Baseball BeatDecember 04, 2006
The 2006 Quad Leaders
By Rich Lederer

In the summer of 2003, I introduced the concept of the Quad in a three-part series (I, II, III) and subsequently listed the year-end leaders in the four categories (on-base percentage, slugging average, times on base, and total bases) at the conclusion of each season (2003: AL, NL; 2004; 2005).

The Quad is designed to pay tribute to those players who rank among the league leaders in the two most important components of run production - the ability to get on base and the ability to drive baserunners home. Players who rank among the league leaders in these counting and rate stats are unquestionably the most productive hitters in the game.

The beauty of the Quad is not only in filtering out the noise inherent in many traditional stats but its simplicity as compared to the more advanced metrics. At the risk of being a simpleton or caught up in a time warp, I like quoting numbers and percentages that can be tracked with each and every plate appearance by everyone from the most casual fan to the more sophisticated stathead.

If you're a proponent of Runs Created (or one of many derivative stats), a concept Bill James developed in the late-1970s, then the Quad is for you. Think about it. The Quad is nothing more than the factors that determine Runs Created. To wit, OBP x TB = Runs Created in its original and most basic definition. Similarly, Advancement Percentage (which is akin to SLG but uses plate appearances as the denominator rather than at-bats) x TOB = Runs Created.

With the introductions behind us, let's take a look at the players who did the best job of getting on base and accumulating bases (both in terms of the number of times as well as the percentage of times), starting with the National League.


1  Ryan Howard            299 
2  Miguel Cabrera         291 
3  Garrett Atkins         284 
4  Chase Utley            280 
5t Jason Bay              273 
5t Albert Pujols          273 
7  Lance Berkman          271 
8  Rafael Furcal          270 
9t Brian Giles            268 
9t Nick Johnson           268 

Ryan Howard led the NL in times on base, falling one short of the magical mark of 300. If 200 hits and 100 walks are meaningful, then reaching base 300 times should be considered quite an achievement. However, owing to a lack of publicity, there is little or no context for fans to understand or appreciate the virtues of a 300 TOB season. During the preceding 10 years, there have been a minimum of two and a maximum of six players per season who have pierced this level of success. Barry Bonds set the NL record with 376 in 2004. Babe Ruth holds the MLB record with 379 in 1923.

Chase Utley and Rafael Furcal deserve mention as the only up-the-middle defensive players among the top ten NLers. Miguel Cabrera and Garrett Atkins are the only other non-1B/corner OF on the above list.


1  Albert Pujols         .431  
2  Miguel Cabrera        .430 
3  Nick Johnson          .428 
4  Ryan Howard           .425 
5  Lance Berkman         .420 
6  Garrett Atkins        .409 
7  Todd Helton           .404 
8  Jason Bay             .396 
9  J.D. Drew             .393 
10 Scott Hatteberg       .389

Albert Pujols topped the senior circuit in OBP for the first time in his career. However, one could make a case for Bonds, who had a .454 OBP but fell nine plate appearances short of qualifying. By giving Bonds nine additional outs, we can adjust his OBP down to .446 - a mark that would have been good enough to lead both the NL and AL.

Kudos to Cabrera and Atkins for being the only non-1B/corner OF in the top ten.


1  Ryan Howard            383 
2  Alfonso Soriano        362 
3  Albert Pujols          359 
4  Matt Holliday          353 
5  Chase Utley            347 
6  Garrett Atkins         335 
7t Lance Berkman          333 
7t Aramis Ramirez         333 
9  Jimmy Rollins          329 
10 Miguel Cabrera         327

Howard swept the two counting stat categories, leading the league in times on base and total bases. He is the first player in the NL to achieve this double since Todd Helton in 2000, a year in which the Colorado Rockie first baseman won the Quad Award by leading the league in all four categories. Helton also won the rate triple crown by topping the league in AVG, OBP, and SLG. However, as a reflection of how much Coors Park helped his cause, Helton finished eighth in OPS+.

Howard had two teammates who also placed in the top ten. Utley and Jimmy Rollins, the double play combo of the Phillies, were the only up-the-middle defensive players to make the list. Cabrera, Atkins, and Aramis Ramirez gets props for their appearances as non-1B/corner OF.


1  Albert Pujols         .671 
2  Ryan Howard           .659 
3  Lance Berkman         .621 
4  Carlos Beltran        .594 
5  Matt Holliday         .586 
6  Miguel Cabrera        .568 
7  Adam LaRoche          .561 
8  Aramis Ramirez        .561 
9  Alfonso Soriano       .560 
10 Garrett Atkins        .556

Pujols led the NL in SLG for the first time in his career. Just as Howard led in TOB and TB, Pujols was #1 in OBP and SLG. Howard had the edge in counting stats and Pujols in rate stats. The two first basemen were clearly the top two hitters in the league in 2006.

Carlos Beltran was the lone up-the-middle defender on the list, while Cabrera, Atkins, and Lance Berkman made their way into the top ten for the fourth time. Ramirez also gets a mention as a non-1B/corner OF.



1  Derek Jeter            295 
2  David Ortiz            283 
3  Grady Sizemore         281 
4  Ichiro Suzuki          278 
5  Mark Teixeira          270 
6  Miguel Tejada          269 
7  Michael Young          266 
8  Alex Rodriguez         264 
9  Joe Mauer              261 
10 Kevin Youkilis         259 

To his credit, Derek Jeter was the only non-1B/LF/DH to lead his league in one of the four Quad categories. Like Howard, he fell just short of the magical 300 mark. It was the second time that Jeter has led the league in TOB, the other being 1999 with 322. He hit in the .340s both years and had OBP over .400.

Grady Sizemore, Miguel Tejada, Michael Young, and Joe Mauer (along with Jeter) gave the up-the-middle fielders five of the top ten spots. Alex Rodriguez was the only other non-1B/DH/corner OF.


1  Manny Ramirez         .439 
2  Travis Hafner         .439 
3  Joe Mauer             .429 
4  Derek Jeter           .417 
5  Jim Thome             .416 
6  Jason Giambi          .413 
7  David Ortiz           .413 
8  Carlos Guillen        .400 
9  Alex Rodriguez        .392 
10 Victor Martinez       .391 

Manny Ramirez nosed out Travis Hafner by .000347 to take the honors in OBP. Both players missed quite a bit of action. Ramirez played in 130 games and Hafner 129. Manny has now led the league in OBP three times and has a career mark of .411, eighth best among active players and 35th in the all-time rankings.

Mauer, Jeter, Carlos Guillen, and Victor Martinez were the lone up-the-middle defensive players among the top ten. A-Rod gets mention as the only other non-1B/DH/corner OF.


1  David Ortiz            355 
2  Grady Sizemore         349 
3t Jermaine Dye           335 
3t Vladimir Guerrero      335 
5t Justin Morneau         331 
5t Vernon Wells           331 
7t Raul Ibanez            323 
7t Mark Teixeira          323 
7t Miguel Tejada          323 
10 Michael Young          317 

David Ortiz topped the AL in total bases. It was the first time he led the league in any of the four Quad categories during his career. He had finished second several times before but had never been #1 until this season.

Center fielders Sizemore and Vernon Wells and shortstops Tejada and Young were the only up-the-middle position players in the top ten. Sizemore, in fact, ranked in the top three in both of the Quad counting stats.


1  Travis Hafner         .659 
2  David Ortiz           .636 
3  Jermaine Dye          .622 
4  Manny Ramirez         .619 
5  Jim Thome             .598 
6  Justin Morneau        .559 
7  Jason Giambi          .558 
8  Vladimir Guerrero     .552 
9  Paul Konerko          .551 
10 Frank Thomas          .545 

Hafner led the AL in SLG and has now placed in the top four in OBP and SLG in each of the past three seasons. Moreover, Hafner has quietly topped the league in OPS+ in 2004, 2005, and 2006. He is the first player in the junior circuit since Mickey Mantle in 1960-62 to pull off that feat.

Every player in the top ten was a 1B/DH/corner OF. Ortiz deserves credit for being the only one who ranked among the league leaders in all four Quad categories.


The following matrix provides a way to quantify the results of the Quad in a manner similar to the MVP voting (14 points for 1st, 9 for 2nd, 8 for 3rd, etc.).

                     TOB     OBP      TB      SLG      TOT
Ryan Howard          14       7       14       9       44
Albert Pujols         5.5    14        8      14       41.5
Miguel Cabrera        9       9        1       5       24
Lance Berkman         4       6        3.5     8       21.5
Garrett Atkins        8       5        5       1       19
Chase Utley           7                6               13
Matt Holliday                          7       6       13
Alfonso Soriano                        9       2       11
Nick Johnson          1.5     8                         9.5
Jason Bay             5.5     3                         8.5
Carlos Beltran                                 7        7
Aramis Ramirez                         3.5     3        6.5
Todd Helton                   4                         4
Adam LaRoche                                   4        4
Rafael Furcal         3                                 3
J.D. Drew                     2                         2
Jimmy Rollins                          2                2
Brian Giles           1.5                               1.5
Scott Hatteberg               1                         1

Howard and Pujols stand out among their peers in the National League. They were the top two offensive forces in the league last year. Howard won the Hank Aaron Award as the league's top hitter, as well as the Most Valuable Player Award as the top player. I don't have a problem with the former selection but believe Pujols' superior glovework and baserunning were enough to vault him over Howard as the MVP.

                     TOB     OBP      TB      SLG      TOT
David Ortiz           9       4       14       9       36
Travis Hafner                 9               14       23
Derek Jeter          14       7                        21
Manny Ramirez                14                7       21
Grady Sizemore        8                9               17
Jermaine Dye                           7.5     8       15.5
Jim Thome                     6                6       12
Vladimir Guerrero                      7.5     3       10.5
Justin Morneau                         5.5     5       10.5
Joe Mauer             2       8                        10
Mark Teixeira         6                3                9
Jason Giambi                  5                4        9
Miguel Tejada         5                3                8
Ichiro Suzuki         7                                 7
Vernon Wells                           5.5              5.5
Michael Young         4                1                5
Alex Rodriguez        3       2                         5
Carlos Guillen                3                         3
Raul Ibanez                   3                         3
Paul Konerko                                   2        2
Kevin Youkilis        1                                 1
Victor Martinez               1                         1
Frank Thomas                                   1        1

Ortiz topped the American League in Quad points, amassing more than 50% above his closest challenger. Ortiz - and not Jeter - should have won the Hank Aaron Award. I would have voted for Jeter as the AL MVP but don't understand how he could have been selected as the top hitter in the league.

How did the Quad fare as it relates to Runs Created? Well, it got the top five right in the NL (with Cabrera and Berkman reversing positions) and the top two plus three of the top five in the AL.


The problem with the glovework value is the way it's arbitrarily assessed, I think. In 2005 Andruw Jones as a center fielder over Albert Pujols, a 1st baseman, theoretically using the glovework bonus, should've given him the push over Pujols. That is much of the case people have complaining about with Derek Jeter. Well come on, 51 home runs and 128 RBIs from a Gold Glove center fielder? Someone kindly remind me - what's more common, a 1.039 OPS from a 1st baseman, or 51 home runs and 128 RBIs from a Gold Glove center fielder?

This is part of why, in my opinion, the whole blah blah blah about Jeter for MVP (among other reasons) falls apart. We're supposed to give Jeter these huge props for having a nice year at shortstop, but all things considered, maybe not even better than Carlos Guillen. Yet the same people doing the complaining about Jeter and his defensive value over other guys are the ones who didn't hesitate to hand the 2005 NL MVP to Pujols. History clearly shows us that 51 home run, 128 RBI Gold Glove center fielders are rarer than what Pujols did. Yet Pujols won. Pujols wasn't even the best hitter at his position, Derrek Lee was.

So I think we have a lot of haphazardly applied principles regarding figuring out these things. Defense matters sometimes, sometimes it doesn't. It depends on whether you like the player or not I guess.

Defense always matters. However, I believe the 2005 NL MVP decision should have been between Albert Pujols and Derrek Lee, not Pujols and Andruw Jones. The latter gets bonus points for playing a Gold Glove CF but he was too far behind the other two in terms of his offensive stats.

          AVG   OBP   SLG
Jones    .263  .347  .503
Pujols   .330  .430  .609
Lee      .335  .418  .662

Despite hitting 51 HR (which shows up in all three of the above measures), Jones fell far short of Pujols and Lee in AVG, OBP, and SLG.

Jones also created more outs in fewer plate appearances.

         OUTS    PA
Jones     461   672 
Pujols    420   700
Lee       417   691

The only area Jones topped Pujols and Lee was in RBI in 2005 and that was entirely due to the fact that he had the second-most opportunities in the league. He had more plate appearances with runners on base (503 vs. 455 for Pujols and 379 for Lee) and a higher number of runners on base (357) than the other two (335 for Pujols and 297 for Lee).

As it relates to this year, Howard led the NL in the number of runners on base (509) and was second in plate appearances with ROB (358, three short of Jason Bay). I wouldn't totally dismiss RBI, but I believe they need to be viewed in the context of opportunities.

Lastly, as to "haphazardly applied principles," let me re-print what you wrote two months ago when I presented my MVP selections.

Rich, you really went out of your element on this one. Since when do you give a damn about stats like "Jeter was also 2nd in R (118), 3rd in H (214)." That's the kind of talk I'd expect to hear from some baseball novice telling me why Tony Batista had a great year in 2004 with 32 home runs or 110 RBIs. Runs? Give me a break. Ichiro scored more runs in 2003 than he did in 2004, gee, I guess Ichiro was better in 2003.

It doesn't matter how much importance you put on it. Mentioning runs scored is 100% bogus all the time.

You mentioned HR and RBI as stats used to prop up Batista and also put down the idea of runs scored (a stat that is similar to RBI) all in one comment, yet now emphasize HR and RBI in making a case for Jones over Pujols and Lee last year.

I believe my approach is very consistent. I focus on the Quad to provide balance between counting and rate stats, make adjustments for ballpark effects, while giving consideration to defensive position, fielding, and baserunning.

It is my understanding that the Hank Aaron Award was voted on by fans.
Does(n't) this make it a worthless, meaningless award?
Does(n't) it also mean that the average baseball fan is an idiot (no offense, but let's be honest here)?
Tsk, oh well, it was a good idea at least...

Jeter for Hank Aaron Aware is actually even more baffling than Morneau for MVP. There is simply no case at all to be made that Jeter had a better hitting season than Oritz or Hafner. Jeter's MVP case is entirely based on doing what he did as a shortstop. If you strip away positional adjustment and defense, Jeter's good, but hardly great.

By what criteria did Guillen have a better year than Jeter? From what I can see, Guillen had a marginally better slugging percentage and a "baseball novice" stat(?)- HRs, but was inferior in almost all other offensive categories.
Also, check the defensive statistics again-besides Range Factor, they don't appear to support your argument.

Grady Sizemore finishes fifth according to your statistical analysis, I've been saying that Grady should have finished fifth, or better. Grady was the unsung MVP candidate, especially when Grady's defense is factored in.

What I find interesting is that Grady's slugging percentage was .533, putting him barely below the tenth spot of .545.

What unfortunately your stats don't quite measure is speed. I'd rather have Grady Sizemore at .533 than any of the guys below with perhaps the only exception being Vlad Guerrero.

6 Justin Morneau .559
7 Jason Giambi .558
8 Vladimir Guerrero .552
9 Paul Konerko .551
10 Frank Thomas .545

Additionally, I think I found a speed stat that is never considered yet it seems to show who is among the cream of the crop when it comes to speed and offensive production.

When runners are on base, how many times does the batter score. Keep in mind this stat has a lot of
built in variables to it, including who is batting behind the batter being evaluated. However, the batter being analyzed still has to sucessfully get on base, and score, when runners are already on base he bats. This usually will mean a big inning.

Invariably this will mean they are a rally extender type of player. Players that score an amazing 50% or more when coming up with runners on base are the cream of the crop. Grady Sizemore and Jose Reyes were among the top five in this category. I would maintain that if Jose Reyes and Jhonny Peralta had switched teams for the 2006 season, the Indians would have made the playoffs and the Mets would not.

Even Willy Tavares did very well in the runners on base stat and he cannot hold down a job in Houston. Even now that Houston has a slow footed power hitter in Carlos Lee "Patrolling" left field, the logic of Willy in center seems to be beyond the Astro's capacity of understanding from both a defensive and offensive capacity.

Final point from the previous post. What the "runners on base, how often does the batter score" stat helps isolate is if a batter grounds into a lot of double plays.

Grady Sizemore only ground into 2 double plays all season long, whereas several other in the top ten slugging ground into well over 20 double plays. Try subtracting an additional out for every GIDP and see how high Grady rises on your slugging percentage list and you may find that Grady rises into the top three using your statistical parameters.