Currently historic: Naming names

Let’s start this week with our big trifecta. Joey Votto, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis are all very good hitters. I will now reasonably associate as many famous names with them as I can.

Let’s start with Joey Votto. Joey Votto has a .430 OBP, which is good for the league lead. If he leads the league at the end of the season, he will have done that four years in a row. The other players to do that are Ted Williams, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bondsand Wade Boggs. All of those players are in the Hall of Fame or are Barry Bonds.

Unsurprisingly, Votto leads the league in walks. He is also second in hits. If he ends up leading the lead in both, he’ll be only the fifth modern player to do it. The others (as pointed out by THT’s Chris Jaffe) are Lenny Dykstra, Carl Yastrzemski, Richie Ashburn and Rogers Hornsby. Three of those players are in the Hall of Fame and the other is named Lenny, which is probably just as good.

Votto is on pace to reach base 310 times. That’s not so impressive in and of itself. Well, okay, it’s impressive, but it’s not really historic. He has one more week to pick that total up to the level where it makes sense to mention names or this won’t be tracked any more.

Now, we take it up a notch and see Miguel Cabrera. Cabrera, you may remember, won the triple crown last year. He is the 12th modern player to do it. The other 11 are in the Hall of Fame, so yes, Cabrera has probably punched his ticket. Interestingly, Cabrera is making a run at winning a second in a row this year. In fact, had Chris Davis not gone all crazy, Cabrera would be leading all the triple crown categories. As it stands, he leads in average and RBI and is five back in and second place in homers.

Only two players have won more than one triple crown. Their names are Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby. No triple crown winner has ever led the league in more than one triple crown category the following year, so even if the season ends as things currently stand, we’ll have seen something that has never happened before.

Miguel Cabrera also leads the league in both average and on-base percentage. If he were to manage the lead in slugging, that would be another, more common, kind of triple crown, though still very neat. Here are the players who have done it since World War II: Joe Mauer, Barry Bonds, Todd Helton, Larry Walker, George Brett, Fred Lynn, Carl Yastrzemski, Frank Robinson, Ted Williams, Stan Musial.

Cabrera is also on pace to reach base 328 times. That would tie Lou Gehrig and Babe Ruth for the 24th best season ever. The Hall of Famers ahead of him on that list are: Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Wade Boggs, Ty Cobb and Ted Williams. The non-Hall of Famers are Barry Bonds, Jeff Bagwell, Lefty O’Doul and Carlos Delgado. There is a lot of repetition on the list.

Like Votto, Cabrera is trying to lead the league in hits and walks. He is currently succeeding. I believe you are capable of looking back a few paragraphs to find the names of those who’ve done that before.

Last on our list is Chris Davis. Davis is currently on pace for 59 home runs. That would tie Babe Ruth for the ninth highest total ever. I’m sure you know the names ahead of him, but since we’re naming names today, I will give them their due. They are Barry Bonds, Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris. Only one of those players in the Hall of Fame. But, well, you know.

His extra-base hit count also continues to be impressive. He is currently on pace for 105, which would tie him with Todd Helton for fifth best. Ahead of them are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Barry Bonds, and Chuck Klein. Or, as you may want to think of them, three Hall of Famers and the best hitter ever.

His Triple Crown pursuit seems to be winding down, however. He’s now sixth in average and second in RBI. He seems like a good bet for the home run crown, but that’s all. Of course, things can always change, and we’ll keep an eye on him.

I started naming names here just for fun, but I think it tells us something interesting. Even though, to me, Davis’ season seems to rival Cabrera’s in terms of its impressiveness, it’s really Cabrera and Votto who are putting themselves in serious Hall of Fame company. It is the difference between sustained excellence and (thus far) one really excellent half-season.

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Two weeks ago, I told you it was a sure thing that Manny Machado would break the doubles record. Guess what? I was right. Two weeks have passed since that column—TWO WEEKS! That’s nearly 10 percent of the season—and he’s still on pace to break it! He has 39 currently, and it looks like he’ll finish with 70.

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The Astros are slowly losing pace. A few weeks ago, they were in good shape to break the Strikeout record. Now, it’s looking more difficult. The record is 1,529 and Houston is now on pace to finish with 1,505. It’s not a lost cause, but they could use a good 17-strikeout game.

—-

Yu Darvish is really falling off the pace. If he makes 33 starts at his current pace he’ll finish with 287 strikeouts. That would still be the most by a major league pitcher since Randy Johnson struck out 290 in 2004, but it’s not nearly as a fun a number as 300.

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Adam Wainwright got a little more walky this week. His BB/9 rate right now would place him 22nd all-time, but there is a lot of clustering and he isn’t far from the top 10. Add to that his 9.0 K/BB, which is good for third all-time and he’s still having a pretty good year.

—-

The strikeout race is back! We now have three players on pace to K 200 times. Remember, there has never been a season in which two players surpassed 200 strikeouts.

Chris Carter, 120 Ks, 218 K pace: Carter continues to slow just a little, but he’s still on pace for a really special strikeout season. As he gets closer, I’ll write about him in more depth.

Adam Dunn, 102 Ks, 190 K pace: Dunn has really been hitting well lately, but I don’t believe the strikeouts will stay away.

Mike Napoli, 114 Ks, 203 K pace: Napoli is really a serious contender now, and he has a very solid .778 OPS. H e may be for real.

Dan Uggla, 111 Ks, 200 K pace: A lot of Uggla’s numbers are rough, but he’s still walking enough and hitting with enough power to be solid.

—-

Shin-Soo Choo‘s HBP pace, as we might expect, continues to slow. However, his 36 HBP pace would still place him second.

Matt Holliday is on pace for 41 double plays. Jim Rice is the current champ at 36. Only 10 more and Holliday will be in a six-way tie for third.

—-

Here’s your list. It is getting quite small now, but we’re more than halfway through the season, which means that a lot of stuff has been done and it’s become clear that a lot won’t be done this year. I actually find the column more fun to write now because there is so much movement in the single season stuff and very little of it is now just “this number has changed this much since last week.” We do still have some of that though, and here it is…

Doubles:
Todd Helton is on a hot streak. This is his third week in a row with at least one double. he has 577 and needs one more to move into a tie with Wade Boggs for 19th all-time.

Adrian Beltre had three doubles and needs 15 to get to 500.

David Ortiz has done it. He’s now sitting on 501 doubles. What an interesting player that guy is. Also, here’s a question: Right now as win WAR is calculated, DHs are docked because they don’t play the field. However, studies have also shown that hitters do worse when DHing. So should we maybe give players like Ortiz a little extra credit for the value the bring to what seems to be a uniquely challenging position?

Home runs:
Albert Pujols did not homer this week and still needs 12 to reach 500. (I didn’t change that sentence at all from last week. What are the Angels going to do for the next 277 years?)

Runs batted in:

Pujols now needs 15 to reach 1,500.

Stolen bases:

Juan Pierre (609) hasn’t stolen one for a while. He still needs 10 steals to get to 17th. He wasn’t caught either and is still five away from fifth all-time. Interestingly, his career SB percentage is exactly 75 right now (609/812).

Michael Bourn did manage a steal this week and needs 12 to get to 300.

Showing up:
Mariano Rivera (1,088) needs 31 more appearances to catch John Franco for third.

Bartolo Colon needs seven more starts to get to 400. He will pitch in his 400th game this week, though.

Wins:
CC Sabathia got his 200th win. A commenter noted a few weeks ago that he is the youngest to do this in a long time. Who knows how many he’ll finish with, but it could be a lot. At his current pace, if he pitches until he’s 40, he’ll finish with something like 330 wins.

Thanks for reading. As always, stats are through Monday’s games. Tell me if I’m missing anything.

References & Resources
Stats come from Baseball-Reference and FanGraphs.

This edition got the SABR-Triple Crown numbers from this Sports Illustrated article.

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Comments

  1. Hank G. said...

    Jimmie Foxx would have won the Triple Crown in 1932 under current rules (the BA champion did not have 3.1/game plate appearances), so Foxx would have been the only player to win the Triple Crown in consecutive seasons.

  2. Jim said...

    Puig watch.  According to Jim Bowden, he’s in the HOF already.  Anyway has 140 PA.  Needs 362 more. Dodgers have 74 games left, so he would need 4.89 PA per game to qualify for highest rookie BA.  And of course end with a BA higher than George Watkins’ .373.  Let’s follow this one for America.

  3. DavidJ said...

    Regarding your question about Ortiz: I’ve always assumed that what you’re talking about (that hitters hit worse as DHs) was already factored into the DH positional adjustment in WAR. Is that not the case?

  4. Jason Linden said...

    David, I don’t believe so, no. As I understand, players at DH are docked significantly for their lack of defensive value, but not given a boost for the difficulty of hitting in those circumstances. I could be wrong, but when last I read about it, that was my understanding.

  5. cooldrive said...

    Does a DHs WAR suffer more from not playing the field than it would from hurting the team with sub par fielding?

  6. Todd said...

    I have all 4 of Carter, Dunn, Napoli, and Uggla on my fantasy team. Categories are OBP, SLG, R, RBI, SB, so that isn’t as bad an idea as it might sound.

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