Wins leaders Kershaw, Kluber also lead in Box-Toppers points and in 'sincere, deserved' wins

Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw led the Majors in wins in 2014 and also led all players in Box-Toppers points.

Indians pitcher Corey Kluber was co-leader in wins in the American League and also led all AL players in Box-Toppers points.

Kershaw had 21 wins and earned 31.5 Box-Toppers points. Kluber had 18 wins and 25.8 Box-Toppers points.

In general, wins leaders did well in Box-Toppers points. Of the 25 starting pitchers who had 15 or more wins in 2014 (listed in the chart below), 21 of them were among Box-Toppers top 100 players. 

Seven of the 14 AL pitchers with 15 or more wins were among Box-Toppers’ top 10 AL pitchers. And six of the 11 National League pitchers with 15 or more wins were among Box-Toppers’ top 10 NL pitchers.

Box-Toppers points are a measure of how much a player provides key contributions to his team’s wins. Specifically, Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. Using standard box score statistics, Box-Toppers uses a simple formula to determine a Player of the Game for each Major League Baseball game played. That player is the person who contributed most to his team’s win. In regular season games, players earn 1.0 Box-Toppers point for being named Player of the Game and can earn bonus points for being Player of the Day or top player or batter in their league for the day.

Since Box-Toppers points are awarded to the top player in a game, it can be seen as almost equivalent to the win statistic for pitchers, with a few key differences. First, any player in a game—pitcher or batter—is eligible to earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors. Second, because a pitcher can earn fractional bonus points for being top overall player or top player or batter in their league for the day, they may wind up with more Box-Toppers points than wins. And third, pitchers can earn Box-Toppers points even when they earn no decision (no win or save).

Still, Box-Toppers point totals should roughly coincide with a pitcher’s win total, such as Scott Kazmir of the Athletics. He had 15.1 Box-Toppers points and 15 wins, meaning he had only 0.1 more Box-Toppers points than wins. It is interesting to see when the differences between Box-Toppers points and wins are more disparate.

For example, on one extreme:

• Kershaw had 10.5 more Box-Toppers points than wins—31.5 Box-Toppers points, 21 wins. Both totals led the Majors. Kershaw had so many more Box-Toppers points than wins because he received bonus points for being Player of the Day eight times and NL Player of the Day five times.

On the other extreme:

• Jered Weaver of the Angels had 11.3 fewer Box-Toppers points than wins—6.7 Box-Toppers points, 18 wins (he was one of three AL co-leaders in wins). While Weaver was credited with a win in 18 games, more often another Angels player did more to contribute to the team’s win, earning Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors.

To editorialize, to put a subjective spin on this, a player with more Box-Toppers points than wins more likely contributed more to his team’s wins. A player with fewer Box-Toppers points than wins more likely was not often the key reason his team won the games. In this case, it is more likely that other players’ contributions were more integral in earning the win and the pitcher just happened to leave the game with the lead, doing just enough to earn the win.

In other words, the higher the number of the difference between Box-Toppers points and wins (such as Kershaw’s +10.5), the more sincere and deserved those wins are for the pitcher. 

See the chart below to see the wins leaders, their Box-Toppers points totals for 2014, their Box-Toppers player ranking among all players and the difference between their Box-Toppers point total and win total (a positive number indicates they had more Box-Toppers points than wins, a negative number indicates they had fewer Box-Toppers points than wins).

A few more interesting tidbits from the chart:

• Kluber, who led the AL in Box-Toppers points and rankings, also had 7.8 more Box-Toppers points than wins, the most of any AL player.

• Max Scherzer of the Tigers tied for the AL lead with 18 wins. He had 22.1 Box-Toppers points, second among AL pitchers and fifth among all players. He had 4.1 more Box-Toppers points than wins.

• Wily Peralta of the Brewers had 10.0 fewer Box-Toppers points than wins (17 wins, 7.0 Box-Toppers points), the most of any NL pitcher. He also had the lowest Box-Toppers point total of any of the 11 NL pitching wins leaders.

• Justin Verlander of the Tigers had 4.0 Box-Toppers points, the fewest of any of the 25 wins leaders. Verlander had 15 wins in 2014 and so had 11.0 fewer Box-Toppers points than wins.

The highest ranking pitcher in Box-Toppers points who was not among the wins leaders listed in the chart below: Chris Sale of the White Sox, who had 17.4 Box-Toppers points, ranked ninth overall. He had just 12 wins.

How wins leaders fared in Box-Toppers points

Here are wins leaders for the American League (left) and the National League (right) with their Box-Toppers point total (BTP) for the 2014 season, their rank in Box-Toppers points among all players (BTP rank) and the difference (Diff) between their Box-Toppers point total and their win total.

Rank AL leaders Team W BTP BTP
Diff NL leaders Team W BTP BTP
1 Corey Kluber Indians 18 25.8 2 7.8 Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 21 31.5 1 10.5
2 *Max Scherzer Tigers 18 22.1 5 4.1 Johnny Cueto Reds 20 22.4 4 2.4
3 *Jered Weaver Angels 18 6.7 126 -11.3 *Adam Wainwright Cardinals 20 18.7 8 -1.3
4 Jon Lester Red Sox/A’s 16 16.4 12 0.4 Madison Bumgarner Giants 18 22.6 3 4.6
5 *Phil Hughes Twins 16 14.1 20 -1.9 Zack Greinke Dodgers 17 16.5 11 -0.5
6 *Matt Shoemaker Angels 16 11.7 38 -4.3 *Wily Peralta Brewers 17 7.0 112 -10.0
7 *Wei-Yin Chen Orioles 16 6.7 131 -9.3 Doug Fister Nationals 16 14.4 19 -1.6
8 Felix Hernandez Mariners 15 20.8 6 5.8 Lance Lynn Cardinals 15 10.7 48 -4.3
9 *David Price Rays/Tigers 15 19.1 7 4.1 *Bartolo Colon Mets 15 10.7 49 -4.3
10 *Scott Kazmir Athletics 15 15.1 15 0.1 *Tanner Roark Nationals 15 10.0 56 -5.0
*Hisashi Iwakuma Mariners 15 12.0 34 -3.0 *Alfredo Simon Reds 15 9.7 62 -5.3
*Bud Norris Orioles 15 10.7 51 -4.3
*Rick Porcello Tigers 15 8.7 72 -6.3
*Justin Verlander Tigers 15 4.0 237 -11.0

* Indicates the player was tied in wins with a player listed above them in rankings. In cases of ties, players are listed in order of their Box-Toppers point total for the season.

More on how 2014 stat leaders fared in Box-Toppers points:

Batting average leaders

In 2014, batting average leaders had low Box-Toppers point totals. Why? They came from losing teams, did not hit for power and were not often integral in their team’s (few) wins.

ERA leaders

Clayton Kershaw had a dominating lead among pitchers in earned run average and a dominating lead in Box-Toppers points. The top three pitchers in ERA in both leagues are among Box-Toppers’ top 10 overall players.

Home run leaders

Most home run leaders in 2014 also ranked high among batters in Box-Toppers points.

Wins leaders

Wins leaders—Clayton Kershaw and Corey Kluber—also led their leagues in Box-Toppers points. Also, pitchers like Kershaw and Kluber had more Box-Toppers points than wins, indicating their wins were more sincere and deserved than players whose wins outnumbered their Box-Toppers point total.

RBI leaders

In general, more RBIs translate into more Box-Toppers points. But in specific cases, some players among RBI leaders—such as NL leader Adrian Gonzalez of the Dodgers—were not among Box-Toppers points leaders.

Strikeout leaders

The top four pitchers who led each league in strikeouts were among the Box-Toppers’ top 10 players for 2014.