Posted by: mdegeorge | October 1, 2010

The year of the pitcher? Not according to these four guys

The 2010 Major League Baseball season will forever be known as the season of the pitcher. And with five no-hitters, including two perfect games, thrown, there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be.

But the moniker belies some of the historic offensive accomplishments being accumulated right under the allegedly dominant pitchers’ noses.

It’s not just that the Blue Jays, with their 254 home runs this season, are the fourth most prolific long-ball team in history, trailing only the 1996 Orioles (257), the 2005 Rangers (260), and the 1997 Mariners (264).

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The 2010 season has also been featured several historic individual performances. Heading into the final weekend of the season, there are four players in the top five in their respective leagues in all three Triple Crown categories:

Miguel Cabrera (second in average, third in homers, first in RBI)

Carlos Gonzalez (first, fourth, second)

Albert Pujols (fourth, first, first)

Joey Votto (second, third, third)

That number could have been higher had Paul Konerko’s average not nose-dived in September (he’s situated eighth in the AL, six points behind fifth-placed Billy Butler while remaining fifth in RBI and second in homer) or had Matt Holliday’s power numbers not sagged (he’s fifth in average and RBI, but 11th in home runs).

So, how rare of a feat is this?Since 1937 (the year Joe “Ducky” Medwick won the last NL Triple Crown), there’s only been one instance when three players in the same league all finished in the top five in each category. That was the AL in 1966 when Frank Robinson won the Triple Crown, Harmon Killebrew finished fifth in average, second in homers and RBI, and Boog Powell finished fourth, third, and third, respectively.

Over that same era, only two seasons have seen four players across both leagues accomplish the feat: 1966, with Dick Allen in the senior circuit joining the aforementioned AL trio, and 1937, with Medwick and St. Louis Cardinals teammate Johnny Mize in the NL and Yankee greats Joe DiMaggio and Lou Gehrig in the AL.

In fact, the total of four players in 2010 is only one less than the total from all of the 19080s!

In total, 90 players have had seasons that put them in the top 5 of all three statistical categories in the 148 seasons played since 1937 (counting both leagues). If you adjust that to look solely for top 4 finishes, the number is culled to 63. In the 15 years between 1979 and 1994, there were only two such seasons…total.

If the stats withstand the final weekend, it will be Pujols’ seventh appearance in the final top 5 of each category (2003-2006, 2008-2010). That would move him one ahead of Williams and two ahead of DiMaggio, Hank Aaron, and Johnny Mize. The only other player to appear in the top five of each category more often than Phat Albert is Lou Gehrig, with the Iron Horse turning in the feat nine times dating back to 1927.

For the offensive bonanza they’ve been experiencing, it doesn’t translate into wins. OF the four, only Votto’s Reds will be heading to the postseason (perhaps the prime reason why the NL MVP trophy will be traveling back to Canada with him in just over a month’s time).

The NL trio are 1-2-3 in wins above replacement (WAR) value for position players (Pujols at 7.1, Gonzalez and Votto tied at 6.0) while Cabrera is third in the AL 7.0, but that won’t punch their tickets to the postseason and my just provide the pitchers with the last gratifying laugh of 2010.


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