An opening day introduction to Box-Toppers, starting 23rd season tracking players

As the 2017 Major League Baseball season opens, Box-Toppers begins its 23rd season tracking who most helps their teams win the most games, based on box score statistics. Here is an introduction to Box-Toppers:

Box-Toppers highlights

Here are recent post highlights:

Picks 2017

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

Team rankings 2017

A look at how the 30 teams rank and compare going into 2017.

Top players by team 2016

A look at the pitcher and batter with the most 2016 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 2016

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

Top player rankings 2016

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

For more highlights, check this post or visit the home page.

What’s the most important thing in baseball?

Winning the game, right?

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 2016, Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer led all players with 25.7 Box-Toppers points. Here’s how he earned his points:

  • He earned Player of the Game honors 18 times, giving him 18.0 Box-Toppers points.
  • Once, in addition to earning Player of the Game honors, he also won NL Player of the Day honors, worth 0.7 bonus points.
  • Seven 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 7.0 more Box-Toppers points.

So Scherzer received 18.0 Box-Toppers points for the times he earned Player of the Day, 0.7 for the time he earned NL Player of the Day and 7.0 for the times he earned overall Player of the Day, for a total of 25.7 Box-Toppers points.

That is tied for the 20th-highest single season total any player has earned since Box-Toppers record keeping began in 1995. Scherzer won the National League Cy Young Award in 2016. 

Box-Toppers points leaders took home two of the six major postseason awards in 2016 as voted by baseball writers.

In addition to Scherzer, American League Rookie of the Year Michael Fulmer, pitcher for the Tigers, led American League rookies in Box-Toppers points (12.7). 

But the other four major awards for top rookie, Cy Young for best pitcher and overall Most Valuable Player, went to players who did not lead their category in Box-Toppers points. The Baseball Writers’ Association of America voters chose different players for those awards.

Box-Toppers’ biggest swing and miss among those award winners was NL Rookie of the Year Corey Seager of the Dodgers, who won the award in a unanimous vote. But Seager had only 4.0 Box-Toppers points in 2016, was not among the top five NL rookies and was not even the top rookie on the Dodgers (that was pitcher Kenta Maeda with 10.0 points, the most of any NL rookie).

While Seager had a great season statistically, he was the key player earning Box-Toppers Player of the Day honors in only three of the Dodgers’ wins in 2016. However, when he did well in a game, another Dodgers player simply did better, contributing more to the win and earning Player of the Game honors over Seager.

There is a breakdown of Seager’s season in this post, which includes a comparison with his older brother Kyle of the Mariners, who had very similar statistics to Corey, but had 9.5 Box-Toppers points—more than twice as many as Corey.

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

For highlights from 2016 and a preview of the coming season, see this post which slices and dices Box-Toppers statistics in various ways to see (among other things):

  • Top overall players and top pitchers and batters in each league
  • Top 100 players over various time periods, including just the 2016 season, the past two seasons (2015-16), the past six seasons (2011-16) and “all-time” (1995-2016).
  • Top pitchers and batters by team in 2016
  • Top several players by position in each league over the past season, past two seasons, past six seasons and “all-time” (1995-2016).
  • How statistical leaders (batting average, earned run average, home runs, strikeouts, runs batted in, wins, wins above replacement) fared in Box-Toppers points in 2016.
  • Rankings and picks for 2017 based on each team’s players’ Box-Toppers points for 2016 and recent seasons.

On Twitter and Facebook, 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.