David Shovein

Baseball Daily Dose

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Daily Dose: The Winners Are..

Monday, October 2, 2017

Now that the 2017 baseball season has officially come to a close, let's take a look at the season-ending leaderboards in each league to see who came out on top.

American League Leaders

Batting Average - Jose Altuve (.346)

There was no drama surrounding this race. The 27-year-old finished substantially above the next closest hitter, Avisail Garcia who hit .330 in a terrific season for the White Sox. It’s the third batting title that Altuve has won in his young career. He’s a strong candidate to add to his mantle this season as he’ll garner considerable attention for the American League MVP award as well.

Home Runs - Aaron Judge (52)

This is another battle where the winner had been decided long ago. Judge had a rookie season for the ages, rewriting the record books in several spots along the way. He’s a lock to bring home the American League Rookie of the Year honors as well. Judge also led the league in walks (127) and strikeouts (208). Khris Davis was the runner-up here with a career-best 43 homers for the Athletics.

Runs Scored - Aaron Judge (128)

That’s a monster total for any player, let alone a 25-year-old rookie. Altuve and George Springer tied for the second highest total in the league with 112 apiece, 16 runs behind Judge’s mammoth total.

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RBI - Nelson Cruz (119)

Nelson Cruz has done many wonderful things during his 13 seasons in the big league, but on Sunday he accomplished something that he had never done before. Leading the league in RBI. Cruz plated a career-best 119 runs, besting Yankees’ slugger Aaron Judge by five to take home the top spot.

SB - Whit Merrifield (34)

I know that it’s been talked about many times, but where did this guy come from this season? In 81 games for the Royals last year he hit two home runs and stole eight bases. All of a sudden, he’s a five-category monster slashing .289/.325/.462 with 19 homers, 78 RBI and 34 swipes. He beat out Cameron Maybin by one stolen base for the top honor in the American League.

Wins - Carlos Carrasco, Corey Kluber, Jason Vargas (18)

A pair of Indians’ right-handers and a veteran southpaw topped the league in victories, getting it done in a variety of different ways. The 18 wins match Kluber’s career-best, having done so in 2014 and 2016 as well. It’s a new high-water mark for each Carrasco and Vargas.

ERA - Corey Kluber (2.25)

If voters for the American League Cy Young Award are focusing on traditional stats such as wins and ERA, Kluber is certainly going to get a lot of support. The 2.25 mark was the lowest of Kluber’s career.

WHIP - Corey Kluber (0.87)

There’s that Indians’ right-hander again. He has to be considered the favorite to bring home his second Cy Young Award (2014). The 0.87 WHIP is also a new career-best for the 31-year-old hurler.

Strikeouts - Chris Sale (308)

If voters for the American League Cy Young Award had to cast their ballots a month ago, it would have been a dead heat between Sale and Kluber. Sale fell off a bit over the final month of the season however, though he did finish with far and away the highest strikeout total of his career. Kluber finished second in this category, fanning 265 batters.

Saves - Alex Colome (47)

Rays’ right-hander Alex Colome posted an ERA in 2017 that was almost a run and a half higher than his 2016 mark, yet he was still able to notch 10 more saves and pace the American League. Jays’ relief ace Roberto Osuna was the runner-up here with 39 saves.

National League Leaders

Batting Average - Charlie Blackmon (.331)

Charlie Blackmon had an outstanding season across the board in 2017, winning his first National League batting title was just one of his many accomplishments. Blackmon also led the league in his (213) and triples (14), all of those marks being career-bests for him as well.

Home Runs - Giancarlo Stanton (59)

This is another battle that was never in doubt. The only question was how many home runs Stanton would end up with. Though he was unable to crack the 60-home run plateau, what he accomplished was still a remarkable feat. The next closest hitter in the National League was Cody Bellinger, who hit 20 fewer long balls with 39. It’s his second home run title for Stanton, the first coming when he swatted 37 big flies in 2014.

Runs Scored - Charlie Blackmon (137)

In addition to capturing his first batting title, Blackmon also led the league in runs scored for the first time. He crossed home plate 14 times more than Giancarlo Stanton did, who was the next closest competitor. This mark easily trumped Blackmon’s previous career high of 111 from a season ago.

RBI - Giancarlo Stanton (132)

In what was a much more hotly-contested battle, Stanton brought home his first RBI title by eking out Rockies’ slugger Nolan Arenado by just two RBI. Despite the fact that the Marlins didn’t qualify for the postseason, he’ll certainly be at the forefront of the discussion for the National League MVP award.

Stolen Bases - Dee Gordon (60)

In a bit of an upset, Gordon captured his third stolen base title, all coming in the last four seasons. Gordon was caught 16 times in his 76 attempts on the season (78.9% success rate). Billy Hamilton finished as the runner-up here, swiping 59 bases in only 139 games.

Wins - Clayton Kershaw (18)

It’s mighty impressive that despite being limited to 27 starts due to time spent on the disabled list with his back issues, Kershaw was still able to pace the league in victories. It’s the third time in his career that he has done so (2014, 2011). Zack Greinke and Zach Davies each won 17 games on the season.

ERA - Clayton Kershaw (2.31)

This guy just has a knack for finishing atop pitching leaderboards. It’s the fifth time in his career he has taken home this honor, and last season would have made six had he had enough innings to qualify for the ERA title. Max Scherzer finished second with a 2.51 mark.

WHIP - Max Scherzer (0.90)

Kershaw’s main competition for the Cy Young Award this season, Scherzer had another outstanding season in his own right. He finished second in ERA behind the Dodgers’ southpaw, while Kershaw had the second best WHIP at 0.95. It’s the lowest mark that Scherzer has posted in his career and the third time he has paced the league in the category.

Strikeouts - Max Scherzer (268)

Remarkably, it’s the sixth consecutive season that Scherzer had fanned 230 or more batters and the second straight season that he has led the league in punchouts. Jacob deGrom was the runner up in the National League with 239 strikeouts.

Saves - Greg Holland & Kenley Jansen (41)

It looked as though Holland was going to run away with this title after racking up 33 saves prior to August 1, but he faded significantly over the final two months of the season and was removed from his closer’s role at one point. Jansen delivered another absolutely amazing season  for the Dodgers, yet it was the first time that he had led the league in saves.

Scherzer Uncertain

The Nationals were able to breathe a sigh of relief on Sunday when an MRI confirmed that ace right-hander Max Scherzer was dealing with just a minor hamstring tweak and not anything more substantial.

While the news was encouraging, Nationals’ skipper Dusty Baker said after Sunday’s game that Scherzer’s injury would probably alter his planned rotation for the NLDS.

What exactly that means, is anyone’s guess. It could simply be that Stephen Strasburg would start the first game with Scherzer working in Game 2. In that scenario, Scherzer would still be able to pitch in a potential Game 5 on his regular rest.

Scherzer, who prides himself on the ability to stay healthy, admitted his frustration with the minor injuries he has had to battle this season. "Frustrating as all get-out," he told reporters on Sunday, "I've done such a good job of taking care of my body over the course of my career. I've never come out of starts, and this year, I think I've come out of three.

For now, the Nationals will rest up and get healthy as they prepare to host the Cubs for the first game of the NLDS on Friday.

American League Quick Hits: Jon Morosi of MLB Network reports that CC Sabathia plans to continue pitching in 2018… Red Sox manager John Farrell officially announced Chris Sale as his starter for Game 1 of the ALDS against the Astros… The Astros are hopeful that Josh Reddick (back) will be able to go through the team’s workout on Tuesday… Blake Snell punched out a career-best 13 batters over seven scoreless innings, allowing just two hits in a win over the Orioles… Kevin Gausman fanned nine over seven innings of one-run ball in a losing effort there… James Paxton struck out nine over six shutout innings in a no-decision against the Angels… Bartolo Colon allowed just one run over 6 ⅓ innings in a victory over the Tigers. He still has plans of continuing his big league career in 2018… Eric Hosmer swatted his 26th home run in what was likely his final game as a member of the Royals… Khris Davis crushed his 43rd home run in a victory over the Rangers… Daniel Mengden fired seven shutout innings in a victory there.

National League Quick Hits: Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the Cardinals have already made overtures about re-signing Juan Nicasio… Rockies’ general manager Jeff Bridich said Sunday that Jon Gray “is certainly in major consideration” to start the National League Wild Card Game… Dodgers’ manager Dave Roberts said Sunday that he has already told Clayton Kershaw that he won’t be asked to start on short rest in the NLDS… Ryan Braun admitted Sunday that he had been battling health issues which could be partially to blame for his late-season struggles… Luis Avilan will not be available for the Dodgers in the NLDS due to a sore left shoulder… Adam Wainwright will undergo surgery on Tuesday to trim the cartilage in his right elbow… Aledmys Diaz left Sunday’s game with a left hamstring strain… Aaron Wilkerson hurled seven innings of one-run ball in a victory over the Cardinals… Ketel Marte was pulled from Sunday’s game due to left hamstring tightness… Deck McGuire earned the first win of his career, firing five shutout innings against the Cubs… Pablo Sandoval crushed a game-winning homer in the ninth inning against the Padres, costing the Giants the first overall pick in next year’s draft… Noah Syndergaard threw two scoreless innings against the Phillies in his final start of the season… Nick Williams hit a three-run inside the park home run in a rout of the Mets… John Jaso admitted after Sunday’s game that he’s leaning toward retirement.

Dave Shovein is a baseball writer for Rotoworld. You can follow him on Twitter @DaveShovein.
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