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The 20 most productive players of 2010

Posted by Andy on March 24, 2011

Here's one way of finding the most productive players (hitters edition) of 2010.

I found the guys with the highest ratio of WAR to plate appearances.  These 20 players all had WAR at least 0.9% of their PA total, and at least 100 PAs. That means, for example, that a player with 600 plate appearances would need 5.4 WAR to qualify.

Rk Player WAR/pos PA Year Age Tm G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS Pos
1 Evan Longoria 7.7 661 2010 24 TBR 151 574 96 169 46 5 22 104 72 124 .294 .372 .507 .879 *5
2 Shin-Soo Choo 7.3 646 2010 27 CLE 144 550 81 165 31 2 22 90 83 118 .300 .401 .484 .885 *9/D
3 Albert Pujols 7.2 700 2010 30 STL 159 587 115 183 39 1 42 118 103 76 .312 .414 .596 1.011 *3
4 Miguel Cabrera 6.9 648 2010 27 DET 150 548 111 180 45 1 38 126 89 95 .328 .420 .622 1.042 *3/D
5 Adrian Gonzalez 6.3 692 2010 28 SDP 160 591 87 176 33 0 31 101 93 114 .298 .393 .511 .904 *3/D
6 Joey Votto 6.2 648 2010 26 CIN 150 547 106 177 36 2 37 113 91 125 .324 .424 .600 1.024 *3
7 Adrian Beltre 6.1 641 2010 31 BOS 154 589 84 189 49 2 28 102 40 82 .321 .365 .553 .919 *5
8 Josh Hamilton 6.0 571 2010 29 TEX 133 518 95 186 40 3 32 100 43 95 .359 .411 .633 1.044 *78D
9 Troy Tulowitzki 5.6 529 2010 25 COL 122 470 89 148 32 3 27 95 48 78 .315 .381 .568 .949 *6
10 Joe Mauer 5.6 584 2010 27 MIN 137 510 88 167 43 1 9 75 65 53 .327 .402 .469 .871 *2D
11 Justin Morneau 5.4 348 2010 29 MIN 81 296 53 102 25 1 18 56 50 62 .345 .437 .618 1.055 *3/D
12 Carlos Ruiz 4.4 433 2010 31 PHI 121 371 43 112 28 1 8 53 55 54 .302 .400 .447 .847 *2
13 Kevin Youkilis 4.3 435 2010 31 BOS 102 362 77 111 26 5 19 62 58 67 .307 .411 .564 .975 *3/5
14 Dustin Pedroia 3.7 351 2010 26 BOS 75 302 53 87 24 1 12 41 37 38 .288 .367 .493 .860 *4
15 Jim Thome 3.5 340 2010 39 MIN 108 276 48 78 16 2 25 59 60 82 .283 .412 .627 1.039 *D
16 Ryan Hanigan 2.4 243 2010 29 CIN 70 203 25 61 11 0 5 40 33 21 .300 .405 .429 .834 *2
17 Carlos Santana 2.2 192 2010 24 CLE 46 150 23 39 13 0 6 22 37 29 .260 .401 .467 .868 *2/D
18 Jed Lowrie 2.0 197 2010 26 BOS 55 171 31 49 14 0 9 24 25 25 .287 .381 .526 .907 *46/35
19 Laynce Nix 1.7 182 2010 29 CIN 97 165 16 48 11 2 4 18 15 39 .291 .350 .455 .805 *7/89
20 David Ross 1.4 145 2010 33 ATL 59 121 15 35 13 2 2 28 20 28 .289 .392 .479 .871 *2
Provided by View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 3/23/2011.

The top 10 players on this list offer no surprises. Six of the top 8 players in the AL for WAR among position players make it (with the exceptions being Robinson Cano and Jose Bautista.) Actually the 9th (Morneau) made it too. The rest of the top 10 are drawn from the top-5 finishers in the NL for WAR among position players, with just Aubrey Huff missing the cut.

The rest of the list is interesting. Three guys (Morneau, Youkilis, and Pedroia) stick out as star players who were having great seasons when they went down with injuries. Odds are decent that they wouldn't have maintained the WAR pace for the entire season, but they finished with a great ratio at a reduce number of plate appearances.

Then there are guys like Ruiz and Thome who played the whole year but not every game and mashed during their appearances.

Then there are role players like Hanigan and Nix who played sparingly during the year but produced nicely.

35 Responses to “The 20 most productive players of 2010”

  1. Dr. Doom Says:

    Hmmm... it's interesting, especially if you only mean for PAs to be a measure of playing time. However, a misreading of what you've done makes it end up looking like is that it's a WAR/PA sort of measure. Obviously, that can't be, because dWAR is factored in, as well. So to those of you reading this thread, keep that in mind.

  2. Chris Says:

    I would never have guessed that several of the players on the list were among the most productive players of 2010.

  3. wboenig Says:

    It's also mildly interesting that neither leader in bases on balls (Fielder, +3.8 WAR and Barton +4.4 WAR) makes the list. Kind of makes you wonder why they walked as much as they did.

  4. BSK Says:

    Why do you assume that Youkilis would not have kept up his pace? He was basically at or above his 2010 pace in both 2009 and 2008.

    Regarding Dr. Doom's comment, I have a question about how WAR is calculated: if a guy splits his time between two positions of varying defensive adjustments, how does it account for this? Does it pro-rate? I was under the impression that the defensive adjustments are constant, so it would seem that a guy who split his time evenly between, say, CF and RF or C and 1B, positions with wildly different adjustments, would need this reflected or his WAR would be weigh off. Am I understanding the calculation correctly? The defensive adjustment is still the part I'm least clear about.

  5. BSK Says:


    Fielder posted a negative dWAR. Both players played first base. Fielder had a down year (for him) in the power departments and Barton is generally not much of a power hitter. Neither one is a particularly good baserunner. So rather than assume they should have walked less in order to increase their value/production, a better assumption to make would be that the value they did create was primarily based upon their high walk totals, as it certainly wasn't coming from any of the areas I just mentioned.

  6. Andy Says:

    BSK, I said "odds are decent"...which doesn't sound quite like an assumption to me. However, you are right that Youk was on a similar pace as to the previous seasons. He averaged 602 PAs over 2008 and 2009, and scaling his 2010 WAR to 602 PAs yields a value of 6.0, the same as he had in all of 2008 (in 621 PAs).

  7. Andy Says:

    By the way, Red Sox fans should be pretty thrilled to see this list. Lowrie, Youkilis, and Pedroia are coming back, and Gonzalez is joining them to slot in for the departed Beltre.

  8. Mets Maven Says:

    Something's wrong. I don't see Luis Castillo on this list 🙂

  9. barkie Says:

    I've long thought that career WAR as a cumulative statistic wasn't nearly as valuable a stat as when compared to career ABs or starts, etc.

    OK, so here's a confession. I've long railed about a career WAR that makes Bert Blyleven one of the top 15 pitchers ever. So I made a crude chart of WAR/starts a while ago. A lot of pitchers who missed time to war or injury really shot up the list (Pedro, Ford, Koufax, etc) and while Blyleven slipped quite a bit, he was still in some pretty rarified air.

  10. John Autin Says:

    Interesting list, Andy. Two random observations:

    1. I believe that Laynce Nix is the only member of the group who earned the majority of his WAR on defense. Nix earned 1.0 dWAR (out of 1.7 total) while playing just 306 defensive innings (about 34 games' worth) in the outfield, mostly in LF. Two-thirds of Cincinnati's starting OF also had great defensive seasons: RF Jay Bruce (1.6 dWAR) and CF Drew Stubbs (1.4 dWAR). Their starting LF, Jonny Gomes, was a disaster (-1.6 dWAR), which elevated the importance of Nix's contributions as a defensive replacement and sometime platoon player (including the fact that he hit well enough to justify a platoon role).

    2. While no pitcher appears on the list due to the 100- PA minimum, 3 pitchers would qualify if we applied the rules for non-qualifying batting leaders (i.e., charge them with enough outs to reach the qualifying level):

    -- Yovani Gallardo earned 1.1 oWAR in just 72 PAs (oWAR=1.75% of PAs), a rate significantly higher than anyone on this list (next-highest is Morneau at 1.55%). Even if charged with 100 PAs, Gallardo's adjusted rate of 1.1% would be higher than most on this list. Gallardo's slash line was .254/.329/.508, with 4 HRs, 4 doubles and 10 RBI in 72 PAs.

    -- Dan Haren had 1.0 oWAR in 57 PAs, slashing .364/.375/.527 (6 doubles, 1 HR). It's too bad Haren is back in the AL; over the last 2 years he's batted .297 with 11 doubles and 2 HRs in 144 PAs.

    -- Mike Leake earned 0.9 oWAR in 60 PAs, hitting .333 with a .407 OBP (including 5 walks and a HBP).

  11. John Autin Says:

    P.S. Among all pitchers with at least 150 career PAs, Yovani Gallardo ranks 2nd in both HR% (4.2% of PAs) and Isolated Power (0.200).

    The leader in both categories is, of course, Micah Owings, who has a career line of .293/.323/.538 in 198 PAs.

    BTW, does anyone know if there's been serious thought of converting Owings to a position player? The pitching thing hasn't been working out so well over the past 3 years, but there's no question about his ability to hit well at the major-league level, based on the results achieved so far as well as his minor-league and college hitting record. In college, he was used as a utility man when he wasn't pitching. B-R Bullpen says that his new manager, Kirk Gibson, was considering giving Owings some time at 1B, and that Owings was taking infield practice there during spring training.

  12. BSK Says:


    I know the D'Backs used him as a pinch hitter at times, though I don't know what befell him after leaving there.

    Are we sure there is enough evidence to presume he'd be a major league caliber hitter? 200 PAs is an awfully small sample size and while the power is there, he has an absurdly low walk-rate, which is what ultimately doomed Ankiel. Surely, it's worth a shot, but the minors are littered with guys who had impressive minor-league and college stats and even the occasional flash in the Majors. I guess I just disagree with your assessment that there is "no question about his ability to hit well at the major league level". Can you expand on that?

  13. BSK Says:

    I'd be curious to see this question approach in a bit of a different way. Obviously, some guys are on here because of smaller sample sizes; they likely would not be able to sustain such a pace over a full season. But I'd be curious to see how many guys were able to maintain such a high level of production over an exceedingly high PA. Pujols is the only guy on this list with 700+ PA. What is the highest PA for a guy to achieve this level of production? I'm just curious to see what guys were able to produce at a high level and maintain it over a large sample size.

  14. BSK Says:

    To expand on my comment, my amateur search turned up Wade Boggs. Wade Boggs racked up 758 PAs in 1985 (11th all time) and a WAR of 8.5. He had a few other seasons of well over 700 PAs that would make this list as well. Maybe it's not that big a deal, I guess. Though if we up the production level to 1% or higher, it might turn something up. Who knows. I'm just rambling... 2 weeks of off work will do that...

  15. John Q Says:


    It's not that Fielder's walk totals were the problem, if anything his walk totals/On Base percentage were one of the only things that went up for him last year. Fielder's defense is always a problem so that affects his WAR totals, realistically he should be on an American league team being a DH part time 1B.

    Fielder's big problem was that his slugging percentage dropped drastically last year. He had a career .550 slugging going into 2010 and he had a .481 slugging percentage last year, a drop of .70 points off his slugging percentage.

    Fielder's batting average also dropped about 20 points in 2010. He was a career .284 hitter going into 2010 and he only hit .260.

    His K% didn't change and neither did his BABIP, he didn't move to a different park so I can't really explain why his power numbers/batting average dropped so much last year. Maybe he was out of shape last year and not as strong? It's a huge red flag for anyone who wants to sign him as a free agent.

    The problem with Barton is he has little to no power for a position that calls for players with power. He ranked 22nd among 24 first basemen in Slugging Percentage (Minimum 502 plate appearances).

    Barton also strikes out quite a bit for a player with little power, 102 k's, 35th in the A.L.

    Barton does have a lot of upsides though. He has great on-base ability and he's a good defensive player. Anyone who finishes 8th overall in on-base percentage and is a good defensive player is valuable player.

    He finished 5th in on-base percentage in the A.L. He ranked 5th among all major league first basemen in on-base percentage. A 4.4 WAR is very good/great, he ranked 14th overall in the A.L. and he ranked 9th among all major league first basemen.

  16. John Autin Says:

    BSK -- Yes, I probably overstated the proof of Owings's hitting ability. And your Ankiel comparison may be quite apt, since both were 2-way stars in college.

  17. Johnny Twisto Says:

    if a guy splits his time between two positions of varying defensive adjustments, how does it account for this? Does it pro-rate?


  18. Dvd Avins Says:

    @10 If you charged those pitchers with additional PA, their WAR would go down. Despite the way barkie seems to think of the stat and in contrast to the way you did your calculation, WAR is not truly a counting stat. (Not all stats are counting stats or averages.)

  19. DrewD Says:


    It's nice to see it statistically acknowledged that Ruiz swung the most efficient bat in the Phillies' lineup.

    Who knew that, among all the catchers in MLB, Chooch's WAR/PA was 2nd only to...Carlos Santana?!?!?!

  20. Mr. Dave Says:

    JA - It was mentioned briefly that the Diamondbacks were considering converting Owings to a first basemanduring the spring, but they apparently scrapped that idea. I think it would have been fairly interesting to see how that would have panned out.

  21. topper009 Says:

    #14 Ichiro in 2004 had 762 PAs and 8.1 WAR

  22. John Autin Says:

    @18, Dvd Avins -- Thanks for pointing that out. I didn't think it through carefully.

  23. John Autin Says:

    Welcome back (?), Johnny Twisto.

  24. Evan Says:

    I think wboenig@3 may have been musing why the pitchers were so willing to walk them considering how they were producing in their other plate appearances, but I could be wrong.

  25. kenh Says:

    Remind me to pinch hit David Ross for Jose Bautista in my APBA league.

  26. PhillyPhan Says:

    How is WAR calculated? I am not familiar with that stat? Can someone help me on this?

  27. David M. Says:

    This is great. I've been waiting (and I suppose I'm still waiting) for a WAR rate stat. I know that there's wOBA, wRC and all that, but it would be nice to see something that distills WAR into a per PA or inning type of thing. I'm sure there are problems inherent in this, but I'm sure there are smart enough and knowledgeable enough to overcome them.

  28. barkie Says:

    #26 Phillyphan

    the adventure begins

  29. Paul E Says:

    @19 Drew D.:

    Maybe that rocket scientist Charlie Manual will get the Chooch out of the 8 hole? Perhaps we should write him now that the Phillies can bat their new MVP candidate, Luis Castillo, in the 8 hole? If that doesn't work, I gotta believe Wilson Valdez is a capable 8th hitter......

  30. Terry Says:

    What *defensive* position did Jim Thome play?

    Whould Ruiz still draw that many walks, without the pitcher after him?

    Oh no, not the immortal Laynce Nix! Somebody tell Dusty that this is his team's second most productive player.

    Did the ever-so-honest player agent Scott Boras, come up with a statistical comparison, on how well Oliver Perez rates among the games best left-handed starters?

    It's amazing what a person can do with statistics 🙂

  31. John Q Says:

    @30 Terrry,

    Thome's "Position" was "DH".

    Ruiz batted in the 6th spot 1 game, 7th spot 56 games, 8th spot 60 games and 9th spot 1 game. He actually hit much much better in the 7th spot than in the 8th spot with roughly the same amount of plate appearances:

    7th: .337/.407/.524
    8th: .263/.398/.351.

    Overall, Ruiz had a great year in somewhat limited play (433 plate appearances). He hit .302/.400/.447 and remember this is coming from a Catcher who's a good defensive player.

    Andy's point wasn't that Nix was the second most productive Red. It clearly says a ratio of WAR/Plate Appearance in the first paragraph. So the list refers to productivity/plate appearance. Just because Laynce Nix isn't a household name doesn't mean he didn't play well in his limited time.

    Nix hit .291/.350/.455 and played very good defense in left field in only 182 plate appearances. So from that standpoint, Nix was very productive in his limited playing time.

    Scott Boras's job isn't to be an impartial arbiter on Oliver Perez' career. His job is to get his client the best deal possible. So in this case his job was to accentuate Perez's positives. Perez was a 27 year old left handed pitcher with a career (2002-2008) 9.2 K/9 ratio, roughly the same as Sandy Koufax. On the flip side his job is also to down play the negative, Perez's 4.8 BB/9 ratio was slightly higher than Doug Sisk's career number and the fact that Perez led the National League in 2008 in Base on Balls.

    Whether Omar Minaya was dumb enough to take Boras at face value and give Perez a 3 year 36 million dollar contract is another story.

  32. Jon Says:

    Considering that #5 on this list is more likely to repeat his performance than #7, and that the Red Sox could potentially pick up as many as 900 plate appearances between numbers 13, 14, and 18, and that cast-off outfielder they picked up from Tampa Bay looks pretty good too, this could be a scary season for pitchers facing the Red Sox.


  33. Jimbo Says:

    Amazing that once again the Twins are NOT planning on using Thome as their primary DH.

    It's just messed up. Barring injury, there's no way he shouldn't be starting 125+ games at DH.

    I just don't get it.

  34. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    BSK @13: IIRC, one of the headliners here did a post a few months back where they used a WAR/PA of .01 for a whole career (with some min PAs or WAR) as a proxy for who is an inner circle hall of famer.

    So there are guys who've done it not just for a season but for their whole career. Looking for more than 700 PA in a season, doesn't just look for those who maintained it over a lot of PAs it also tends to eliminate a lot of players based purely on batting position and how good their team's offense was. It's pretty rare for guys in the 3/4 holes to get 700 PAs, usually only when they have a very good team OBP.

    Also guys who are getting this level of WAR/PA are usually power hitters (with the exception of an occasional rickey or ichiro) who tend to get slotted in the 3/4 spots even when it might not be the best idea. If you have a huge walk guy with power (like AP or BB, Thome) and you don't have any (or two) classic leadoff guys (high OBP, low SLG, good speed), putting your monster slugger in the 1 or 2 spots might be better than people think. More PAs is valuable, maybe more valuable than having an extra mediocre OBP guy in front.

    Of course, ideally, you want Rickey Henderson and Tim Raines in the 1 and 2 spots in front of your masher, but unless you are the yankees, that kind of perfect lineup doesn't happen often.

  35. Michael E Sullivan Says:

    32: what's your over under on Red Sox wins in 2011?