The three true outcomes supporters lost one of their greatest champions at the end of last season when Adam Dunn called it quits after a playoff non-appearance in the A's wild-card loss. However, with strikeouts on the rise, there are still plenty of players in the big leagues who don't often make contact, but when they do, they prefer to hit home runs.
The Tableau data viz below shows qualified major-leaguers sorted by the percentage of their PA that ended in either a strikeout, walk, or home run. (I included intentional walks but not hit by pitches; any combination of those wouldn't adjust the standings much.)
Dunn's old-guy skills haven't taken a hit much, as he comes in second only to Baltimore's Chris Davis in TTO%. (In case you were wondering, Dunn had a 16.7 TTO%, one walk out of six batters faced, during his lone pitching appearance.) The top six give you a pretty good idea of why TTO% is a curiosity rather than an indicator of value: two of the best players in the game, Mike Trout and Giancarlo Stanton, sandwich the single most untradeable player in baseball, Ryan Howard. Trout's shift from a base-stealing lightweight to a bona fide power hitter is illustrated by the following table, which shows his three true outcomes over time:
It's been said many times before, but the way Trout completely reinvented his game from his first two seasons to now, without sacrificing any of his incredible value, is one of the more remarkable feats in recent baseball history.
The Upton brothers come in at seventh and eighth (B.J., then Justin), while Ian Desmond is the top middle infielder at tenth.
Often the bottom end of a leaderboard (or a laggerboard, if you will) is just as interesting as the top, and this is no exception. Ben Revere, at 10.2%, is a whopping 3.4% ahead of Jose Altuve at 13.6%. After them, it's a long way up to Erick Aybar at 16.4%. For comparison, the gap between Revere and Aybar is the same as the gap between Aybar and the 38th-to-last player, Yangervis Solarte. Revere also had the lowest walk rate in the majors.
However "true" the outcomes are, they certainly aren't indicative of value, either at the top or bottom end. Strikeout machines like the aforementioned Howard who don't contribute with all-around power and solid defense, coupled with high-average slap hitters like Altuve (who also add value with their legs) are sprinkled throughout the standings. That said, I think I speak for a lot of people when I say it'll be disappointing to see Dunn no longer topping these leaderboards.
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All statistics courtesy of FanGraphs.
Steven Silverman is a featured writer at Beyond the Box Score and a student at Carnegie Mellon University. He also writes for Batting Leadoff. You can follow him on Twitter at @Silver_Stats or email him at Steven@SilverStats.com.