The Yearly Reader

Leaders and Honors, 2005

Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 2005 baseball season, as well as the awards and honors given to the game’s top achievers of the year.

The National League’s Top 10 Hitters, 2005

Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.

1. Derrek Lee, Chicago

Key Numbers: .335 average, 120 runs, 199 hits, 50 doubles, 46 home runs, 107 RBIs, 85 walks, 23 intentional walks, 15 stolen bases, .662 slugging percentage.

Lee was a legitimate triple-crown threat before a late-summer cooldown; he received just one first-place vote in the NL MVP tally. His 11 games with multiple doubles set an NL record.

2. Albert Pujols, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .330 average, 129 runs, 195 hits, 38 doubles, 41 home runs, 117 RBIs, 97 walks, 27 intentional walks, 16 stolen bases.

No one prior to Pujols had homered 30 times and knocked in 100 runs in each of his first five years; he earned his first of three MVP awards.

3. Jason Bay, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: 162 games, .306 average, 110 runs, 183 hits, 44 doubles, 6 triples, 32 home runs, 101 RBIs, 95 walks, 21 stolen bases, 1 caught stealing.

A relative nobody three years earlier when he was traded with two others to Pittsburgh for Brian Giles, Bay emerged as a younger equal to the ex-Pirates star.

4. Adam Dunn, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: .247 average, 107 runs, 35 doubles, 40 home runs, 101 RBIs, 114 walks, 168 strikeouts, 12 hit-by-pitches.

He led the NL in strikeouts and posted the league’s second-lowest qualifying batting average, but Dunn—who certainly would rank high in the Will Ferrell look-a-like competition—otherwise put up potent numbers that made him a big-time threat.

5. Carlos Delgado, Florida

Key Numbers: .301 average, 81 runs, 41 doubles, 33 home runs, 115 RBIs, 20 intentional walks, 17 hit-by-pitches.

Signed by the Marlins for four years and $52 million (with much of that money on the back end) Delgado didn’t disappoint. But he was shipped after the season to the Mets, because that’s what Florida owner Jeffrey Loria did best: Avoid paying the big bucks.

6. Miguel Cabrera, Florida

Key Numbers: .323 average, 106 runs, 198 hits, 43 doubles, 33 home runs, 116 RBIs, 20 grounded into double plays.

The prized 22-year old, whose prime talent would also make his days in Miami numbered, quickly settled into a Hall of Fame-worthy jet stream; it would be his second of 11 straight years knocking in at least 100 runs.

7. Bobby Abreu, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 162 games, .286 average, 104 runs, 37 doubles, 24 home runs, 102 RBIs, 117 walks, 31 stolen bases.

In his last full season at Philadelphia, Abreu began wrapping up an outstanding eight-plus-year tenure with the Phillies that would leave him well represented on the team’s top 10 list for many offensive categories.

8. Chase Utley, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: .291 average, 93 runs, 39 doubles, 6 triples, 27 home runs, 105 RBIs, 16 stolen bases.

Abreu’s ultimate departure would be eased by the evolution of Utley, who began putting up similar-type numbers.

9. Todd Helton, Colorado

Key Numbers: .320 average, 92 runs, 45 doubles, 20 home runs, 79 RBIs, 106 walks, 22 intentional walks, .445 on-base percentage.

Whether it was wear or tear, unfounded steroid rumors or the introduction of the ball-deadening humidor at Coors Field, Helton’s power production took a substantial dip from his earlier career to date, and would never recover—but he could still hit, batting .383 over his final 69 games.

10. Jim Edmonds, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .263 average, 88 runs, 37 doubles, 29 home runs, 89 RBIs, 91 walks.

Edmonds’ numbers took a bit of a tumble—it would get worse—but he was still not to be trifled with at the plate.

The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 2005

1. Alex Rodriguez, New York

Key Numbers: 162 games, .321 average, 124 runs, 194 hits, 29 doubles, 48 home runs, 130 RBIs, 91 walks, 16 hit-by-pitches, 21 stolen bases, .610 slugging percentage.

A year after settling into pinstripes, Alex Rodriguez reclaimed his status as the AL’s prime offensive force, highlighted by a 10-RBI performance on April 26 against the Angels that was the first by a Yankee since Tony Lazzeri in 1936. With All-Stars becoming decloaked as steroid users, some looked to A-Rod as the great clean hope. If only they knew.

2. David Ortiz, Boston

Key Numbers: .300 average, 119 runs, 180 hits, 40 doubles, 47 home runs, 148 RBIs, 102 walks.

In his first of two mega-prodigious seasons, Ortiz collected the most RBIs by a Red Sock since Ted Williams and Vern Stephens each brought home 159 in 1949, and hit 11 home runs in each of his last two full months—but only one in his last 11 games, allowing Alex Rodriguez to snatch the AL home run title away.

3. Manny Ramirez, Boston

Key Numbers: .292 average, 112 runs, 30 doubles, 45 home runs, 144 RBIs, 80 walks, 10 hit-by-pitches, 20 grounded into double plays.

An absolute RBI machine, Ramirez finished up an eight-year stretch in which he averaged 130 runs knocked in per season.

4. Mark Teixeira, Texas

Key Numbers: 162 games, .301 average, 112 runs, 194 hits, 41 doubles, 43 home runs, 144 RBIs, 11 hit-by-pitches.

Teixeira knocked in more runs than any switch-hitter before him—with 88 of them counted at home in Arlington alone.

5. Travis Hafner, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 137 games, .305 average, 94 runs, 42 doubles, 33 home runs, 108 RBIs.

All nine of Cleveland’s everyday hitters belted at least 16 homers—likely a major league first—but “Pronk” (a hybrid of the words ‘project’ and ‘donkey’) had them all beat with a team-leading total.

6. Vladimir Guerrero, Los Angeles of Anaheim

Key Numbers: .317 average, 95 runs, 29 doubles, 32 home runs, 108 RBIs, 26 intentional walks, 13 stolen bases.

As wild as Guerrero’s swings continued to be, it served to note that he struck out only 48 times in 2005.

7. Gary Sheffield, New York

Key Numbers: .291 average, 104 runs, 170 hits, 27 doubles, 34 home runs, 123 RBIs. 10 stolen bases.

Shaking off whatever allegations were thrown at him for being a BALCO customer, Sheffield knocked in 82 of his runs over just 70 games against AL East competition.

8. Michael Young, Texas

Key Numbers: .331 average, 668 at-bats, 114 runs, 221 hits, 40 doubles, 5 triples, 24 home runs, 91 RBIs, 20 grounded into double plays.

For one of the rare times during Ichiro Suzuki’s reign, someone else actually led the AL in hits—and that was Young, the Rangers’ all-time hit leader as part of a Texas starting infield that averaged 32 homers and 108 RBIs.

9. Hideki Matsui, New York

Key Numbers: 162 games, .305 average, 108 runs, 192 hits, 45 doubles, 23 home runs, 116 RBIs.

The reliable and durable Matsui, playing every game since becoming a Yankee three years earlier, continued living up to his nickname “Godzilla.”

10. Jason Giambi, New York

Key Numbers: 139 games, .271 average, 32 home runs, 87 RBIs, 108 walks, 19 hit-by-pitches, .440 on-base percentage.

Bouncing back from a forgettable, BALCO-shamed 2004 campaign, Giambi reached base more times via walk or HBP than hits; perhaps that’s what happens when you kick the steroid habit.

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The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2005

1. Dontrelle Willis, Florida

Key Numbers: 2.63 ERA, 22 wins, 10 losses, .688 win percentage, 34 starts, 7 complete games, 5 shutouts, 236.1 innings, 1 stolen base allowed, 6 caught stealing/picked off, 23 grounded into double plays.

Willis became a flashy (and all too brief) sensation for Florida before he gradually began to lose control of the strike zone.

2. Chris Carpenter, St. Louis

Key Numbers: 2.83 ERA, 21 wins, 5 losses, .808 win percentage, 34 starts, 7 complete games, 241.2 innings, 51 walks, 213 strikeouts, 1 stolen base allowed, 7 caught stealing/picked off, 22 grounded into double plays.

Another argument for Tommy John surgery: Carpenter, a NL Cy Young recipient two years after missing an entire season from the procedure.

3. Andy Pettitte, Houston

Key Numbers: 2.39 ERA, 17 wins, 9 losses, 33 starts, 222.1 innings, 41 walks.

The former Yankee won 14 of his last 16 starts with a 1.56 ERA, finishing second behind Clemens in the latter category.

4. Roger Clemens, Houston

Key Numbers: 1.87 ERA, 13 wins, 8 losses, 32 starts, 211.1 innings.

Clemens’ career-best ERA would be tempered with a relatively underwhelming record as the Astros were shut out in nine of his starts. He didn’t even allow his first earned run on the road until June 28.

5. Roy Oswalt, Houston

Key Numbers: 2.94 ERA, 20 wins, 12 losses, 35 starts, 241.2 innings, 48 walks, 22 grounded into double plays.

Oswalt, who became the first Astro with back-to-back 20-win campaigns, got what Clemens searched in vain for all year: Run support.

6. Derrick Turnbow, Milwaukee

Key Numbers: 1.74 ERA, 7 wins, 1 loss, 39 saves, 4 blown saves, 69 appearances, 67.1 innings, 9 wild pitches.

Booted from the Olympics for steroid use, Turnbow stayed clean by MLB standards and wowed the Brewers.

7. Pedro Martinez, New York

Key Numbers: 2.82 ERA, 15 wins, 8 losses, 31 starts, 217 innings, 47 walks.

Having done just about everything the Red Sox could possibly have asked for, Martinez took on a new challenge with the Mets; between his advancing age, increasing fragility and the heaviness that was the Mets’ existence, that would prove productive in the short run, difficult in the long run.

8. Billy Wagner, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 1.51 ERA, 4 wins, 3 losses, 38 saves, 3 blown saves, 75 appearances, 77.2 innings, 9 stolen bases allowed.

In his second and last year as closer for the Phillies in advance of a new contract with the rival Mets, Wagner returned to good health—and strong form—following an injury-riddled 2004.

9. John Smoltz, Atlanta

Key Numbers: 3.06 ERA, 14 wins, 7 losses, 33 starts, 229.2 innings.

Back in the starting rotation after three remarkable years as a closer (saving 144 games), Smoltz quickly returned to long-form strength, striking out an MLB season-high 15 batters in his second start.

10. Carlos Zambrano, Chicago

Key Numbers: 3.24 ERA, 14 wins, 6 losses, 33 starts, 223.1 innings, 1 stolen base allowed, 12 caught stealing/picked off.

Big Z remained the most consistent and durable pitcher at Wrigleyville during a time when other Cubs pitchers broke down with ease.

The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2005

1. Johan Santana, Minnesota

Key Numbers: 2.87 ERA, 16 wins, 7 losses, .696 win percentage, 33 starts, 231.2 innings, 45 walks, 238 strikeouts.

If not for a solo homer allowed in his final start of the year, Santana would have slipped past Cleveland’s Kevin Millwood and won his second straight ERA title.

2. Mark Buehrle, Chicago

Key Numbers: 3.12 ERA, 16 wins, 8 losses, 33 starts, 236.2 innings, 40 walks, 29 grounded into double plays.

The AL’s workhorse of the time, Buehrle led the AL in innings for the second straight year and hardly sacrificed quality for quantity in the process.

3. Jon Garland, Chicago

Key Numbers: 3.50 ERA, 18 wins, 10 losses, 32 starts, 3 shutouts, 221 innings, 47 walks, 24 grounded into double plays.

Garland’s emergence mirrored that of the White Sox—ordinary .500 results followed by sudden success.

4. Bartolo Colon, Los Angeles of Anaheim

Key Numbers: 3.48 ERA, 21 wins, 8 losses, 33 starts, 222.2 innings, 43 walks, 21 grounded into double plays.

Colon became the first Angel since Nolan Ryan to win 20 games—and the first since Dean Chance to win the Cy Young Award.

5. Mariano Rivera, New York

Key Numbers: 1.38 ERA, 7 wins, 4 losses, 43 saves, 4 blown saves, 71 appearances 78.1 innings.

Rivera began the year with back-to-back blown saves against the hated Red Sox—then performed as if he forgot all about it. In the end, the revered closer, who would never win a Cy Young Award, came closest to doing so with a second-place standing behind Bartolo Colon.

6. Joe Nathan, Minnesota

Key Numbers: 2.70 ERA, 7 wins, 4 losses, 43 saves, 5 blown saves, 69 appearances, 70 innings.

Proving that he wasn’t a one-year wonder, Nathan threw out a virtual copy of his unexpected breakout as Twins closer in 2004.

7. Roy Halladay, Toronto

Key Numbers: 2.41 ERA, 12 wins, 4 losses, .750 win percentage, 19 starts, 5 complete games, 141.2 innings, 18 walks, 16 stolen bases allowed.

The Blue Jays’ ace was cruising toward 20 wins and over 260 innings when he was rudely stopped by a line drive back to the box from the Rangers’ Kevin Mench on July 8, breaking his leg and ending his season. And he still led the league in complete games.

8. Carlos Silva, Minnesota

Key Numbers: 3.44 ERA, 9 wins, 8 losses, 27 starts, 188.1 innings, 9 walks, 35 grounded into double plays.

To find anyone with a lower walk/nine inning rate than Silva’s 0.43, you have to go all the way back to 1880—when it took eight balls to constitute a walk. (Also to note: Two of Silva’s nine walks were intentional.)

9. Kenny Rogers, Texas

Key Numbers: 3.46 ERA, 14 wins, 8 losses, 30 starts, 195.1 innings, 25 grounded into double plays.

The veteran southpaw’s third go-around with the Rangers contained the good (a 32-inning consecutive scoreless inning streak) and the bad (a two-week suspension for assaulting a media cameraman during team practice).

10. Danys Baez, Tampa Bay

Key Numbers: 2.86 ERA, 5 wins, 4 losses, 41 saves, 8 blown saves, 67 appearances, 72.1 innings, 9 grounded into double plays.

The Cuban-born Baez collected just over half his saves (21) over the season’s final two months to accommodate a rare surge of .500 baseball from the Devil Rays.

2005 Baseball History
The 2000s: Driven Depp to Disgrace
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Pitchers of the 2000s
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Hitters in the 2000s