photo: Marcell Ozuna (Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images)
By Bill Gilbert
Offensive production in the major leagues increased again in 2017 due to another spike in the home run rate. Other offensive measures were also at the highest level in several years.
|Year||Runs/Game||HR/Game||BAVG||OBA||SLG||OPS||# Triple Milestones|
Despite the increase in home runs, only five players hit 40 or more compared to eight in 2016 and nine in 2015. The big increase in the last two years has come in players that hit 30 or more home runs. This level was reached by 33 players in 2017, 38 in 2016 but only 11 in 2015.
A useful indicator for tracking offense is the number of players who hit for both power and average by achieving the old-school milestones of a .300 batting average, 30 home runs and 100 runs batted in. A record 26 players reached all three Triple Crown category milestones in 2000, but that figure has dropped significantly in recent years. Only one player achieved all three in 2015. This figure increased to 4 in 2016 and 7 in 2017, the highest number since 2011, reflecting the increase in offense. Of the 33 players with 30+ home runs, only eight batted over .300. Maintaining a .300 batting average is the most difficult of the three milestones to reach.
The only player that made the .300-30-100 club in 2015, Paul Goldschmidt of Arizona, fell short in 2016 and 2017. The four players who made it in 2016, all in the American League, failed to repeat in 2017.
|Miguel Cabrera||8||.316-38-108||.248-16- 60||Worst year by far.|
|David Ortiz||5||.315-38-127||DNP||Went out on top in 2016.|
|Adrian Beltre||3||.300-32-104||.312-17- 71||Slowed by injuries.|
|Mookie Betts||1||.318-31-113||.264-24-102||Failed to reach 2016 heights.|
Here are the seven players that made it in 2017.
|Joey Votto||2||.320-36-100||Barely made it.|
|Jose Abreu||2||.304-33-102||Made it in 2014 rookie year.|
|Charlie Blackmon||1||.331-37-104||Breakout year.|
|Marcell Ozuna||1||.312-37-124||Emerging star.|
|Nolan Arenado||1||.309-37-130||First year hitting .300.|
|J.D. Martinez||1||.303-45-104||Released by Astros in 2014.|
|Ryan Zimmerman||1||.303-36-108||Big comeback year.|
Two players came close.
|Paul Goldschmidt||2||.297-36-120||Late slump hurt BAVG.|
|Jonathan Schoop||0||.293-32-105||Orioles best hitter in 2017.|
The following list contains the names of players, active in 2017, who have had multiple .300-30-100 seasons in the past but have not done it in the last three years. Many have been limited by injuries. Some are still productive players but not at the same level as in their peak years. Since this list was started in 2004, David Ortiz and Adrian Beltre are the only players that have come back with another triple milestone season.
|Albert Pujols||10||2010||.241-23-101||Seven straight years under .300.|
|Ryan Braun||3||2012||.268-17- 52||Appears to be declining.|
|Matt Holliday||2||2007||.231-19- 64||Former star now an average player.|
|David Wright||2||2008||DNP||Spent season on disabled list.|
29 of the 30 major league teams have had at least one triple milestone hitter since the year 2001. Kansas City has not had a triple milestone hitter since Jermaine Dye in 2000.
Only one minor league player recorded a triple milestone season in 2017.
|Christian Walker||Reno (AAA)||Arizona D’backs||26||.309-32-114|
|Arizona (NL)||.250- 2- 2|
No college players achieved triple milestones in 2017.
Pitchers also strive for triple milestones – 20 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00. No pitchers won 20 games in 2017. Two pitchers came close with 18 wins, 200 strikeouts and an ERA under 3.00.
|Corey Kluber||18-265-2.25||AL Cy Young Award winner.|
|Clayton Kershaw||18-202-2.31||Missed time with injury.|
Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).
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