The AL MVP headed the somewhat obscure "J" category leaderboard. - Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE
Most of you will either remember reading alphabet books as kids, or are now reading them to your kids like me. Here is a sabermetrics alphabet leaderboard from 2012 for the kid in you.
The NLCS MVP used his microscopic 1.8% swinging strike percentage to limit strikeouts against him better than anyone this season.
The slugger added the most runs given the context of the baserunners and number of outs at the time in the game, helping him secure a handsome contract extension with the Jays.
The AL Cy Young runner-up tied for the lowest league-leading total in history with the 2006 season, when Aaron Harang and C.C. Sabathia both went the distance six times.
The skilled outfielder saw his home run total fall from his career-best 2011 season, but he paced the league in doubles and still provided considerable value to his team, as indicated by his high WAR(P) totals.
E is for Earned Runs Allowed.
Luke Hochevar, Kansas City Royals, 118.
This other Royals former top draft pick continues to disappoint at the big league level. The 118 earned runs he allowed this year was the highest total since Nate Robertson allowed one more in 2008.
The southpaw had an impressive debut season in the National League, leading the Nationals to the playoffs and leading all qualified pitchers in this metric aimed at measuring aspects of the game that pitchers can control.
As pointed out in an earlier Beyond the Boxscore article, in 2012 the Diamondbacks reliever induced ground balls at a rate unprecedented in baseball history.
Despite cooling off after a white hot start to the season, the current free agent still led the league in this metric designed at capturing a hitter's power production.
J is for "Just Enough" Home Runs.
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers, 16.
The Tigers star used a number of home runs that barely cleared the fence in 2012 on route to the first Triple Crown since 1967 and the AL MVP Award.
As featured in an earlier Beyond the Boxscore article, the Braves closer set an all-time record by whiffing more than half of the batters that he faced in 2012, a truly incredible performance.
The Rays youngster continues to post ERAs much lower than FIPs, thanks in part to his prowess at stranding baserunners, which he accomplished at the highest rate of all qualified pitchers in 2012.
An end-of-season Beyond the Boxscore article examined the filthiest pitches in baseball, which included his changeup that moved in the horizontal plane more than any other pitch on average this season.
N is for Non-intentional Walks Allowed.
Ricky Romero, Toronto Blue Jays, 104.
The Jays' opening day starter had a disastrous 2012 season, typified by his utter lack of control that led to his leading the league in this category.
Since 1980, only Jose Reyes in 2005 (536) made more outs at the dish in a season than the Orioles shortstop did in 2012.
P is for Pace (Between Pitches).
Mark Buehrle, Miami Marlins, 17.2.
The lefty didn't spend much time standing around on the mound in Miami, and to his surprise will now be doing his best to move the game along north of the border in 2013. As a polar point of reference, Jose Valverde took 32.8 seconds between pitches in 2012.
The knuckleballer defied all odds with a spectacular season that ended with him winning the NL Cy Young Award at age 38.
The rookie phenom destroyed the field in RAR and hence WAR, which is derived by converting runs above replacement to wins through roughly a 10:1 conversion factor each season.
The Pirates' futility at stopping the run led to catching only 19 would-be base stealers in 2012, the lowest seasonal total of any team since 1963. Recent Pittsburgh addition Russell Martin caught 20 runners in 2012.
T is for Triples.
Angel Pagan, San Francisco Giants, 15.
The Giants speedster had only 5 at the All-Star Break.
U is for Ultimate Zone Rating/150 (UZR/150).
Michael Bourn, Atlanta Braves, 22.5.
All three regular Braves outfielders appeared in the top 10 in this rating in 2012, with the centerfielder narrowly topping teammate Jason Heyward in this rating of defensive performance (scaled per 150 games).
The Reds flamethrower had the fastest average fastball speed of the 2012 season, although this will likely not be the case in 2013 should his move to the rotation come to fruition.
W is for Wild Pitches.
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants, 17.
This marks the second time that The Freak has led the league in this category. The first time he did so, in 2008, he also won the NL Cy Young Award. This time, not so much.
With one of the more bizarre seasons for a starting pitcher that you'll see, he led the league in this metric that adjusts FIP by assuming league average HR/FB rates, while winning only 6 games.
Y is for Young Rookie Pitchers in a Starting Rotation (YRPSR*).
Oakland Athletics, 5.
The underdog Athletics earned a birth to the postseason by riding on an entire starting rotation of rookie pitchers at one point near the end of the season. What an amazing year. (*Surprisingly not a commonly available statistic)
Despite a career-high 7(!) home runs in 2012, pitchers felt comfortable throwing him pitches in the strike zone at a higher rate than any other qualified hitter, according to BIS data.
So now your kids will be able to offer an idea other than "xylophone" and "x-ray" for words starting with X at school. (Provided of course the teacher doesn't restrict suggestions to conventional stats like W and RBI.)
You're welcome, parents.
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