Box-Toppers' big dippers—players whose 2017 point total declined most from 2016: Jose Fernandez leads list

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Few players rose as high in Box-Toppers player rankings in 2016 as Jose Fernandez.

Big dippers

Here are players whose Box-Toppers point total declined most from 2016 to 2017. Some were out all or much of the 2017 season with injury, such as Steven Matz and Madison Bumgarner. Some had stellar 2016 seasons and simply didn’t match that performance in 2017, such as Jon Lester. Some did not or could not play in 2017, such as David Ortiz, who retired after 2016 and Jose Fernandez, who died near the end of the 2016 season. Players are listed in order of their Box-Toppers point decline. Their Box-Toppers points (BTP) for 2017, if any, are also shown.

Player Pos Team Dip BTP
1 Fernandez, Jose 3147 pi sp Died* -22.4
2 Cueto, Johnny 2400 pi sp sf nl -14.4 2.0
3 Syndergaard, Noah 3472 pi sp nym nl -13.7 3.0
4 Hammel, Jason 2235 pi sp kc al -12.0 1.0
5 Santiago, Hector 3109 pi sp min al -11.4
6 Lester, Jon 2173 pi sp chi nl -11.4 10.7
7 Matz, Steven 3516 pi sp nym nl -11.1 1.0
8 Bumgarner, Madison 2753 pi sp sf nl -11.0 2.0
9 Sanchez, Aaron 3392 pi sp tor al -10.7
10 Cabrera, Miguel 1776 1b det al -10.0 2.0
11 Altuve, Jose 3007 2b hou al -10.0 2.5
12 Hendricks, Kyle 3386 pi sp chi nl -9.7 3.7
13 Carpenter, Matt 2987 3b 1b 2b stl nl -9.5
14 Hellickson, Jeremy 2778 pi sp bal al -9.1 4.0
15 Guerra, Junior 3633 pi sp mil nl -9.0
16 Wieters, Matt 2643 ca dc nl -9.0 2.0
17 Happ, J.A. 2536 pi sp tor al -9.0 5.7
18 Arrieta, Jake 2738 pi sp chi nl -9.0 6.7
19 Kazmir, Scott 1947 pi sp lad nl -8.7
20 Martin, Russell 2202 ca tor al -8.5 2.0
21 Wright, Steven 3224 pi sp bos al -8.4
22 Hamels, Cole 2135 pi sp tex al -8.4 9.4
23 Ortiz, David dh retired† -8.0
24 Familia, Jeurys 3446 pi cp nym nl -8.0
25 Carter, Chris 2828 1b ph oak al -8.0 1.5
Dip: Decline in Box-Toppers point total from 2016 to 2017.
BTP: Box-Toppers points
* Jose Fernandez of the Miami Marlins died Sept. 25, 2016.
† David Ortiz retired after the 2016 season
What are those numbers after players' names?

On Sept. 24, 2016, the Marlins pitcher ranked third among all players in season player rankings with 22.4 Box-Toppers points, trailing only Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (24.7) and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (24.4).

But on Sept. 25, Fernandez was killed in a boating accident near Miami. When the season ended a week later, Fernandez was still ranked third in Box-Toppers player rankings.

Sadly, Fernandez leads the list of players whose Box-Toppers point total declined most from 2016 to 2017. The 22.4-point decline is 8.0 points more than the next biggest decline which was the highest among players active in 2017—that belongs to Giants pitcher Johnny Cueto, whose 2017 point total dipped 14.4 points, from 16.4 in 2016 to 2.0 in 2017.

Last year, Fernandez was Box-Toppers most improved player, gaining 17.7 points on his 2015 point total. In 2015, he had 4.7 points as he recovered from Tommy John surgery. His 22.4 points in 2016 put him at the top of Box-Toppers’ most-improved list.

Fernandez’ case is unique. Never has an active player ranked so high had his career cut short by death in Box-Toppers’ 23-season tracking history. Box-Toppers list of big dippers is usually populated mainly by players who suffered playing injuries and spent extended time recovering from procedures, like Tommy John surgery. In 2014, Fernandez underwent Tommy John surgery and was out much of that season. Because of that, he earned 7.0 Box-Toppers points that year, a decline from the 19.0 points he earned in his 2013 rookie season. And that decline of 12.0 points in 2014 ranked sixth among that season’s biggest season-to-season decline in Box-Toppers points.

Four other players ranked in Box-Toppers top 10 season player rankings in 2016 are among the big dippers in Box-Toppers points for 2017:

  • Cueto ranked eighth in 2016 Box-Toppers rankings with 16.4 points. He earned 2.0 points in 2017 and his 14.4 drop was second-biggest and most among players active in 2017.
  • Mets pitcher Noah Syndergaard ranked seventh in 2016 Box-Toppers rankings with 16.7 points. He earned 3.0 points in 2017; his 13.7-point drop in 2017 was third-biggest. He was out much of 2017 with a torn lat muscle in his right arm.
  • Cubs pitcher Jon Lester ranked fourth in 2016 Box-Toppers points, just behind Fernandez, with 22.1 points. He earned 10.7 points in 2017. And while that ranked 16th-most among National League pitchers, it was a decline of 11.4 from his 2016 total, the sixth-biggest among all players.
  • Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels ranked sixth in 2016 Box-Toppers rankings with 17.8 points. He earned 9.4 points in 2017. And while that ranked 14th-most among American League pitchers, it was a decline of 8.4 from his 2016 total, the 22nd-biggest among all players.

The San Francisco Giants had two pitchers in the top 10 in the big dippers list and two other teams—the Chicago Cubs and New York Mets—had three pitchers in the top 25:

  • The Giants had two pitchers drop by more than 10 Box-Toppers points in 2017. Cueto dropped 14.4 points from his 2016 total, most of any player active in 2017 and second-most among all players. Madison Bumgarner, who injured himself in a dirt bike accident early in season and spent time on the disabled list, ranked eighth among 2017’s big dippers, falling 11.0 points from his 2016 total, earning only 2.0 points. As a team, the Giants fell from 10th place in 2016 with 112.7 Box-Toppers points to 27th in 2017 with 73.6.
  • The Cubs had three pitchers drop by at least 9.0 Box-Toppers points in 2017. Lester, as previously mentioned, dropped 11.1 points from his 2016 total, sixth among 2017’s big dippers. Kyle Hendricks ranked 11th among big dippers, dropping 9.7 points from his 2016 total, earning 3.7 points in 2017. Jake Arrieta ranked 18th among 2017’s big dippers, dropping 9.0 points from his 2016 total, earning 6.7 points. In addition, Royals pitcher Jason Hammel, who pitched for the Cubs in 2016, ranked fourth among big dippers, dropping 12.0 points from his 2016 total, earning only 1.0 Box-Toppers point. Those four pitchers were among Box-Toppers overall top 20 players in 2016. Given the Cubs’ 2017 pitching woes, it’s amazing they did as well as they did in 2017. As a team, the Cubs fell from first place in 2016 with 139.5 accumulated Box-Toppers points to sixth in 2017 with 120.5 points.
  • The Mets had three pitchers drop by at least 8.0 Box-Toppers points in 2017. Syndergaard, as previously mentioned, dropped 13.7 points from his 2016 total, third among 2017’s big dippers, earning 3.0 Box-Toppers points. Steven Matz ranked seventh among 2017’s big dippers, dropping 11.1 points from his 2016 total, earning 1.0 point, as he was out much of the season with an elbow injury that by August required season-ending surgery. And closer Jeurys Familia ranked 24th among 2017’s big dippers, dropping 8.0 points from his 2016 total, earning no points in 2017, as he was out much of the season recovering from blood clot surgery. As a team, the Mets fell from sixth place in 2016 with 119.1 Box-Toppers points to 23rd in 2017 with 75.0.

Other notable players in the top 25 big dippers list:

  • Jose Altuve of the Astros ranks 11th on the big dippers list, dropping 10.0 points from his 2016 total of 12.5, earning only 2.5 points in 2017. Altuve was voted AL Most Valuable Player, though Box-Toppers deems him unworthy of the award and this big drop in points is yet another reason to add to the rationale Box-Toppers has previously compiled. Altuve’s 12.5 Box-Toppers points in 2016 ranked third among AL batters. Though in 2017 he had similar statistics in 2016, including leading in hits and batting average in both seasons, he simply was not the Astros player most key in helping his team win games. In 2016, he was Box-Toppers Player of the Game 10 times; in 2017, just twice. In all other Astros’ wins this season, there simply was another Astros player who was more key in helping the team win the game, beating out Altuve for Player of the Game.
  • Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers also dropped 10.0 points from his 2016 total and edged out Altuve for the biggest drop among all batters, ranking 10th on the overall big dippers list. Though they tied in the amount of points dropped, Cabrera ranks ahead on the big dippers list because he had fewer 2017 points than Altuve (2.0 vs. 2.5). Cabrera had 12.0 Box-Toppers points in 2016, ranking fourth among AL batters and earned just 2.0 in 2017. 
  • David Ortiz retired as an active player at the end of 2016. He earned 8.0 Box-Toppers points in 2016 with the Red Sox and because he retired, earned no points in 2017. That 8.0 point drop ranks 23rd among all players. Ortiz and Fernandez were the only players on the list not active in 2017.
  • Jake Arrieta, previously mentioned as one of four Cubs pitchers from 2016 to appear on the list of the 25 biggest dippers in 2017, actually was also on the list 2016 big dippers, achieving the difficult, dubious feat of making two big tumbles in two consecutive years. In 2015, Arrieta led all players with 29.1 Box-Toppers points (the eighth-highest single-season total since tracking began in 1995) and earned the NL Cy Young Award. In 2016, Arrieta had 15.7 points, which still ranked ninth among all players, but represented a 13.4-point drop from 2015, fourth-most among all players. This year, Arrieta fell further, earning just 6.7 points, falling 9.0 points, the 18th-biggest drop from 2016 to 2017. The good news for Arrieta is he likely won’t appear on the big dipper list next year because after falling so far for two years in a row, he doesn’t have that far to fall (just 6.7 points) next year.

In 2016, pitcher Sonny Gray led the list of Box-Toppers big dippers, as his Box-Toppers point total declined by 16.8 from 2015 (17.8) to 2016 (1.0). In 2017, Gray, who started the season with the Athletics before being traded to the Yankees, had 8.4 points. His increase of 7.4 points from 2016 to 2017 ranks 30th-best.

Only two players had the potential to fall further from their 2016 Box-Toppers point totals than Fernandez—and that was the two players who finished higher than he did in 2016, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer (25.7 Box-Toppers points) and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw (24.4 points). 

But by the end of April 2017, both players had already earned enough points on the season to allow Fernandez to rise above them on the list of big dippers. When Kershaw earned 2.0 Box-Toppers point on April 3, at that point he had a drop of 22.4 points to move below Fernandez on the list of big dippers. 0n April 23, Scherzer earned 4.0 Box-Toppers points on the season and at that point had a drop of 21.7 points from 2016, moving below Fernandez and securing the late Marlins pitcher’s spot atop this year’s big dippers list.

Scherzer ended the season with a dip of 0.7 points from last season (falling from 25.7 to 25.0), ranked 442nd among point decliners.

Kershaw ended the season with a dip of 1.3 points from last season (falling from 24.4 to 23.1), ranked 300th among point decliners.

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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Box-Toppers' 2016 big dippers list—the 25 players whose Box-Toppers point total declined most from 2015 to 2016

Box-Toppers 2017 most improved players—the 25 players whose Box-Toppers point total increased most from 2016 to 2017