Currently Historic: Season wrap-up

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.

Round numbers

Lots of players hit significant or moderately significant round numbers this year.

300 home runs: Miguel Cabrera and Ryan Howard both made it to 300. Good for them.
400 home runs: David Ortiz and Adam Dunn both got to 400. More on Dunn’s fascinating season in a minute.

400 steals: Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes reached this level with an honorable mention to Bobby Abreu whose tumultuous season found him ending the year on 399.

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.

Home runs: Jim Thome passed Sammy Sosa this year and is now seventh ever. He also came achingly close to the all-time career strikeout record. ARod over took Ken Griffey, jr for fifth

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.

Spectacular Seasons

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

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Comments

  1. David P Stokes said...

    I was kind of hoping Dunn would lose a few points off of his average at the end of the season and finish with 40+ HR but an average under .200.

  2. kds said...

    R.A. Dickey, the best season ever by a knuckleball pitcher?  Phil Niekro begs to differ.  He had many seasons with more value than Dickey’s.

  3. josh said...

    in 1971 Wilbur Wood had a 189 ERA+ (which led the league) over 334 innings.  Dickey had a 140 ERA+ over 233.  What is the argument in favor of Dickey?  Wood in 1971 was like having the two best pitchers in the league.

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