Who Were the Most Productive Offensive Players in 2014?
Numerous methods have been devised to measure offensive performance. The most common are batting average, on-base percentage and slugging average. Since none of these averages provides a complete picture by itself, a more comprehensive measure of offensive performance is useful. Such a measure would include the following elements:
- The ability to get on base.
- The ability to hit with power.
- The ability to add value through baserunning.
The first two elements are measured by on-base percentage and slugging average. A measure of offensive performance, which encompasses both as well as baserunning achievements, is Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA). This measure accounts for the net bases accumulated by a player per plate appearance. It is calculated as follows:
BPA = (TB + BB + HB + SB – CS – GIDP)/ (AB + BB + HB + SF)
Major league BPA for the past fifteen years are shown below along with the number of players with BPA over .550 and .600:
Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this century. BPA declined significantly in 2014 and was the lowest in over 15 year.
In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the eight year period from 2000 to 2007, there were 18. The highest BPA in the 1990s was recorded by Mark McGwire in 1998 (.799). Barry Bonds shattered that with .907 in 2001, the highest figure ever recorded, topping Babe Ruth’s best two years (1920 and 1921). Bonds followed that with .869 in 2002, .818 in 2003 and .882 in 2004. There have not been any hitters with a BPA of .700 since 2007. The last player to make it was Alex Rodriguez (.702) in 2007. Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his fourteen seasons.
The .700 BPA seasons in 2000-2013 are listed below:
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2001||.907|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2004||.882|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2002||.869|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2003||.818|
|Sammy Sosa||Chicago Cubs||2001||.758|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2000||.745|
|Alex Rodriguez||NY Yankees||2007||.702|
The yearly leaders since 1992 are as follows:
The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of only four players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2014. The list is topped by Mike Trout of the Los Angeles Angels who also led in 2012.
Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of +.600 in 2014:
|Player||2014 BPA||2013 BPA||League||No. of .600+ Seasons||Comments|
|Mike Trout||.623||.649||AL||3||Over .600 in each of his full MLB seasons|
|Giancarlo Stanton||.614||.542||NL||2||Big season led to big bucks|
|Andrew McCutcheon||.613||.574||NL||1||Better than MVP season in 2013|
|Jose Abreu||.600||—||AL||1||Cuban rookie did it all|
Two other players had a BPA over .600 in 2013 but fell short in 2014.
|Player||2014 BPA||2013 BPA||League||No. of .600+ seasons||Comments|
|Chris Davis||.670||.477||AL||1||.195 Batting average and suspension|
|Miguel Cabrera||.663||.528||AL||5||An off year by his standards|
Three active players have a BPA over .600 for their careers:
|Player||Age||2014 BPA||Career BPA||Cpomments|
|Mike Trout||22||.623||.623||Quick rise to the top|
|Albert Pujols||34||.466||.611||In decline phase of his career|
|Alex Rodriguez||38||—||.609||Suspended in 2014|
Another list of interest is of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2014 who did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title.
|Troy Tulowitski||29||.643||375||Would have been first with more playing time|
|Steve Pearce||27||.608||383||Entered 2014 with career BPA of .427|
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, twenty five players who earned enough playing time to qualify for the batting title had a BPA less than .400 in 2014. With the decline in offensive production, this list gets longer every year and now includes some players who were previously near the top (David Wright, Derek Jeter).
|Xander Bogarts||.389||Red Sox|
Only one player compiled a batting average over .300, an on-base average over .400, a slugging percentage over .500 and bases per plate appearance over .600 in 2014.
Another player has these numbers for his career:
Another means of measuring offensive performance is Bases per Out, also called Total Average. The top 10 players on both lists for 2014 are shown below.
|Bases Per Plate Apperance||Bases Per Out|
|1 Mike Trout||.623||Angels||Andrew McCutcheon||1.046||Pirates|
|2 Giancarlo Stanton||.614||Marlins||Mike Trout||1.018|
|3 Andrew McCutcheon||.613||Pirates||Giancarlo Stanton||1.017|
|4 Joe Abreu||.600||White Sox||Victor Martinez||1.000|
|5 Victor Martinez||.585||Tigers||Jose Bautista||.981|
|6 Anthony Rizzo||.580||Cubs||Jose Abreu||.980|
|7 Jose Bautista||.579||Blue Jays||Anthony Rizzo||.946|
|8 Edwin Encarnacion||.570||Blue Jays||Michael Brantley||.914|
|9 Michael Brantley||.555||Indians||Edwin Encarnacion||.891|
|10 Carlos Gomez||.546||Rockies||Jayson Werth||.884|
Both methods confirm that three players (Trout, McCutchen and Stanton) separated themselves offensively from the pack in 2014.
Nine players appear on both lists but not in the same order. Carlos Gomez is on the first list and Jayson Werth is on the second one. They are different type players. Gomez gets his production largely from extra base hits and stolen bases while Werth gets a lot of his from bases on balls which results in fewer outs.