As the 2018 Major League Baseball season opens, Box-Toppers begins its 24th 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?
Here are recent post highlights:
Box-Toppers projects the standings and win totals of all 30 teams.
A look at how the 30 teams rank and compare going into 2018. (Note: Rankings sometimes change as teams sign and release players through spring training and updated team rankings are posted on the Box-Toppers.com homepage.)
A look at the pitcher and batter with the most 2017 Box-Toppers points on each team.
A look at the 100 top players in Box-Toppers points since 1995, when Box-Toppers tracking began.
A look at the 100 top players in Box-Toppers points last season.
The top 10 overall players, plus the top 10 NL and AL pitchers and batters.
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 Majors.
For example, in 2017, Red Sox pitcher Chris Sale led all players with 25.1 Box-Toppers points. Here’s how he earned his points.
• He earned Player of the Game honors 15 times, giving him 15.0 Box-Toppers points.
• Three of those times, in addition to earning Player of the Game honors, he also won American League Player of the Day honors, worth 0.7 bonus points each, giving him 2.1 additional total 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 Sale received 15.0 Box-Toppers points for the times he earned Player of the Day, 2.1 points for the times he earned AL Player of the Day and 8.0 more for the times he earned overall Player of the Day, for a total of 25.1 Box-Toppers points.
Sale’s 25.1 Box-Toppers points is the 24th highest single-season total since Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995. It ranks just ahead of the 25.0 points Nationals pitcher Max Scherzer earned in 2017. Scherzer’s second-place finish to Sale in 2017, just 0.1 point behind, is tied for the second-closest finish for Box-Toppers Player of the Year (see chart below).
Box-Toppers points leaders took home three of the six major postseason awards in 2017 as voted by baseball writers:
- National League Cy Young Award—Winner Max Scherzer of the Nationals was also Box-Toppers top NL pitcher with 25.0 Box-Toppers points.
- American League Rookie of the Year—Winner Aaron Judge of the Yankees was also Box-Toppers top AL rookie with 11.2 Box-Toppers points.
- NL Rookie of the Year—Winner Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers was also Box-Toppers top NL rookie with 8.7 Box-Toppers points.
But the other three major awards, including both league’s awards for Most Valuable Player, went to players who did not lead their category in Box-Toppers points.
In two of those three cases, the player baseball writers chose for the award was close to the top in Box-Toppers rankings for their category:
- AL Cy Young Award—Winner Corey Kluber of the Indians ranked second in Box-Toppers points among AL pitchers with 22.0 (fifth overall) behind overall Box-Toppers points leader Chris Sale of the Red Sox with 25.1 Box-Toppers points.
- NL Most Valuable Player—Winner Giancarlo Stanton of the Marlins ranked second in Box-Toppers points among NL batters with 14.2 (17th overall) behind Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs, who led NL batters with 15.5 points (14th overall).
But in one of the six cases, the winner chosen by baseball writers for a postseason award was nowhere close to the leader in Box-Toppers rankings for their category:
- AL Most Valuable Player—Winner Jose Altuve of the Astros had only 2.5 Box-Toppers points and ranked 90th among AL batters, 387th among all players. Edwin Encarnacion of the Indians led AL batters with 12.1 Box-Toppers points, 22nd among all players.
The post linked here goes into some detail about why Box-Toppers deems Altuve unworthy of the MVP honor in 2017. But it comes down to this: Altuve simply wasn’t the key contributor to many Astros wins. Other Astros players often beat him out for Player of the Game in the team’s 101 wins. Despite a great statistical season (leading in hits, batting average and wins above replacement), Altuve only won Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors twice in the regular season. The post examines each of the Astros’ 101 wins in 2017 and shows which Astros player earned Box-Toppers Player of the Game honors in each.
While the Box-Toppers metric has been used since the start of the 1995 season to track players, this is the sixth season for the Box-Toppers.com website. Box-Toppers’ first blog post was five years ago on March 25, 2013.
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 2017 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 2017 season, the past two seasons (2016-17), the past six seasons (2012-17) and “all-time” (1995-2017).
- Top pitchers and batters by team in 2017.
- Top several players by position in each league over the past season, past two seasons, past six seasons and “all-time” (1995-2017).
- How statistical leaders (batting average, earned run average, home runs, strikeouts, runs batted in, wins, wins above replacement) fared in Box-Toppers points in 2017.
- Rankings and picks for 2018 based on each team’s players’ Box-Toppers points for 2017 and recent seasons.
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.
Closest Player of the Year finishesHere are the closest finishes for Box-Toppers Player of the Year honors. In 2010, Jon Lester and Roy Halladay both had 23.4 Box-Toppers points for the season, most among all players. Lester won Player of the Year on a tiebreaker (he had more Box-Toppers points the previous season). In 2017, Chris Sale won Player of the Year over Max Scherzer by 0.1 Box-Toppers point, a tie for the second-closest finish since Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995.
|Year||Lead||1st place player||Team||BTP||2nd place player||Team||BTP|
|1||2010||0.0||Jon Lester||Red Sox||23.4||Roy Halladay||Phillies||23.4|
|2||1999||0.1||Randy Johnson||Diamondbacks||31.5||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||31.4|
|2||2017||0.1||Chris Sale||Red Sox||25.1||Max Scherzer||Nationals||25.0|
|4||2000||0.2||Randy Johnson||Diamondbacks||33.7||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||33.5|
|5||1995||0.3||Randy Johnson||Mariners||23.7||Greg Maddux||Braves||23.4|
|6||1998||0.6||Randy Johnson||Astros||26.4||Roger Clemens||Blue Jays||25.8|
|7||1997||0.7||Roger Clemens||Blue Jays||27.4||Pedro Martinez||Expos||26.7|
|7||2011||0.7||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||26.1||Cliff Lee||Phillies||25.4|
|9||2003||1.3||Max Scherzer||Nationals||25.7||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||24.4|
|9||2016||1.3||Jason Schmidt||Giants||24.7||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||23.4|
|11||2013||1.5||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||21.7||Adam Wainwright||Cardinals||20.2|
|12||2009||1.7||Zack Greinke||Royals||21.5||Jon Lester||Red Sox||19.8|
|13||2005||3.1||Johan Santana||Twins||24.1||Chris Carpenter||Cardinals||21.0|
|14||2015||3.4||Jake Arrieta||Cubs||29.1||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||25.7|
|15||2012||4.0||Justin Verlander||Tigers||24.8||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||20.8|
|16||2007||4.5||Jake Peavy||Padres||23.4||Alex Rodriguez||Yankees||18.9|
|17||2006||4.9||Randy Johnson||Diamondbacks||33.7||Pedro Martinez||Red Sox||28.8|
|17||2002||4.9||Johan Santana||Twins||25.7||Lance Berkman||Astros||20.8|
|19||2014||5.7||Clayton Kershaw||Dodgers||31.5||Corey Kluber||Indians||25.8|
|19||1996||5.7||John Smoltz||Braves||26.1||Albert Belle||Indians||20.4|
|21||2004||5.8||Johan Santana||Twins||26.8||Curt Schilling||Red Sox||21.0|
|22||2001||6.0||Randy Johnson||Diamondbacks||29.4||Javier Vazquez||Expos||23.4|
|23||2008||9.0||CC Sabathia||Brewers||26.7||Tim Lincecum||Giants||17.7|
Tracking who most helps their teams win the most games, based on box score stats. A method to measure & compare baseball's top players.
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. Players earn Box-Toppers points 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.