Bill Gilbert: Most Productive in 2016 MLB

Contributor analyst Bill Gilbert presents his work on the most productive MLB hitters of 2016.

Contributor analyst Bill Gilbert presents his conclusions on the most productive MLB hitters of 2016. Thanks for the effort, Bill!

 

Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2016?

 By Bill Gilbert

Numerous methods have been devised to measure offensive performance. The most common are batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Since none of these averages provides a complete picture by itself, a more comprehensive measure of offensive performance is useful. Such a measure would include the following elements:

  1. The ability to get on base.
  2. The ability to hit with power.
  3. The ability to add value through baserunning.

The first two elements are measured by on-base percentage and slugging average. A measure of offensive performance, which encompasses both as well as baserunning achievements, is Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA). This measure accounts for the net bases accumulated by a player per plate appearance. It is calculated as follows:

BPA = (TB + BB + HB + SB – CS – GIDP) / (AB + BB + HB + SF)

Where: BPA = Bases per Plate Appearance

TB   = Total Bases

BB   = Bases on Balls

HB   = Hit by Pitch

SB   = Stolen Bases

CS   = Caught Stealing

GIDP = Grounded into Double Plays

AB   = At Bats

SF   = Sacrifice Flies

The numerator accounts for all of the bases accumulated by a player, reduced by the number of times he is caught stealing or erases another runner by grounding into a double play. The denominator accounts for the plate appearances when the player is trying to generate bases for himself. Sacrifice hits are not included as plate appearances, since they represent the successful execution of the batter’s attempts to advance another runner.

Major league BPA for the past fifteen years is shown below along with the number of players with BPA over .550 and .600:

Year 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016

BPA .457 .461 .468 .456 .470 .463 .458 .461 .446 .442 .447 .440 .426 .440 .456

.550   39 42   33   34   46   34 41   42 19   25   12   14     9   20   23

.600  17 15   18   13   14   15 11   16 7   7   5     3     4     6     7

Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this century. BPA declined significantly from .481 in 2000 to .426 in 2014 before significant upticks in 2015 and 2016.

In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the eight year period from 2000 to 2007, there were 18. The highest BPA in the 1990s was recorded by Mark McGwire in 1998 (.799). Barry Bonds shattered that with .907 in 2001, the highest figure ever recorded, topping Babe Ruth’s best two years (1920 and 1921). Bonds followed that with .869 in 2002, .818 in 2003 and .882 in 2004. There have not been any hitters with a BPA of .700 since 2007. The last player to make it was Alex Rodriguez (.702) in 2007. Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his sixteen seasons. His highest was .696 in 2009.

The .700 BPA seasons in 2000-2015 are listed below:

Player             Team           Year      BPA

Barry Bonds       San Francisco 2001     .907

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2004     .882

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2002     .869

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2003     .818

Sammy Sosa          Chicago Cubs   2001     .758

Barry Bonds         San Francisco 2000     .745

Jim Thome           Cleveland     2002     .728

Manny Ramirez       Cleveland     2000     .726

Todd Helton         Colorado       2000     .720

Luis Gonzalez       Arizona       2001     .713

Todd Helton         Colorado       2001     .709

Carlos Delgado     Toronto       2000     .707

Larry Walker       Colorado       2001     .707

Jason Giambi       Oakland       2000     .706

Travis Hafner       Cleveland     2006     .703

Alex Rodriguez     NY Yankees     2007     .702

Jason Giambi       Oakland       2001     .700

Ryan Howard         Philadelphia   2006    .700

The yearly leaders since 1992 are as follows:

1992 Bonds        .734 1993 Bonds     .740 1994 Bagwell .768

1995 Belle        .692 1996 McGwire .765 1997 Walker  .770

1998 McGwire      .799 1999 McGwire   .735 2000 Bonds  .745

2001 Bonds       .907 2002 Bonds     .869 2003 Bonds    .818

2004 Bonds        .882 2005 D. Lee   .699 2006 Hafner   .703

2007 A. Rodriguez .702 2008 Pujols   .685 2009 Pujols   .696

2010 Bautista     .671 2011 Bautista .681 2012 Trout   .665

2013 C. Davis   .670 2014 Trout     .623 2015 Harper   .694

2016 Trout       .681

The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of the seven players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2016. The list is topped by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels with a BPA of .681, the third time he has finished in front. He has had a BPA over .600 in all five years that he has played a full season.

Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of .600+ in 2016

————————————————-

No. of 2016 2015    .600+

 Player           BPA   BPA LG Seasons Comments

  1. Mike Trout      .656 .623   A   5   Does it every year.
  2. David Ortiz      .631 .533   A   6   Led MLB in OPS (on-base plus slugging).
  3. Freddie Freeman .616 .530   N   1   Big power improvement in 2016.
  4. Daniel Murphy   .612 .450   N   1   2015 post season was not a fluke.
  5. Kris Bryant       .611 .555   A   1 Does it all for Cubs.
  6. Josh Donaldson   .609 .594   A   1   Slightly better than 2015 MVP season.
  7. Joey Votto       .606 .633   N   4   Led NL in OBP.

Near misses were Charlie Blackmon with .597 and Brian Dozier at .594.

Four other players had a BPA over .600 in 2015 but failed to reach it in 2016.

No2016   2015     .600+

   Player           BPA  BPA LG Seasons Comments            

1 Bryce Harper     .533 .694  N   1   Production fell way off.

2 Paul Goldschmidt .587 .638   N   1   Consistent with career BPA of .589.

3. Chris Davis     .528   .607   A   2   Led MLB in strikeouts and batted .221.

4. Nelson Cruz     .577   .600   A  1 Third straight year with 40+ HR.

Two active players have a BPA of .600 for their careers:

2016         Career Player            Age            BPA           BPA   Comments

————-      —     —-       —-   —————————

Mike Trout          24      .656       .638   Leader by far.

Alex Rodriguez       39     .383       .600   End of the line.

Another list of interest is of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2016 who did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title.

Player           Age BPA   PA   Comments

————— —  —- —   ————————–

Gary Sanchez     23 .672 229   Higher BPA than Trout

Trea Turner      23 .664 324 Also higher than Trout

Trevor Story      23 .603 415   Season cut short by injury. Looking at the other end of the spectrum, seven players who earned enough playing time to qualify for the batting title had a BPA less than .400 in 2016. Last year, sixteen players were on this list and in 2014, there were twenty five.

Player                     BPA   Team         Comments

——————–       —   ———-   —————–

Kevin Pillar              .399   Blue Jays   Compensates with strong defense.

Yonder Alonso              .395   A’s         Too low for a first baseman.

Yunel Escobar              .392   Angels       Fifth time on this list.

Jason Heyward            .382   Cubs         Cubs committed 184M for this?

Alcides Escobar            .372   Royals       Career BPA of .386.

Jose Iglesias              .364   Tigers       Career BPA of .382.

Adeiny Hechavarria        .336   Marlins     Has never had a .400 BPA season.

Four players had a batting average over .300, an on-base average over .400, a slugging percentage over .500 and bases per plate appearance over .600 in 2016.

Player             BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA      OPS

Mike Trout         .315     .441     .550     .656     .991

David Ortiz          .315      .401     .620     .631     1.021

Freddie Freeman      .302     .400     .569     .612     .969

Joey Votto         .326     .434     .550      .606       .984

Trout is the only one with these numbers for his career.

Mike Trout–Career   .306     .405     .557     .638       .984

While Trout did not lead MLB in batting or slugging average, he led in most other measures including OBP, BPA, Total Average (Bases per Out) and WAR (Wins above Replacement). He was clearly the best offensive and all-around player in the Major Leagues in 2016, even though he played for a losing team.

Bill Gilbert

12/19/16

Source of statistics used in this report is the ”Lee Sinins 2017 Complete Baseball Encyclopedia”.

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