Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2009?

 

Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2009?
       
     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 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
 BPA .463 .471 .463 .463 .479 .481 .468 .457 .461 .468 .456 .470 .463 .458 .461
.550   37   41   34   41   50   50   46   39  42   33   34   46   34   41   42
.600   15   21   15   22   29   30   26   17  15   18   13   14   15   11   16
 
Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this decade. BPA in 2009 was up slightly from 2008.
 
      In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the ten year period from 2000 to 2009, 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 2009 and the only player to make it in 2007 was Alex Rodriguez (.702). Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his nine seasons. However, he was the major league leader in 2009 by a large margin with a BPA of .696, the highest figure of his career, and the second 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 2009 Pujols   .696
 
      The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of 16 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2009.
 
Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of .600+ in 2009
————————————————- 
                                No. of
                 2009   2008     .600+
   Player         BPA    BPA LG Seasons Comments          
 1 Pujols, A.    .696   .685   N    7    Clearly the top offensive player.
 2 Fielder, P.   .640   .552   N    2    Only Pujols had a better year.    
 3 Mauer, J.     .619   .484   A    1    Career year so far.
 4 Zobrist, B.   .617   .555   A    1    Exceptionally versatile player.
 5 Votto, J.     .616   .547   N    1    Getting better every year.
 6 Lee, D.       .611   .484   N    2    Bright spot for the Cubs.
 7 Utley, C.     .611   .593   N    2    Top offensive second baseman.
 8 Howard, R.    .610   .577   N    3    Pure power.
 9 Bay, J.       .610   .581   A    1    Best offensive outfielder in AL.
10 Youkilis, K.  .609   .591   A    1    Consistently productive.
11 Reynolds, M.  .607   .511   N    1    Big home run bat.
12 Rodriguez, A. .604   .623   A   11    Good recovery after slow start.
13 Ramirez, H.   .604   .629   N    3    Has emerged as a top player.
14 Pena, C.      .604   .567   A    2    Good power but poor contact.
15 Braun, R.     .603   .578   N    1    Provides strong 1-2 punch with Fielder. 16 Teixeira, M.     .603   .593   A    4    Hasn’t had a bad year yet.
 
 
      The only repeaters from last year’s list are Pujols, Alex Rodriguez and Hanley Ramirez. Eight other players had a BPA over .600 in 2008 but fell short in 2009. Most of these players had strong seasons in 2009 but not up to their exceptional performance in 2008.
 
 
                                 No. of
                 2009   2008     .600+
   Player         BPA   BPA LG Seasons Comments            
 1 Ramirez, M.   .596   .636   N   11    Wasn’t the same after suspension.
 2 Berkman, L.   .573   .633   N    5    An off-year.
 3 Jones, C.     .505   .625   N    4    Worst year of career.
 4 Holliday, M.  .560   .624  A/N   2    Came on strong after trade.
 5 Bradley, M.   .507   .617   N    1    Major disappointment.
 6 Ludwick, R.   .485   .615   N    1    2008 looks like career year.
 7 Quentin, C.   .496   .612   A    1    Injury riddled season.
 8 Sizemore, G.  .517   .611   A    2    Injuries took toll.
  
      Five players who had a BPA over .600 and qualified for the batting title in 2009 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.
 
                             2009      Career
Player             Age       BPA        BPA    Comments.
————        —       —-       —-   ——–
Albert Pujols        29      .696       .651    Consistently great.
Alex Rodriguez       33      .604       .627    Led majors in homers 2000-09.
Ryan Howard          29      .610       .624    198 homers in last 4 years.
Hanley Ramirez       25      .604       .608    Building solid credentials.
 
 
Another list of interest is one containing the names of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2009 who did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title. Three veteran minor leaguers with a minimum of 100 PA made the list in 2009 with strong performances after promotion to the majors.
                                   
Player          Age  BPA   PA    Comments
————— —   —- —   —————————
Randy Ruiz       31  .623 130   Too old to be a prospect
Garrett Jones    28  .617 358   Another late bloomer.
Andres Torres    31  .609 170   Not consistent with prior performance.
 
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 2009. As usual most are middle infielders and catchers.  
 
Player               BPA      Comments
—————–   —-      ——————————
Russell Martin      .398      Disappointing season.
Orlando Cabrera     .396      Sub-par season.                                
Jhonny Peralta      .390      Power disappeared.
Cristian Guzman     .390      Career BPA of .411.
David Eckstein      .378      Lowest year ever.
Jason Kendall       .375      Fifth straight year under .400.
Emilio Bonafacio    .369      Career BPA of .373.
Edgar Renteria      .354      Worst year of career.
Yuniesky Betancourt .340      Career BPA of .384.
 
 
The following five 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 2009:
 
Player (2009)        BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA       OPS
Albert Pujols        .327      .443      .658      .696     1.101
Joe Mauer            .365      .444      .587      .619     1.031
Joey Votto           .322      .414      .567      .616      .981
Kevin Youkilis       .305      .413      .548      .609      .961
Hanley Ramirez       .342      .410      .543      .604      .954
 
      Three active players have these numbers for their careers, although Helton and Manny Ramirez fell short in 2008:
 
Player (Career)      BAVG       OBA       SLG       BPA        OPS
Albert Pujols        .334      .427      .628      .651      1.055
Manny Ramirez        .313      .411      .591      .621      1.002
Todd Helton          .328      .427      .567      .608       .994       
           
 
 
Bill Gilbert
11/20/09
 
bpa2009.doc
 

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