The major-league season hit its traditional and actual halfway point yesterday. You probably know who’s at the top of the leaderboards so far this year, but half-seasons can be deceiving. So let’s ask the natural question: Who leads the major leagues in the major categories over the past full year, including the second half of last year?
We can answer this question thanks to David Pinto’s Day-by-Day database, which has quickly become one of my favorite online baseball resources.
Fantasy players know that a strong second half can foreshadow a strong following year. Some of the home run leaders over the past full year bear that out in a very close race:
Player HR Derrek Lee 47 Mark Teixeira 47 Carlos Lee 46 Albert Pujols 46 Andruw Jones 43 Adam Dunn 43 Manny Ramirez 41 Jim Edmonds 41 Paul Konerko 40 Aramis Ramirez 39
Mark Teixeira is just continuing what he started in the second half of last year, when he batted .293/.379/.603 with 25 home runs. Carlos Lee batted .318/.375/.616 with 24 home runs in the second half of last year, so his pace this year isn’t really a surprise, either. In fact, Teixeira and Lee would have been two guys near the top of any potential breakout list for 2005.
But what about the other Lee? Derrek hit 22 home runs in the second half of last year, so his home run rate so far this year is not really a surprise. But there is one big difference from his performance last year: His line drive rate has climbed from .187 all of last year to .270 so far this year, resulting in a BABIP increase from .306 to .410. As a result, his overall batting average has climbed from .256 the second half of last year to .383 so far this year.
Speaking of which, here are the leaders in Batting Average over the last full year:
Player BA Ichiro Suzuki .364 Albert Pujols .349 Vladimir Guerrero .338 Mark Loretta .333 Johnny Damon .327 Placido Polanco .326 Brian Roberts .320 Miguel Cabrera .320 Derrek Lee .318 Luis Castillo .318
Ichiro is “only” batting .300 this year, compared to .423 the second half of last year. Good enough to still lead the full-year list. To me, the biggest surprise on this list is Detroit’s Placido Polanco, who was so forlorn during the free agent offseason that he accepted the Phillies’ arbitration offer. I wonder if some GM’s are kicking themselves about that right now.
By the way, I don’t mean to overlook the perennially great players, like Vladimir Guerrero and Albert Pujols. Lists like these just affirm their awesomeness. Here’s on-base percentage:
Player OBP Todd Helton .434 J.D. Drew .430 Albert Pujols .426 Bobby Abreu .424 Jim Edmonds .423 Lance Berkman .421 Luis Castillo .417 Travis Hafner .414 Mark Loretta .405 Ichiro Suzuki .403
Todd Helton is having a very disappointing year for the Rockies, but he’s still drawing walks. In fact, he’s tied for third in the majors this year in walks. But guess who’s leading the majors in intentional walks over the past full year?
Player IBB Barry Bonds 57 Ichiro Suzuki 25 Todd Helton 23 Jim Thome 14 Alex Gonzalez 14 Albert Pujols 13 Vladimir Guerrero 12 Bobby Abreu 12 Mark Teixeira 12 Carlos Delgado 12
Just in case you had forgotten about the guy on the top, Bonds has drawn more than twice as many intentional walks as the number two guy in half the time. By the way, this list is the only one that isn’t based on batters qualifying with at least 502 plate appearances.
Now for the pitching leaders (minimum 162 innings pitched), starting with ERA:
Player ERA Roger Clemens 2.34 Johan Santana 2.44 Jake Peavy 2.66 John Smoltz 2.73 Dontrelle Willis 2.79 Chris Carpenter 2.84 Roy Halladay 2.85 Roy Oswalt 2.89 Mark Buehrle 3.06 Ben Sheets 3.09
I guess there are no big surprises on this list. Dontrelle Willis’s strikeouts are up and his walks are down, but the biggest difference between this year and last is his home run rate, which has fallen from 0.9 to 0.2 per game. Part of the reason for that is his groundball/flyball ratio, which is up a bit from 1.25 to 1.65.
Here are the leaders in strikeouts per nine innings pitched:
Player K/9 Johan Santana 11.0 Oliver Perez 10.0 Pedro Martinez 10.0 Jake Peavy 9.8 Jason Schmidt 9.8 Randy Johnson 9.6 Ben Sheets 9.6 Roger Clemens 8.7 A.J. Burnett 8.7 Chris Carpenter 8.6
The enigma that is Oliver Perez has maintained a decent strikeout pace this year but has also become the anti-Silva. His BB/9 ratio is over half a walk higher than the next worst total. On the other hand, it you’re not yet a believer in Chris Carpenter, you’re either a very skeptical person or a bitter Blue Jay fan.
We all know that the Twins, led by Brad Radke and Carlos Silva, have been on a record-setting pace for allowing the least base on balls in a season. But when it comes to stinginess, there is another…
Player BB/9 David Wells 1.01 Brad Radke 1.02 Carlos Silva 1.06 Paul Byrd 1.30 Roy Halladay 1.37 Ben Sheets 1.44 Greg Maddux 1.47 Randy Johnson 1.54 Jon Lieber 1.57 Mark Buehrle 1.61
Here’s a final list. I don’t believe in the whole system of assigning wins and losses to pitchers—teams win games, not individuals—but it is kind of interesting to see which pitchers have been assigned the most wins over the last year.
Player W L WPct Bartolo Colon 24 8 .750 Roy Oswalt 23 11 .676 Johan Santana 21 5 .808 Jon Garland 19 9 .679 Chris Carpenter 19 6 .760 Mark Buehrle 18 10 .643 Pedro Martinez 17 8 .680 Jon Lieber 17 11 .607 Jeff Suppan 17 11 .607 Jake Peavy 17 6 .739
Bartolo Colon reduced his ERA from 6.19 in the first half of last year to 4.07 in the second half. This year, he’s at 3.08. Over the last full year, Colon is 24-8, with a 3.35 ERA, 173 strikeouts and 60 walks in 228.7 innings. One of the keys for Colon this year is that he’s improved his G/F ratio from 0.86 to 1.11, and he’s improved his walk rate. Next to Vlad, he’s been the Angels’ MVP.
If you’d like to develop other full year lists, the day-by-day database is just a click away.