Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2008?

 

Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2008?
       
     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 are shown below along with the number of players with BPA over .550 and .600:
 
Year  1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
 BPA  .467 .463 .471 .463 .463 .479 .481 .468 .457 .461 .468 .456 .470 .463 .458
.550    38   37   41   34   41   50   50   46   39   42   33   34   46   34   41
.600    16   15   21   15   22   29   30   26   17   15   18   13   14   15   11
 
Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this decade. BPA in 2008 was down slightly from 2007.
 
      In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the nine year period from 2000 to 2008, there have been 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 were no hitters with a BPA of .700 in 2008 and the only player to make it in 2007 was Alex Rodriguez (.702). Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his eight seasons. However, he was the leader in 2008 by a large margin with a BPA of .685, the first time he has finished on top.
 
 
 
      The .700 BPA seasons in 2000-2007 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
 
 
      The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of 11 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2008.
 
Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of .600+ in 2008
————————————————- 
                                No. of
                 2007   2008     .600+
   Player         BPA    BPA LG Seasons Comments         
 1 Pujols, A.    .583   .685   N    6    Clearly the top offensive player.
 2 Ramirez, M.   .518   .636 A/N   11    New life on the West Coast.    
 3 Berkman, L.   .570   .633   N    5    Back on list after an off-year.
 4 Ramirez, H.   .634   .629   N    2    Emerging superstar
 5 Jones, C.     .629   .625   N    4    Still one of the best.
 6 Holliday, M.  .621   .624   N    2    Solid production, especially at Coors.
 7 Rodriguez, A, .702   .623   A   10    Not up to his usual standard.
 8 Bradley, M.   .493   .617   A    1    Misses a lot of games.
 9 Ludwick, R.   .530   .615   N    1    Can he do it again?
10 Quentin, C.   .397   .612   A    1    Carried the White Sox for months.
11 Sizemore, G.  .572   .611   A    2    Can do it all.
 
  
      The only repeaters from last year’s list are Hanley Ramirez, Jones, Holliday and Rodriguez. Eleven other players had a BPA over .600 in 2007 but fell short in 2008. Most of these players had strong seasons in 2008 but not up to their exceptional performance in 2007.
 
 
                                 No. of
                 2007   2008     .600+
   Player         BPA   BPA LG Seasons Comments            
 1 Pena, C.      .678   .567   A    1    Didn’t quite repeat 2007 career year.
 2 Ortiz, D.     .663   .555   A    5    Held back by injured wrist.
 3 Fielder, P.   .659   .552   N    1    Slow start held him back.
 4 Howard, R.    .631   .577   N    2    Came on strong in September.
 5 Wright, D.    .626   .581   N    1    Didn’t quite match big year in 2007.
 6 Granderson, C..621   .554   A    1    Good but not great.
 7 Thome, J.     .621   .550   A   12    In gradual decline.
 8 Dunn, A.      .617   .596 N/A    3    Consistent year-to-year.
 9 Utley, C.     .614   .593   N    1    Does everything well.
10 Ordonez, M.   .612   .485   A    2    Big drop-off from strong 2007 season.
11 Teixeira, M.  .609   .593 N/A    3    Consistently productive.
 
 
      Five players who had a BPA over .600 and qualified for the batting title in 2008 also have a career BPA over .600. These are the top offensive players in the major leagues who are currently performing at a peak level.
 
                             2008     Career
Player             Age       BPA        BPA    Comments.
————        —       —-       —-   ——–
Albert Pujols        28      .685       .646    One of the best RH hitters ever.
Alex Rodriguez       32      .623       .628    One of the best RH hitters ever.
Manny Ramirez        36      .636       .622    One of the best RH hitters ever.
Lance Berkman        32      .633       .616    Among the best switch hitters.  
Hanley Ramirez       24      .629       .609    Building solid credentials.
 
 
 
Another list of interest is one containing the names of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2008 who, for one reason or another, did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title. There are 5 players on this list in 2008 with 100 or more plate appearances.
 
                                  
Player          Age  BPA   PA    Comments
————— —  —- —    —————————
Chris Dickerson  26 .686  122    Late season call-up by Cincinnati
Nelson Cruz      27 .669  133    Also had big minor league season.
Rafael Furcal    30 .640  164    Missed most of season with bad back.
Russell Branyan  32 .638  152    Played very well before getting hurt.
Mike Napoli      26 .637  274    Exceptional power for a catcher.
 
 
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, nine players who earned enough playing time to qualify for the batting title had a BPA less than .400 in 2008. As usual most are middle infielders and catchers.  
 
Player               BPA      Comments
—————–   —-      ——————————
Jason Kendall       .396      Only repeater on this list.
Kurt Suzuki         .392      Second catcher on the list.
Miguel Tejada       .391      Set NL record for GIDP in 2008.
Edgar Renteria      .391      Can’t seem to hit in American League
Jeff Francoeur      .376      Only outfielder on this list.
Bobby Crosby        .375      Last 3 seasons at same level.
Freddy Sanchez      .370      Very disappointing season
Yuniesky Betancourt .368      Doesn’t get on base enough.
Jeff Keppinger      .361      Didn’t produce as a full-time player.
 
The following six players compiled a batting average over .300, an on-base average over .400, a slugging percentage over .500 and bases per plate appearance over .600 in 2008:
 
Player (2008)        BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA
Albert Pujols        .357      .462      .653      .685
Manny Ramirez        .332      .430      .601      .636
Lance Berkman        .312      .420      .567      .633
Hanley Ramirez       .301      .400      .540      .629
Chipper Jones        .364      .470      .574      .625
Matt Holliday        .321      .409      .538      .624
Milton Bradley       .321      .436      .563      .617
 
      Five active players have these numbers for their careers, although Helton and Thomas fell far short in 2008:
 
Player (Career)      BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA
Albert Pujols        .334      .425      .624      .646
Manny Ramirez        .314      .411      .593      .622
Lance Berkman        .302      .413      .560      .616
Todd Helton          .328      .428      .574      .615              
Frank Thomas         .301      .419      .555      .604
 
           
 
 
Bill Gilbert
11/11/08

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