Sonny Gray of the Athletics had a great 2015 season, pitching two shutouts, three complete games, had an earned run average of 2.73, was named an All-Star and was third in American League Cy Young voting. He also earned 17.8 Box-Toppers points, sixth among AL pitchers.
Big dippersHere are players whose Box-Toppers point total declined most from 2015 to 2016. Some were out all or much of the 2016 season with injury, such as Lance Lynn and Garrett Richards. Some had stellar 2015 seasons and simply didn’t match that performance in 2016, such as 2015 Cy Young winners Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta. Some, such as Torii Hunter, simply retired and did not play in 2016. Players are listed in order of their Box-Toppers point decline. Their Box-Toppers points (BTP) for 2016, if any, are also shown.
|1||Gray, Sonny 3259||pi sp||oak al||-16.8||1.0|
|2||Keuchel, Dallas 3050||pi sp||hou al||-14.4||7.0|
|3||Hernandez, Felix 2064||pi sp||sea al||-13.4||6.0|
|4||Arrieta, Jake 2738||pi sp||chi nl||-13.4||15.7|
|5||deGrom, Jacob 3343||pi sp||nym nl||-12.7||9.7|
|6||Cole, Gerrit 3232||pi sp||pit nl||-12.5||6.5|
|7||Harvey, Matt 3075||pi sp||nym nl||-12.4||3.0|
|8||Fielder, Prince 2029||1b||retired*||-11.5|
|9||Heston, Chris 3437||pi sp||sf nl||-11.4|
|10||Lynn, Lance 2992||pi sp||stl nl||-11.4|
|11||Richards, Garrett 3042||pi sp||ana al||-11.0|
|12||Greinke, Zack 1871||pi sp||ari nl||-11.0||9.7|
|13||Wilson, C.J. 2074||pi sp||ana al||-10.1|
|14||Vogelsong, Ryan 1820||pi sp||pit nl||-10.0|
|15||Hutchison, Drew 3038||pi sp||pit nl||-9.0|
|16||Bautista, Jose 2169||rf||tor al||-9.0||1.0|
|17||Price, David 2593||pi sp||bos al||-8.7||12.4|
|18||Grichuk, Randal 3474||cf||stl nl||-8.5||1.0|
|19||Chavez, Jesse 2780||pi sp||lad nl||-8.4|
|20||Jungmann, Taylor 3493||pi sp||mil nl||-8.0|
|21||Drew, Stephen 2210||2b||dc nl||-8.0|
|22||Boxberger, Brad 3111||pi cp||tb al||-8.0|
|23||Hunter, Torii 1190||cf||retired||-8.0|
|24||Holland, Greg 2906||pi cp||free agent||-8.0|
|25||Miller, Shelby 3134||pi sp||ari nl||-8.0||2.0|
BTP: Box-Toppers points earned in 2016
* Prince Fielder, 32, announced Aug. 10 he would not be able to continue playing baseball because of injuries.
What are those numbers after players' names?
But in 2016, Gray only earned 1.0 Box-Toppers point and had a 5.69 ERA over 22 games.
Gray had the biggest Box-Toppers point total decline of any player from 2015 to 2016—16.8. Gray earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors only once in 2016, in his first start April 6 vs. the White Sox.
But Gray is in good company. The 2015 Cy Young Award winners in both leagues—Dallas Keuchel of the Astros and Jake Arrieta of the Cubs—are among the top four “big dippers” in Box-Toppers points from 2015 to 2016. The list of the 25 players whose point total declined most since last season also features players who were out much or all of the 2016 season with injury.
Keuchel, the 2015 AL Cy Young Award winner, had the second-biggest decline, falling 14.4 Box-Toppers points from 21.4 in 2015 (first among AL pitchers) to 7.0 in 2016. In 2015, Keuchel led the AL with 20 wins and 216 strikeouts, had an ERA of 2.48, pitched in 33 games, racking up three complete games and two shutouts. But in 2016, he won nine games in 26 appearances, had an ERA of 4.55, pitching one complete game shutout and struck out 144. In 2015, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game only seven times, earning no bonus points. In 2016, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game 16 times, earning bonus points six times.
Arrieta, the 2016 NL Cy Young Award winner, had the fourth-biggest decline, falling 13.4 Box-Toppers points from 29.1 in 2016 (first among all players) to 15.7 in 2016. Despite the fall, Arrieta still ranked ninth among all players in Box-Toppers points for 2016.
Arrieta had a long way to fall. His 29.1 Box-Toppers points in 2015 was the eighth-highest single-season Box-Toppers point total since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began. He led the NL in 2016 with 22 wins, 33 appearances, four complete games and three shutouts. He had a 1.77 ERA, 229 innings pitched and struck out 236.
In 2016, he won 18 games in 31 appearances and pitched one complete game shutout. His ERA went up to 3.10, his innings pitched dropped (197.1) and his strikeouts dropped (190).
In 2015, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game 19 times, including earning bonus points 11 times. In 2016, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game 10 times, earning bonus points six times.
Seven players among the 25 on the list were out much or all of the season due to injury.
Three pitchers missed the entire 2016 season recovering from Tommy John surgery:
- Lance Lynn of the Cardinals (who ranked 10th among “big dippers,” dropping 11.4 Box-Toppers points).
- Garrett Richards of the Angels (who ranked 11th, dropping 11.0 points).
- Closer Greg Holland, a free agent in 2016, but with the Royals in 2015 (who ranked 24th, dropping 8.0 points).
C.J. Wilson of the Angels (who ranked 13th, dropping 10.1 points) was out the entire season recovering from elbow and shoulder surgeries.
Three other players missed significant portions of the season because of injury:
- Mets pitcher Matt Harvey (who ranked seventh, dropping 12.4 points) had a rocky start of the season and last appeared July 4 before going on the disabled list.
- Prince Fielder of the Rangers (who ranked eighth, highest among all batters, dropped 11.5 points). He played his final game July 18, earning no points in the season, later having to announce he was unable to continue his career because of injuries. He did not formally retire but is not expected to play again.
- Giants pitcher Chris Heston (who ranked ninth, dropping 11.4 points) was Box-Toppers’ top 2015 NL rookie, but earned no points in 2016. He was injured much of 2016, bounced around in the minor leagues and did not pitch in the Majors after April.
Other notable players on the top 25 “big dipper” list:
- Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez ranked third among “big dippers,” dropping 13.4 points from 2015. He earned only 6.0 points in 2016, a career low in 12 seasons. In 2015, Hernandez earned 19.4 Box-Toppers points, third among AL pitchers, winning 18 games with a 3.53 ERA, 31 games, 2 complete game shutouts, 201.2 innings pitched and 191 strikeouts. But in 2016, he had just 11 wins, a 3.82 ERA, 25 games, 153.1 innings pitched and 122 strikeouts.
- Mets pitcher Jacob deGrom ranked fifth among “big dippers,” dropping 12.7 points from 2015. He earned a respectable 9.7 points in 2016 (22nd among NL pitchers) after earning 22.4 in 2015 (third among NL pitchers).
- Pirates pitcher Gerrit Cole ranked sixth among “big dippers,” dropping 12.5 points from 2015. He earned 6.5 points in 2015 after earning 19.0 points in 2015 (sixth among NL pitchers).
- Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke ranked 12th among “big dippers,” dropping 11.0 points from 2015. He earned 9.7 points in 2016 (23rd among NL pitchers) after earning 20.7 points in 2015 with the Dodgers (fifth among NL pitchers). In 2015, he led the NL with a 1.66 ERA, but in 2016, his ERA was 4.37.
- Jose Bautista of the Blue Jays ranked 16th among “big dippers,” dropping 9.0 points from 2015. Bautista ranked second among batters on the “big dippers” list, first among batters who were active the entire season. Bautista had just 1.0 Box-Toppers point in 2016 after earning 10.0 points in 2015 (sixth among AL batters). Bautista played in fewer games than last season (153 vs. 116) and hit for less power (40 home runs vs. 22 and 114 RBIs vs. 69).
- Red Sox pitcher David Price ranked 17th among “big dippers,” dropping 8.7 points from 2015. Price had 12.7 Box-Toppers points in 2016 (ninth among AL pitchers) but had an even better 2015, with 21.1 Box-Toppers points (second among AL pitchers) with the Tigers and the Blue Jays.
- Torii Hunter ranked 22nd among “big dippers,” dropping 8.0 Box-Toppers points from 2015. Hunter retired at the end of 2015, a season in which he had 8.0 Box-Toppers points (12th among AL batters) with the Twins. Since Hunter did not play in 2016, he earned no Box-Toppers points.
Several players on 2015’s “big dippers” list bounced back in 2016, making big improvements:
- Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright ranked first among 2015’s “big dippers,” dropping 15.7 points from 2014 after suffering injury early in 2015. But in 2016, Wainwright ranked 24th among Box-Toppers’ top improvers for 2016, gaining 7.2 points from his 2015 total, earning 10.2 this season.
- Rangers pitcher Yu Darvish ranked third among 2015’s “big dippers,” dropping 12.4 points from 2014 after sitting out 2015 recovering from Tommy John surgery. But in 2016, Darvish returned and ranked sixth among Box-Toppers’ top improvers for 2016, gaining 10.4 points from his 2015 total, earning 10.4 this season.
- Indians pitcher Corey Kluber ranked fifth among 2015’s “big dippers,” dropping 12.4 points from 2014. Kluber had 25.8 Box-Toppers points in 2014, leading AL players and winning the AL Cy Young and had 13.4 in 2015. But in 2016, Kluber ranked 21st among Box-Toppers’ top improvers for 2016, gaining 7.8 points from his 2015 total, earning 21.2 and again leading AL players in Box-Toppers points.
- Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers ranked 17th among 2015’s “big dippers,” dropping 7.8 points from 2014. But in 2016, Cabrera ranked 23rd among Box-Toppers’ top improvers for 2016, gaining 7.3 points from his 2015 total, earning 12.0 points (fourth among AL batters).
Sadly, it seems like Jose Fernandez will lead the list of 2017’s “big dippers.” The Marlins pitcher who was killed Sept. 25, had 22.4 Box-Toppers points in 2016, third among all players. Fernandez will drop that many points in 2017 after rising 17.7 points in 2016, the biggest rise of any player. Only two players could drop further than Fernandez in 2017—Box-Toppers points leader, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (25.7 Box-Toppers points) and runner-up, Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (24.4 Box-Toppers points). Scherzer only needs to earn 3.3 points in 2017 and Kershaw just 2.0 to reduce their “big dipper” total below Fernandez’s 22.4.
About Box-Toppers—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.
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