|1995||Randy Johnson*||pi sp||Mariners||23.7||Albert Belle||lf||Indians||15.4|
|1996||Chuck Finley||pi sp||Angels||15.7||Albert Belle||lf dh||Indians||20.4|
|1997||Roger Clemens*||pi sp||Blue Jays||27.4||Juan Gonzalez||dh||Rangers||16.3|
|1998||Roger Clemens*||pi sp||Blue Jays||25.8||Albert Belle||lf||White Sox||16.4|
|1999||Pedro Martinez*||pi sp||Red Sox||31.4||Manny Ramirez||rf dh||Indians||19.9|
|2000||Pedro Martinez*||pi sp||Red Sox||33.5||Frank Thomas||dh 1b||White Sox||17.9|
|2001||Tim Hudson||pi sp||Athletics||18.8||Bret Boone||2b||Mariners||13.7|
|2002||Pedro Martinez||pi sp||Red Sox||28.8||Jason Giambi||1b dh||Yankees||17.0|
|2003||Pedro Martinez||pi sp||Red Sox||23.4||Carlos Delgado||1b||Blue Jays||17.7|
|2004||Johan Santana*||pi sp||Twins||26.8||Gary Sheffield||rf||Yankees||16.2|
|2005||Johan Santana||pi sp||Twins||24.1||David Ortiz||dh||Red Sox||14.7|
|2006||Johan Santana*||pi sp||Twins||25.7||David Ortiz||dh||Red Sox||16.7|
|2007||Johan Santana||pi sp||Twins||18.1||Alex Rodriguez*||3b||Yankees||18.9|
|2008||Ervin Santana||pi sp||Angels||16.7||Aubrey Huff||dh 3b 1b||Orioles||12.5|
|2009||Zack Greinke*||pi sp||Royals||21.5||Miguel Cabrera||1b||Tigers||16.5|
|2010||Jon Lester||pi sp||Red Sox||23.4||Jose Bautista||rf 3b||Blue Jays||15.2|
|2011||Justin Verlander*||pi sp||Tigers||24.4||Asdrubal Cabrera||ss||Indians||14.7|
|2012||Justin Verlander||pi sp||Tigers||24.8||Adrian Beltre||3b||Rangers||13.0|
|2013||Max Scherzer*||pi sp||Tigers||18.1||Miguel Cabrera*||3b||Tigers||16.9|
|2014||Corey Kluber*||pi sp||Indians||25.8||Jose Abreu||1b||White Sox||15.5|
|2015||Dallas Keuchel*||pi sp||Astros||21.4||Adrian Beltre||3b||Rangers||12.5|
|2016||Corey Kluber||pi sp||Indians||21.2||Manny Machado||3b ss||Orioles||12.7|
|1995||Greg Maddux*||pi sp||Braves||23.4||Sammy Sosa||rf||Cubs||15.9|
|1996||John Smoltz*||pi sp||Braves||26.1||Ellis Burks||lf cf||Rockies||18.4|
|1997||Pedro Martinez*||pi sp||Expos||26.7||Larry Walker*||rf||Rockies||18.5|
|1998||Randy Johnson†||pi sp||Astros||26.4||Mark McGwire||1b ph||Cardinals||14.9|
|1999||Randy Johnson*||pi sp||Dbacks||31.5||Barry Bonds||lf||Giants||15.2|
|2000||Randy Johnson*||pi sp||Dbacks||33.7||Todd Helton||1b||Rockies||15.2|
|2001||Randy Johnson*||pi sp||Dbacks||29.4||Todd Helton||1b||Rockies||17.0|
|2002||Randy Johnson*||pi sp||Dbacks||33.7||Barry Bonds*||lf||Giants||20.7|
|2003||Jason Schmidt||pi sp||Giants||24.7||Albert Pujols||lf 1b||Cardinals||16.5|
|2004||Eric Gagne||pi cp||Dodgers||19.7||Albert Pujols||1b||Cardinals||15.9|
|2005||Chris Carpenter*||pi sp||Cardinals||21.0||Adam Dunn||lf||Reds||14.7|
|2006||John Smoltz||pi sp||Braves||19.1||Lance Berkman||1b||Astros||20.8|
|2007||Jake Peavy*||pi sp||Padres||23.4||Matt Holliday||lf||Rockies||16.2|
|2008||CC Sabathia||pi sp||Brewers||26.7||Albert Pujols*||1b||Cardinals||15.2|
|2009||Tim Lincecum*||pi sp||Giants||19.7||Albert Pujols*||1b||Cardinals||16.7|
|2010||Roy Halladay*||pi sp||Phillies||23.4||Albert Pujols||1b||Cardinals||15.4|
|2011||Clayton Kershaw*||pi sp||Dodgers||26.1||Prince Fielder||1b||Brewers||15.7|
|2012||Clayton Kershaw||pi sp||Dodgers||20.8||Ryan Braun||lf||Brewers||12.5|
|2013||Clayton Kershaw*||pi sp||Dodgers||21.7||Paul Goldschmidt||1b||Dbacks||13.7|
|2014||Clayton Kershaw*||pi sp||Dodgers||31.5||Troy Tulowitzki||ss||Rockies||11.6|
|2015||Jake Arrieta*||pi sp||Cubs||29.1||Carlos Gonzalez||rf||Rockies||11.5|
|2016||Max Scherzer*||pi sp||Nationals||25.7||Nolan Arenado||3b||Rockies||10.7|
* Indicates pitcher won his league’s Cy Young Award or batter won his league’s Most Valuable Player Award.
† Randy Johnson started the 1998 season with the AL Mariners and finished with the NL Astros. Curt Schilling of the Phillies had the most Box-Toppers points of any pitcher who played the entire season in the NL—19.0.
Analyzing 22 years of Box-Toppers points leaders in pitching & batting in both leagues
How often do Box-Toppers leaders win postseason awards?The chart below shows the number of times the Box-Toppers leader in pitching and batting in both the American and National League have won postseason awards and the percentage of times the category’s Box-Toppers points leader has won.
- Box-Toppers pitching leaders win postseason awards more often than Box-Toppers batting leaders.
- Randy Johnson has led his league category in Box-Toppers points more than any other player—he led his league’s pitchers six times.
- The Rockies now have the most representatives among Box-Toppers points category leaders. With Nolan Arenado leading National League batters in Box-Toppers points in 2016, a Rockies player has led a league pitching or batting category eight times.
Those are a few conclusions drawn from the Box-Toppers season-by-season leaders chart for each of the past 22 seasons.
Pitchers with the most Box-Toppers points in their league win postseason awards far more often than batters who lead their league in points. To illustrate:
- 16 times in 22 seasons the National League pitching leader has won the NL Cy Young Award (including 2016, when Box-Toppers points leader Max Scherzer won the award).
- 12 times in 22 seasons the American League pitching leader has won the AL Cy Young Award.
- Only four times in 22 seasons has the NL batting leader won the NL Most Valuable Player Award.
- And only twice in 22 seasons has the AL batting leader won the AL Most Valuable Player Award (Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees in 2007 and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers in 2013).
In other words, Box-Toppers pitching leaders and Cy Young Award winners are consistent with each other 63.6 percent of the time. Box-Toppers batting leaders and Most Valuable Player award winners are consistent with each other only 13.6 percent of the time. (In the chart above, players who led their league category in Box-Toppers points and also won a postseason award are marked with an asterisk.)
Why does Box-Toppers seem better at predicting who will be voted top pitcher than top batter? A variety of factors are at play. For one, it could be that baseball writers, who vote on postseason awards, are often just plain wrong when deciding the Most Valuable Player award, which usually goes to a batter. (This is said a bit facetiously, but some years looking at the MVP voting results, it does make a fan wonder.) Or it could be that Box-Toppers keeps track of only a batter’s offensive statistics and doesn’t take into account defense or squishy, unquantifiable factors like leadership or performance vs. expectations. Or it could be Box-Toppers actually lumps pitchers and batters together, comparing the incomparable in an apple-and-oranges fruit salad, always determining—in all-or-nothing fashion—that only a single pitcher or single batter is most responsible for a team’s win in a game.
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.
Box-Toppers has tracked every regular season Major League Baseball game since the start of the 1995 season—more than 53,000 total games. This website, Box-Toppers.com, began at the start of the 2013 season as a day-by-day demonstration of tabulating and evaluating this Box-Toppers metric.
Some other highlights looking at season-by-season Box-Toppers leaders:
Who led most often?Randy Johnson led his league’s category (pitching) in Box-Toppers points more seasons than any other player—six. Albert Pujols led his league’s batters in Box-Toppers points more seasons than any other batter—five. Here are the 16 players who led their league category (pitching or batting) in Box-Toppers points more than once in the past 22 seasons:
|1||Randy Johnson||pi sp||6||278.8||1|
|2||Pedro Martinez||pi sp||5||244.8||2|
|4||Clayton Kershaw||pi sp||4||183.7||6|
|4||Johan Santana||pi sp||4||166.6||11|
|7||Roger Clemens||pi sp||2||164.8||12|
|7||John Smoltz||pi sp||2||160.9||13|
|7||Miguel Cabrera||1b 3b||2||144.9||24|
|7||Justin Verlander||pi sp||2||139.3||28|
|7||Max Scherzer||pi sp||2||131.7||31|
|7||Corey Kluber||pi sp||2||65.4||185|
Box-Toppers top ‘all-time’ players: Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez
Randy Johnson, who has the most career Box-Toppers points of any player (278.8), led his league in his Box-Toppers category more than any other player.
Randy Johnson led his league’s pitchers in Box-Toppers points in six seasons.
The second-ranked player in “all-time” Box-Toppers player rankings, Pedro Martinez (244.8 career Box-Toppers points), has led his league’s pitchers in five different seasons, tied for the second-most of any player.
Albert Pujols has also been a leader in his Box-Toppers points category five times, making Pujols the batter with the most Box-Toppers point season crowns. Pujols is Box-Toppers “all-time” second-ranked batter with 174.3 points.
Box-Toppers top batter since record keeping began in 1995, Alex Rodriguez (187.0 career Box-Toppers points), has only led his league’s batters in Box-Toppers points once—in 2007, he led AL batters with 18.9 points.
Curt Schilling, ranked third overall among all players since 1995 (194.1 career Box-Toppers points) never led his league’s pitchers in Box-Toppers points. However, in 1998, he had 19.0 Box-Toppers points, the most of any pitcher who pitched the entire season in the National League (he was with the Phillies). But Randy Johnson is considered Box-Toppers NL leader because he finished the 1998 season with the Astros (who were then in the NL) after a midseason trade from the Mariners. Johnson had 26.4 Box-Toppers points in 1998—the most of any player that season—12.0 with the AL Mariners and 14.4 with the NL Astros.
Also, while Schilling does not appear among the league’s season leaders in Box-Toppers points he did have the ninth-most Box-Toppers points in a single season—28.4 with the Diamondbacks in 2002. However, that year, he finished behind overall leader (Johnson, then his Diamondback teammate, with 33.7) and AL leader (Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox, 28.8 Box-Toppers points).
Felix Hernandez of the Mariners is the next-highest ranked player in overall Box-Toppers player rankings who never led a Box-Toppers category in points in a single season. Hernandez is ranked ninth in Box-Toppers points since 1995 with 168.7.
Chipper Jones is the highest-ranked batter who never led his league's batters in Box-Toppers points in a single season. Jones, third baseman for the Braves, had 149.0 Box-Toppers points, fifth among all batters since 1995. In his best season—2001—he had 16.7 Box-Toppers points, finishing behind NL batting leader Todd Helton of the Rockies, who had 17.0.
In 2016, two players—Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer and Indians pitcher Corey Kluber—joined the ranks of players who led their league category in Box-Toppers points more than once. Scherzer led NL pitchers with 25.7 points. Previously, he led AL pitchers in 2013 with 18.1 points. Kluber led AL pitchers in 2016 with 21.2 Box-Toppers points. Previously, he led AL pitchers in 2014 with 25.8 points.
Only three players have led in Box-Toppers points in both leagues
In 2016, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer became the third player in Box-Toppers tracking history to lead a category in both leagues. He led NL pitchers in 2016 and led AL pitchers in 2013.
Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez are the only other players to have led their category in Box-Toppers points in both leagues:
- Johnson led AL pitchers in 1995 and NL pitchers from 1998 through 2002.
- Martinez led NL pitchers in 1997 and AL pitchers in 1999, 2000, 2002 and 2003.
Team-by-team resultsPlayers from the Colorado Rockies have led a Box-Toppers season category eight times in the past 22 years, more than any other team. Here are the number of times each team has had a player lead their league in Box-Toppers points in their category (pitching or batting):
Rockies players have won most Box-Toppers points season titles
The Colorado Rockies this year became the team with the most representatives to lead a Box-Toppers points season category.
In 2016, Nolan Arenado led NL batters with 10.7 Box-Toppers points, the eighth time a Rockies player has led a category—and the third straight year a Rockies player has led NL batters in Box-Toppers points.
The Rockies' eight representatives all led NL batters in Box-Toppers points. They are Ellis Burks, Larry Walker, Todd Helton (twice), Matt Holliday, Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and Arenado.
With their eighth category title in 2016, the Rockies break a three-way tie with the Boston Red Sox and St. Louis Cardinals, which have each won seven titles in the past 22 years:
- Red Sox: Pedro Martinez (four times), Jon Lester and David Ortiz (twice).
- Cardinals: Chris Carpenter, Mark McGwire and Albert Pujols (five times).
The Cleveland Indians move into fourth place on the list with their sixth representative in 2016 as Corey Kluber led AL pitchers.
Three other teams have had five representatives—Tigers, Diamondbacks and Dodgers.
Only once has the top batter and pitcher in the league come from the same team—in 2013 in the American League, when the top pitcher Max Scherzer and top batter, Miguel Cabrera, both came from the Tigers.
Four teams have not been represented among Box-Toppers category points leaders in the past 22 seasons—Rays, Mets, Marlins and Pirates.
High and low season leaders
It usually takes 20 or 25 Box-Toppers points for a pitcher to lead his league in Box-Toppers points. It usually takes a batter 13 to 15 points to lead his league.
These are the highest Box-Toppers points totals to lead a league category:
- AL pitching: 33.5 in 2000, Pedro Martinez of the Red Sox.
- NL pitching: 33.7 in 2000 and 2002, both by Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks.
- AL batter: 20.4 in 1996, Albert Belle of the Indians.
- NL batter: 20.8 in 2006, Lance Berkman of the Astros.
Lowest points to lead categoryNolan Arenado of the Rockies set the record for lowest Box-Toppers point total to win a season category—his 10.7 points led National League batters in 2016. Here are the lowest-point totals to win a league category in the 22 seasons of Box-Toppers record keeping:
|1||Nolan Arenado||col nl||10.7||2016 NL bat|
|2||Carlos Gonzalez||col nl||11.5||2015 NL bat|
|3||Troy Tulowitzki||col nl||11.6||2014 NL bat|
|4||Adrian Beltre||tex al||12.5||2015 AL bat|
|4||Aubrey Huff||bal al||12.5||2008 AL bat|
|6||Ryan Braun||mil nl||12.5||2012 NL bat|
|7||Manny Machado||bal al||12.7||2016 AL bat|
|8||Adrian Beltre||tex al||13.0||2012 AL bat|
|9||Paul Goldschmidt||ari nl||13.7||2013 NL bat|
|9||Bret Boone||sea al||13.7||2001 AL bat|
These are the lowest Box-Toppers points totals to lead a league category:
- AL pitching: 15.7 in 1996, Chuck Finley of the Angels,
- NL pitching: 19.1 in 2006, John Smoltz of the Braves.
- AL batter: 12.5 in 2008, Aubrey Huff of the Orioles and in 2015, Adrian Beltre of the Rangers.
- NL batter: 10.7 in 2016, Nolan Arenado of the Rockies.
Arenado’s 10.7 points in 2016 is the lowest total to lead a category in Box-Toppers’ 22-season history (See Lowest point total to lead category chart). The previous record was set in 2015 when Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies led NL batters with 11.5 points. Interestingly, prior to that, the record was 2014 when Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies led NL batters with 11.6. So not only has the low-point record been broken three years in a row, it has been broken each time by a batter from the Colorado Rockies.
Starters vs. closers
Only once in 44 opportunities has the honor for top league pitcher gone to anyone other than a starting pitcher. In 2004, closing pitcher Eric Gagne of the Dodgers led National League pitchers in Box-Toppers points with 19.7.
Batters beating pitchers
Leading pitchers generally score higher than leading batters. However, in three instances in 22 seasons, a batter beat the pitcher for Box-Toppers points leader for his league:
- 1996: Albert Belle of the Indians had more Box-Toppers points than pitcher Chuck Finley of the Angels (20.4 vs. 15.7).
- 2006: Lance Berkman of the Astros had more Box-Toppers points than pitcher John Smoltz of the Braves (20.8 vs. 19.1).
- 2007: Alex Rodriguez of the Yankees had more Box-Toppers points than pitcher Johan Santana of the Twins (18.9 vs. 18.1).
Box-Toppers Players of the YearHere are Box-Toppers Player of the Year winners in each season of Box-Toppers tracking since 1995. Player of the Year is the player with the season’s highest Box-Toppers point total:
|1995||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Mariners||23.7|
|1996||John Smoltz||pi sp||Braves||26.1|
|1997||Roger Clemens||pi sp||Blue Jays||27.4|
|1998||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Astros†||26.4|
|1999||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Dbacks||31.5|
|2000||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Dbacks||33.7|
|2001||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Dbacks||29.4|
|2002||Randy Johnson||pi sp||Dbacks||33.7|
|2003||Jason Schmidt||pi sp||Giants||24.7|
|2004||Johan Santana||pi sp||Twins||26.8|
|2005||Johan Santana||pi sp||Twins||24.1|
|2006||Johan Santana||pi sp||Twins||25.7|
|2007||Jake Peavy||pi sp||Padres||23.4|
|2008||CC Sabathia||pi sp||Brewers||26.7|
|2009||Zack Greinke||pi sp||Royals||21.5|
|2010||Jon Lester||pi sp||Red Sox||23.4|
|2011||Clayton Kershaw||pi sp||Dodgers||26.1|
|2012||Justin Verlander||pi sp||Tigers||24.8|
|2013||Clayton Kershaw||pi sp||Dodgers||21.7|
|2014||Clayton Kershaw||pi sp||Dodgers||31.5|
|2015||Jake Arrieta||pi sp||Cubs||29.1|
|2016||Max Scherzer||pi sp||Nationals||25.7|
|† Played for Mariners before trade to Astros.|
However, in all three cases, the batter was not the overall leader in Box-Toppers points—that honor went to the pitcher in the opposite league:
- 1996: John Smoltz, Braves, 26.1 Box-Toppers points.
- 2006: Johan Santana, Twins, 25.7.
- 2007: Jake Peavy, Padres, 23.4.
Pitchers dominating batters
Five times in the past 22 seasons, a league-leading pitcher has earned more than twice as many Box-Toppers points as the league-leading batter:
- 1999: Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks had 31.5 Box-Toppers points to lead the NL, more than double the NL leading batter, Barry Bonds of the Giants, 15.2. (2.07 times as many points.)
- 2000: Randy Johnson of the Diamondbacks had 33.7 Box-Toppers points to lead the NL, more than double the NL leading batter, Todd Helton of the Rockies, 15.2. (2.22 times as many points.)
- 2014: Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers had 31.5 Box-Toppers points to lead the NL, more than double (and nearly triple) the points of NL leading batter Troy Tulowitzki of the Rockies, 11.6. (2.72 times as many points.)
- 2015: Jake Arrieta of the Cubs had 29.1 Box-Toppers points to lead the NL, more than double the points of NL leading batter Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, 11.5. (2.53 times as many points.)
- 2016: Max Scherzer of the Nationals had 25.7 Box-Toppers points to lead the NL, more than double the points of NL leading batter Nolan Arenado of the Rockies, 10.7. (2.40 times as many points.)
Box-Toppers leaders coinciding with postseason awards
Has there ever been a year in which the leaders of the four Box-Toppers point categories (each league’s batters and pitchers) won all four major postseason awards (each league’s MVP and Cy Young Awards)?
However, three times in the past 22 seasons three of the four Box-Toppers points leaders won postseason awards:
- 1997: Roger Clemens of the Blue Jays won AL Cy Young, Pedro Martinez of the Expos won NL Cy Young and Larry Walker of the Rockies won NL MVP. (AL batting Box-Toppers points leader Juan Gonzalez of the Rangers—16.3 Box-Toppers points—finished ninth in AL MVP voting. Ken Griffey Jr. of the Mariners—second among AL batters with 15.3 Box-Toppers points—was AL MVP.)
- 2009: Zack Greinke of the Royals won AL Cy Young, Tim Lincecum of the Giants won NL Cy Young and Albert Pujols of the Cardinals won NL MVP. (AL batting Box-Toppers points leader Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers—16.5 Box-Toppers points—finished fourth in AL MVP voting. Joe Mauer of the Twins—12th among AL batters with 9.2 Box-Toppers points—was AL MVP.)
- 2013: Max Scherzer of the Tigers won AL Cy Young, Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers won NL Cy Young and Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers won AL MVP. (NL batting Box-Toppers points leader Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks—13.7 Box-Toppers points—finished second in NL MVP voting. Andrew McCutchen of the Pirates—finished 22nd among NL batters with 6.0 Box-Toppers points—was NL MVP.)
Eight times in the past 22 seasons, two of the leaders in Box-Toppers points categories also won postseason awards.
Nine times—including 2016—only one of the Box-Toppers category leaders won a postseason award.
And only twice have all four Box-Toppers category leaders failed to win any of the major postseason awards—in both 2003 and 2012, none of the category leaders won Cy Young or MVP awards.