The Best & The Worst 2012 and 2013 Hitting Style

Jeff Hanisch-US PRESSWIRE

It's never a better time than the present to see how the best and the worst from the 1st half of 2012 have performed thus far in 2013.

As a child one of my favorite movies was Ferris Bueller's Day Off, starring Matthew Broderick. The movie is a classic, so if you haven't seen it, stop reading this, log onto Netflix, and begin watching. For those of you who have seen the film, you might remember one of the more famous lines.

"Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."

In his mature yet boyish attempt to justify his actions, Ferris reminds us of an important maxim of the modern world. The modern market place of ideas has grown to astronomical sizes, and the ability to harness and find facts, figures, and any other type of data has become easier than ever. Still, while our ability to learn more, multitask, and perform numerous other dynamic activities has increased, so has the daunting nature of the whole thing. Sometimes, it's important to stop, take a deep breath, relax, and ponder our past, our present, and maybe our future.

When reading a piece by ESPN's Mark Simon on Mike Trout, I instantly thought of the 1980's classic movie, and more specifically the quote mentioned above. In his article, Simon discusses Trout's defense from 2012 and the differences in the numbers thus far in 2013. While I applaud Simon for his diligence towards defensive metrics and the furthering study of defense in baseball, I fall a bit more into the Colin Wyers camp that defensive metrics, especially only 60 games into the season, provide only a small view into how players have thus far truly performed defensively.

Nonetheless, Simon's piece discusses how Mike Trout posted incredible defensive numbers in 2012, which helped him achieve value-added-nirvana, but has fallen towards the bottom of Defensive Runs Saved leaderboards through the first 60 games of 2013. Trout's defense aside, this sparked my mind to consider how players performed in the first half of last season compared to the their performances through the first few months of this season.

Looking at wRC+, here are what the top ten lists look like:

2012

2013

1

Joey Votto

Chris Davis

2

Andrew McCutchen

Miguel Cabrera

3

David Wright

Troy Tulowitzki

4

Carlos Ruiz

Paul Goldschmidt

5

David Ortiz

Carlos Gonzalez

6

Mike Trout

Michael Cuddyer

7

Mark Trumbo

Joey Votto

8

Ryan Braun

Matt Carpenter

9

Josh Hamilton

Shin-Soo Choo

10

Austin Jackson

Josh Donaldson

Last season the best overall offensive contributors were some of the games brightest hitters as well as Carlos Ruiz. That isn't to say Ruiz isn't a solid hitting catcher, but he, and possibly Austin Jackson, haven't shined as consistently at the plate as the other 8 members of the top 10 list. Interestingly, Miguel Cabrera didn't find his way into the top 10 in first-half performers in 2012. It lends more amazement to his herculean second half that pushed him to the MVP and Triple Crown, and has spilled over thus far into 2013.

In 2013 we encounter numerous new names. In fact, only one player, Joey Votto, appears on both lists, making me believe that despite his obvious greatness, Votto remains slightly underrated possibly by lulling us to sleep with his consistency. Other notable facts include the insane drop off from Josh Hamilton, and that thus far, Walt Jocketty and Kevin Towers' offseason moves involving Paul Goldschmidt and Shin-Soo Choo have proved fruitful.

Now that we've looked at the best performers, let's saunter over to the bottom of the lists and take a look at the worst offensive performers according to wRC+.

2012

'13

2013

‘12

1

Dee Gordon

N/A

Jeff Keppinger

N/A

2

Cliff Pennington

N/A

Ike Davis

134/156

3

Alexei Ramirez

149/165

Mike Moustakas

52/156

4

Robert Andino

N/A

B.J. Upton

121/156

5

Justin Smoak

N/A

Miguel Montero

64/156

6

J.J. Hardy

92/165

Ruben Tejada

N/A

7

Jamey Carroll

N/A

Greg Dobbs

N/A

8

Michael Young

119/165

Placido Polanco

137/156

9

Cameron Maybin

N/A

Aaron Hicks

N/A

10

Brandon Crawford

81/165

Ben Revere

N/A

In addition to the lists of players I have also included where said players ranked in the other year. Those with "N/A" listed did or do not possess enough plate appearances to qualify. In the 2012 list we have some underperformers as well as plain bad offensive players. Most agree that Michael Young had an exceptionally poor season in 2012, and few thought he could keep up such abysmal numbers. Young has proven this prediction correct thus far in 2013, improving to a wRC+ that better befits his age and current level of talent. Brandon Crawford has seriously picked up his hitting in 2013, showing that he isn't just a defensive wizard for the Giants.

Players like Jamey Carroll, Dee Gordon, Alexei Ramirez, and Robert Andino have never performed well offensively, and finding them at the bottom of a list of wRC+ rankings shows only that these players haven't changed or must improve at the plate if they are to become everyday players in the future. Taking a look at the 2013 worst of the worst we find some interesting names. B.J. Upton, Miguel Montero, Mike Moustakas stand out like sore thumbs as players significantly underperforming in 2013. These three have been just better than statues at the plate, leading to negative value added overall for Montero and Moustakas. If not for some fantastic defensive and base running numbers from Bossman Junior, Upton would join the group of negative wins added.

Interestingly though, players like Upton and Ike Davis, both started off slowly in 2012 as well as thus far in 2013. Both players finished better than they began and ended the 2012 season with respectable enough numbers to keep their heads above water. In Upton's case it was enough to secure him a lucrative offseason contract from the Braves. It's possible that neither player will recover from their current paltry 2013 numbers, but of the players listed in the bottom 10, those would be the two that I could see bouncing back. The most interesting name on the list is Jeff Keppinger. Keppinger seems as though he played for a contract in 2012. His inability to add any value, hitting-wise, defensively, or on the bases makes me think he's either secretly injured, played well last year to secure more money going into free agency, or that he's intentionally making the Rays look ever smarter than we already thought. Keppinger may have dug himself a hole with no way out.

It's always fun and vital to stop and look around every once in a while. Maybe in a few weeks, when the 2013 season is truly at the half way point I'll revisit this, but for now, some of the findings are remarkable. Remember to take stock of everything, and compare current circumstances to those in the past, it makes you a better person, and in this case, a more knowledgeable baseball fan.

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