With a 60-game season imminently approaching, I thought it would be a fun exercise to see last year’s league leaders at the ~60-game mark to see how things changed from that point to the end of the year.
A bit on the methodology: because teams don’t play an even 60 games on a specific date due to off days, we’re going to use June 4, 2019 as the 60-game mark. On this day, nine teams had played exactly 60 games, and only the Mariners were not within two games of 60 games played.
60 games into 2019, only three players had hit 20 home runs: Christian Yelich (22), Cody Bellinger (20) and Pete Alonso (20). Alonso kept his pace, as he led the league in home runs at the end of the season with 53, we can reasonably expect that this year’s home run leader will likely be around the 20 dinger mark.
Only ten players across the league managed to reach the 40+ home run mark including Jorge Soler, Mike Trout and Eugenio Suarez, all who at the 60-game mark had 14 or 15 home runs rocking most of their home runs in the latter part of the season. Suarez ended the season with 49 which was second in all Major League Baseball.
Between the 60-game mark and end of the 2019 season, four of the five top batting leaders changed. In early June Cody Bellinger (.374), Austin Meadows(.356), Nolan Arenado (.343), Jorge Polanco (.336), and Anthony Rendon (.335) rounded out the top five. Only Rendon managed to finish in the top five at the end of the season, finishing at .319. Tim Anderson was tenth on June 4th, and won the AL batting crown with a .335 average. Christian Yelich won the NL batting crown with a .329 average.
We certainly wouldn’t expect to see Tim Anderson and his 2.9 walk rate anywhere near an OBP leaderboard (it’s unlikely any small sample size would yield him atop that category), but we do see consistency from the first 60 games and the full season stats. Mike Trout led the league in on-base percentage from June 4th onward, posting a .465 OBP through the first 60 games, and finishing the year with a .438 OBP. Bellinger, Rendon, and Yelich were also in the top five after 60 games and at the end of the season.
Austin Meadows ended up on the June 4th list in both average and OBP, but fell well short of being in the top five of either leaderboard in large part to a first 60-game .402 batting average on balls in play.
Speaking of BABIP, the Rockies David Dahl had a .447 BABIP through June 4th. He wasn’t playing every day, only posting 50 games played, but despite a 28 percent K-rate, he managed a .330 average through Colorado’s first 60 games.
Mike Trout ended the season leading the league in both fWAR (8.5) and wRC+ (180), good for second in the league in fWAR and fifth in wRC+ at the 60-game mark. Cody Bellinger’s hot start propelled him to a 7.8 fWAR but he did slow down a bit after a torrid first 60 games.
Although stolen base totals have declined significantly in recent years, it didn’t prevent the Royals’ Adalberto Mondesi from swiping 22 bags over the first 60 games, en route to a total 43 stolen bases. Only nine other players even hit double digits through the first 60 games, and only 21 managed 20 or more for the entire season, most of those players not even qualifying for the batting title.
Unsurprisingly, the best hitters in the game were the best players early-on and throughout the season, but the early days did provide some unique and strange feats. This is probably the best chance we’ll have to see another .400 hitter, and the home run leader may have 20 long-balls to his name.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at the league leaders in some pitching categories, where we see what can happen in a dozen-or-so starts.