At the end of the season, the list of the best offensive one-two punches in baseball will unsurprisingly be littered with the games best hitters. Last seasons five most productive duos were Ryan Braun/Prince Fielder, Mark Teixeira/Derek Jeter, Chase Utley/Ryan Howard, Albert Pujols/Matt Holliday and Jason Bay/Kevin Youkilis. Basically a who's who when it comes to the best hitters in the game, although obviously there are some pretty special hitters that lack similarly special teammates.
But this season's list? Well, outside of Utley, it looks quite different so far.
1. Nelson Cruz-Vladimir Guerrero, Texas - 12.4 runs above average
1. Jeff Francoeur-David Wright, New York (NL) - 12.4 runs above average
1. Chase Utley-Placido Polanco, Philadelphia - 12.4 runs above average
4. Jose Guillen-Scott Podsednik, Kansas City - 11.9 runs above average
5. Vernon Wells-Alex Gonzalez, Toronto - 9.7 runs above average
Yeah.. that list essentially includes a few great hitters, a few decent hitters, and a few guys that would excite people with a league average offensive season. A few thoughts after the hip hop.
- In case you missed it, Cruz is absolutely tearing up the league right now. He's 12-for-29 with 6 home runs, 2 doubles, 1 triple, and 4 walks in 8 games. That's good for a .414/.486/1.172 line (ah, you gotta love the 1.000+ slugging percentage..), a .640 weighted on-base average, and nearly a win in value solely with his bat, in just eight games.
- Utley hasn't quite matched Cruz, but he's long been one of the very best players in the game. And frankly, his most impressive statistic thus far might be his 9-to-1 walk-to-strikeout ratio, from a guy who's struck out twice as many times as he's walked over the course of his career. The man is simply a baseball machine.
- Francoeur's had a rather odd year thus far, too. He's on pace to walk 122 times this season after walking just 23 times last year, and of his nine fly balls, three of them have managed to find their way out of the park. I don't think he'll maintain the 17% walk rate and the 33.3% HR/FB ratio, in case you were wondering.
- Guillen hit his 200th career home run yesterday, his fourth consecutive game with a homer. He's got five on the year already, but the Royals are probably more concerned with the fact that he's only got 9 RBIs on 13 hits, 3 doubles and 5 home runs. As for Podsednik, he's been extra Podsy this year, with 15 singles, 6 steals and 1 extra-base hit in nine games.
- I've already touched on Wells somewhat, and I'd feel pretty comfortable saying that Gonzalez's hot streak won't last. Even with all the extra-base hits, A-Gon still has just one walk in 40 plate appearances and a .325 OBP on the year.
- Oddly enough, the overall offensive production from each of these teams has been pretty different thus far. Philadelphia leads the majors in runs scored by a sizable margin with 64 on the year, while Kansas City has had one of the AL's best five offenses thus far. Toronto is right in the middle of the pack, tied for 14th in the majors in scoring with three other teams at 41 runs. But New York and Texas have failed to build on some pretty incredible starts from some of their hitters, as each team is in the bottom ten in the majors in scoring right now. Presumably, the Rangers and Mets will be pretty happy to have Ian Kinsler and Carlos Beltran back, respectively.
(RAA data courtesy of FanGraphs.com)