Last week one of my favorite publications showed up on my doorstep – The Bill James Handbook. This year’s version doesn’t disappoint. I’ve already dropped references to +/- fielding metrics which are an important reference point for evaluating defense. The usual assortment of win shares, park factors, player stats, and projections are also available. There is also a section on baserunning (the Tigers ranked 6th overall and had the highest percentage of their baserunners score). But my favorite part of the book are the leader boards which feature the top 10 in a number of obscure categories.
I won’t hit everything on the leaderboards, a lot of it is obvious (like Granderson and Ordonez being really good). Plus I don’t want to publish too much content because you should still have some incentive to buy the book. But as a teaser:
- Magglio Ordonez slugged .713 against southpaws which far and away led the league (Frank Thomas was second at .613). Meanwhile Granderson and Ordonez placed 4th and 5th in slugging against righties.
- Hard to believe it, but Brandon Inge had the 9th best batting average against lefties and the 10th best OBP at .419.
- Granderson had the highest stolen base success rate and Carlos Guillen had the second lowest. But Guillen had the 8th most steals of 3rd base with 5.
- Brandon Inge ranked 8th in pitches per plate appearance, and was 5th worst when putting pitches outside of the strikezone in play.
- The Tigers had 3 of the 6 best first halves in terms of OPS with Ordonez, Gary Sheffield, and Carlos Guillen raking early in the season.
- Ordonez swung at the first pitch 39.6% of the time which was 5th highest last year. Guillen ranked 9th. Curtis Granderson swung at the first pitch 13.6% which was the 5th lowest rate and Sheffield ranked 9th.
- Justin Verlander ranked 10th in terms of percentage of pitches in the strike zone. He ranked 2nd in terms of pitches thrown faster than 95mph and his 94.8 average fastball was 3rd fastest. But he also threw change ups at the 5th highest rate and curve balls at the 9th highest rate.
- Jeremy Bonderman threw sliders 34.5% of the time which ranked first. Nate Robertson was 2nd at 22.6%.
- Even with Joel Zumaya’s injuries and decreased velocity when he came back, he still led the league in 100mph fastballs with 30 and Verlander ranked 2nd with 17.
- Hitters only posted a .502 OPS against Chad Durbin’s slider, the 3rd best rate in the AL.
- Only 14.3% of the baserunners that Bobby Seay inherited scored, which was also 3rd best.
- Nate Robertson sported the 5th slowest average fastball.