The Best Hitters in the "Year of the Pitcher"

OK, so by now I think it has settled in with everyone just how weird a season 2010 was for major league baseball. We are about to start a world series between the Rangers and the Giants, first of all. I gotta say, I wasn't expecting that one (although indakind and purplehaze correctly guessed this outcome, if I'm not mistaken). This brings to mind Tim Lincecum, who wasn't even a Cy Young candidate this year, despite being Mr. Cy Young Award in his brief career thus far. Still, he is one of the most referenced names and faces in this new trend of excellent starting pitchers (although not sure just how much better the pitching has been, is this more of a myth?). But I'm not going to be writing about pitching in this post, oh no. Time to delve into more offensive statistical realms and outcomes.

We know there's an award for batting average: the batting title. But who were the players that could avoid an out most often? Before going into this in more detail (thanks,!), I'd like to point out that during Albert Pujols' career so far, his On-Base Percentage is 13th ALL TIME. Only Todd Helton and Barry Bonds can top that among recent players. Anyway, to celebrate those frequent on base offenders, On Base Average Champ is Joey Votto... but, our very own King Albert was second this year in the NL (Miguel Cabrera was 2nd overall). Pujols, however, scored the most runs in the majors. So sometimes that aggressive baserunning can pay off (with a little luck and willpower thrown in; and grit doesn't hurt either). Texeira, Weeks, C. Gonzalez, Cabrera and Jeter all scored more than 110 runs this season).

Back to OBP, Hamilton, Mauer, Choo, and Fielder were also over .400 OBP players, making them among the most valuable players in the major leagues. The best of the .300 tier was Jason Heyward, surprisingly. Amazing that a rookie could have the 8th best on base average in 2010! He ended up not being that overhyped after all (ok, so the ESPN stuff at the beginning of the season was batshit insane). To round out the Top 10 on base % playas, Daric Barton boasts a skillful .393. Konerko and A-Gon were both .393'ers too. Next our shiny-headed one, Mr. Holliday, getting onto the basepaths 39% of the time. It's a bit bittersweet to note, that no other team had more than one player in the top 12 on base percentage players... this just goes to show how awful most of the rest of the team was at getting on base. Next Cardinal on the list was Rasmus' respectable 38th best in the majors, a .361. Outside of Pujols, Holliday, and Rasmus, the other players' on base percentages were rather disappointing (Yadier was at .329... and all the other guys were faster than him!). All those low percentages lowered the runs scored for the team.

So that was the oba zen masters... I think most people know the big slugger this season was Josh Hamilton (who is about to compete in the world series). He had the highest slugging percentage in 2010. Miguel Cabrera comes up often in the important stat categories as well: he slugged .622 to Hamilton's .633. The freaky outlier hitting award goes to Jose Bautista, who had the third highest slugging in the majors, while posting a gawdy .357 isolated power rating. Votto was the big slugger in the NL this season, followed very closely by Carlos Gonzalez and Albert Pujols. Konerko also had a wow-that-came-from-out-of-nowhere type of season, with the 7th best slugging %. Tulowitzky showed himself as an extremely valuable shortstop with the 8th highest slugging (albeit, he's at Coors). Beltre, Dunn, L. Scott, and Cano also bashed the hell out of the ball in '10. Beltre had by far his highest SLG% season since 2004 (which was his outlier year).

An alternate way of looking at offense, kind of similar to RBIs is Runs Created. An interesting note for Cardinals fans: Pujols and Votto were tied in wRC for the lead in the majors. I'm beginning to think Albert perhaps should win MVP (trying not to be biased here!). Holliday was ahead of Prince Fielder in wRC for 9th in MLB. After that the dropoff here for the Cardinals is pretty bad, since next is Rasmus for third best on the Cardinals (barely makes top 70 in MLB). 

Which two teams have not one, but two, top 10 major league hitters (by wOBA)? If you guess the Cardinals and the Rockieshere are your internet dollars. The Cardinals with Pujols and Holliday, and the Rockies with Gonzalez and Tulo, should be set for a while (given, of course, that Pujols re-signs!). Hamilton and Votto are the best hitters, one for each league even. If OPS is more your thing, has OPS+, which is an adjusted OPS (more complicated formula, park adjusted on base plus slugging %). This stat prefers Cabrera over Hamilton, but still has Votto first in the NL. 


At this point, I am having some trouble with formatting. This seems to happen every few fanposts, an inexplicable format change from out of the blue.

The Lucky You, Wait for Regression! Awards go to Josh Hamilton and Carlos Gonzalez for their ridiculous BABIPs

(Bautisa's BABIP was so ridiculously low that I'm not sure if he should be considered). The Sleeper Award goes to

Shin Shoo Choo again, with a .388 wOBA and over .400 OBP. The Golden Dinger goes to Bautista and Pujols, with

54 and 42 home runs, respectively.  I am still at a loss to explain how Jose Bautista can have 12 more home runs

than everyone else, especially after hitting only 59 home runs total in his career from 2004 to 2009. HE



Another aspect of the game, perhaps not as flashy as the home run, but related to on base percentage, is speed. Players that can flat out run fast are a good way to help round out a team. Since Fangraphs has a way of quantifying a player's running abilities, called Speed, and of course, stolen base totals, we can figure out who were the most blazingly fast ballplayers in the major leagues. That list can be found here. Carl Crawford is still very fast... I wonder how his .342 BABIP relates. Brett Gardner, Austin Jackson, Michael Bourn and uh, Drew Stubbs round out the top 5. The Cardinals didn't show much in the way of Speed rating (4th lowest in the majors), except for the extra smooth outfielder, Colby Rasmus. Juan Pierre and Michael Bourn were both prolific base pilferers, leading the leagues in stolen bases. Rajai Davis, Brett Gardner, Carl Crawford and Ichiro were all very very good at the lost art of base stealing as well. The Cardinals on the other hand, were among the worst teams, with only 79 stolen bases, while being caught 41 times. The most obvious fixes to the team's offense are plate discipline and to a lesser extent, quickness and savvy on the basepaths. 

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