Playoff statistics are fun, but they’re almost all ephemeral. We fixate on them in October and into November for a bit and call them back up when prodded to in later years, but very few people can simply recite any of them. The regular season is different, however. Almost any fan can recall some regular season stats of their favorite players or notable league leaders and certainly record holders. Regular season stats have a permanence and weight to them that postseason stats really don’t.
So, with the regular season over, lets look at the leaders for the statistics we’ll actually remember. And yes, I start with the Triple Crown stats because six years from now that drunk guy at the bar next to you with whom you’ll be arguing will too, and you need to be prepared:
Batting Average: AL: Miguel Cabrera (.338); NL: Dee Gordon (.333)
Miguel Cabrera just continues to build on his Hall of Fame resume. His calf injury in July sapped his homer and RBI totals, but he once again was among the top hitters in all of baseball. I’d say he could fall out of bed and hit like an All-Star, but that understates things. He could fall of bed, break seven bones and still rattle the ball off of walls.
As for Gordon, he led the National League in batting and stolen bases, and no one in the NL has done that since Jackie Robinson did in 1949.
Home Runs: AL: Chris Davis (47); NL: Bryce Harper and Nolan Arenado (42)
Davis finished strong, with two homers in the season’s final game and enters free agency with his elite power hitter credentials back intact after an off 2014 season.
Harper’s status as the inevitable MVP winner is only partially a function of his longballs, but he hit a ton. Arenado, after yet another fantastic season with the bat and the glove should no longer be praised as “the best player you haven’t heard of.” Rather, you should be slammed as “that person who claims to be a baseball fan yet somehow hasn’t heard of Nolan Arenado.”
RBI: AL: Josh Donaldson (123); NL: Nolan Arenado (130)
Donaldson will likely win the AL MVP, but it won’t be merely because he was an RBI machine. Partially because he wasn’t and partially because MVP voters are smarter than that now. Arenado: two-thirds winner of the Triple Crown. If he takes some more pitches and sees some bounces go in his direction a bit more in future years he could win the whole dang thing.
On-Base Percentage: AL: Miguel Cabrera (.440); NL: Bryce Harper (.460)
Harper drew 124 walks on the year to go with his .330 average. Cabrera walked 77 times — tied for sixth — despite missing a big chunk of the season. Next time you hear some commentator or fan denigrating guys who “look to walk, not to hit,” go back and look through the season-by-season and all-time walks leaders and count the guys in those groups who weren’t elite hitters. You may find the occasional rando Rob Deer-type, but good hitters walk. Period.
Slugging Percentage: AL: Mike Trout (.590); NL: Bryce Harper (.649)
They say power develops later. Trout just turned 24. Harper will turn 23 in 11 days. Major League pitchers are likely living in fear of what comes later.
Stolen Bases: AL: Jose Altuve (38); NL: Dee Gordon (58)
Altuve’s 38 is the lowest total for a stolen base leader since Luis Aparicio led the AL with 31 in 1962. That includes strike-shortened years. But please, tell me about how today’s game is all about speed and contact and stuff like that.
Wins: AL: Dallas Keuchel (20); NL: Jake Arrieta (22)
Like Josh Donaldson’s RBI totals if, as I suspect, Arrieta wins the Cy Young Award it will be because of his full resume, not just his win total, as he was only 37th in run support among qualified starters. He earned a ton of those wins. As many have noted, Keuchel likes to pitch at home, snagging 15 of his 20 wins in Minute Maid Park. Good luck in the road start in the wild card game on short rest, Dallas.
ERA: AL: David Price (2.45); NL: Zack Greinke (1.66)
Greinke’s ERA was the lowest since Greg Maddux’s 1.63 in 1995. He is also the fifth straight Dodger to win it. The other four were Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw was third this year. For Price’s part, he had a lower ERA after joining the Blue Jays (2.3o) than he had while pitching for the Tigers (2.53). And he had a lower ERA in hitter-friendly Rogers Centre than he did in pitcher-friendly Comerica Park. Of course, for many of those Rogers Centre starts he didn’t have to face the Blue Jays’ bats, and that helps.
Strikeouts: AL: Chis Sale (274); NL: Clayton Kershaw (301)
Kershaw is the first pitcher to strike out 300 batters in a season since Randy Johnson and Curt Schilling each did it in 2002. Kershaw’s K/9 ratio, however was 11.6, which is the same as The Big Unit’s in 2002. Schilling’s was 11.0.
Innings Pitched: AL: Dallas Keuchel (232); NL: Clayton Kershaw (232.2)
Keuchel’s 230 IP is the third lowest innings total for a league leader in a non-strike year in baseball history. The only ones lower: James Shields in 2013 (228.2) and David Wells in 1999 (231.2). Kershaw’s is the fourth lowest. It’s a different game now, you guys.
Complete Games: AL: Mark Buehrle, Corey Kluber (4); NL: Clayton Kershaw, Madison Bumgarner, Max Scherzer, Jake Arrieta (4)
All of these guys are now tied — with many other pitchers in the past couple of years — for the all-time record of the lowest total number of complete games which still led the league in complete games. The others who led the league with 4: David Price and Chris Sale in 2013, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum in 2009 and Brandon Webb in 2007.
Shutouts: AL: Felix Hernandez (2); NL: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer and Jake Arrieta (3)
Given the way innings and complete games have gone I would’ve guessed that leading the league with two shutouts like King Felix did is really uncommon, but many, many times two has been enough in the last decade or so. Before that is when you start seeing the numbers climb.