2016 MLB OBP Leader Surprise

In this day and age many baseball fans pay very close attention to on-base percentage as a measure of how good a batter may or may not be. I don’t know that we can say exactly why we follow it so much more now, but I blame it on the movie Money Ball. Great movie by the way, you must see it if your a baseball fan.

What is on-base percentage, or OBP? It is pretty simple, a measure of how often a player gets on base. To calculate the actual percentage you would use the following formula OBP = (Hits + Walks + Hit by Pitch) / (At Bats + Walks + Hit by Pitch + Sacrifice Flies). Ok, so why is this important in baseball. That is somewhat obvious, the more a player is able to get on base the more often he has a chance to score.

Looking around my favorite baseball sites today and deciding what I wanted to post about I looked up OBP leaders for 2016 and the top five included names I expect; Mike Trout, Joey Votto, Jose Altuve and Paul Goldschmidt. There was however one name that surprised me. Not sure why I didn’t realize this player was such an OBP machine, but he seems to be. Number four on the list of on-base percentage leaders is, can you guess, DJ LeMahieu. Surprised? Like I said, I sure was.

On-Base% 
1. Trout (LAA) .436
2. Votto (CIN) .431
3. Goldschmidt (ARI) .418
4. LeMahieu (COL) .417
5. Altuve (HOU) .412

DJ LeMahieu
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Originally posted to Flickr as “DJ LeMahieu”) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
LeMahieu currently has an OBP of .417 to go along with a batting average of .344 and slugging percentage of .499. He is quietly putting together a very decent season and is on pace for a career high in hits, average, on-base, and slugging. Already this season he has set his career high in runs, walks and home runs. He is the #4 ranked second baseman in fantasy baseball according to FantasyPros player rater ahead of Brian Dozier, Robinson Cano, Dustin Pedroia and Ian Kinsler. Yet most analyst rarely talk about him.

Why is he such an under the radar player? There are a few reasons. First, he plays on a team with Charlie Blackmon, Carlos Gonzalez and Nolan Arenado. Second, he lacks that sexy stat line that includes huge power numbers or stolen bases. Likely next year he won’t be drafted as the #4 second baseman because of these reasons. At least partially because of that as I would anticipate before the season is over some regression in his average and OBP since he currently has a .384 BAbip, roughly .084 points higher than league average. Which is actually good news if everyone else sleeps on him since that allows you to pick him up later in a draft and return really good value next year. One other thing you may want to consider, in 2015 he finished 3rd in roto rankings for second baseman.

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Byron Buxton, Prospect or Bust

Originally Posted on August 10th, 2016

On Sunday the Minnesota Twins had to make a roster move in order to make room for Trevor Plouffe. Their decision was to send down former number one prospect Byron Buxton. This wasn’t the first time the Twins felt the need to send Buxton back to Triple-A this season and it’s not the last we will see of him in the majors this season. Now we ask though, is Buxton a prospect or a bust?

Since turning pro at age 18 Byron Buxton has been a top prospect in the Twins organization. He was ranked the number one prospect in baseball for multiple years and was compared to superstar slugger Mike Trout at times. Problem is at this point that

Byron Buxton
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Byron Buxton) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
has yet to live up to the hype. After two partial seasons in the majors he is hitting .209 with three home runs and 11 stolen bases. He strikes out 31.9% of the time and only walks less than four in every 100 at bats. In each of these two major league seasons Buxton has more strikeouts than walks and hits combined. He truly has looked over-matched in the big leagues.

Is it really Byron Buxton’s fault though or should we be looking at the Twins? Buxton has played in only 306 games in the minors, only 43 of those games came at Triple-A Rochester. Could it be that this 22 year old center fielder was pushed to the majors too soon? Does he need more seasoning after not playing a full season at any one level due to injuries or promotions? We tend to side on the it’s too early to tell. Buxton appears to have all the talent in the world and has thrived at Triple-A, but now he needs to develop as a major league hitter. He likely has more chances to prove himself with the big league club coming and when that happens we will get a better idea if he can make it long term.