It’s easy to get tired of the same player or team winning so often. But there is just no reasonable way to assign the label “Best Offensive Player” in 2016 to anybody but Mike Trout. As we will see, David Ortiz made an excellent case for the award in his final season, but Trout just flat out beats him.
When we look at the straight-up hitting stats (top 5 in wRC+), Trout leads easily in both wRC+ and OPS+. Some of the components of the more traditional slash line are split between other players. Trout again leads in OBP, while Daniel Murphy is second in the league in BA and Ortiz is first in SLG.
One of the biggest arguments for David Ortiz’s greatness is his “clutch” play. There’s no doubt that he has excellent post-season numbers, and his Win Probability numbers are also generally far above average. Let’s take a look at some “clutch” stats from 2016.
|Mike Trout||6.96||Mike Trout||76.42||Mike Trout||7.32|
|Josh Donaldson||4.66||David Ortiz||61.15||Freddie Freeman||5.56|
|David Ortiz||4.65||Freddie Freeman||50.81||Miguel Cabrera||5.41|
|Paul Goldschmidt||4.52||Josh Donaldson||50.47||Josh Donaldson||5.24|
|Joey Votto||4.39||Joey Votto||49.59||Nelson Cruz||5.21|
Again, we see that players like David Ortiz and Josh Donaldson had great years, but that Trout is clearly the leader.
For those of you who might be looking for a more traditional “clutch” stat, Mike Trout batted .328 with runners in scoring position this year, while David Ortiz hit .348. Ortiz also had a higher SLG and lower K% in those situations. However, Trout’s wOBA and wRC+ was slightly higher than Ortiz’s. Interestingly, Trout had a slightly higher RBI-per-plate- appearance rate with RISP than Ortiz.
Finally – and this would be the back breaker even if Trout hadn’t already been ahead in so many categories: base running.
Of the 27 players who had a wRC+ of 130 or higher this year, Mike Trout’s (+3.2) was the 3rd best Ultimate Base Running (UBR) score. He was 14th in all of baseball. (UBR is essentially a measure of how well a player moves from 1st to 3rd or second to home on a base hit, and scoring from third on a sac fly.) Daniel Murphy had a (+1.6), Josh Donaldson had a (+0.1), Joey Votto had a (-3.2), and David Ortiz had a (-7.5), second worst in all of baseball. In other words, while Trout was one of the best running the bases, Murphy was very good, Donaldson was about average, Votto was bad and Ortiz was terrible.
When we look at Weighted Stolen Bases (wSB), Trout is 7th in all of baseball, and 3rd among players with a 130 wRC+ or higher. His (+2.6) is more than three times as much as any other player in the top 5 wRC+ listed above.
Here’s a way to visualize it (listed by top wRC+ in MLB this year):
Only Kris Bryant comes anywhere close to Trout in base running, and his wRC+ is 22 points lower.
In summary, Mike Trout is the best pure hitter, performed the best in “the clutch”, and is one of the best baserunners in the game, possibly the best base runner among top hitters.