On Twitter recently, there has been discussion of Shane Victorino‘s MVP candidacy. The case has been made quite often, including here, but the latest twist involves comparing Victorino to Jimmy Rollins in 2007, when the shortstop overtook David Wright and Matt Holliday for top honor in the National League. That led me to wanting to find the best offensive seasons relative to the team’s overall output, using wRC, found at FanGraphs.
The following are the top five offensive seasons ranked by the amount the player contributed to the team’s overall offense. Quite simply, the equation is (Player’s wRC / Team’s wRC).
Ryan Howard, 2006
151.1 wRC, 873.6 team wRC (17.3%)
Howard is the leader here by a wide margin. Not only was Howard the bulk of his team’s offense, he was tops in all of baseball, besting Albert Pujols in second place with 142.5 wRC. When factoring in defense and base running, Howard wasn’t really the MVP, finishing more than two fWAR behind Pujols and sitting in 10th place overall among all Major Leaguers. Nonetheless, Howard took home the hardware with sexy traditional stats including a .313 batting average, 58 home runs, and 149 RBI.
Chase Utley, 2008
121.8 wRC, 791.0 team wRC (15.4%)
In another year, Utley very well may have won the MVP award, but his 8.3 fWAR was not enough to overtake Albert Pujols at 9.1. Utley finished eighth overall in wRC, tops among second basemen. Surprisingly, this was only Utley’s third-best season in terms of wRC, finishing a shade higher the previous year (121.9, 13.2%) and with a few extra runs in 2006 (129.2, 14.8%). Utley set a career-high with 33 home runs and finished with 100-plus RBI for the fourth consecutive year.
Chase Utley, 2009
123.8 wRC, 815.3 team wRC (15.2%)
With Howard hitting a bunch of homers and driving in runs en masse, Utley’s contributions in 2009 went relatively unheralded. The big changes in Utley’s offensive repertoire from 2008 to ’09 included a four percent increase in walks and nine additional stolen bases. Utley finished sixth overall in wRC, but was once again left out of the MVP discussion given the great season Albert Pujols was having. Utley received 84 vote-points in NL MVP balloting, less than a fifth of Pujols’ first-place total of 448.
Jayson Werth, 2010
114.9 wRC, 755.8 team wRC (15.2%)
In his final year under contract before hitting free agency, Werth had a career year. Among all Major Leaguers, he finished 11th in wRC, setting a career-high with a .397 wOBA as well. He benefited from a slightly-high .352 BABIP, which dropped nearly 70 points in 2011. Most importantly, Werth was a big part of the Phillies lineup as players went down left and right. Of their eight regulars, six Phillies spent time on the disabled list; Werth was not one of them, playing in 156 regular season games. Among all Phillies from 2006-11, Werth has the biggest gap between himself and the second-best offensive contributor: Werth represented 15.2% of the Phillies’ offense while Ryan Howard was a bit behind at 12.4%.
Chase Utley, 2006
129.2 wRC, 873.6 team wRC (14.8%)
As Howard took home the NL MVP award, Utley flew under the radar as an important cog in the Phillies’ offense — a big reason why Howard was able to amass so many RBI. Utley ranked eighth in MLB in wRC. Among second basemen, no one came close to Utley; the second-best offensive second baseman that year was Dan Uggla with 94.5 wRC. Utley actually finished ahead of Howard in fWAR, 7.3 to 6.2 on account of his elite base running and world class defense. The 2006 NL MVP race focused prominently on Howard and Albert Pujols, but perhaps it should have been Pujols and Utley.
Chase Utley. Pretty good at baseball.