The 2006 Quad Leaders
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.
TIMES ON BASE (N.L.)
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.
ON BASE PERCENTAGE (N.L.)
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.
TOTAL BASES (N.L.)
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.
SLUGGING AVERAGE (N.L.)
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.
TIMES ON BASE (A.L.)
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.
ON BASE PERCENTAGE (A.L.)
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.
TOTAL BASES (A.L.)
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.
SLUGGING AVERAGE (A.L.)
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.