The Yearly Reader

Leaders and Honors, 2010

Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 2010 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, 2010

Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado

Key Numbers: .336 average, 111 runs, 197 hits, 34 doubles, 9 triples, 34 home runs, 117 RBIs, 26 stolen bases.

‘CarGo’ became the latest multi-talented star to use Colorado’s Coors Field to his statistical advantage, hitting .380 with 26 of his home runs at the mile-high venue.

2. Albert Pujols, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .312 average, 115 runs, 183 hits, 39 doubles, 42 home runs, 118 RBIs, 103 walks, 38 intentional walks, 14 stolen bases, 23 grounded into double plays.

As free agency drew closer for Pujols, one well-publicized springtime rumor had the Cardinals trading him one-up for the Phillies’ Ryan Howard. Thanks to St. Louis Post-Dispatch writer Joe Strauss, Pujols got a single first-place vote in the MVP, ruining a shot as unanimous selection for…

3. Joey Votto, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: .324 average, 106 runs, 177 hits, 36 doubles, 37 home runs, 113 RBIs, 91 walks, 16 stolen bases, .424 on-base percentage, .600 slugging percentage.

This may be the most astonishing stat of Votto’s MVP year: Not once did he hit a single pop-up in the infield.

4. Matt Holliday, St. Louis

Key Numbers: .312 average, 95 runs, 186 hits, 45 doubles, 28 home runs, 103 RBIs.

Surviving a lost year in Oakland after a trade from the Rockies, Holliday proved he could thrive at sea level—though batting behind Albert Pujols didn’t hurt, either.

5. Jayson Werth, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: .296 average, 106 runs, 46 doubles, 27 home runs, 85 RBIs, 82 walks, 13 stolen bases.

The nephew of former shortstop Dick Schofield leveraged the most productive year of his career to a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals.

6. Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado

Key Numbers: 122 games, .315 average, 89 runs, 32 doubles, 27 home runs, 95 RBIs, 11 stolen bases.

No star player was as cursed with the injury bug more than Tulowitzki, certainly during his time; a broken hand sustained on an inside pitch cost the All-Star shortstop another shot at a full campaign, as good as it ended up being.

7. Ryan Braun, Milwaukee

Key Numbers: .304 average, 101 runs, 188 hits, 45 doubles, 25 home runs, 103 RBIs, 14 stolen bases.

A strong finish (.364 from August 1 on) put Braun over the .300 mark once again, but he hit less than 30 homers for the only time in the pre-Biogenesis portion of his career.

8. Dan Uggla, Florida

Key Numbers: .287 average, 100 runs, 31 doubles, 33 home runs, 105 RBIs.

Uggla became the first second baseman to hit 30 homers four times (all consecutively) in major league history; he’d make it five in 2011.

9. Rickie Weeks, Milwaukee

Key Numbers: .269 average, 651 at-bats, 112 runs, 175 hits, 32 doubles, 29 home runs, 83 RBIs, 184 strikeouts, 25 hit-by-pitches, 11 stolen bases.

Weeks finally looked to make good on six years of rough evolution, but he would instead become one of many young Brewers through the 2010s who came and went like a fireball in the sky.

10. Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego

Key Numbers: .298 average, 87 runs, 176 hits, 33 doubles, 31 home runs, 101 RBIs, 93 walks, 35 intentional walks.

Continually frustrated by how his already impressive numbers were being neutered by Petco Park’s extensive dimensions, Gonzalez warned the Padres that he was anywhere else-bound once free agency came calling after 2011. The team took his threat to heart and dealt him a year early, to Boston.

The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 2010

1. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Key Numbers: .328 average, 111 runs, 180 hits, 45 doubles, 38 home runs, 126 RBIs, 89 walks, 32 intentional walks, .420 on-base percentage.

Sobered up (for the moment) after a final lost weekend in 2009, Cabrera staked his claim as the AL’s best pure hitter.

2. Josh Hamilton, Texas

Key Numbers: 133 games, .359 average, 95 runs, 186 hits, 40 doubles, 32 home runs, 100 RBIs, .633 slugging percentage.

Recovered from substance/alcohol abuse, Hamilton took the AL MVP with a Rangers-record .359 average—and teammates made sure not to risk knocking him off the wagon when celebrating their first AL pennant, breaking out the ginger ale instead of champagne.

3. Jose Bautista, Toronto

Key Numbers: .260 average, 109 runs, 35 doubles, 54 home runs, 124 RBIs, 100 walks, 10 hit-by-pitches.

Bautista, who had never hit more than 16 home runs in a season, became the majors’ first to reach 50 in three years.

4. Paul Konerko, Chicago

Key Numbers: .312 average, 89 runs, 171 hits, 30 doubles, 39 home runs, 111 RBIs.

Team, fan and clubhouse favorite Konerko, considered a possible future White Sox manager, went .300-30-100 for the second time in his career; he’d do it a third time in 2011 after deciding to stay in Chicago with a new contract.

5. Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay

Key Numbers: .307 average, 110 runs, 184 hits, 30 doubles, 13 triples, 19 home runs, 90 RBIs, 47 stolen bases.

Easily the most proficient speed demon in Rays history, the soon-to-be Red Sock ended the season as just one of two active major leaguers (Johnny Damon being the other) with 100 or more career triples.

6. Robinson Cano, New York

Key Numbers: .319 average, 103 runs, 200 hits, 41 doubles, 29 home runs, 109 RBIs.

With the elder star Yankees starting to show their age, Cano fully emerged in the Bronx spotlight as part of a new (but smaller) wave; this would be his second of six straight years batting over .300.

7. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay

Key Numbers: .294 average, 96 runs, 46 doubles, 5 triples, 22 home runs, 104 RBIs, 15 stolen bases.

Longo was at his best at home in Tropicana Field, hitting .324 as opposed to a .268 road average; it’s too bad there weren’t more fans there to appreciate it.

8. Alex Rodriguez, New York

Key Numbers: 137 games, .270 average, 29 doubles, 30 home runs, 125 RBIs.

A year of achievements and, yes, continued controversy for Rodriguez. He became the youngest player to reach 600 career home runs, broke one record with his 14th straight 100-RBI season and tied another with his 13th straight at 30-plus homers. Curiously, he also avoided FBI agents wanting to chat about a doctor who treated him, and was nearly assaulted on the field by a fan infatuated with actress Cameron Diaz—whom A-Rod was reportedly dating.

9. Adrian Beltre, Boston

Key Numbers: .321 average, 84 runs, 189 hits, 49 doubles, 28 home runs, 102 RBIs, 25 grounded into double plays.

As he did with the Dodgers in 2004, Beltre seemed to be at his best when his guaranteed wages were ready to run dry; his 2010 numbers made the Red Sox’ upcoming decision on whether to pick up his $11 million option for 2011 an easy one.

10. David Ortiz, Boston

Key Numbers: .270 average, 86 runs, 36 doubles, 32 home runs, 102 RBIs, 82 walks.

Bouncing back from what was thought to be a career-ending decline, the 34-year-old Ortiz regained the power and proved it beyond the regular season by winning the Home Run Derby.

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The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2010

1. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis

Key Numbers: 2.42 ERA, 20 wins, 11 losses, 33 starts, 230.1 innings, 25 grounded into double plays.

Denied a 20th victory in his last start the year before, Wainwright reached the promised land in his final outing of 2010; the Cardinals averaged only 1.46 runs per start in which he didn’t win.

2. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia

Key Numbers: 2.44 ERA, 21 wins, 10 losses, .677 win percentage, 33 starts, 9 complete games, 4 shutouts, 250.2 innings, 30 walks, 25 grounded into double plays.

Wainwright’s numbers handsomely matched those of Halladay, but it was the first-year Phillie who got more wins, the perfect game, the postseason spot—and, as a result, the NL Cy.

3. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado

Key Numbers: 2.88 ERA, 19 wins, 8 losses, .704 win percentage, 33 starts, 221.2 innings, 16 wild pitches, 25 grounded into double plays.

In the most dominant season yet by a Rockies pitcher, Jimenez won 15 games by the All-Star break, registered the first no-hitter in Colorado history and set a still-existing franchise record with 33.1 straight scoreless innings.

4. Heath Bell, San Diego

Key Numbers: 1.93 ERA, 6 wins, 1 loss, 47 saves, 3 blown saves, 67 appearances, 70 innings.

Top year for the Padres’ closer, setting career bests in wins, saves and ERA.

5. Tim Hudson, Atlanta

Key Numbers: 2.83 ERA, 17 wins, 9 losses, 34 starts, 228.2 innings, 32 grounded into double plays.

Hudson was the latest post-Tommy John success story, winning NL Comeback Player of the Year honors.

6. Josh Johnson, Florida

Key Numbers: 2.30 ERA, 11 wins, 6 losses, 28 starts, 183.2 innings.

The XXL (6’7”, 240 pounds) ace, who spent his whole career trying to stay in one piece, pitched just long enough to win the NL ERA crown despite missing the final month.

7. Jaime Garcia, St. Louis

Key Numbers: 2.70 ERA, 13 wins, 8 losses, 28 starts, 163.1 innings.

Like Johnson, Garcia was another pitcher prone to bubble-wrap protection; he sported a sub-2.00 ERA through the end of June and received some Rookie of the Year love from voters at year’s end.

8. Brian Wilson, San Francisco

Key Numbers: 1.81 ERA, 3 wins, 3 losses, 48 saves, 5 blown saves, 70 appearances, 74.2 innings.

Nicknamed B-Weezy, Wilson constantly made Giants fans B-Queasy for his knack of living dangerously in the ninth—but he always found a way to pull a save out.

9. Billy Wagner, Atlanta

Key Numbers: 1.43 ERA, 7 wins, 2 losses, 37 saves, 7 blown saves, 71 appearances, 69.1 innings.

The 39-year-old Wagner made good on a planned last hurrah, finishing his career as one of five major leaguers (at the time) with over 400 lifetime saves.

10. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles

Key Numbers: 2.91 ERA, 13 wins, 10 losses, 32 starts, 204.1 innings, 8 stolen bases allowed, 16 caught stealing/picked off.

Though establishing himself as the ace the Dodgers hoped he’d be, Kershaw still managed a not-to-so-ace-like record. That would change; over the next 10 years, his record would be a collective 149-53.

The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2010

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle

Key Numbers: 2.27 ERA, 13 wins, 12 losses, 34 starts, 249.2 innings, 232 strikeouts, 14 wild pitches, 25 grounded into double plays.

No Cy Young Award winner had a worse record than Felix Hernandez, but voters finally imbued with the religion of sabermetrics understood that he got absolutely no support from a feeble Seattle offense.

2. David Price, Tampa Bay

Key Numbers: 2.72 ERA, 19 wins, 6 losses, .760 win percentage, 31 starts, 208.2 innings.

Price shattered the Tampa Bay season record for wins, hardly a big challenge given that the old record was 14.

3. CC Sabathia, New York

Key Numbers: 3.18 ERA, 21 wins, 7 losses, .750 win percentage, 34 starts, 237.2 innings, 26 grounded into double plays.

CC at XX: Sabathia hit 21 for his first and only 20-win season of his career, while running up his two-year ledger as a Yankee to 40-15.

4. Clay Buchholz, Boston

Key Numbers: 2.33 ERA, 17 wins, 7 losses, .708 win percentage, 28 starts, 173.2 innings, 24 grounded into double plays.

Infuriatingly hot-and-cold throughout the 2010s, Buchholz enjoyed one of those years with the switch on as he limited opponents to a .161 batting average with runners in scoring position.

5. Trevor Cahill, Oakland

Key Numbers: 2.97 ERA, 18 wins, 8 losses, .692 win percentage, 30 starts, 196.2 innings, 27 grounded into double plays.

In his second season, the 22-year-old Cahill was the latest infant Oakland pitcher to make the grade toward success…and an eventual trade by GM Billy Beane for more prospects.

6. Rafael Soriano, Tampa Bay

Key Numbers: 1.73 ERA, 3 wins, 2 losses, 45 saves, 3 blown saves, 64 appearances, 62.1 innings.

Long worthy of being an undisputed major league closer, Soriano finally made good on his chance and saved a career-high 45.

7. Neftali Feliz, Texas

Key Numbers: 2.73 ERA, 4 wins, 3 losses, 40 saves, 3 blown saves, 70 appearances, 69.1 innings.

The AL Rookie of the Year could have achieved more first-year fame, but couldn’t hold a no-hitter given to him by three other pitchers when he gave up a one-out knock in the ninth on August 23 against the Twins.

8. Cliff Lee, Seattle-Texas

Key Numbers: 3.18 ERA, 12 wins, 9 losses, 28 starts, 7 complete games, 212.1 innings, 18 walks.

On the road again, Lee’s two-year journey would take him from Cleveland to Philadelphia to Seattle to Arlington…then back to Philly once he became a free agent after the season.

9. Jon Lester, Boston

Key Numbers: 3.25 ERA, 19 wins, 9 losses, .679 win percentage, 32 starts, 208 innings, 10 hit-by-pitches, 22 stolen bases allowed, 21 grounded into double plays.

Much of Lester’s success to date could be attributed to the Orioles, whom the southpaw would finish the year with a career 13-0 record; he’d run it to 14 before finally bowing to Baltimore in September 2012.

10. Dallas Braden, Oakland

Key Numbers: 3.50 ERA, 11 wins, 14 losses, 30 starts, 2 shutouts, 192.2 innings, 43 walks, 1 stolen base allowed, 10 caught stealing/picked off.

The brash A’s pitcher made news early in the year when he got into an on-field spat with Alex Rodriguez about his jogging over the mound on the way back to the dugout; A-Rod then joked that he didn’t want to extend Braden’s “15 minutes of fame” by talking further about the incident. Braden extended those 15 minutes over two weeks later when he threw the second perfect game in A’s history.

2010 Baseball History
The 2010s: A Call to Arms
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Pitchers of the 2010s
TGG Lists: The 10 Best Hitters of the 2010s