It started with J.P. Crawford. I was digging into some statistics and noticed Crawford ranked as the worst baserunner in the majors according to Baseball-Reference’s baserunning metric at minus-5 runs below average. How could that be? Crawford isn’t slow. Well, he’s not slow, but he was 3-for-9 stealing bases and he was not aggressive in taking the extra base, such as going first to third on a base hit. Maybe he just had a bad season on the bases, or maybe this is the sign of a bigger issue.
Anyway, that led to more digging for more unique numbers: via Baseball-Reference, “The Bill James Handbook,” FanGraphs, Statcast. Numbers that aren’t just numbers, but hopefully tell a little story as well.
We found one interesting factoid for every team from the 2021 season:
Factoid: The Diamondbacks used 64 players, including 41 different pitchers, in 2021.
I’m using the Diamondbacks — an otherwise uninteresting squad that lost 110 games — to highlight a trend of the modern game: Roster churn. The Cubs actually used more players (69) and the Mets and Orioles used more pitchers (42), but the Diamondbacks are noteworthy because just two years ago they used the second-fewest number of players. While you can actually do this and have success — the Rays used 41 different pitchers — big roster churn is usually a sign of injuries plus organizational depth issues. Note the change over the past three decades in average number of players used:
2021: 50 players overall, 30 pitchers
2011: 43 players overall, 22 pitchers
2001: 41 players overall, 20 pitchers
1991: 40 players overall, 18 pitchers
On the bright side, more players get to call themselves major leaguers! The downside is it’s a stressful existence for those players caught on the Triple-A/MLB/waiver wire shuttle, not knowing where you will be sleeping in two days. I’m not exactly sure this is the best way to maximize performance from the bottom of a team’s roster.
Factoid: Charlie Morton’s curveball had the highest pitch value of any pitch in baseball in 2021.
Batters hit .127/.198/.187 against Morton’s curveball, and given that he threw it 1,096 times, that helped make it the “most valuable” pitch according to FanGraphs’ pitch value metrics. Obviously, it’s not as simple as just isolating one pitch from a pitcher’s entire repertoire, but the best pitches in 2021 according to estimated runs saved:
Zack Wheeler’s fastball: 26.0 runs (No. 2: Ranger Suarez)
Clayton Kershaw’s slider: 16.2 runs (No. 2: Jacob deGrom)
Charlie Morton’s curveball: 26.6 runs (No. 2: Julio Urias)
Jose Suarez’s changeup: 13.1 runs (No. 2: Devin Williams)
Corbin Burnes’ cutter: 24.2 runs (No. 2: Aaron Civale)
Kevin Gausman’s splitter: 17.7 runs (No. 2: Shohei Ohtani)
Morton will have to return from the broken leg he suffered in the World Series, but even though he’s 38, the Braves are happy to have him back.
Factoid: Cedric Mullins became the first 30-30 player in Baltimore Orioles history.
I say Orioles history, because Ken Williams of the St. Louis Browns — the franchise precursor before moving to Baltimore and becoming the Orioles — was the first 30-30 player in MLB history when he hit 39 home runs and stole 37 bases in 1922 (he also led the AL with 39 home runs and 155 RBIs that season).
Mullins’ season was certainly a pleasant surprise. Can he do it again? The Orioles are moving their left-field fences back, but that won’t be an issue for Mullins: He pulled all 30 of his home runs to right field. His expected slugging percentage was .448 based on quality of contact versus his actual mark of .518, so maybe there was a little good fortune. Still, I like the positive markers here: good barrel control, better-than-average contact rate, perfect average launch angle. I think he can do it again.
Factoid: Boston allowed a .324 average on balls in play, worst in the majors.
I may have mentioned this elsewhere this offseason, but it’s worth revisiting in light of Buster Olney’s recent suggestion that the Red Sox could move Rafael Devers to another position (perhaps second base, similar to how the Dodgers have played Max Muncy there at times) while sliding Xander Bogaerts to third base. The logical step would then be to sign Gold Glove winner Carlos Correa to play shortstop.
Yes, Fenway Park is part of that .324 BABIP, but the Red Sox also allowed a .308 BABIP on the road. And their .273 average allowed on grounders was also worst in the majors, pointing to the subpar range from Bogaerts and Devers on the left side of the infield. The defense could be better and there are ways to do it if the Red Sox get creative.
Factoid: Frank Schwindel hit .342/.389/613 in 239 plate appearances.
In a season of gloom and then doom, the Cubs had three minor league veterans produce surprising numbers in the second half: Schwindel had a 1.002 OPS after the Cubs claimed him on waivers from Oakland, Patrick Wisdom had a .823 OPS in 375 PAs and Rafael Ortega produced an .823 OPS in 330 PAs. Schwindel feels like the best bet to do it again, but he’s a pretty unique player, a 29-year-old rookie who produced a 1.000 OPS. I found two reasonably comparable rookies from the past 20 years:
Luke Scott, 2006 Astros: .336/.426/.621 in 249 PAs (28 years old)
Garrett Jones, 2009 Pirates: .293/.372/.567 in 314 PAs (28 years old)
Scott hit .264/.348/.499 over the next four seasons. Jones hit .249/.308/.438 over the next five seasons. The Scott line will work; the Jones line not so much for a first baseman. Jones, like Schwindel, was more of a free swinger. Schwindel’s strikeout rate, however, was pretty low (just 15.8%), although his exit velocities and expected slugging percentage suggest he was a little fortunate in the power department. I I think he has a chance to contribute over the next few years, but I’m not sure he’s going to be a consistent .500 slugger.
Factoid: Chicago had just five players appear in 100 or more games.
This is rare for a playoff team — in fact, I went back to 2000 and didn’t find another AL team that made playoffs with so few players appearing in 100 games (excluding 2020). This should bode well for the White Sox offense in 2022. Despite Yasmani Grandal (93 games), Luis Robert (68 games) and Eloy Jimenez (55 games) all missing significant, Chicago finished fifth in the AL in runs. Throw in an improved Andrew Vaughn and the White Sox loom as heavy favorites in the AL Central.
That’s a heck of an offensive trio. In fact, the only other teams with at least three players to do that while batting at least 450 times since 2007 were the 2019 Astros and 2019 Red Sox. Granted, these are two arbitrary benchmarks, but the three Reds crushed the ball in 2021. Despite this, the Reds were just fourth in the NL in runs (and play in a park that had the second-highest run-scoring environment in 2021 behind only Coors Field). They even had a fourth quality hitter in rookie Jonathan India, who posted a .376 OBP, and Tyler Naquin and Tyler Stephenson contributed as well. With just adequate production elsewhere, the Reds could have had the best offense in the NL, but Eugenio Suarez had a .286 OBP and the bench players (Mike Moustakas, Aristides Aquino, Shogo Akiyama) were particularly unproductive. Castellanos is now a free agent, so that depth may be tested in 2022.
Factoid: Emmanuel Clase led the majors with 471 pitches at 100-plus mph.
After serving a PED suspension that wiped out his entire 2020 campaign, Clase returned with his blazing cutter intact and posted 24 saves and a 1.29 ERA while finishing fifth in the Rookie of the Year voting. According to TruMedia data, it’s the fifth-highest number of 100-mph pitches in a season going back to 2008:
(Wouldn’t it be fun if we had data from Nolan Ryan, back when he was throwing 300 innings per season.)
Clase has a chance to be the game’s best closer in 2022, even if he does it without an elite strikeout rate (among relievers with at least 50 innings, he ranked just 64th in K rate). Similar to Mariano Rivera, however, the cutter induces a lot of weak contact and Clase allowed just two home runs in 69.2 innings.
Factoid: The Rockies’ 82 wRC+ was tied for second-lowest in franchise history.
That’s weighted runs created, an offensive metric that factors in ballpark and league run-scoring environment. The only worse season in Rockies history was … 2020. So this was a bad offensive team and it likely will lose Trevor Story in free agency. Yet the season wasn’t a 98-loss disaster like 2012 or a 96-loss mess like 2014. The pitching was adequate and the defense was outstanding. Still, even if the Rockies can replace Story’s glove and the rotation stays healthy again — five starters made at least 23 starts, one of just three teams that can say that — where will the runs come from?
It’s not often a team comes up with two rookie starters who more or less carry a full workload throughout the season, but the Tigers did it — just the eighth team since 2000 to have two rookies pitch at least 140 innings (including the 2006 Marlins, who had three). It certainly sounds like a positive, but does this guarantee anything about the future of the Tigers? Not really.
The 2017 Rockies were the last team to do this with German Marquez and Kyle Freeland, and while they did follow up with a wild card in 2018, they have struggled since (although Marquez has been a reliable starter). The 2013 Marlins had Jose Fernandez and Tom Koehler and maybe that story turns out better in a different timeline. The A’s produced Brett Anderson and Trevor Cahill in 2009 and then Jarrod Parker and Tommy Milone in 2012, but Anderson and Parker had injury issues. The best-case scenario takes as back to 1984, when the Royals developed Bret Saberhagen and Mark Gubicza and the Mets ran out Dwight Gooden and Ron Darling. The Royals won the World Series in 1985 and the Mets in 1986.
Factoid: The Astros led the majors in runs scored and wRC+.
OK, that’s two factoids that point to the same thing: This was a terrific offensive team. Houston’s annual ranking in wRC+ since 2017 (with pitcher hitting removed):
2021: 117 (1st)
2020: 98 (17th)
2019: 125 (1st)
2018: 110 (5th)
2017: 122 (1st)
The question: Can the offense withstand losing Carlos Correa on top of losing George Springer last offseason? Yuli Gurriel had a big season, but he will be 38. Michael Brantley will be 35 and Jose Altuve 32. On the other hand, Alex Bregman missed time with injuries and should be better and Kyle Tucker and Yordan Alvarez could combine for more than the 63 home runs they hit in 2021. There is some age risk, but even without Correa, the Astros should still have an elite lineup — maybe just not quite as elite as it’s been over the past half-decade.
Factoid: Nicky Lopez led the majors with 25 outs above average on defense.
This is a Statcast measurement and one of my favorite defensive metrics. Lopez had the highest total at any position ranking ahead of Francisco Lindor (+20), Nick Ahmed (+19) and Matt Chapman (+17). Carlos Correa won the Gold Glove and was excellent, but you can make a case that Lopez deserved it.
It sets up an interesting dilemma for the Royals, with five-tool prospect Bobby Witt Jr. ready for the majors perhaps as early as Opening Day (not to mention Adalberto Mondesi, also a plus defender at shortstop). You hate to push Witt off shortstop when he projects as a good defender, but you also hate to move Lopez, especially since his bat doesn’t profile as well at second or third (especially if that .301 average was a fluke). These things usually work themselves out and an infield with Witt at third, Lopez at shortstop and Mondesi at second could be the best in the league.
Factoid: Shohei Ohtani led the majors with an average exit velocity of 100.4 mph on fly balls and line drives.
Yes, this simply confirms that Ohtani hit the ball really, really hard a lot of the time during his MVP season. His average home run distance of 416 feet also tied him with Fernando Tatis Jr. and Paul Goldschmidt for fifth highest among qualified hitters — behind Jorge Soler and Starling Marte (!) and two Rockies.
When digging deeper into the numbers, Ohtani’s overall average exit velocity ranked fifth. That’s because his exit velocity on grounders was more pedestrian than some of the top hard hitters (among the top 15 overall, only Tyler O’Neill and Joey Votto had a lower exit velocity on grounders). Ohtani can still get off-balanced and tops a lot of slow choppers to the infield. The strikeout rate also remains high.
In other words: There is still room for improvement at the plate, and with a few less strikeouts and a few more hard grounders, I can see him improving on his .257 average while maintaining his colossal power.
Factoid: The Dodgers led the NL in runs scored and fewest runs allowed.
And yet … the Giants won the division. The Dodgers scored 26 more runs than the Giants and allowed 33 fewer runs, yet finished a game back in the NL West. And, really, even though the Dodgers won the wild-card game and even beat the Giants in the NLDS, they paid a price for that extra game: Max Scherzer had to start the wild-card game and then Dave Roberts used both Julio Urias and Scherzer in relief to beat the Giants in Game 5 and the rotation was all out of whack for the NLCS. Scherzer came up with a tired arm to boot.
So why didn’t the Dodgers win the division? It was all about team efficiency — a stat that SIS tracks. Based on runs created and allowed totals, the Dodgers should have won 108 games; the Giants should have won 104. So the Dodgers weren’t THAT inefficient — but just inefficient enough to win two fewer games than their raw stats suggest, while the Giants won an additional three. That made all the difference in what was arguably the best division race of all time.
Factoid: The Marlins had the highest chase rate in the majors at 31.0%.
I removed pitcher hitting from the numbers to more evenly compare NL teams to the AL, but this helps explain why the Marlins had trouble scoring runs — again. Strike zone judgment has been an issue for years as the Marlins have failed to develop their young hitters. Kim Ng finally gave up on a couple of once-touted prospects this offseason, trading Jorge Alfaro to the Padres and designating Lewis Brinson (once the prime return in the Christian Yelich trade) for assignment. The three major additions this offseason include Avisail Garcia (37.3% chase rate in 2021), Joey Wendle (32.7% chase rate) and catcher Jacob Stallings (23.6% chase rate), so they won’t help the team’s chase or walk rate much, although the Marlins can hope Garcia replicates his 2021 numbers (.262/.330/.490, 29 home runs). Gold Glover Stallings should be a welcome upgrade over Alfaro behind the dish. (By the way, the best chase rates in 2021: the Dodgers and Giants.)
Factoid: The Brewers had five pitchers throw at least 100 innings with a sub-3.25 ERA.
The Brewers did not quite have the lowest starting pitching ERA in the majors — the Dodgers led at 2.93 while the Brewers were second at 3.13 — but Milwaukee did pull off this rare feat as Corbin Burnes, Brandon Woodruff, Freddy Peralta, Adrian Houser and Eric Lauer each pitched at least 100 innings (Lauer was the lowest at 118.2) with an ERA under 3.25. How rare? The only other team to do it in the wild-card era (since 1995) was the 2011 Phillies with Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Vance Worley and Kyle Kendrick. Only four other teams had even four pitchers do it. The good news is all five return and the addition of rookie Aaron Ashby means the Brewers could once again go with a six-man rotation at times to keep the innings down and the starters strong, as they did in 2021.
Factoid: The Twins allowed 11 more home runs than they hit.
The Twins hit a lot of home runs in 2021; not as many as 2019, when they set a record with 307 home runs, but their 228 ranked second in the American League behind the Blue Jays. (How many fewer home runs were hit in 2021 than two seasons ago? That 228 would have ranked eighth in the AL in 2019.)
The 2021 Twins, however, allowed 239 — and that was also second in the AL, second from the bottom. In 2019, they allowed just 198, second fewest in the AL, giving them an incredible 109 more home runs than their opponents. It’s a power-driven game now, and that home run differential is you how go from 101-61 to 73-89.
Factoid: Jacob deGrom’s .128 batting average allowed was the lowest ever (minimum 80 IP).
We can only imagine what deGrom’s final numbers would have been if his season hadn’t ended after 15 starts and 92 innings. Still, what a magical 92 innings. Relievers Eric Gagne (2003) and Josh Hader (2018) both held batters to a .131 average, the previous low for an 80-inning minimum. The low for a starting pitcher was J.R. Richard’s .163 mark in 1980, although his season (and career) ended after 113 innings when he suffered a stroke. The lowest allowed for a qualified starter was Pedro Martinez’s .166 in 2000. Needless to say, deGrom’s health will be one of the biggest stories of the 2022 season.
Factoid: Aaron Judge led all AL hitters in championship win probability added.
OK, nobody was going to beat out Shohei Ohtani for MVP honors. Judge finished fourth in the voting after hitting .287/.373/.544 with 39 home runs and 98 RBIs. This is kind of a junk stat — but a fun one: Whereas regular WPA measures a player’s impact on winning a game, cWPA measures a player’s impact on winning the World Series. (Obviously, plays in the postseason have a much bigger impact; Judge’s league-leading figure counts only the regular season.)
Judge was clutch all season in “late and close” situations, hitting .364/.457/.602 with 25 RBIs in 105 PAs. He was terrific in August and September, hitting 18 home runs and driving in 50 runs. With the Yankees pushing for a playoff spot the final week, he homered twice against the Blue Jays on the final Thursday and then drove in the only run in a 1-0 win over the Rays on the final day of the season as the Yankees clinched a wild card. If he can stay healthy again, maybe Judge will win the MVP award: He has averaged 7.5 WAR per 162 games in his career.
Factoid: The A’s were tied for the wild-card lead on Aug. 17.
That was the day Chris Bassitt was hit in the head by a line drive, sidelining him for more than a month. The A’s would lose 9-0 to the White Sox that day, leaving them in a virtual tie with the Red Sox and Yankees for the two wild cards. They went 18-24 the rest of the way, however, and ended up six games shy of the Sox and Yanks. You can’t just blame one injury, but no doubt Oakland’s season took a turn in the wrong direction when Bassitt went down.
The unheralded righty is 27-11 with a 3.26 ERA over the past three seasons — 10th in ERA among all pitchers with at least 350 innings over that span, ahead of guys like Zack Wheeler, Charlie Morton, Trevor Bauer, Lucas Giolito, Jose Berrios and Kevin Gausman. Berrios signed a $131 million extension this offseason and Gausman a $110 million deal (both with the Blue Jays). In other words, if the A’s do trade Bassitt, he should net a nice return.
Factoid: The Phillies ranked 27th in the majors in reliever win probability added at minus-1.56.
Sorry, Phillies fans, you can’t be too surprised I went to the bullpen. On the bright side, the bullpen was better than 2020’s titanic disaster when the pen had a 7.06 ER and a WPA of minus-6.40 — the fifth-worst total of the past decade and it took just 60 games to do it.
Is there hope for 2022? They did sign Corey Knebel right before the lockout along with acquiring Nick Nelson from the Yankees and there are some intriguing names left in free agency — Kenley Jansen, Andrew Chafin, Joe Kelly — if they want to spend some money. But they’re going to need some of the current arms to step up, such as Jose Alvarado not walking everybody and Connor Brogdon taking on a bigger role. Good luck.
Factoid: Bryan Reynolds had a 6.0-WAR season — as the Pirates lost 101 games.
I went back to the start of the divisional era in 1969 to see how many teams lost 100 games and also had a position player worth at least 6 WAR (Baseball-Reference version). There have been 69 teams that lost at least 100 games in those 52 years (I thought it would be more!) — and Reynolds, indeed, is a rarity: A great player on a really lousy team. The list:
Bryan Reynolds, 2021 Pirates: 6.0 WAR
Ryan Zimmerman, 2009 Nationals: 7.3 WAR
Graig Nettles, 1971 Indians: 7.1 WAR
Rusty Staub, 1969 Expos: 6.2 WAR
The 1969 Expos were an expansion club. They had acquired Staub, an All-Star in 1967 and 1968, from the Astros in one of many horrendous trades the Astros made during that era. Of course, there are rumors that the Pirates may look to trade Reynolds after his big season. But maybe they should hold on to him for another 10 years: Zimmerman won a World Series 10 years after his big season/lousy team campaign.
Factoid: Austin Adams led the majors with 24 hit batters.
This might be the most astonishing fact on this list, an absolutely staggering number. Not only was Adams’ total the most since Jack Warhop hit 26 batters in 1909, Adams did it in just 52⅔ innings. He allowed just a .159 average and only one home run but still had a 4.10 ERA because of all the beanballs. He hit a batter in 21 of his 65 appearances, including plunking three Dodgers in one inning on Sept. 12. Somehow Mookie Betts, the third batter hit that inning, refrained from charging the mound and instigating the brawl of the century.
The weird thing was Adams had shown no signs of this proclivity heading into the season. He had hit just two batters over 42 career big league innings. Adams throws a high-spin, Jeff Nelson-type slider with absurd movement that is almost unhittable, which is why he throws it nearly 90% of the time (all 24 hit batters came on the slider). It tends to back up against right-handers, however, or ride in on lefties — 11 of his 24 hit batters were actually left-handed — and batters learned to just turn into the ball and take their base. Adams could be a key reliever out of the San Diego bullpen, but he’ll have to win over manager Bob Melvin and cut down the HBPs before he gets high-leverage opportunities.
Factoid: San Francisco hit the most home runs in the National League … and allowed the fewest.
If you want one stat that best sums up how the Giants won a franchise-record 107 games, this is it: They hit 241 home runs (two more than the Braves) and allowed 151 (one fewer than the Cardinals), a remarkable plus-90 total. What makes that league-leading total surprising is they didn’t have a single 30-homer hitter, as Brandon Belt led the team with 29. Only Brandon Crawford and Mike Yastrzemski batted 500 times, as Gabe Kapler’s various platoons and matchups worked wonders. On the pitching side, keep an eye on 2021 breakout Logan Webb, who allowed just nine home runs in 148⅓ innings thanks to his worm-killing sinker.
Factoid: Seattle was last in the majors in taking the extra base at just 34% of the time.
For a young team — the Mariners were the fifth-youngest team among their position players in 2021 — the Mariners were a slow team. Ty France is slow. Kyle Seager, now retired, was slow. Mitch Haniger is about an average runner, which made him one of the fastest Mariners. Jarred Kelenic‘s top sprint speed was in the 54th percentile, which is why he probably isn’t the long-term answer in center field. The fastest guy was Dylan Moore and he hit .181.
The big surprise, however, was Crawford. He’s not slow — he ranked in the 61st percentile in his Statcast sprint speed. He is not a good baserunner, however, taking the extra base just 29% of the time (the major league average was 40%), despite serving as the team’s leadoff hitter most of the season. You would think the lack of aggression on the bases would have hurt the Mariners in close games, but instead they had that extraordinary record in one-run games (33-19). Still, the Mariners aren’t going to go 33-19 again in one-run games, so if they want to sniff 90 wins again, they’re going to have to improve in other areas — like running the bases.
Factoid: The Cardinals ranked 11th in the NL in OBP.
During this long run of success for the Cardinals — 15 playoff appearances in 22 seasons since 2000 — they have generally had strong offensive clubs. Not so much the past three seasons, however, as they’ve ranked 10th, 12th and 10th in the NL in runs per game. Their .313 OBP in 2021 gave them their lowest ranking in that category since way back in 1995. They finished next to last in walks in the NL. The weird thing is they weren’t necessarily an undisciplined team, as they ranked 15th in the majors in chase rate. They just don’t have many big walkers in the lineup. Paul Goldschmidt led the team with 67 and a .365 OBP. How to improve? They need better on-base results from Tommy Edman (.308) and Nolan Arenado (.312), as counting on Yadier Molina (.297) to do better at 39 isn’t realistic.
Factoid: The Rays led the majors in taking the extra base 47% of the time.
The Rays led the majors in this category and were also fourth in Sports Info Solutions’ net gain on the bases — in other words, they were a good team on the bases. What’s interesting about the makeup of the Rays is that they also are kings of Three True Outcomes baseball. Their TTO (home runs, strikeouts, walks) rate in 2021 was third highest in the majors behind the Cubs and Yankees.
When I think of TTO players, I think of the likes of Jim Thome or Adam Dunn, the slow, plodding slugger types. Indeed, the Cubs and Yankees had rosters full of slow players, but the Rays have guys such as Brandon Lowe, Austin Meadows and Randy Arozarena, who do strike out a lot but also have above-average speed. The Rays will hit their home runs, take their walks and swing and miss like Dave Kingman is back in vogue, but they’ll also beat you with their legs and gloves (that speed translates on defense as well).
Factoid: The Rangers threw three shutouts, fewest in the majors.
These are team shutouts; individual complete-game shutouts are pretty much nonexistent these days — there were just 29 in 2021 and five of those were seven-inning ones. The Rangers’ shutouts were 1-0 in 10 innings over the Orioles on April 18 (Kyle Gibson went eight), 8-0 over the Royals on June 26 (Gibson went seven), and 4-0 over the Angels on Sept. 6 (A.J. Alexy went six). Three shutouts isn’t historically low or anything — the Angels had two in 2019, and the Tigers had two in 2018 — but it points to a rotation that had the third-worst ERA in the majors and tied the Orioles for the worst home run rate allowed. Gibson was traded to the Phillies, so the team’s top starter is gone, and while the Rangers signed Jon Gray, there is still a lot of work to be done here.
Factoid: Vladimir Guerrero Jr. joined the .300/.400/.600 club at age 22.
That’s a .311 batting average, .401 OBP and .601 slugging percentage — the holy grail of the triple-slash line that works in any era and any ballpark. OK, so he barely cleared the bar in two of the categories. Still, this is an exclusive membership: Guerrero was just the 13th member to do it at age 22 or younger. Actually, the 11th member, since Jimmie Foxx and Ted Williams did it at both 21 and 22. Guerrero’s 48 home runs is also the highest total in the club, topping the 47 that Eddie Mathews hit in 1953 (at age 21) and Joe DiMaggio’s 46 in in 1937.
It will be interesting to see how Guerrero does in comparison to, say, Bryce Harper, who had his first MVP season with the Nationals in 2015 at age 22 but hasn’t been able to replicate the remarkable .330/.460/.648 line he had that year (although just won his second MVP Award). If anything, Guerrero’s hit tool projects as a little more consistent than Harper’s, and Harper also battled some injuries. Let’s go for .320/.430/.630 in 2022!
Factoid: The Nationals had a net gain of minus-72 bases on team baserunning, worst in the majors.
In this measurement from SIS, which factors in a variety of aspects of baserunning, only six teams had a net gain below zero, which tells you how bad and slow the Nationals were:
White Sox, minus-2
One big problem was they led the majors in double plays grounded into — Juan Soto (23) and Josh Bell (22) ranked second in the third in the majors in this category. And here’s a weird one: Victor Robles did not go first to third on a single all season (0-for-14). Overall, he took the extra base just 24% of the time, despite a top sprint speed in the 81st percentile. Better baserunning isn’t going to turn the Nationals into a playoff team, but it speaks to the team needing to improve in that area and on defense.