Let’s champion the little guy. In what follows, we will talk about some fellas who led baseball in a category, but no one really seems to have noticed, in 2023
.352: The league leading ISO mark of Nelson Velazquez (min. 175 PA). NV blasted 17 bombs in just 179 PA this season, in a remarkable effort. The 32.1 HR/FB ratio will reced substantially, as will the homer pace, but he was terrific down the stretch as he pulled everything (49.1%) in the air (47.3 fly ball rate).
0.39: The league leading homer-per-nine mark of Sonny Gray. He also led baseball in HR/FB ratio at 5.2. He was second in the AL in ERA to Gerrit Cole, so he’s hardly a “little guy” like I listed above, but still, these numbers deserve to be pointed out. His previous bests ofr a season were 8.3 HR/FB ratio and 0.56 HR/9 rate… both from his rookie season of 2013. His career marks are 11.5 percent and 0.84.
***Of course…. Gray allowed two homers in his playoff start yesterday against the Astros.
.440: The league leading BABIP mark of Jared Triolo (min. 209 PA), an insane mark that is obviously enormously influenced by the small sample size. He’s got a little speed, but this BABIP mark is just bananas. His 86.6 exit velocity was 1.8 mph below the league average while his 5.9 percent barrel rate was a percent down and his 33.6 hard-hit rate was 2.7 mph below the league average as well.
3: The league leading total of complete games this season. One guy we know and have loved in fantasy – Sandy Alcantara – but the other guy is one we avoid in Jordan Lyles. He had only two complete games in his career entering the season. By the way, his 177.2 innings pitched this is a third straight year at that level. Yep, he made 31 starts going 6-17 with a 6.28 ERA for the Royals.
7.50: The league leading run support mark per nine innings for Michael Wacha (min. 100 IP). He hasn’t thrown 135 innings in the bigs since 2017, but the last two years he’s been extremely effective going 25-6 with a 3.27 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over 261.2 innings pitched. Limited in terms of workload, but damn effective.
9.7: The league leading soft hit ball rate of Michael Lorenzen (min. 100 IP). That mark was light years lower than his 16.8 percent career rate. He’s a fine pitcher who throws like six pitches, but he’s just not a big workload guy (2023 was his first MLB season of 100-innings since 2015).
12: Former teammates, and neither is a no name, but the category kind of is what it is at this point. Oh yeah, Cody Bellinger and Will Smith tied for the league lead with 12 sac flies. Bellinger’s previous best was six while Smith’s was 11.
13.1: The lowest line drive rate allowed by any pitcher who threw 100-innings. That number belongs to Tyler Wells. He made 20 starts and five relief outings with a 3.64 ERA and 0.99 WHIP. He was damn good. One of the reaons than this line drive rate was so low though was thanks to his huge 55 percent fly ball rate (that also led to a 1.90 HR/9 rate).
14: The league leading sacrafice hit total of Geraldo Perdomo. A sac hit is also a sacrifice bunt. Perdomo upped his OPS from .547 last year to .712 this year, adding one more sac bunk mark than last season. By the way, TJ Friedl led baseball with 17 bunt hits, six more than Daulton Varsho.
16: The league leading hit-by-pitch total of JP Sears. He went just 5-14 albeit with a passable 1.26 WHIP and 3.04 K/BB ratio. Those 34 homers, and resulting 1.78 HR/9 rate, just hurt.
34: Leading leading HBP mark of Ty France. That mark was a career-high, though a third straight season of at least 21. His 82 HBP in the three years is 10 more than Mark Canha and 24 more than Anthony Rizzo.
35: The league leading start total of Miles Mikolas (one more than Zac Gallen). That is four full seasons in a row for him over 180-innings and he has hit 200-yards each of the last two seasons.
556: The league leading plate appearance total of TJ Friedl… without a grounded into a double play. Six guys have 200 PA with no GIDP, but next up to TJ was Adam Duvall at 353.