1. The ability to get on base.
2. The ability to hit with power.
3. The ability to add value through baserunning.
The first two elements are measured by on-base percentage and slugging average. A measure of offensive performance, which encompasses both as well as baserunning achievements, is Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA). This measure accounts for the net bases accumulated by a player per plate appearance. It is calculated as follows:
BPA = (TB + BB + HB + SB - CS - GIDP) / (AB + BB + HB + SF)
Where: BPA = Bases per Plate Appearance
TB = Total Bases
BB = Bases on Balls
HB = Hit by Pitch
SB = Stolen Bases
CS = Caught Stealing
GIDP = Grounded into Double Plays
AB = At Bats
SF = Sacrifice Flies
The numerator accounts for all of the bases accumulated by a player, reduced by the number of times he is caught stealing or erases another runner by grounding into a double play. The denominator accounts for the plate appearances when the player is trying to generate bases. Sacrifice hits are not included as plate appearances, since they represent the successful execution of the batter's attempts to advance another runner rather than himself.
Major league BPA for the past thirteen years are shown below along with the number of players with BPA over .550 and .600:
Offensive production peaked in 2000 before declining in the early years of this decade. BPA in 2006 was at the highest level since 2000.
In the 1990s, there were 14 individual .700 BPA seasons. In the seven year period from 2000 to 2006, there have been 17. The highest BPA in the 1990s was recorded by Mark McGwire in 1998 (.799). Barry Bonds shattered that with .907 in 2001, the highest figure ever recorded, topping Babe Ruth's best two years (1920 and 1921).
Bonds followed that with .869 in 2002, .818 in 2003 and .882 in 2004. In 2005, for the first time since 1995, there were no hitters with a BPA of .700. Two players made it in 2006, Travis Hafner (.703) and Ryan Howard (.700).
Surprisingly, Albert Pujols has not had a .700 BPA in his six seasons. His .694 BPA in 2006 is the highest of his career.
The .700 BPA seasons in 2000-2006 are listed below:
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2001||0.907|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2004||0.882|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2002||0.869|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2003||0.818|
|Sammy Sosa||Chicago Cubs||2001||0.758|
|Barry Bonds||San Francisco||2000||0.745|
The yearly leaders since 1992 are as follows:
The benchmark for an outstanding individual season is .600. Following is a list of 14 players with enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title and with a BPA of .600 in 2006.
Bases per Plate Appearance (BPA) of .600+ in 2006:
|1||Hafner, T.||0.637||0.703||A||3||Best hitter in AL.|
|2||Howard, R.||0.586||0.700||N||1||No sophomore slump.|
|3||Pujols, A.||0.659||0.694||N||5||Consistently great.|
|4||Ortiz, D.||0.637||0.681||A||4||BPA up 7 straight yrs.|
|5||Beltran, C.||0.446||0.667||N||3||Back to 2004 form.|
|6||Thome, J.||0.455||0.659||A||10||Strong comeback.|
|7||Berkman, L.||0.575||0.658||N||4||Carried Astros.|
|8||Ramirez, M.||0.615||0.654||A||10||9 straight yrs over .600.|
|9||Dye, J.||0.537||0.637||A||1||Career year at age 32.|
|10||Giambi, J.||0.629||0.634||A||7||A repeat of 2005.|
|11||Soriano, A.||0.569||0.632||N||1||Took game to new level.|
|12||Sizemore, G.||0.519||0.605||A||1||Emerging star.|
|13||Johnson, N.||0.528||0.604||N||1||Second D.C. player.|
|14||Cabrera, M.||0.571||0.604||N||1||Great career ahead.|
Eight other players had a BPA over .600 in 2005 but fell short in 2006 in either BPA or the necessary plate appearances to qualify.
|1||Lee, D.||0.699||0.495*||N||1||Played only 50 games.|
|2||Rodriguez, A.||0.676||0.573||A||8||Disappointing year.|
|3||Bay, J.||0.628||0.591||N||1||Pirates big gun.|
|4||Dunn, A.||0.618||0.575||N||3||Strikes out too much.|
|5||Delgado, C.||0.610||0.581||N||7||Provided power for Mets.|
|6||Guerrero, V.||0.604||0.576||A||7||Below .606 career norm.|
|7||Helton, T.||0.602||0.536||N||7||In early decline.|
|8||Teixeira, M.||0.601||0.552||A||2||Bad first half.|
* Not enough plate appearances to qualify.
Six players who had a BPA over .600 and qualified for the batting title in 2006 also have a career BPA over .600. These are the top offensive players in the major leagues who are currently performing at a peak level.
|Ryan Howard||26||0.700||0.658||NL version of David Ortiz.|
|Albert Pujols||26||0.694||0.650||One of the best ever.|
|Manny Ramirez||34||0.615||0.628||A hitting machine.|
|Travis Hafner||29||0.703||0.625||Another hitting machine.|
|Jim Thome||35||0.659||0.625||Can still do it.|
|Lance Berkman||30||0.658||0.621||Building HOF credentials.|
|Barry Bonds||41||0.647||0.703||Still one of the best.|
Barry Bonds had a BPA over .600 in 2006 and also for his career but did not have enough plate appearances to qualify for the batting title in 2006.
Another list of interest is one containing the names of players with a BPA of over .600 in 2006 who, for one reason or another, did not have enough plate appearances (PA) to qualify for the batting title. There are 6 players on this list in 2006 with 100 or more plate appearances.
|Luke Scott||0.667||249||Streaky. Can he do a full season?|
|Barry Bonds||0.647||493||Almost had enough PA to qualify.|
|Chipper Jones||0.629||477||On this list in 2005 with .616 BPA.|
|Ryan Theriot||0.621||159||Highest '06 BPA for a mid infielder.|
|Chris Duncan||0.615||314||Better with bat than glove.|
|David Ross||0.613||296||Provides power from catcher position.|
Looking at the other end of the spectrum, eleven players who earned enough playing time to qualify for the batting title had a BPA less than .400 in 2006. All are middle infielders and catchers. The lowest qualifying outfielder was Mark Kotsay at .406.
|Mark Loretta||0.395||An off year.|
|Adam Everett||0.390||Glove much better than bat.|
|Jason Kendall||0.387||Second straight time on this list.|
|David Eckstein||0.386||World Series MVP after off year.|
|Jose Castillo||0.383||Disappointment for Pirates.|
|Jack Wilson||0.383||Third straight time on this list.|
|Royce Clayton||0.378||Fourth straight time on this list.|
|Clint Barmes||0.368||Has to improve to keep job.|
|Ronny Cedeno||0.343||Cubs expected more.|
|Brad Ausmus||0.318||Not much left in his bat.|
|Angel Berroa||0.316||03 Rookie of Year digressed each year.|
The following six players compiled a batting average over .300, an on-base average over .400, a slugging percentage over .500 and bases per plate appearance over .600 in 2006:
|Five active players have these numbers for their careers.|
Bill Gilbert is a baseball analyst and writer and member of the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR).