You probably won’t be surprised when I tell you who the best hitter in the American League has been so far this year. 1
(Oh. You should probably read the last footnote if you care about how we’re defining “best hitter”.)
Anyway, the best hitter in the American League so far this season has been Miguel Cabrera, and if that surprises you then you should come over here so I can hit you in the nose with my ballpeen hammer. For the last decade, Cabrera has enjoyed a sustained and consistent excellence that has only been bested in my lifetime by Albert Pujols’ reign in St. Louis and the late-stage Barry Bonds. 2
- We’re going to define “best hitter” using a stat called Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+). Basically, we’re park- and league-adjusting a player’s value, using linear weights. If you like wOBA (and if you don’t you’re a communist), then you should love wRC+. [back]
- I know and you know that Barry Bonds took great big barrels full of steroids. But let’s go way back in time here. Let’s go all the way back to 1992, back when Barry Bonds looked more like Sammy Davis Jr. rather than Dwayne Johnson. From 1992 to the end of his career, guess how many times Barry Bonds had an OPS below 1.000. Go on, guess.
Once, in 2006, when it was .999. One year out of 16, and it was still excellent. A .999 OPS would currently be good for 10th place in all of baseball—and that’s the worst year of Bond’s 16-year stretch. That guy was freaking amazing. [back]