A look at Box-Toppers top 100 players of 'all-time' after the 2017 season

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Randy Johnson leads all players in career Box-Toppers points and likely will continue doing so until at least 2020.

Top 100 ‘All-Time’ Players

Here are the 100 players with the most career Box-Toppers points since record keeping began in 1995. Players are listed in order of their career Box-Toppers point total. Also shown is their Box-Toppers point total for 2017 and their career ranking in Box-Toppers points at the end of the 2016 season.
 

Player Pos Team All
BTP
‘17
BTP
‘16
rank
1 Johnson, randy pi sp retired 278.8 1
2 Martinez, Pedro J. pi sp retired 244.8 2
3 Kershaw, Clayton 2494 pi sp lad nl 206.8 23.1 6
4 schilling, curt pi sp retired 194.1 3
5 Sabathia, C.C. 1492 pi sp nyy al 192.7 7.7 5
6 Pujols, Albert 1438 dh ana al 187.8 5.5 7
7 Rodriguez, Alex 3b released 187.0 4
8 Greinke, Zack 1871 pi sp ari nl 176.2 20.1 15
9 Hernandez, Felix 2064 pi sp sea al 171.4 2.7 9
10 Halladay, Roy 1178 pi sp retired 170.7 8
11 Ramirez, manny lf retired 167.2 10
12 Santana, Johan 1448 pi sp free agent 166.6 11
13 clemens, roger pi sp retired 164.8 12
14 smoltz, john pi sp retired 160.9 13
15 Hudson, Tim 1231 pi sp retired 157.0 14
16 Scherzer, Max 2588 pi sp dc nl 156.7 25.0 31
17 mussina, Mike pi sp retired 155.6 16
18 Verlander, Justin 2112 pi sp hou al 154.0 14.7 28
19 Lester, Jon 2173 pi sp chi nl 153.9 10.7 26
20 Hamels, Cole 2135 pi sp tex al 153.4 9.4 25
21 Colon, Bartolo pi sp min al 153.2 4.7 20
22 bonds, barry lf retired 153.2 17
23 maddux, greg pi sp retired 151.7 18
24 jones, chipper 3b retired 149.0 19
25 Vazquez, Javier 1146 pi sp retired 148.3 21
26 Cabrera, Miguel 1776 1b det al 146.9 2.0 24
27 thome, jim 1b dh retired 146.7 22
28 Ortiz, David dh retired 145.9 23
29 Peavy, Jake 1635 pi sp free agent 141.8 27
30 pettitte, andy pi sp retired 138.5 29
31 giambi, jason 1b retired 133.4 30
32 hoffman, trevor pi cp retired 129.4 32
33 Guerrero, Vladimir rf retired 128.3 33
34 Weaver, Jered 2178 pi sp retired 127.8 34
35 Burnett, A.J. 1300 pi sp retired 127.8 35
36 Lackey, John 1640 pi sp chi nl 127.2 6.0 39
37 Oswalt, Roy 1469 pi sp retired 127.2 36
38 rivera, mariano pi cp retired 126.4 37
39 sheffield, gary lf retired 124.1 38
40 Lee, Cliff 1798 pi sp free agent 119.1 40
41 Delgado, Carlos 1b retired 117.7 41
42 Wainwright, Adam 2150 pi sp stl nl 117.5 5.5 52
43 Zito, Barry 1415 pi sp retired 117.4 42
44 Buehrle, Mark 1407 pi sp retired 116.7 43
45 Helton, Todd 1060 1b retired 116.4 44
46 Hunter, Torii 1190 cf retired 115.9 45
47 Beltre, Adrian 1141 3b tex al 115.8 4.5 53
48 Lincecum, Tim 2288 pi sp free agent 115.0 46
49 Beckett, Josh 1544 pi sp retired 114.9 47
50 Santana, Ervin 2005 pi sp min al 113.4 16.1 83
51 Carpenter, Chris pi sp retired 113.3 48
52 Haren, Danny 1787 pi sp retired 113.2 49
53 sosa, sammy rf retired 113.2 50
54 brown, kevin j. pi sp retired 112.8 51
55 Sale, Chris 2806 pi sp bos al 111.5 25.1 108
56 Price, David 2593 pi sp bos al 110.9 4.7 59
57 glavine, tom pi sp retired 110.6 54
58 kent, jeff 2b retired 109.7 53
59 Wagner, Billy pi cp retired 108.7 54
60 Beltran, Carlos 1194 dh hou al 108.6 3.7 64
61 Millwood, Kevin pi sp retired 108.3 57
62 Berkman, Lance 1261 1b lf rf retired 108.1 58
63 Bumgarner, Madison 2753 pi sp sf nl 107.7 2.0 62
64 thomas, frank dh 1b retired 106.2 60
65 Ramirez, Aramis 1364 3b retired 105.8 61
66 Strasburg, Stephen 2736 pi sp dc nl 105.4 22.5 114
67 Liriano, Francisco 2104 pi sp hou al 105.2 2.0 66
68 Kazmir, Scott 1947 pi sp lad nl 105.1 63
69 moyer, jamie pi sp retired 104.0 65
70 Tejada, Miguel ss retired 102.3 67
71 griffey, ken jr. cf retired 102.2 68
72 Cueto, Johnny 2400 pi sp sf nl 101.8 2.0 75
73 Shields, James 2157 pi sp chi al 101.4 2.0 77
74 wakefield, tim pi sp retired 101.4 69
75 Teixeira, Mark 1738 1b retired 101.3 70
76 schmidt, jason pi sp retired 101.2 71
77 Holliday, Matt 1836 dh 1b lf nyy al 100.8 3.0 80
78 Cain, Matt 2081 pi sp sf nl 100.7 1.0 76
79 Konerko, Paul 1107 1b retired 100.7 72
80 bagwell, jeff 1b retired 100.4 73
81 walker, larry rf retired 100.1 74
82 edmonds, jim cf retired 98.8 78
83 Howard, Ryan 2040 1b col nl 98.7 79
84 Rolen, Scott 3b retired 97.6 81
85 Wolf, Randy 1235 pi sp retired 97.4 82
86 Jones, Andruw cf retired 96.5 84
87 Gonzalez, Gio 2626 pi sp dc nl 96.2 9.7 106
88 piazza, mike ca retired 95.7 85
89 Abreu, Bobby rf retired 95.5 86
90 nomo, hideo pi sp retired 95.5 87
91 Dempster, Ryan 1109 pi sp retired 95.2 88
92 Ordonez, Magglio rf retired 94.5 89
93 Dunn, Adam 1512 lf retired 94.3 90
94 williams, bernie cf retired 93.8 91
95 Lilly, Ted 1452 pi sp retired 93.3 92
96 giles, brian rf retired 92.5 93
97 Wood, Kerry pi sp retired 92.4 94
98 Braun, Ryan J. 2300 lf mil nl 91.7 3.5 100
99 Glaus, Troy 1132 3b retired 91.6 95
100 Lowe, Derek pi sp retired 91.5 96
BTP: Box-Toppers points
What are those numbers after players' names?

Johnson earned 278.8 Box-Toppers points from the time Box-Toppers record keeping began in 1995 until he ended his career in 2009.

The most likely rival to Johnson’s throne at the moment is Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw who has 206.8 career Box-Toppers points. Kershaw earned 23.1 points during 2016, rising from sixth to third place in rankings. Over the past seven seasons, Kershaw has earned an average of 24.8 Box-Toppers points per year. If he were to continue that torrid pace, he would catch Johnson’s career total in 2020.

But even if Kershaw reaches that 278.8 total, he still wouldn’t match Johnson’s actual career total. Since Box-Toppers didn’t track Johnson’s career from 1988 to 1994, he would likely have many more career Box-Toppers points. A rough projection puts his actual career Box-Toppers point total at about 380. Kershaw would need at least seven more seasons at his current average to reach that total.

Kershaw has earned 20 or more Box-Toppers points for seven straight seasons, which breaks Johnson’s record of six straight seasons with 20 or more points. Kershaw has earned 20 or more points each season from 2011 to 2017. Johnson earned 20 or more points each season from 1997 to 2002. Though Kershaw’s streak is seven seasons, his accumulated Box-Toppers point total is less than the total Johnson earned in his six-year streak. Kershaw has 173.3 in his seven-year streak; Johnson had 177.7 in his six-year streak.

Kershaw also passed Yankees pitcher CC Sabathia to take the career points lead among active players in 2017.

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.

The chart here shows the rankings of the top 100 players since record keeping began in 1995, along with their career Box-Toppers point total and, where applicable, their Box-Toppers points for 2017. The chart also shows each player’s roster status as of the end of the 2017 season and players’ rank in career Box-Toppers points at the end of the 2016 season, to show their rise or fall in rankings since last season.

Notables

Some notable players on the top 100 list:

2. Pedro Martinez ranks second with 244.8 Box-Toppers points. If Martinez’ entire pitching career were tracked from 1992, rough projections put his career Box-Toppers total at 270.

4. Curt Schilling is the highest-ranked retired player on Box-Toppers career points list who is not in the Baseball Hall of Fame. He has 194.1 points. If Schilling’s entire pitching career were tracked from 1988, rough projections put his career Box-Toppers point total at 232. Schilling slipped to fourth place on Box-Toppers “all-time” list this year after being passed by Kershaw. He had held the third-place spot for nearly 16 years, from 2001 to 2017.

5. CC Sabathia of the Yankees ended last season as the highest-ranked active player on Box-Toppers “all-time” list, but was passed by Kershaw on April 3, the second day of the 2017 season. Sabathia briefly regained the active player lead in career points on April 4, passing Kershaw with 186.0 points, before Kershaw passed him again on April 14 with 187.7 points. Sabathia became the active leader in Box-Toppers points on Aug. 13, 2016, after teammate Alex Rodriguez was released. While Sabathia slipped to sixth place overall after being passed by Kershaw, he quickly regained fifth place on April 15, passing Rodriguez with 187.0 career points. Sabathia finished the season in fifth, his same position at the end of last season, with 192.7 points, only 1.4 points behind Schilling.

6. Albert Pujols of the Angels became Box-Toppers “all-time” leader in Box-Toppers points among batters this season, passing Rodriguez on Aug. 23. Pujols has 187.8 Box-Toppers points, ahead of Rodriguez’s 187.0. Pujols earned 5.5 points in 2017 and rose one spot in “all-time” rankings.

7. Alex Rodriguez fell three spots in Box-Toppers “all-time” rankings, the year after his baseball career ended in 2016, when he was released by the Yankees. Rodriguez, with 187.0 career Box-Toppers points, was passed by three players this season. Kershaw passed him on April 14, Sabathia passed him the next day on April 15 and Pujols passed him Aug. 23 to become the “all-time” leader in Box-Toppers points among batters. Rodriguez had led all batters in Box-Toppers points since April 2, 2011, when he passed Manny Ramirez.

8. Zack Greinke of the Diamondbacks rose into the top 10 career Box-Toppers points list in 2017, rising from 15th at the end of 2016, with 176.2 points. Greinke earned 20.1 points in 2017, eighth among all players and fourth among National League pitchers.

10. Retired pitcher Roy Halladay slipped from eighth to 10th this season with 170.7 career Box-Toppers points. Halladay was killed in the plane he was piloting Nov. 7 at the age of 40.

Logjam of 5 new 150-point club members

There is a logjam of five players in the top 21 on the “all-time” list who this year passed 150.0 career points and who are now all within 3.5 points of each other. The five increased the “150.0-point club” from 18 players (since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began) to 23, a 28-percent increase in just one season. Those five are:

  • Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer, ranks 16th with 156.7 Box-Toppers points. Scherzer earned 25.0 points in 2017 (second among all players) and had the fifth-biggest rise up the career points top 100, rising 15 spots from 31st at the end of 2016. Scherzer reached 150.0 Box-Toppers points on July 15 and was the second of the five to reach that mark.
  • Justin Verlander, who pitched for the Tigers and the Astros this year, ranks 18th with 154.0 points. He earned 14.7 in 2017 (sixth among American League pitchers) and rose 10 spots in “all-time” rankings, from 28th at the end of 2016. Verlander reached 150.0 Box-Toppers points on Sept. 12, the last of the five to reach that mark, when he was with the Astros.
  • Cubs pitcher Jon Lester ranks 19th with 153.9 points. He earned 10.7 in 2017 (16th among NL pitchers) and rose seven spots in “all-time” rankings, from 26th at the end of 2016. Lester reached 150.0 Box-Toppers points on July 17, the third of the five to reach that mark.
  • Rangers pitcher Cole Hamels ranks 20th with 153.4 points. He earned 9.4 in 2017 (14th among AL pitchers) and rose five spots in “all-time” rankings, from 25th at the end of 2016. Hamels reached 150.0 Box-Toppers points on Aug. 5, the fourth of the five to reach that mark.
  • Bartolo Colon, who pitched for the Braves and Twins this season, ranks 21st with 153.2 points. He earned 4.7 points in 2017 (59th among AL pitchers) and actually fell one spot from the end of 2016, when he ranked 20th (however, he ranked as high as 19th during the season). Though Colon is the lowest ranked of the five, he was the first to reach 150.0 Box-Toppers points, doing so on April 16.

Rising and falling

These four players made the biggest jump up the career Box-Toppers points list this year:

  • Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale rose 53 spots, more than any other player, from 108th at the end of 2016 to 55th at the end of 2017. Sale has 111.5 career Box-Toppers points, earning 25.1 in 2017 to lead all players.
  • Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg rose 48 spots from 114th to 66th. Strasburg has 105.4 career points, earning 22.5 in 2017, third among NL pitchers.
  • Twins pitcher Ervin Santana rose 33 spots from 83rd to 50th. Santana has 113.4 career points, earning 16.1 in 2017, fifth among AL pitchers.
  • Nationals pitcher Gio Gonzalez rose 19 spots from 106th to 87th. Gonzalez has 96.2 career points, earning 9.7 in 2017, 20th among NL pitchers.

Sale, Strasburg and Gonzalez also were the only three players who rose onto the top 100 list in 2017, displacing these three players:

  • Mariners pitcher Yovani Gallardo with 90.7 career points, falls from 97th to 102nd. Gallardo earned 1.0 point in 2017.
  • Retired outfielder Raul Ibanez with 89.7 career points, falls from 98th to 103rd.
  • Pitcher Kyle Lohse, listed as a free agent, with 89.0 career points, falls from 99th to 104th. Lohse last earned Box-Toppers points Aug. 21, 2015.

Three retired players had the biggest drop down the list, as they were passed by the most players rising up the list in 2017. Each fell seven spots:

  • Paul Konerko, with 100.7 career points, fell from 72nd to 79th.
  • Jeff Bagwell, with 100.4 career points, fell from 73rd to 80th.
  • Larry Walker, with 100.1 career points, fell from 74th to 81st.

Top 100 for 2017 & ‘All-time’

There are 11 players on the “all-time” top 100 who also appeared in Box-Toppers top 100 player list for 2017. They are shown in the chart below, listed in order by their Box-Toppers career player ranking.

Those 11 players include the top four players on the 2017 list—Sale, Scherzer, Kershaw and Strasburg. The 11 players also include three in the “all-time” top 10—Kershaw, Sabathia and Greinke. Only two players—Kershaw and Greinke—are in the top 10 in both the 2017 and “all-time” lists: Kershaw ranks third in both lists and Greinke ranks eighth in both lists. The three players who joined the “all-time” top 100 during 2017 are also among the 11 players on both top 100 lists—Sale, Strasburg and Gonzalez.

Last year, there were 19 players who made both the 2016 top 100 list and the “all-time” career points top 100 list at the end of the 2016 season.

Breakdown: Active vs. Inactive

Of the 100 players on the “all-time” list, 71 of them ended the season either retired (66), listed as a free agent (four) or were released by their team (one, Alex Rodriguez by the Yankees in 2016). Two additional players on the list announced their intention to retire after the 2017 season: Carlos Beltran of the Astros (108.6 career points, 60th among all players, 18th among all batters) and Giants pitcher Matt Cain (100.7 career points, 78th among all players, 53rd among all pitchers).

There is a net gain of two inactive players on the “all-time” top 100 list since last year. At the end of the 2016 season, there were 69 inactive players and 31 active players.

The highest profile free agent player is pitcher Johan Santana, who with 166.6 Box-Toppers points ranks 12th on the “all-time” list. Santana, 38, has made several attempts to come back from injury but hasn’t played in the Majors since 2012 with the Mets. Since Santana has been out of baseball for five years, he is listed for the first time on the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot and is eligible for induction next year. 

With 71 players inactive at the end of 2017, only 29 players on the list were active this past season. Only two did not earn any Box-Toppers points in 2017:

  • Dodgers pitcher Scott Kazmir, ranked 68th with 105.1 career points. Kazmir, 33, was injured in 2017 and did not play in the majors.
  • Ryan Howard of the Rockies, ranked 83rd with 98.7 career points. Howard, a mainstay of the Phillies from 2005 to 2016, started 2017 with the Braves before being released and signed to a minor league deal by the Rockies. Since the end of the season, Howard, 38, has elected free agency.

Top teams

Three teams each have three players on the “all-time” top 100 list, most of any team:

  • The Washington Nationals with Scherzer (16th with 156.7), Strasburg (66th with 105.4) and Gonzalez (87th with 96.2).
  • The Houston Astros with pitcher Justin Verlander (18th with 154.0), designated hitter Carlos Beltran (60th with 108.6) and pitcher Francisco Liriano (67th with 105.2).
  • The San Francisco Giants with pitchers Madison Bumgarner (63rd with 107.7), Johnny Cueto (72nd with 101.8) and Matt Cain (78th with 100.7).

Last year, the Giants had four players among the top 100, most of any team—Bumgarner, Cueto and Cain, plus pitcher Jake Peavy, now a free agent (29th with 141.8).

Interestingly, though the Giants have three players in the top 100, none of the three did particularly well this season and have a combined 2017 Box-Toppers point total of 5.0 (Bumgarner and Cueto each earned 2.0 and Cain earned 1.0). Compare that to the combined totals for the three Nationals players (57.2) or the three Astros players (20.4) on the list. 

Five teams each have two players on the “all-time” career top 100 list—the Red Sox, Cubs, Dodgers, Twins and Rangers. Nine other teams have one player each. Thirteen teams are unrepresented on the list.

Breakdown by position

Pitchers outnumber batters on the “all-time” list. There are 60 pitchers and 40 batters. (On the top 100 list for 2017, pitchers outnumber batters, 63 to 37.)

Here is a breakdown of players by their primary position on the “all-time” list:

  • 57—Starting pitcher
  • 16—Outfield (5 CF, 5 LF, 6 RF)
  • 10—First base
  • 6—Third base
  • 5—Designated hitter
  • 3—Closing pitcher
  • 1—Second base
  • 1—Catcher
  • 1—Shortstop

Last year, there were 59 pitchers and 41 batters on the top 100 list. But with three players rising onto the list this year (all pitchers) displacing two pitchers and one batter (Raul Ibanez), pitchers picked up one net spot.

Box-Toppers methodology

Keep in mind that these are only statistics since 1995. For many players who debuted before then (such as Johnson, Pedro Martinez, Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux), their career Box-Toppers totals would likely be far higher if the years before 1995 were tracked. On the other hand, for a player like Chipper Jones (ranked 24th), Box-Toppers covers virtually his entire career—he only played in eight games before 1995, so Box-Toppers covers 2,491 games of his 2,499-game career. 

If you note how the names are listed in the chart—some all lowercase, some properly capitalized, some with numbers after them—the inconsistencies might make your inner copy editor cringe. But there is an unintentional method to this madness. In early days of keeping the Box-Toppers database from 1995 to 1997, names were inputted into a slow-functioning computer as quickly as was then possible, often with no capitalization—Box-Toppers' e.e. cummings phase, if you will. In about 1997, names were pretty consistently properly capitalized. And in 1998, numbers were added at the ends of names to denote their order of first appearance in the Box-Toppers database (the first time they earned Player of the Game).

So today, when you see player names like "rivera, mariano," (now ranked 38th) you'll know that Rivera first appeared early in Box-Toppers history (in his case, the first year, 1995). "Ortiz, David," (properly capitalized) made his Box-Toppers debut in 1997 (now ranked 28th). And "Helton, Todd 1060," was one of the first players with the debut order number appended, when he first appeared in 1998 (now ranked 45th).

(Editor’s note: In the chart are references to teams “ana al” and “fla nl,” referring to the Angels and the Marlins. We realize those teams are now known as Los Angeles Angels (of Anaheim) and the Miami Marlins, but we keep the old abbreviations around since those name changes were largely for marketing or political purposes and involved no substantial change in the actual geography of the team. Plus, change is hard.)

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.

Box-Toppers strives for accuracy. See a mistake in a post? A wrong name, wrong team, grammar error, spelling goof, etc.? Thanks for pointing it out! Contact Box-Toppers here. Let's fix it and make it right.

Overlapping players

Here are the 11 players who are on both the Box-Toppers’ top 100 list of “all-time” (above) and the Box-Toppers top 100 list for the 2017 season. Players are listed here in order of career Box-Toppers points with their predominant position played during the 2017 season and the team with which they finished the 2017 season. Shown are their career Box-Toppers point (BTP) total, their rank among players in career points, their Box-Toppers point total for 2017 and their rank among players in 2017.
 
All‑time 2017
Player Pos Team BTP Rank BTP Rank
Kershaw, Clayton 2494 pi sp lad nl 206.8 3 23.1 3
Sabathia, C.C. 1492 pi sp nyy al 192.7 5 7.7 82
Greinke, Zack 1871 pi sp ari nl 176.2 8 20.1 8
Scherzer, Max 2588 pi sp dc nl 156.7 16 25.0 2
Verlander, Justin 2112 pi sp hou al 154.0 18 14.7 16
Lester, Jon 2173 pi sp chi nl 153.9 19 10.7 33
Hamels, Cole 2135 pi sp tex al 153.4 20 9.4 47
Santana, Ervin 2005 pi sp min al 113.4 50 16.1 9
Sale, Chris 2806 pi sp bos al 111.5 55 25.1 1
Strasburg, Stephen 2736 pi sp dc nl 105.4 66 22.5 4
Gonzalez, Gio 2626 pi sp dc nl 96.2 87 9.7 41
BTP: Box-Toppers points
What are those numbers after players' names?