Let me lead off by thanking everyone who contributed this year. Much of this column was reader generated as you guys came up with great stats to track week after week. For this last column of the season, I’m going to start by listing off some of the more basic achievements of the year. I’ll close by highlighting the most interesting seasons of the year.
Lots of players hit significant or moderately significant round numbers this year.
Homer/Steal combo: Carlos Beltran became the eight member of the 300/300 club.
500 Doubles: Albert Pujols passed 500 and finished the season with 505.
2,500 hits: Ichiro Suzuki might be on his last legs, but he did make it to 2,500 hits. I bet you haven’t done anything that impressive this season.
2,000 strikeouts: Both Adam Dunn and Alex Rodriguez hit this lofty mark.
Moving up the ladder
Once we get into the upper reaches, the roundness of numbers becomes less important than where the player sits all-time.
Strikeouts: As mentioned above, Dunn and Rodriguez have posted some big time K numbers. they are currently fifth and fourth all-time, respectively. ARod sits just one ahead of Dunn.
Steals: Juan Pierre has the 19th most steals ever. That’s really something for someone who’s spent his career in a low-steal environment.
Runs: Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter both made real progress here. ARod is now 10th ever and Jeter is 13th.
RBI: ARod on the move again. He’s seventh all time and just one behind Stan Musial for 6th.
Extra base hits: More ARod. He’s ninth.
Singles: Jeter now has the sixth most all-time.
Hits: Jeter again. He’s 11th all-time and figures to move into the top 10 very early next year.
Now it’s time to get to the meat of the column. There were four seasons this year that were extra special and deserve some real attention before we close up shop.
Miguel Cabrera did something that had not been done in a long, long, long time. He won the triple crown. He sort of came out of nowhere to do it, too. I’m not going to say anything in this space that hasn’t already been said, but it is amazing to me that Cabrera will be 30 next April. He’s been around forever. It would take a serious turn of events for him to not enter the Hall of Fame and he has a real shot at all-time greatness. Most amazing is that, except for his home run total, this was a pretty run-of-the-mill year for Cabrera. Who knows, he might win the triple crown again in 2013.
Craig Kimbrel also came onto my radar late, but he ended up with a truly spectacular season. His 16.66 k/9 rate is the best ever for pitchers with at least 21 innings. If you go down to 10 innings, he’s number two. Behind himself. From 2010. We live in a time when strikeouts happen more frequently than they ever have before. Even so, what Kimbrel is doing is totally amazing. He deserves all the praise that can be heaped upon him.
R.A. Dickey had, I think unarguably, the best season a knuckleball pitcher has ever had. He lead the lead in strikeouts and may well win the Cy Young award. And he’s 37. Who knows how long he’ll be able to keep this up, but the rest of his career is going to be fascinating to watch.
Great as those three seasons were, however, for my money, the most interesting season of the year goes to Adam Dunn. And he didn’t even set any records. Still, this was a TTO season for the ages. Only a minor late season injury prevented him from grabbing the single-season strikeout crown. He finished with 222, just one shy of Mark Reynolds‘ record. But for a few home runs, he would have been the first player to lead both leagues in homers, walks, and strikeouts since Babe Ruth. He finished a plate appearance with a walk, homer, or strikeout 56 percent of the time. Again, not a record, but still an amazing total.
Adam Dunn’s season was a season of almosts, but it gave us a picture of what will probably be the biggest TTO career in the history of baseball. Adam Dunn is a unique player who had a uniquely interesting season.
That’s a wrap for the season. Thanks for reading everyone, I’ll see you in the spring