4 of top 10 WAR leaders for 2017 rank outside Box-Toppers’ top 100 players—some way outside

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Six of the 10 leaders in baseball’s Wins Above Replacement statistic for 2017 are among the top 100 players in Box-Toppers points for the season.

WAR leaders’ Box-Toppers points

Here is how 2017 Wins Above Replacement (WAR) leaders fared in Box-Toppers points. Players are ranked by WAR. Also shown are their 2017 Box-Toppers points (BTP) and their rank in Box-Toppers points among all players.

Player Team WAR BTP Rank
1 Jose Altuve Astros 8.3 2.5 387
2 Aaron Judge Yankees 8.1 11.2 26
3 Corey Kluber Indians 8.1 22.0 5
4 Max Scherzer Nationals 7.6 25.0 2
5 Giancarlo Stanton Marlins 7.6 14.2 17
6 Joey Votto Reds 7.5 4.0 238
7 Nolan Arenado Rockies 7.2 9.2 51
8 Andrelton Simmons Angels 7.1 2.5 396
9 Jose Ramirez Indians 6.9 10.0 38
10 Mike Trout Angels 6.7 5.0 186
BTP: Box-Toppers points

However, four of the top 10 in WAR, including overall leader, Jose Altuve, rank well outside Box-Toppers’ top 100 players for 2017.

Altuve led players in 2017 with a WAR of 8.3, meaning he added 8.3 wins to the Astros compared to a replacement level player. The WAR statistics used here are compiled by BaseballReference.com.

But Altuve had just 2.5 Box-Toppers points in 2017, ranked 387th among all players and 90th among AL batters. Quite simply, Altuve played on a team rich in talent (which won the World Series) and frequently in Astros wins, he was beaten out by a teammate for Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors. Altuve may have led the league in hits (204) and batting average (.346) and won the American League Most Valuable Player award, but he only earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice in 2017.

Not only was Altuve not even the Astros’ top player in Box-Toppers points in 2017, he was not the top batter. Teammate Josh Reddick had 8.0 Box-Toppers points. Altuve ranked 21st among the 28 Astros who received Box-Toppers points in 2017. Here is a longer explanation of why Altuve fared so poorly in Box-Toppers points in 2017.

Altuve’s contributions were actually more key to the Astros in 2016, when he had 12.5 Box-Toppers points, third among AL batters. In 2016, Altuve had statistics similar to those he had in 2017—leading the league in hits (216), batting average (.338) and finishing third among AL batters in WAR (7.6)—but his 2016 contributions were more often those that were key to helping the Astros win, giving him more Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors and a more impressive Box-Toppers point total for the season.

For many baseball experts, WAR is the key statistic used to measure and compare players against each other and is the rare statistic used to directly compare pitchers and batters.

Box-Toppers was devised in the mid-1990s (before I heard of WAR) as a way of determining a top player in each game played, a top player of the day in each league and a top overall player for the day. Points are awarded to those top players and those points accumulate over the season to provide a data point to compare players.

While Box-Toppers points and WAR are both used to compare players, WAR is a very different statistic. BaseballReference.com, from which the WAR scores used here are derived, defines WAR as “a single number that presents the number of wins the player added to the team above what a replacement player would add.”

Box-Toppers is a much more basic statistic with a much simpler formula than the dozens or hundreds of steps needed to figure WAR. Box-Toppers, without apology, does not include any fielding statistics as part of its formula, as WAR does. Also Box-Toppers, in essence, measures the number of wins a player is most responsible for. WAR, as its name indicates, measures the wins that player would have above a replacement player.

So while WAR and Box-Toppers points differ in many ways, they are similar in one key way—they both attempt to directly compare the usually segregated pitchers and batters with one shared, integrated statistic.

While WAR leader Altuve ranked low in Box-Toppers points, six of the top 10 WAR leaders were among the top 100 in Box-Toppers points. All six of them were also among their league’s top 10 pitchers or batters in Box-Toppers points:

  • Aaron Judge of the Yankees ranked second in WAR with 8.1 and 26th in Box-Toppers points with 11.2, second among AL batters. Judge was voted AL Rookie of the Year for 2017 and finished second behind Altuve for AL MVP.
  • Indians pitcher Corey Kluber ranked third in WAR with 8.1 and fifth in Box-Toppers points with 22.0, second among AL pitchers. Kluber won the AL Cy Young Award.
  • Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer ranked fourth in WAR with 7.6 and second in Box-Toppers points with 25.0, first among NL pitchers. Scherzer won the NL Cy Young Award.
  • Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins ranked fifth in WAR with 7.6 and 17th in Box-Toppers points with 14.2, second among NL batters. Stanton was also voted NL Most Valuable Player and had the highest WAR among NL batters. Stanton was traded in the offseason and will play for the Yankees in the AL in 2018.
  • Nolan Arenado of the Rockies ranked seventh in WAR with 7.2 and 51st in Box-Toppers points with 9.2, fifth among NL batters.
  • Jose Ramirez of the Indians ranked ninth in WAR with 6.9 and 38th in Box-Toppers points with 10.0, fifth among AL batters.

In addition to Altuve, three other players in the top 10 in WAR finished outside Box-Toppers’ top 100 players:

  • Joey Votto of the Reds ranked sixth in WAR with 7.5 and 238th in Box-Toppers points with 4.0, 53rd among NL batters.
  • Andrelton Simmons of the Angels ranked eighth in WAR with 7.1 and 396th in Box-Toppers points with 2.5, 95th among AL batters. Simmons is Box-Toppers’ lowest-ranked player among the WAR top 10.
  • Mike Trout of the Angels ranked 10th in WAR with 6.7 and 186th in Box-Toppers points with 5.0, 45th among AL batters. Trout was limited by injuries in 2017, playing in only 114 games. Also, Trout had been among Box-Toppers’ top 10 AL batters three years in a row—2014 (8.5 Box-Toppers points, seventh), 2015 (12.0 points, second) and 2016 (12.5 points, second).

Three of Box-Toppers category leaders for 2017 were not among the top 10 in WAR:

  • Chris Sale of the Red Sox led all players and all AL pitchers in Box-Toppers points in 2017 with 25.1. Sale had a WAR of 6.0, seventh among all pitchers.
  • Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs led all NL batters with 15.5 Box-Toppers points. Rizzo had a WAR of 4.4.
  • Edwin Encarnacion of the Indians led all AL batters with 12.1 Box-Toppers points. Encarnacion had a WAR of 2.8.

Scherzer, who led NL pitchers in Box-Toppers points in 2017 (25.0), ranked fourth in WAR (7.6).

Only two of Box-Toppers’ overall top 10 players for 2017 are among the top 10 in WAR:

  • Scherzer, second in Box-Toppers points with 25.0 and fourth in WAR with 7.6.
  • Kluber, fifth in Box-Toppers points with 22.0 and third in WAR with 8.1.

The other eight Box-Toppers’ top 10 players for 2017 rank outside the WAR top 10:

  • Sale, as previously mentioned, who leads all players in Box-Toppers points (25.1), had a WAR of 6.0, seventh among all pitchers.
  • Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw, who ranks third in Box-Toppers points (23.1), had a WAR of 4.6.
  • Nationals pitcher Stephen Strasburg, who ranks fourth in Box-Toppers points (22.5), had a WAR of 6.5, fourth among all pitchers.
  • Indians pitcher Carlos Carrasco, who ranks sixth in Box-Toppers points (21.8), had a WAR of 5.4, ninth among all pitchers.
  • Yankees pitcher Luis Severino, who ranks seventh in Box-Toppers points (21.1), had a WAR of 5.3, 10th among all pitchers.
  • Diamondbacks pitcher Zack Greinke, who ranks eighth in Box-Toppers points (20.1), had a WAR of 6.0, sixth among all pitchers.
  • Twins pitcher Ervin Santana, who ranks ninth in Box-Toppers points (16.1), had a WAR of 4.6.
  • Diamondbacks pitcher Robbie Ray, who ranks 10th in Box-Toppers points (16.0), had a WAR of 5.0.

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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WAR leaders for 2016

WAR leaders for 2015