Red Sox pitcher Rick Porcello led all pitchers in wins in 2016 with 22. But he lagged far behind in Box-Toppers points, earning only 8.0, 91st among all players.
Wins leaders’ Box-Toppers pointsHere is how 2016 wins (W) leaders fared in Box-Toppers points. Players are listed by most wins. Also shown are their 2016 Box-Toppers points (BTP) and their rank in Box-Toppers points among all players.
|1||Rick Porcello||Red Sox||22||8.0||91|
|2||J.A. Happ||Blue Jays||20||14.7||11|
|8||Chris Sale||White Sox||17||13.4||15|
|8||David Price||Red Sox||17||12.4||27|
And in fact, among the top 10 in wins for 2016 (actually top 17 since there was an eight-way tie for 10th place), only one other pitcher had fewer Box-Toppers points than Porcello. Most of the 17 wins leaders fared well in Box-Toppers rankings—six of them finished among the overall top 10 in Box-Toppers points, 11 of them finished among their league’s top 10 pitchers and 14 of the 17 earned at least 10.0 Box-Toppers points.
Porcello, propelled by his win total, won the American League Cy Young Award. So how did Porcello earn so few Box-Toppers points despite earning so many wins?
Simply looking at his games one by one, Porcello was often not the key player in determining the outcome of the game. Box-Toppers points are awarded to the one player who most helped contribute to a team’s win. And in Red Sox wins in which Porcello pitched, it was often some other player who provided those key contributions.
After his 20th win in mid-September, Box-Toppers examined why Porcello had so few Box-Toppers points even though he led all players in wins. He earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors in only seven of his first 20 wins. In the other 13 wins, a Red Sox batter with a higher Box-Toppers game score beat him out for Player of the Game.
In terms of Box-Toppers points, 2016 was not even Porcello’s best season. That was 2014 with the Tigers when he had 8.7 Box-Toppers points (and won 15 games). (Porcello ranked 72nd among all players in Box-Toppers points in 2014, 32nd among AL pitchers).
There were 30 AL pitchers in 2016 who had more Box-Toppers points than Porcello, including four of his Red Sox teammates. (See the list of 30 AL pitchers with more Box-Toppers points in 2016 than Porcello.)
Most other wins leaders fared better in Box-Toppers points. Overall Box-Toppers points leader for 2016, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (25.7), finished tied for second in wins with 20. The other player with 20 wins, Blue Jays pitcher J.A. Happ finished 11th among all players in Box-Toppers points with 14.7, third among AL pitchers. Porcello, Scherzer and Happ were the only pitchers in 2016 with 20 or more wins.
Five other players among Box-Toppers’ overall top 10 players also finished among the wins leaders:
- 4. Jon Lester, Cubs, 19 wins, had 22.1 Box-Toppers points, fourth among all players and third among NL pitchers.
- 5. (Tied) Jake Arrieta, Cubs, 18 wins, had 15.7 Box-Toppers points, ninth among all players and sixth among NL pitchers.
- 5. (Tied) Corey Kluber, Indians, 18 wins, had 21.2 Box-Toppers points, fifth among all players and first among AL pitchers.
- 5. (Tied) Johnny Cueto, Giants, 18 wins, had 16.4 Box-Toppers points, eighth among all players and fifth among NL pitchers.
- 10. (Tied) Jose Fernandez, 16 wins, had 22.4 Box-Toppers points, third among all players. Fernandez, who was killed in a boating accident Sept. 25, pitched for the Miami Marlins.
There are four other players (11 total) who finished among their league’s top 10 rankings in Box-Toppers points among pitchers:
- 8. (Tied) Chris Sale, White Sox, 17 wins, 13.4 Box-Toppers points, 15th among all players and sixth among AL pitchers.
- 8. (Tied) David Price, Red Sox, 17 wins, 12.4 Box-Toppers points, 27th among all players and ninth among AL pitchers.
- 10. (Tied) Justin Verlander, Tigers, 16 wins, 14.7 Box-Toppers points, 12th among all players and fourth among AL pitchers.
- 10. (Tied) Kyle Hendricks, Cubs, 16 wins, 13.4 Box-Toppers points, 17th among all players, 10th among NL pitchers.
Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers is Box-Toppers’ highest-ranked pitcher who does not appear among the wins leaders. Kershaw, who was out two months of the season with a back injury, had 12 wins in 2016, tied for 36th among all players. But he had 24.4 Box-Toppers points, second among all players.
Among the 17 wins leaders in 2016, only one pitcher had fewer Box-Toppers points than overall wins leader Porcello: Mariners pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma, who tied for 10th in wins with 16, had 6.0 Box-Toppers points, 156th among all players and 51st among AL pitchers.
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 the game—pitcher or batter—is eligible to earn Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors. Second, because a pitcher can earn bonus points for being top overall player for the day (1.0 bonus point) or their league’s top pitcher of the day (0.7 bonus points), 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.
Still, Box-Toppers point totals should roughly coincide with a pitcher’s win total. For example, Justin Verlander of the Tigers had 14.7 Box-Toppers points and won 16 games—he had nearly as many Box-Toppers points as he did wins, with a negative differential of just 1.3. However, Verlander actually only won Player of the Game honors in just nine of his 16 wins and only 11 times overall; Verlander won Player of the Game honors twice when he received a no decision. And though he only won Player of the Game honors 11 times, he had more than 11.0 total Box-Toppers points because he earned bonus points four times—three times for being overall Player of the Day (earning a bonus 1.0 Box-Toppers point) and once for being AL Player of the Day (earning a bonus of 0.7 Box-Toppers points).
While Verlander’s Box-Toppers points and wins nearly coincide, quite often those numbers are very different. Some examples:
- Among the wins leaders, Porcello has the biggest negative differential between wins and Box-Toppers points—he has 14.0 fewer Box-Toppers points (8.0) than wins (22).
- Fernandez has the biggest positive differential between wins and Box-Toppers points among wins leaders (+6.4)—he had 22.4 Box-Toppers points and 16 wins. Fernandez earned Player of the Game honors in 14 of his wins, earning Player of the Day honors seven times (worth 7.0 bonus points) and NL Player of the Day honors twice (worth 1.4 Box-Toppers points).
- Kershaw, who is not among the wins leaders, had an even larger positive differential between Box-Toppers points and wins (+12.4). He had 24.4 Box-Toppers points and 12 wins. Kershaw earned Player of the Game honors 16 times in 2016 (including 13 times before late June when he went on the disabled list for two months). He earned Player of the Game honors in 11 of his 12 wins. He earned Player of the Game honors five times when he earned a no decision. Plus he earned Player of the Day honors six times (worth 6.0 bonus Box-Toppers points) and NL Player of the Day honors twice (worth 1.4 bonus Box-Toppers points).
What does this tell us? Here’s my take. 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 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 often, the pitcher just happened to exit the game with the lead, doing just enough to earn the win.
In other words, the higher the positive differential between Box-Toppers points and wins (such as Fernandez’s +6.4), the more sincere and deserved those wins are for the pitcher.
Only four pitchers among the wins leaders had more Box-Toppers points than wins:
- Fernandez (mentioned earlier).
- Scherzer had 25.7 Box-Toppers points and 20 wins, 5.7 more Box-Toppers points than wins.
- Kluber had 21.2 Box-Toppers points and 18 wins, 3.2 more Box-Toppers points than wins.
- Lester had 22.1 Box-Toppers points and 19 wins, 3.1 more Box-Toppers points than wins.
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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