It seems increasingly likely that Box-Toppers’ league-leading batters will set dubious records in 2018.
Lowest points to lead categoryNolan Arenado holds the record for lowest Box-Toppers point total to lead category (10.7 to lead National League batters in 2016). Here are the lowest-point totals to win a league category since Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995:
|1||Nolan Arenado||col nl||10.7||2016 NL bat|
|2||Carlos Gonzalez||col nl||11.5||2015 NL bat|
|3||Troy Tulowitzki||col nl||11.6||2014 NL bat|
|4||Edwin Encarnacion||cle al||12.1||2017 AL bat|
|5||Adrian Beltre||tex al||12.5||2015 AL bat|
|5||Aubrey Huff||bal al||12.5||2008 AL bat|
|5||Ryan Braun||mil nl||12.5||2012 NL bat|
|8||Manny Machado||bal al||12.7||2016 AL bat|
|9||Adrian Beltre||tex al||13.0||2012 AL bat|
|10||Paul Goldschmidt||ari nl||13.7||2013 NL bat|
|10||Bret Boone||sea al||13.7||2001 AL bat|
Both the American League and National League leaders among batters in Box-Toppers points currently have point totals that would be the lowest to lead their league’s batters for a season since Box-Toppers tracking began in 1995.
Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs currently leads NL batters in 2018 Box-Toppers points with 8.5. The record for the lowest point total to lead NL batters in a season is 10.7, set by Nolan Arenado of the Rockies in 2016. That, in fact, is the lowest Box-Toppers point total to lead any category (AL and NL pitching and batting) in any season.
With about three weeks remaining in the season, Rizzo would need 2.2 more points to tie Arenado’s record. That means he’d need to earn Player of the Game honors three times (worth 1.0 point each) or earn NL Batter of the Day once (worth 1.5 points) along with earning Player of the Game honors another day (worth 1.0 point) for a total of 2.5 points.
Decline in Box-Toppers points among batting leadersIn recent years, batters leading their league in Box-Toppers points have far fewer points than those who led in 2011 or earlier. American League batting leaders since 2012 have more than 2.5 points fewer on average per season since those who led from 1995 to 2011. National League batting leaders since 2012 have 4.0 fewer points per season on average than those who led from 1995 to 2011. Pitching leaders have meanwhile declined slightly or held steady on average.
|Leading batters||Leading pitchers|
|Average BTP per season||AL||NL||AL||NL|
|Change from ’95‑11 to ’12‑17||-16.4%||-24.1%||-5.8%||0.0%|
In the AL, J.D. Martinez of the Red Sox leads batters with 11.5 Box-Toppers points. The record for the lowest point total to lead AL batters in a season is 12.1, set by Edwin Encarnacion of the Indians in 2017. If Martinez finishes the season leading the AL with 11.5 points, it would tie for the second-lowest point total to lead any season category in Box-Toppers’ 24-year history with Carlos Gonzalez of the Rockies, who led NL batters in 2015 with 11.5 points.
Martinez needs only to earn Player of the Game honors (worth 1.0 point) to avoid having the lowest point total to lead AL batters in a season.
In recent seasons, the Box-Toppers point total required to lead a league’s batters has been decreasing. From 2012 to 2017, there have been 12 leaders in Box-Toppers points among league batters—two from each league for each of six seasons. Nine of those 12 rank among the lowest 11 Box-Toppers point totals to lead a category.
The record for the lowest point total to lead a category was broken in three successive seasons, each time by a batter from the Colorado Rockies, who led NL batters in points:
In 2014, Troy Tulowitzki led NL batters with 11.6 points, then the lowest total to lead a category.
In 2015, Carlos Gonzalez led NL batters with 11.5 points, breaking Tulowitzki’s record from the previous season by 0.1 point.
In 2016, Nolan Arenado led NL batters with 10.7 points, breaking Gonzalez’s record from the previous season by 0.8 points.
However, in 2017, the NL leader in points, who is coincidentally this year’s current leader, Rizzo, had 15.5 points. Still, in 2017, the record for lowest Box-Toppers points to lead AL batters was set by Encarnacion.
The two other exceptions to the low point totals to lead league batters since 2012:
In 2013, Miguel Cabrera of the Tigers led AL batters with 16.9 Box-Toppers points.
In 2014, Jose Abreu of the White Sox led AL batters with 15.5 Box-Toppers points.
The highest point total to lead AL batters in a season was 20.4 by Albert Belle of the Indians in 1996. The highest point total to lead NL batters in a season was 20.8 by Lance Berkman of the Astros in 2006.
Since 1995, the average Box-Toppers point total to lead AL batters is 15.8 and the average point total to lead NL batters is 15.6. In 2012, point totals began to noticeably decline among league-leading batters.
From 1995 to 2011, the average point total for the season’s leading AL batter was 16.5. The average for leading AL batter from 2012 to 2017 was 13.8, a drop of 2.7 points and 16 percent.
From 1995 to 2011, the average point total for leading the season’s leading NL batter was 16.6. The average for leading NL batter from 2012 to 2017 was 12.6, a drop of 4.0 points and 24 percent.
What’s happening? Why are point totals for league-leading batters decreasing? I’m not entirely sure, but I could speculate it has something to do with the eradication of steriods in the game in recent seasons. It could be happening because of the increased number of strikeouts among batters as they fight defensive shifts by attempting (and frequently failing) to hit more home runs. It could be more dominant pitching or new ways of deploying relief pitchers to prevent batters from facing the starter more than twice in a game.
Or it could be that batters are just worse than they were prior to 2012.
There is no corresponding, appreciable change among pitchers who lead their league in season Box-Toppers point totals. Pitchers do and generally always have earned more Box-Toppers points than batters. The leading AL pitcher has earned an average of 23.7 Box-Toppers points from 1995 to 2017 and the average NL pitcher has earned 25.6.
Unlike batters huge change after 2012, leading pitchers point totals have held fairly steady. You might expect the leading pitchers to pick up the slack from the declining batters and see their point totals increase. But it is not the case. Leading NL pitchers averaged 25.6 from 1995 to 2011 and 25.6 from 2012 to 2017. No change. Leading AL pitchers averaged 24.1 from 1995 to 2011 and 22.7 from 2012 to 2017, actually a drop of 1.4 points.
Looking more closely, slightly fewer batters are earning Box-Toppers points each season and those that do are seeing a fairly substantial decline in the number of points they receive.
From 1995 to 2017, an average of 377 batters each season received Box-Toppers points by earning Player of the Game honors at least once during a season. However, from 1995 to 2011, an average of 381 batters per season earned Box-Toppers points, while 367 batters per season earned points from 2012 to 2017. That’s a 3.78 percent decline, not much of a change.
However, batters are receiving far fewer average points per season. From 1995 to 2017, batters earning points earned an average of 3.68 Box-Toppers points per season. However, from 1995 to 2011, batters earned 3.81 points per season, while from 2012 to 2017, they earned just 3.29 points per season, a 0.52-point decline and a drop of 13.64 percent.
The decline in overall points earned by batters is even more pronounced. From 1995 to 2017, batters earned an average of 1,389.5 total Box-Toppers points per season. But in earlier years, from 1995 to 2011, batters earned an average of 1,453.8 points per season, while from 2012 to 2017, batters earned 1,207.1 points per season. That’s a 246.7-point drop per season, a decline of 16.97 percent.
Further, batters tended to consistently earn about half or more of all Box-Toppers points awarded in each season from 1995 to 2009. But in 2010 and after, batters fell below 50 percent, hovering closer to 40 percent of all points. In 2014, batters reached their lowest point, earning just 39.14 percent of all Box-Toppers points awarded. So far in 2018, batters account for 39.52 percent of all points awarded.
Batters reached their high point in 2000, when they earned 1,621.5 of the 2,849.1 points awarded, 56.91 percent of all points.
Since 1995, batters have now earned 49.12 percent of all points awarded. However, from 1995 to 2011, batters earned 51.67 percent of all points. That compares to 2012 to 2017, when batters have earned only 41.90 percent of all points.
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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Decline in Box-Toppers points earned by battersIn recent years, batters are earning far fewer Box-Toppers points than they did in the past. Batters are earning fewer total points and a reduced share of points per season in recent years, compared with pitchers. The overall average point total per batter has also decreased in recent years.
Shown in this chart
Total BTP awarded—Total number of Box-Toppers points awarded each season. The number stays fairly steady because roughly the same number of games are played each season. The number varies slightly due to games canceled and also due to the variance in Box-Toppers bonus points awarded for Player of the Day, league Player of the Day or top league batters of the day.
BTP earned by batters—The number of total Box-Toppers points earned by a batter in a season.
Batters’ share of BTP—As a percentage of total Box-Toppers points earned, this is how big of a share batters earned each season. From 1995 to 2009, batters earned about half or more of all Box-Toppers points awarded. Since then, batters are earning fewer than half of all points.
Batters earning BTP—This is the actual number of batters who earned at least 1.0 Box-Toppers point in a season.
Average BTP per batter—This is figured by taking the total points earned by batters each season and dividing it by the number of batters earning BTP in that season. From 1995 to 2011, batters earned about 3.81 points per season. From 2012 to 2017 that average fell to 3.29 points per season, a drop of 0.52 points or 13.6 percent.
The bottom three rows
These rows provide the overall averages in Box-Toppers points awarded and show that batters total points and total share of points have sharply declined in recent years (2012-2017), compared to earlier years (1995-2011).
Average per season from 1995-2017—In bold and black: This row shows the average points awarded per season, along with the average points earned by batters per season and the overall share earned by batters. In Box-Toppers' 23-year tracking history, batters have earned just under half of all points awarded—49.12%. The row also shows that an average of 377 batters per season have earned 3.68 points per season over 23 years.
Average per season from 1995-2011—In bold and green: This row shows batters earned more Box-Toppers points and a larger share of Box-Toppers points (51.67%) compared to recent years. Batters also had higher average Box-Toppers point totals (3.81).
Average per season from 2012-2017—In bold and red: This row shows batters earned sharply fewer points and a dramatically smaller share of points (41.90%) compared to earlier years. Batters also had lower average Box-Toppers point totals (3.29).
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.