he could be one of those guys who walks more than Ks during his career. Beltran is second in walks with 1,051, Miggy third with 1,011. The active leader in Ks? Depends on your definition of “active.” Ryan Howard hasn't officially retired yet, and he's got 1843 (13th all-time). If it's not him, then it's Beltran at 1,693, with Mark Reynolds second at 1,631.
GROUNDED INTO DOUBLE PLAYS: Maybe this is a consequence of Albert's few Ks? He's not only the active leader with 336 GDPs, he's third all-time in that category and likely to be No. 1 by the end of the year. He's only 14 away: Cal Ripken is atop w/ 350.
STOLEN BASES: Ichiro is still first with 508, followed by Jose Reyes (488), Carl Crawford (480) and Jimmy Rollins (470). After that, it's a big drop to Rajai Davis' 365. We seem to be going down, down, down, as Bruce once sang. No one's stolen 70 this decade. (The high is Juan Pierre's 68 in 2010.) No one's stolen 75+ since Reyes' in 2007, and no one's stolen 80+ since both Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman did it in ‘88.
DEFENSIVE WAR: The surprise isn’t Beltre on top with 27.3 points after 19 years, nor Yadier Molina second with 21 points in 13 years; it's the Angels' Andrelton Simmons in third place with 17.8 after five years. Meaning according to WAR, five years of Simmons is worth more defensively than 14 years of Chase Utley (17.7), 17 years of Jimmy Rollins (13.6) or 15 years of Brandon Phillips (9.4). Still a few bugs in the system.
WAR FOR POSITION PLAYERS: 10 active players have WARs over 50, but only two have WARs over 75: Adrian Beltre at 90.2 and Albert Pujols at 101.1. Career, four guys have 150+ WARs: Ruth, Bonds, Mays and Cobb.
WINS: Talk about your comebacks. From 2006 to 2011, Bartolo Colon went 22-31 with a 4.72 ERA for four different teams. He was 38 and seemed done. Since then, he's gone 72-49 for two (now three) teams, with a 3.57 ERA, and has become a folk legend. He's got 233 wins, 10 ahead of C.C. Sabathia. John Lackey is a distant third with 176.
ERA: Only two active players, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, have career ERAs under 3.00, but there's a bit of a difference: MadBum is at 2.98 while Kershaw is at ... wait for it ... keep waiting ... 2.36. That's good enough for 24th all-time. He's surrounded by deadball pitchers, and Mariano Rivera.
STRIKEOUTS: CC Sabathia is 22nd all-time in Ks with 2,726, Colon is 44th with 2,365, and King Felix is 52nd with 2,264. They‘re 1-2-3 on the active list, but slowing down. If there’s an up-and-comer in this category it's Justin Verlander, fifth among actives with 2,197. Last year, his 254 Ks was second in the Majors. Of the other three, only Sabathia cracked the top 50: at No. 50.
BASES ON BALLS: In career Ks it goes Sabathia, Colon, King Felix. In career walks it goes Sabathia, Colon ... Jiminez, Lackey, Perez, Peavy, Verlander and THEN King Felix. It's good to be the King.
INNINGS PITCHED: Colon actually went ahead of CC in this category in his last start of the season, Oct. 1, when he pitched 5 innings. He's now 4 ahead. But he truly went ahead of him during the last three years, when he's amassed 588 IPs while CC, eight years his junior, managed only 393. Colon now has 3172.1 to CC's 3168.1. Only one other active player has more than 2500: Lackey at 2,669.
COMPLETE GAMES: None of our top 3, CC (38), Bartolo (36) and King Felix (25), managed a complete game last year. The No. 4 guy, Clayton Kershaw, pitched three. He has 24. Chris Sale led the Majors last year with 6; he's at 14 career. The all-time leader is Cy Young with 749. It's a wonder we still count this stat.
SHUTOUTS: All three of Kershaw's complete games last year were shutouts, which led the Majors, and which vaulted him to No. 1 on this hit parade with 15. Bartolo has 13, CC 12, Felix 11. The record is 110, Walter Johnson, but in the top 10 all-time you have relatively recent players: 7. Nolan Ryan (61) and Tom Seaver (61); 9. Bert Blyleven (60) and 10. Don Sutton (58).
SAVES: F-Rod, who just turned 35, is not only No.1 here but No. 4 all-time with 430. He's a lock for third. He's averaged 42 over the last three seasons and is 48 away from Lee Smith (478). Then there's a bit of a gap: Trevor Hoffman is second with 601; Mo is first with 652.
WAR FOR PITCHERS: I can't believe CC is still on top of this thing, but he is, with 57.9. Kershaw is second with 52.7, then King Felix (dethroned a bit last year) with 51.4. After that, Greinke (50.9) and Verlander (50.4).
EXIT MUSIC (FOR A SLIDESHOW): Enjoy the season. It's baseball: anything can happen. Even this. *FIN*