A look back at how Box-Toppers watched players did in 2014



Andrew McCutchen may be selected as National League’s Most Valuable Player, but only ranks 18th among NL batters in Box-Toppers points. Mike Trout may be voted American League MVP but ranks seventh among AL batters in Box-Toppers points.

Box-Toppers watched players

Here are Box-Toppers' eight watched players at the close of the 2014 season. The column BTP shows the number of Box-Toppers points players accumulated this season, followed by their overall rank among all players for 2014. Honors shows the four players who led Box-Toppers major player categories—AL and NL batting and pitching.

Player Team BTP Rank Honors
Derek Jeter Yankees 0.0 996
Yasiel Puig Dodgers 1.0 593
Andrew McCutchen Pirates 6.5 137
Mike Trout Angels 8.5 78
Troy Tulowitzki Rockies 11.6 39 1st NL batter
Jose Abreu White Sox 15.5 14 1st AL batter
Corey Kluber Indians 25.8 2 1st AL pitcher
Clayton Kershaw Dodgers 31.5 1 1st NL pitcher
BTP: Box-Toppers points

Meanwhile, unexpected players—Jose Abreu and Troy Tulowitzki—who may have no chance at even being considered for postseason honors, are among Box-Toppers points leaders.


Why do some unexpected players excel in Box-Toppers points? And why do some star players seem to lag behind with fewer Box-Toppers points?

This season, Box-Toppers set to demonstrate why by focusing on a limited number of players and their daily performances. These watched players—featured in Box-Toppers Facebook posts and specially hashtagged Box-Toppers Twitter posts—showed when a player was deserving of earning Box-Toppers points or showed how other players in their game beat them out for points.

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. 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.

At the end of the season, Box-Toppers was watching eight players—four of them lead key Box-Toppers categories (NL and AL pitching and batting) and four others are players who often do not score well in Box-Toppers points but who are frequently highly touted, considered for postseason honors and are considered to be stars.

Here is a look at the eight players (including the Twitter hashtag (#) used in daily “watched” posts):

Derek Jeter, Yankees #jeterwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 0.0

Jeter, 40, is surely a future Hall-of-Famer, but in 145 games, he did not earn Player of the Game honors in any of the Yankees wins in his retirement season.

Box-Toppers watched him this season because he announced his retirement prior to the season and we thought it would be interesting to see how he fared in his last year. But Box-Toppers also watched him because he tended not to score as highly in Box-Toppers as his reputation as a star would indicate. 

In his career, he scored 76.4 career Box-Toppers points and ranks 127th among all players. To give some perspective, he trails DH Travis Hafner (in 123rd place with 76.9 points), who is not exactly on the glidepath to Cooperstown that Jeter is.

But to be fair, Jeter ranks second among all shortstops all-time, trailing Miguel Tejada (102.3 Box-Toppers points). The shortstop position is generally not called upon for the offensive numbers required to win Player of the Game honors and earn Box-Toppers points.

Jeter’s Box-Toppers points total have also likely been impacted over the years because of the caliber of the talent on his own team—players like Roger Clemens, CC Sabathia, Jason Giambi, who have been his teammates, have more career Box-Toppers points than Jeter and likely beat him out on occasion for Player of the Game honors.

For example, Jeter did not even earn Player of the Game honors in his final game at Yankee Stadium Sept. 25. While Jeter drove in the winning run on a dramatic, walk-off single in the bottom of the ninth (and was 2-for-5 with a run and three RBIs), he was beat out for Player of the Game by pitcher Hiroki Kuroda, who struck out nine over eight innings in the win over the Orioles.

Also, Jeter’s star power does not come from putting together performances that frequently make him Player of the Game. It often comes from anecdotal (but real) flashes of brilliance that make the highlight reel, that do contribute to the win, that wows the fans to the point of deserved admiration, but do not translate well to the scorecard, the box score—or to Box-Toppers points.

More on Derek Jeter in this February post in Box-Toppers Stick-A-Fork-In-Them series on retiring or soon-to-be retiring players.


Yasiel Puig, Dodgers #puigwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 1.0

145th among NL batters

593rd among all players

Box-Toppers watched Puig this year because of the buzz he created. True, he led the NL in on-base percentage and had the NL’s eighth-best batting average—but he only once was Dodger’s top player in a win, on May 12. He has only earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice in his career and has only 2.5 career Box-Toppers points in two seasons.

Is Puig overrated and not living up to the hype, at least in terms of helping the Dodgers win games? Or is Puig perhaps overshadowed by other players on his team who contributed more to Dodgers wins, especially pitcher Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, who were among the overall Box-Toppers points leaders?


Andrew McCutchen, Pirates #cutchwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 6.5

18th among NL batters

137th among all players

A leader in new-fangled baseball statistics, such as Wins Above Replacement and on-base plus slugging, the 2013 NL MVP is touted by many to repeat the feat in 2014.

But in 2013, he finished 22nd among NL batters in Box-Toppers points with 6.0. This year, he is slightly improved, with 6.5 points—18th among NL batters. According to Box-Toppers, he is not the NL batter who most helped his team win the most games. In fact, he is not even the top Pirates batter, an honor that goes to Neil Walker (7.0 Box-Toppers points).


Mike Trout, Angels #troutwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 8.5

7th among AL batters

78th among all players

Another sabermetrician favorite and leader in wins above replacement, Trout actually had a decent season Box-Toppers-wise—just not among the top five of AL batters.

Trout was watched this season because he has been touted as an MVP candidate for two seasons, finishing behind Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers both times. With Cabrera ostensibly out of the limelight since he is not having another Triple Crown season, the door has been opened for Trout to finally claim MVP this year. However, it should be noted that Cabrera has 12.5 Box-Toppers points this season, in second among AL batters and ahead of Trout.

But ahead of both Trout and Cabrera in Box-Toppers points is rookie Jose Abreu of the White Sox with 15.5 points.

In 2013, Trout had only 3.5 Box-Toppers points and yet finished second in AL MVP voting. This year is his second-best ever (he had 11.0 points in 2012) and he is the leading batter among Angels players in Box-Toppers points, third-best among all Angels players.


Jose Abreu, White Sox #abreuwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 15.5

1st among AL batters

14th among all players

Rookie Jose Abreu has been a Box-Toppers watched player since he assumed the lead among AL batters in June. He hit 36 home runs and led the AL in slugging percentage (.581) and handily won Box-Toppers AL Batter of the Year honors—Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers finished second with 12.5 Box-Toppers points.

Abreu should win AL Rookie of the Year honors. But despite his performance, it is unclear whether he is even being taken seriously as a candidate for AL MVP.


Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies #tulowatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 11.6

1st among NL batters

39th among all players

Tulowitzki played only 91 games this season—he last played July 19 and was out with injury and hip surgery after that. No one in their right mind would consider that anyone who missed nearly half the season should be considered as NL MVP.

And yet, according to Box-Toppers, no other NL batter playing an entire season even came close the the 11.6 Box-Toppers points Tulowitzki earned in his short time. Second-place Buster Posey of the Giants had 8.5.

Early in the season, Tulowitzki was the rare batter among Box-Toppers top 10 overall players. But even as he fell down to 39th among all players, he never fell from first among NL batters in Box-Toppers points.

It could be argued that NL batters were so lackluster and so overshadowed by NL pitchers in 2014 that no batter should win MVP and the honor should go instead to Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw. More on him in a second.


Corey Kluber, Indians #kluberwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 25.8

1st among AL pitchers

2nd among all players

Kluber came on late to take the AL pitching lead from Max Scherzer of the Tigers (22.1 Box-Toppers points, second among AL pitchers).

Kluber became one of only 11 players in Box-Toppers’ 20 years of record keeping to reach 25 Box-Toppers points in a season.


Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers #clawwatch

2014 Box-Toppers point total: 31.5

1st among NL pitchers

1st among all players

Kershaw’s season was dominant. Despite missing six weeks with injury at the start of the season, Kershaw racked up the fourth-best single-season Box-Toppers point total in 20 years.

It was a year so dominant in a year in an overall down year for NL batters, Kershaw is being touted for the NL MVP.