Well, yeah, don't they always?
I suppose the better question would be, "How much do they surprise you?"
And that's what I'd like to quickly touch on here today. This doesn't use any sort of shiny mathematical formula to determine how surprising it is that, say, Martin Prado leads the majors in hits, because, you know, I'm just not that smart. But with my basic arithmetic skills and a handy bit of gut, I've decided to rank how surprising the league leader in each major statistic is out of 10.
We'll start off with the more traditional hitting statistics, and then move on to some of the more advanced stuff tomorrow. We'll cover pitchers after we get through the position players, if that's fine with everyone.
Plate appearances: 2B Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee. 422 PA. Surprise factor: 5
I know he's a leadoff hitter for a team that scores a lot of runs, so in that sense nobody should be surprised to see Weeks' name at the top of the list. But at the same time, this is a guy who put up these PA marks in his first five full seasons: 414, 413, 506, 590, 162. So, yeah, it's a tad surprising that Weeks has actually stayed healthy.
Hits: 2B Martin Prado, Atlanta. 121 hits. Surprise factor: 7
He's always hit for high batting averages, but nobody saw this kind of hit parade coming. Presumably he won't bat .325 all year long, but there's a good chance that he makes to 200 hits. Prado's line with Atlanta right now is far better than the numbers that he put up in his last stint in Triple-A. And I just found that a tad interesting.
Doubles: RF Nick Markakis, Baltimore. 28 doubles. Surprise factor: 2
Markakis is a doubles machine, so this shouldn't surprise anyone. He's on pace for his fourth straight season with at least 43 doubles, although it's also going to be the third straight season in which he'll see his HR total decline, too. Sadly, I doubt we'll see another 6-win season from Markakis again.
Triples: CF Shane Victorino, Philadelphia. 8 triples. Surprise factor: 4
Like Markakis and doubles, Victorino is pretty familiar with hitting triples. His eight triples this season marks the fourth time in five seasons that he's reached that total. Plus, this would be the second-straight season that Victorino has led the majors in triples; his 13 were the most in the big leagues last season.
Home runs: RF/3B Jose Bautista, Toronto. 24 home runs. Surprise factor: 10
We might as well call it the "Bautista factor" from here on out, because Bautista's breakout is something that really nobody saw coming. Coming into the season, Bautista had hit between 13 and 16 homers in each of the past four seasons playing mostly part-time, and unsurprisingly the projections pegged him to make it five seasons in that range. CHONE projected Bautista to hit 15 homers, a mark that Bautista already had beaten by the end of May. If Jose Bautista hitting the All-Star break with an isolated power over .300 isn't surprising, I don't know what is.
Runs scored: LF Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay. 70 runs scored. Surprise factor: 6
Honestly, I expected Crawford to have a better track record of scoring runs, but the impending free agent hasn't hit the 100 runs scored plateau since 2005. He was 30th in runs scored last season, and he's already scored more runs this season than he did during the entire 2008 season. I suppose it's not that surprising considering he's a speed demon with a high batting average, but CC also has the best walk rate of his career. He's making a pretty incredible push going into free agency.
RBI: 1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. 77 RBI. Surprise factor: 2
Cabrera's an absolute beast batting in the middle of a fairly good offense. No surprise here as the guy is on pace to put up 100+ RBI for the seventh consecutive season and he's already been worth 36 runs with his bat alone this season. I know this is a pretty scary concept, but I think that Miggy Cabrera has actually gotten better in 2010. He's always been pretty great but he's never had a season like this before.
Stolen bases: LF Juan Pierre, Chicago (AL). 32 stolen bases. Surprise factor: 2
I'm really not surprised. I had a feeling that Pierre would be running a whole lot even though it wouldn't really help the team. I've come to hate the stolen base for what it's done to the public's perception of guys like Pierre. This guy truly sucks, with a .257/.326/.289 line that does a good job of reflecting that, and he's not even that good at base-stealing. For his career his SB percentage is at 74.7%, good but not great, and he's at roughly the same mark this season. I can't tell you guys how sick I am of watching Pierre hit slow dribblers to the second baseman that I could properly field.
What do you guys think? Any other guys at or near the top of the leaderboards that just leave you kind of dumbfounded?