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2002 OQ REPORT

2002 OFFENSIVE LEADERS BY POSITION

AMERICAN LEAGUE  
     
C Jorge Posada  
1B Jim Thome  
2B Alfonso Soriano  
SS Alex Rodriguez  
3B Robin Ventura  
LF Manny Ramirez  
CF Bernie Williams  
RF Magglio Ordonez  
DH Ellis Burks  


NATIONAL LEAGUE  
     
C Mike Piazza  
1B Todd Helton  
2B Jeff Kent  
SS Jose Hernandez  
3B Scott Rolen  
LF Barry Bonds  
CF Lance Berkman  
RF Larry Walker  

Bold
indicates 2001 leaders.

To qualify for this list, a player must play at least half his team’s games at the defensive position indicated.

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2002 AMERICAN LEAGUE OQ LEADERS

 
Rank
 
Player
Team
OQ
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
Thome
CLE
190
 
 
2
 
Ramirez
BOS
178
 
 
3
 
Giambi
NY
164
 
 
4
 
Rodriguez,A
TEX
155
 
 
5
 
Sweeney
KC
149
 
 
6
 
Palmeiro
TEX
149
 
 
7
 
Delgado
TOR
147
 
 
8
 
Ordonez
CHI
143
 
 
9
 
Olerud
SEA
135
 
 
10
 
Williams,B
NY
134
 
 
 
 
 
11
 
Salmon
ANA
129
 
 
12
 
Burks
CLE
127
 
 
13
 
Huff
TB
124
 
 
14
 
Ibanez
KC
124
 
 
15
 
Ventura
NY
123
 
 
16
 
Lee
CHI
123
 
 
17
 
Chavez
OAK
122
 
 
18
 
Garciaparra
BOS
122
 
 
19
 
Thomas
CHI
122
 
 
20
 
Posada
NY
122
 
 
 
 
 
21
 
Hinske
TOR
121
 
 
22
 
Anderson
ANA
120
 
 
23
 
Beltran
KC
120
 
 
24
 
Soriano
NY
118
 
 
25
 
Konerko
CHI
117
 
 
26
 
Hunter
MIN
117
 
 
27
 
Jones
MIN
117
 
 
28
 
Tejada
OAK
116
 
 
29
 
Durham
CHI/OAK
116
 
 
30
 
Koskie
MIN
115
 
 
 
 
 
31
 
Glaus
ANA
115
 
 
32
 
Spiezio
ANA
114
 
 
33
 
Nixon
BOS
113
 
 
34
 
Hatteberg
OAK
113
 
 
35
 
Daubach
BOS
112
 
 
36
 
Winn
TB
112
 
 
37
 
Suzuki
SEA
111
 
 
38
 
Cameron
SEA
110
 
 
39
 
Stewart
TOR
109
 
 
40
 
Grieve
TB
109
 
 
 
 
 
41
 
Damon
BOS
109
 
 
42
 
Gibbons
BAL
108
 
 
43
 
Boone
SEA
108
 
 
44
 
Jeter
NY
108
 
 
45
 
Valentin
CHI
108
 
 
46
 
Dye
OAK
107
 
 
47
 
Mientkiewicz
MIN
106
 
 
48
 
Cruz
TOR
103
 
 
49
 
Cordova
BAL
102
 
 
50
 
Batista
BAL
101
 
 
 
 
 
51
 
Kennedy
ANA
101
 
 
52
 
Randa
KC
101
 
 
53
 
Vizquel
CLE
101
 
 
54
 
Higginson
DET
101
 
 
55
 
Fick
DET
100
 
 
56
 
Hillenbrand
BOS
100
 
 
57
 
Mondesi
TOR/NY
99
 
 
58
 
Tucker
KC
99
 
 
59
 
Simon
DET
99
 
 
60
 
Wells
TOR
98
 
 
 
 
 
61
 
Mora
BAL
98
 
 
62
 
Cox
TB
96
 
 
63
 
Guillen
SEA
94
 
 
64
 
Eckstein
ANA
93
 
 
65
 
Varitek
BOS
93
 
 
66
 
Long
OAK
88
 
 
67
 
Singleton
BAL
88
 
 
68
 
Young
TEX
87
 
 
69
 
Erstad
ANA
86
 
 
70
 
Guzman
MIN
81
 
 
 
 
 
71
 
Cirillo
SEA
74
 
 
72
 
Abernathy
TAM
68
 
 
73
 
Perez
KC
63
 

The 2002 American League base-to-out ratio was .704.

This list includes every player who had at least 3 (at bats + walks) for each game his team played.

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2002 NATIONAL LEAGUE OQ LEADERS

 
Rank
 
Player
Team
OQ
 
 
 
 
 
1
 
Bonds
SF
296
 
 
2
 
Giles
PIT
184
 
 
3
 
Helton
COL
163
 
 
4
 
Walker
COL
161
 
 
5
 
Guerrero,V
MON
159
 
 
6
 
Sosa
CHI
158
 
 
7
 
Jones,C
ATL
157
 
 
8
 
Berkman
HOU
156
 
 
9
 
Edmonds
STL
156
 
 
10
 
Abreu
PHI
147
 
 
 
 
 
11
 
Green
LA
146
 
 
12
 
Pujols
STL
143
 
 
13
 
Bagwell
HOU
142
 
 
14
 
Burrell
PHI
140
 
 
15
 
Klesko
SD
140
 
 
16
 
Gonzalez
ARI
138
 
 
17
 
Sheffield
ATL
137
 
 
18
 
Kent
SF
137
 
 
19
 
Dunn
CIN
134
 
 
20
 
Piazza
NY
133
 
 
 
 
 
21
 
Bellhorn
CHI
133
 
 
22
 
Lee
FLA
131
 
 
23
 
Jones,A
ATL
130
 
 
24
 
Finley
ARI
128
 
 
25
 
Sexson
MIL
126
 
 
26
 
McGriff
CHI
125
 
 
27
 
Vidro
MON
124
 
 
28
 
Wilkerson
MON
124
 
 
29
 
Rolen
PHI/STL
124
 
 
30
 
Spivey
ARI
124
 
 
 
 
 
31
 
Alfonzo
NY
123
 
 
32
 
Hernandez
MIL
117
 
 
33
 
Lowell
FLA
116
 
 
34
 
Kotsay
SD
113
 
 
35
 
Vaughn
NY
113
 
 
36
 
Zeile
COL
111
 
 
37
 
Renteria
STL
110
 
 
38
 
Jordan
LA
110
 
 
39
 
Martinez
STL
108
 
 
40
 
Walker
CIN
106
 
 
 
 
 
41
 
Sanders
SF
106
 
 
42
 
Lieberthal
PHI
105
 
 
43
 
Encarnacion
CIN/FLA
105
 
 
44
 
Wilson
FLA
104
 
 
45
 
Bell
SF
104
 
 
46
 
Alou
CHI
103
 
 
47
 
Santiago
SF
101
 
 
48
 
Boone
CIN
101
 
 
49
 
Hammonds
MIL
100
 
 
50
 
Gonzalez
CHI
99
 
 
 
 
 
51
 
Ward
HOU
99
 
 
52
 
Young
PIT
99
 
 
53
 
Lee
PHI
97
 
 
54
 
Beltre
LA
95
 
 
55
 
Biggio
HOU
95
 
 
56
 
Castillo
FLA
94
 
 
57
 
Aurilia
SF
94
 
 
58
 
Alomar
NY
93
 
 
59
 
Karros
LA
93
 
 
60
 
Lo Duca
LA
93
 
 
 
 
 
61
 
Polanco
STL/PHI
92
 
 
62
 
Cabrera
MON
91
 
 
63
 
Furcal
ATL
91
 
 
64
 
Young
MIL
90
 
 
65
 
Kendall
PIT
90
 
 
66
 
Burnitz
NY
90
 
 
67
 
Anderson
PHI
89
 
 
68
 
Rollins
PHI
89
 
 
69
 
Larkin
CIN
87
 
 
70
 
Womack
ARI
86
 
 
 
 
 
71
 
Cedeno
NY
84
 
 
72
 
Ramirez
PIT
84
 
 
73
 
Patterson
CHI
82
 
 
74
 
Vina
STL
81
 
 
75
 
Grudzielanek
LA
80
 
 
76
 
Pierre
COL
80
 
 
77
 
Cruz
SD
80
 
 
78
 
Wilson,J
PIT
78
 
 
79
 
Uribe
COL
76
 
 
80
 
Castilla
ATL
73
 
 
 
 
 
81
 
Ordonez
NY
73
 

The 2002 National League base-to-out ratio was .691.

This list includes every player who had at least 3 (at bats + walks) for each game his team played.

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MAJOR LEAGUE RECAP

In 2002 38-year-old Barry Bonds delivered the greatest offensive season, as measured by the OQ, in the history of baseball. Bonds gave the Giants more than 2 bases for every out he made, and he was almost 3 times as productive (in terms of base-to-out-ratio) as the National League as a whole. I’ve never seen a hitter who intimidates the opposition like he does. They won’t pitch to him, because time after time he makes them pay when they do.

Next year we will see 3 batters pass the 500-home run milestone (barring injury). Sammy Sosa needs 1, Rafael Palmeiro 10, and Fred McGriff 22. If you hit 500 home runs, you’re elected to Cooperstown for sure, and the fact that the public doesn’t regard either Palmeiro or McGriff as stars won’t matter.

At 38, Palmeiro has over 1000 extra-base hits. He’s going to exceed 1500 runs scored and 1600 RBI next year, and he has deservedly won 3 Gold Gloves at first base. Unfortunately, he has never played in the World Series.

McGriff will soon be 39. He doesn’t have a team for 2003, but I think he’s still productive enough to help someone. He’s got over 1300 runs scored and 1500 RBI. He’s played in 2 World Series. In fact, he has batted over .300 in 50 postseason games, with 63 runs produced. And they’ve stopped calling him “The Crime Dog.”

Now another player has appeared on the Cooperstown radar screen. At only 34 he’s got 2546 hits and is still a regular. He has scored over 1400 runs and batted in almost 1100. He’s won 10 Gold Gloves. In 58 postseason games (2 World Series) he’s batted .313 with 61 runs produced. Why is he one of my least favorite players? Because throughout his checkered career (5 teams and counting for this “superstar”), he’s been the baseball player who has most perfectly exemplified the Randy Moss “I play when I want to play” nonwork ethic. He’s the Mets’ Roberto Alomar.

But on the subject of old nonfavorites, no player shocked me in 2002 like Benito Santiago. At age 37, this old dog (in the baseball sense) actually had an excellent season, for the first time in his life. He was durable, hit adequately, and masterfully handled a pitching staff that was good enough to qualify for postseason play. Believe me, he played far better this year than he ever did before, even when he hit 30 homers for the godawful 1996 Phillies. 2002 was Santiago’s 16th full year in the big leagues. What took him so long?

Hometown fans are crying about the Red Sox, Dodgers, and Mariners, but in my book a team that wins 92 or 93 games is a pretty good team. The Twins won 94, and they’re the toast of baseball. Appreciate what you’ve got. How would you like to be a Mets or Rockies fan?

In Colorado, after three years of trying and failing to win with “pitching, speed, and defense” (management’s words), do you think they’ve learned their lesson yet? In that ballpark, why would you want to load up with punch-and-judy hitters? If you can’t produce a better OQ than 80 (Juan Pierre) or 76 (Juan Uribe) in Colorado, you can’t hit, period. The Rockies need to rethink one or both of these guys.

Once again the Pirates are making noises about converting catcher Jason Kendall to an outfielder. If they do, he’ll give Pierre and Roger Cedeno a run for their money as the least productive regular outfielder in baseball. You’d have to field like Richie Ashburn to deserve regular status with OQs (in successive years) of 83 and 90. (Inexplicably, the Pirates, in their wisdom, often bat him third.) Kendall chokes up on the bat, a real rarity today, but it doesn’t seem to help. If he is any kind of a decent defensive catcher, keep him behind the plate!

Speaking of weak hitters, I still don’t like Arizona’s decision to employ Tony Womack as a leadoff man. He improved his OQ from 75 to 86, but that’s still way substandard. Why would you want to give this powerless out-maker more plate appearances than any other Diamondback? If you must play Womack, bat him 8th, for heaven’s sake. On the other hand, Arizona has won their division the last two years with To-Wo leading off.

I guess manager Bob Brenly is a genius, which exempts him from the laws of logic. But I still insist that if a team’s leadoff man contributes less offense than the average performer (i.e. below 100 OQ), the manager has a serious need to rethink his batting order.

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IS HE THE GREATEST?

Do you think Alex Rodriguez is the greatest shortstop ever to play the game? I’m beginning to hear this refrain from many sportswriters and broadcasters. A-Rod has accomplished a lot, and he’s only 27. The numbers are gaudy. He’s certainly the guy I’d like most to have if I were building a team.

But it might surprise you to know that Alex Rodriguez has ascended to nowhere near the level of dominance of Honus Wagner, the best all-time performer at the shortstop position.

A-Rod has been a regular for 7 seasons. In 3 of those seasons his OQ was over 150. His 7-year average OQ is 139. He has never led the league in OQ.

In the decade of 1900-1909 Wagner’s average OQ was 172. He led the league in OQ 7 times. His best OQ was 196, which is 39 points better than A-Rod’s best. Furthermore, Wagner-led teams finished in the first division for 14 consecutive years (1900-1913), with 4 pennants. A-Rod’s teams are not winning teams.

A team of 9 Rodriguezes would beat a team of 9 Wagners only about 40 percent of the time.

If A-Rod is to topple Ho-Wag off his throne, he’s going to have to ratchet up his game another notch. That’s staggering to contemplate, but he’s young, and who is to say that he can’t do it? If he does, he’ll make history and set the baseball world on its ear.

The foregoing makes you appreciate what Wagner accomplished and just how dominant a player he was.

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THE FINE ART OF STRIKING OUT

Nothing gets my goat like managers who bench a pitcher who might lose 20 games or a batter who might break the single-season strikeout record. Milwaukee skipper Jerry Royster said he didn’t want to embarrass Jose Hernandez. If Hernandez was embarrassed, why didn’t he shorten his swing? Sitting your all-star shortstop (and the second-best player on the team) when he’s uninjured is a case of not putting your best team on the field. If you don’t care if you win or lose, why should fans pay to see you play? Shouldn’t someone be looking into this? The clueless Brewers are the Cincinnati Bengals of baseball.

In the realm of the strikeout, does anyone remember outfielder Dave Nicholson? The White Sox traded for him back in 1963 after Nicholson washed out with the Orioles. The knock on Nicholson was that he struck out a lot. But Sox manager Al (not Albie) Lopez liked Nicholson’s power and made an everyday player out of him. The 23-year-old Nicholson hit .229 in 1963 and fanned 175 times in 449 at bats. In just 126 games Nicholson broke Harmon Killebrew’s all-time single-season record for batter’s strikeouts by a whopping 33!

The White Sox were ridiculed for playing Nicholson, but nobody pointed out that (1) the team won 94 games to finish a solid second in a 10-team league, and (2) Nicholson’s 116 OQ and 0.8 runs produced/game were respectable offensive numbers. (The White Sox were 8th in the AL in home runs, with Nicholson’s 22 leading the team.) If not stellar, Nicholson’s output was about average for an AL left fielder. In 1964, although the White Sox were still winning, Nicholson slipped to .204 (106 OQ) and lost his job. He was out of baseball entirely before the age of 30.

Today, of course, Nicholson would be Preston Wilson, Mike Cameron, or Jeromy Burnitz. As long as he popped the occasional long ball, nobody would care about his batting average and strikeouts, and there’d be no talk of him losing his job. Naturally, he’d be a multimillionaire. He was a player truly ahead of his time, and wherever he is, I’m sure he knows this.

It will be interesting to see if Cincinnati will unleash Russell Branyan as a regular in 2003. He’ll be 27, after all. If anyone’s going to get to 200 strikeouts, it will be Branyan. If they keep him in the lineup, he’ll have 200 Ks by Labor Day, no problem.

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BIG BUCK BUSTS

2002 teams invested a whole lot of money in acquiring and paying high prices for veterans who wasted little time displaying the effects of “long-term-contract-itis.” The Mets’ quartet of Mo Vaughn, Roberto Alomar, Roger Cedeno, and Jeromy Burnitz comes immediately to mind, and Moises Alou didn’t exactly lead the Cubs to the promised land. It’s a long list this year.

Carl Everett repaid Texas with substandard outfield defense and a mediocre 102 OQ. Then he disrupted Arlington Stadium’s September 11 “moment of silence” by jawing at the umpire.

Kansas City’s Neifi Perez’s minuscule 63 OQ was one of the lowest for a regular in baseball history. Yet when manager Tony Pena started another shortstop in his place one day in September, Perez felt so slighted that he refused to enter the game in the late innings when directed by Pena to do so.

Of all the bad decisions the Cubs made, the worst was to lead off with Corey Patterson all year. He gave them an 82 OQ, and he can’t steal bases, either. At age 23, he clearly wasn’t ready, but they stuck with him and sank.

The Tigers gave Chris Truby 277 at bats in about 90 games at third base. His 55 hits produced 23 runs scored and 15 RBIs. He walked 5 times and had 71 strikeouts. Truby’s 53 OQ could have been equaled by just about any pitcher in either league. He ain’t exactly Brooks Robinson at the hot corner, either. But we’re talking about Detroit, so maybe next year they’ll bat him cleanup.

Wonder how Boston would have fared if man-mountain first sacker Calvin Pickering hadn’t spent the year on the disabled list. At the very least a healthy Pickering couldn’t have performed any worse than expensive free agent pickup Tony “The Entertainer” Clark (63 OQ). Clark’s only 30, but the Red Sox would be nuts to bring him back.

For the record, Cincinnati played more than 100 percentage points better when Ken Griffey (OQ 112) was on the disabled list. Do you think that any other team would take Griffey, with that mammoth contract, even if the Reds announced they would GIVE him away? At the time they signed him it was written that the Reds got a bargain. Now Griffey’s contract is the albatross that will keep them below .500 as long as he’s on the roster.

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RUMINATIONS

* No major leaguer stole 50 bases this season.

* Arizona’s Craig Counsell and Tony Womack have to form the scrawniest infield tandem in recent big league history. But I’d rather watch them than many of the steroid-inflated steers I see lumbering across the outfield pastures.

* The superstar nobody knows: Chicago’s Magglio Ordonez. And he’s only 28.

* Last year’s breakout stars who weren’t for real: Rich Aurilia, Paul Lo Duca.

* The new Wizard of Oz? Rookie Colorado second baseman Pablo Ozuna.

* Brent Butler (Colorado) will never be the player Brett Butler was.

* Arizona’s Erubiel Durazo is a defensive liability who had a 151 OQ in part-time duty this year. Why doesn’t some AL team buy him and make him a DH?

* Pat Hentgen pitched for 6 different clubs in the Baltimore system this year. One of them was Baltimore, for whom he lost all 4 games he started.

* Which lefthander will Anaheim keep in their bullpen next year, Mark Lukasiewicz or Scott Schoeneweis? It’s the battle of 11-letter surnames, and a headline writer’s nightmare.

* Coming star: Montreal righthander Sun-Woo Kim. I think he’ll be better than another righthander on their roster, Seung Song Blu. (I am not making this up.)

* Two pitchers who won’t make fans forget Dennis Eckersley: San Diego’s Dennis Tankersley and Detroit’s Eric Eckenstahler.

* Sore-armed righthanders Scott Elarton (Colorado) and Seth Etherton (Cincinnati) should be on the same team. Ditto sparkplugs Cesar Crespo (San Diego) and Coco Crisp (Cleveland).

* Who, in your opinion, is baseball’s foremost performer when it comes to standing at the plate admiring his home runs? “Style points” in this event are becoming an increasingly important part of twenty-first century baseball. Personally, I always gave high marks to Glenallen Hill, who didn’t take a step out of the batter’s box until the ball dropped into the stands. However, he’s out of baseball now. Who’s your pick?

* Know your Torrealbas: they’re both catchers, they’re both Venezuelans, and they’re both 24 years old. But Steve Torrealba catches for Atlanta, Yorvit Torrealba for San Francisco. The latter, by the way, is still the only Yorvit ever to play in the big leagues.

* Prediction: as Rod Barajas competes with Chad Moeller for the Arizona catching job next spring, devout Arizona fans will chant, “Give us Barajas!”

* Am I crazy, or is Eric Karros starting to look a lot like Klaus Kinski?

* When in Vaduz, stay at the Hotel Schatzmann.

October 2002

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