A 2016 opening day introduction to Box-Toppers player tracking

As the 2016 Major League Baseball season opens, Box-Toppers begins its 22nd season tracking who most helps their teams win the most games, based on box score statistics. Here is an introduction to Box-Toppers:

What’s the most important thing in baseball?

Winning the game, right?

Box-Toppers highlights

Here are recent post highlights:

Picks 2016

Box-Toppers projects the standings and win totals of all 30 teams.

Team rankings 2016

A look at how the 30 teams rank and compare going into 2016.

Top players by team 2015

A look at the pitcher and batter with the most 2015 Box-Toppers points on each team.

Top 100 players since 1995

A look at the 100 top players in Box-Toppers points since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began.

Top 100 players 2015

A look at the 100 top players in Box-Toppers points last season.

Top player rankings 2015

The top 10 overall players, plus the top 10 NL and AL pitchers and batters.

For more highlights, check the bullet points at the bottom of this post or visit the Box-Toppers.com home page.

But what baseball statistic provides the fan an indication of the player who most contributed to the win? Logically, you might answer “the win” statistic, but it only applies to pitchers. Plus, in some circumstances, the win is not awarded to the pitcher most responsible for earning the win, but simply the pitcher who was in the game when the team took the lead.

What is needed is a metric that will select the player—from among pitchers and batters—who most contributed to his team’s win. And that’s where Box-Toppers comes in.

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. 

Further, 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. So, Box-Toppers tracks who most helps their team win the most games. As the season progresses, a player’s Box-Toppers point total can be compared with other players to determine the best player on a given team, at a given position—or even the best overall player in the game.

For example, in 2015, Cubs pitcher Jake Arrieta led all players with 29.1 Box-Toppers points. Here’s how he earned his points:

  • He earned Player of the Game honors 19 times, giving him 19.0 Box-Toppers points.
  • Three times, in addition to earning Player of the Game honors, he also won NL Player of the Day honors, earning 0.7 bonus points each time, for 2.1 more Box-Toppers points.
  • Eight times he earned overall Player of the Day honors in addition to earning Player of the Game honors. He earned an extra 1.0 bonus Box-Toppers point for each Player of the Day honor, giving him 8.0 more Box-Toppers points.

So Arrieta received 19.0 Box-Toppers points for the times he earned Player of the Day, 2.1 for the times he earned NL Player of the Day and 8.0 for the times he earned overall Player of the Day, for a total of 29.1 Box-Toppers points. 

It is the eighth-highest single season total any player has earned since Box-Toppers record keeping began in 1995. Arrieta won the National League Cy Young Award in 2015.

Astros pitcher Dallas Keuchel led all American League players with 21.4 Box-Toppers points—he also won the AL Cy Young Award.

However, Box-Toppers doesn’t always jibe with the major awards. In 2015, Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays won the AL Most Valuable Player Award. But Donaldson finished seventh among AL batters in Box-Toppers points with 9.9. Adrian Beltre of the Rangers had 12.5 Box-Toppers points to lead AL batters. Also in 2015, Bryce Harper of the Nationals won the NL MVP, but he finished seventh among NL batters with 9.0 Box-Toppers points. Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies led NL batters with 11.5 points.

While the Box-Toppers metric has been used since the start of the 1995 season to track players, this is the fourth season for the Box-Toppers.com website.

On the website and the blog, Box-Toppers will track each day’s games, showing each game’s Player of the Game and the top overall Player of the Day.

The website will also have regular posts weekly of overall Box-Toppers points leaders and team standings. These are usually posted on Fridays and will likely start a few weeks into the season as enough data is available to begin showing meaningful trends and results.

Box-Toppers will also have posts at other times as interesting Box-Toppers-related statistical nuggets are uncovered. Here are some highlights to catch you up from last season and preview you for the coming season:

On Twitter, we’ll include shorter posts about newsworthy players, their standing in Box-Toppers points and often, how they compare in the stat to other players.

Stay up to date with Box-Toppers at the website, on Twitter, Facebook and through the RSS feed.