Thursday, June 11, 2009

Which players are like Albert Pujols (in this one respect, anyway)?

Albert Pujols is the best run-producing contact hitter in baseball, especially with Gary Sheffield in decline and Barry Bonds out of baseball. His strikeout totals look like Wade Boggs and his RBI totals like Hank Aaron. He is unique in that respect, but who else is capable of scoring and driving in runs without striking out? Justin Morneau is the only other player to drive in 100 runs on the list, so it is all relative. These are not the guys who drive in 100 runs, but most of those players are striking out more than 100 times a year.

The formula: strikeouts/(runs + RBI). The way it works: The lower the percentage, the better. It appears that if you are <.30, you are very good in this department. If a player has 100 runs scored, 100 RBI and only struck out 40 times, the percentage would be .20. If the same player struck out 100 times, the percentage would be .50. It might not be the list of the absolute best hitters, but an interesting mix of players. Some of these players are elite and some of the others are more surprising. I went through the entire league as best as I could, only looking at players with at least 500 AB. I am going to show the list of the top ten from 2008, then followed with a list of some of the great seasons from the past.

Albert Pujols .25
Dustin Pedroia .26
Joe Mauer .27
Bengie Molina .27
Casey Kotchman .28
Placido Polanco .29
Brian Giles .36
Yuniesky Betancourt .36
Conor Jackson .37
Justin Morneau .38

This is a mix of power hitters and contact hitters, with the most interesting hybrids being Casey Kotchman and Conor Jackson. What this mainly shows is that they are both solid professional hitters. They only combined for 26 Home Runs, which is not good for first basemen. But, they also produced 149 RBIs and only struck out 100 times between them. Bengie Molina seems a good candidate to not strike out, but who would have guess that he would have 95 RBI?

Betancourt? Puts the ball in play and scores a decent amount considering he does not have power. He is the least accomplished player on the list, but there is some value in what he can do.

For historical comparison, here are a few great seasons from the past to compare.

1941 Joe Dimaggio .05
1934 Lou Gehrig .11
1941 Ted Williams .11
1997 Tony Gwynn .13
1929 Mel Ott .13
1931 Babe Ruth .16
1954 Stan Musial .16
1988 Wade Boggs .18
2004 Pujols .20
2003 Gary Sheffield .21

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