The Yearly Reader

Leaders and Honors, 2014

Our list of baseball’s top 10 hitters and pitchers in both the American League and National League for the 2014 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, 2014

Bold type in brick red indicates league leader.

1. Andrew McCutchen, Pittsburgh

Key Numbers: .314 average, 89 runs, 172 hits, 38 doubles, 6 triples, 25 home runs, 83 RBIs, 84 walks, 10 hit-by-pitches, 18 stolen bases, .410 on-base percentage.

McCutchen felt the pain of the bulls-eye on his back as pitchers often zeroed in on him, but that didn’t stop him from steering the Pirates to their second straight playoff appearance.

2. Giancarlo Stanton, Miami

Key Numbers: .288 average, 89 runs, 31 doubles, 37 home runs, 105 RBIs, 94 walks, 24 intentional walks, 13 stolen bases, .555 slugging percentage.

Stanton hit more homers over 450 feet than any other team before his year was cruelly cut short by a fastball to the face on September 11.

3. Anthony Rendon, Washington

Key Numbers: .287 average, 111 runs, 176 hits, 39 doubles, 6 triples, 21 home runs, 83 RBIs, 17 stolen bases.

In his first season, Rendon emerged as the unsung hero of the Nationals’ superlative regular season campaign.

4. Anthony Rizzo, Chicago

Key Numbers: .286 average, 89 runs, 28 doubles, 32 home runs, 78 RBIs, 15 hit-by-pitches.

The maturation of Rizzo reached a satisfactory stage as the young slugger paced the Cubs in homers, batting average and on-base percentage.

5. Carlos Gomez, Milwaukee

Key Numbers: .284 average, 95 runs, 34 doubles, 23 home runs, 73 RBIs, 19 hit-by-pitches, 34 stolen bases.

The spirited outfielder made it to his second straight All-Star Game with almost identical numbers—but he also continued a nasty habit of ticking off opponents, such as one long drive he admired at the plate against the Pirates before realizing it wasn’t going over the fence.

6. Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona

Key Numbers: 109 games, .300 average, 75 runs, 39 doubles, 19 home runs, 69 RBIs, 64 walks.

Even after missing the final two months of the season after having his hand broken at the plate, Goldschmidt still led the Diamondbacks (who were 16-37 in his absence) in most every offensive category.

7. Corey Dickerson, Colorado

Key Numbers: 131 games, .312 average, 74 runs, 27 doubles, 6 triples, 24 home runs, 76 RBIs.

The 25-year-old outfielder was given an everyday presence and hit .343 through the seasons’ first three months before sliding off in the summer. And yes, he did most of his damage a mile high—batting .363 with 15 jacks at Coors Field.

8. Freddie Freeman, Atlanta

Key Numbers: 162 games, .288 average, 93 runs, 175 hits, 43 doubles, 18 home runs, 78 RBIs, 90 walks.

Though Freeman put up modest stats by his standards, they were still solid enough to make the Braves feel good about giving him an eight-year, $125 million extension before Opening Day.

9. Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles

Key Numbers: .296 average, 92 runs, 37 doubles, 9 triples, 16 home runs, 69 RBIs, 12 hit-by-pitches, 11 stolen bases.

The dynamic, second-year Cuban émigré was busy on the field—collecting three triples in one game to tie the all-time Dodgers record set by Jimmy Sheckard in 1901—and busy on the TMZ circuit, driving 110 MPH with his mom, showing up late for games, and looking over his shoulder as news spread that Mexican cartel operatives were seeking his backpay for helping to get him smuggled in from Cuba.

10. Jayson Werth, Washington

Key Numbers: .292 average, 85 runs, 37 doubles, 16 home runs, 82 RBIs, 83 walks.

Werth was one of the hardest batters to knock out when on the ropes; he hit .391 when the count was no balls and two strikes.

The American League’s Top 10 Hitters, 2014

1. Mike Trout, Los Angeles of Anaheim

Key Numbers: .287 average, 115 runs, 173 hits, 39 doubles, 9 triples, 36 home runs, 111 RBIs, 83 walks, 184 strikeouts, 10 hit-by-pitches, 16 stolen bases.

After two years of runner-up MVP play to Miguel Cabrera, Trout finally grabbed the official honor as the AL’s best—and did it unanimously.

2. Victor Martinez, Detroit

Key Numbers: .335 average, 87 runs, 188 hits, 33 doubles, 32 home runs, 103 RBIs, 28 intentional walks, .409 on-base percentage.

The second-best Martinez (after Edgar) to star as a designated hitter put together similar numbers as the Hall of Famer—except he struck out only 42 times.

3. Michael Brantley, Cleveland

Key Numbers: .327 average, 94 runs, 200 hits, 45 doubles, 20 home runs, 97 RBIs, 23 stolen bases, 1 caught stealing.

Before descending into an injury-prone stage of his career, Brantley was sound from start to finish—and was particularly tough when the pressure was on his opponents, batting .376 with runners in scoring position.

4. Jose Abreu, Chicago

Key Numbers: .317 average, 80 runs, 176 hits, 35 doubles, 36 home runs, 107 RBIs, 11 hit-by-pitches, .581 slugging percentage.

The first-year Cuban émigré was more than just a bruising slugger; in a 40-game stretch, he had hits in 39 of them.

5. Jose Bautista, Toronto

Key Numbers: .286 average, 101 runs, 27 doubles, 35 home runs, 103 RBIs, 104 walks.

Bautista was fully healthy for the first time in recent memory—and that was bad news for the opposition. He reached base in 38 straight games to tie a Toronto record, and 25 of his 35 homers came against AL East foes.

6. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit

Key Numbers: .313 average, 101 runs, 191 hits, 52 doubles, 25 home runs, 109 RBIs, 21 grounded into double plays, 11 sacrifice flies.

After consecutive 44-homer campaigns, Cabrera’s power diminished—but he made up for it a career-high number of doubles.

7. Nelson Cruz, Baltimore

Key Numbers: .271 average, 87 runs, 32 doubles, 40 home runs, 108 RBIs.

Cruz took a one-year offer that was nearly half that of the qualifying one he refused from Texas—and proved he was better than both. It was the beginning of a six-year stretch in which he’d average 41 homers a year.

8. Josh Altuve, Houston

Key Numbers: .341 average, 665 at-bats, 85 runs, 225 hits, 47 doubles, 7 home runs, 59 RBIs, 56 stolen bases, 20 grounded into double plays.

The small and speedy Altuve, a virtual Joe Morgan clone, set the Astros’ season record for hits.

9. Edwin Encarnacion, Toronto

Key Numbers: 128 games, .268 average, 27 doubles, 34 home runs, 98 RBIs.

The Toronto slugger looked to be on pace for a special season, tying Mickey Mantle’s record with 16 homers in May, before a six-week injury absence curtailed his total season output.

10. Robinson Cano, Seattle

Key Numbers: .314 average, 77 runs, 187 hits, 37 doubles, 14 home runs, 82 RBIs, 20 intentional walks, 10 stolen bases.

Signed for a massive $240 million by the Mariners, Cano continued on with his usual excellence, albeit with a little less punch as the Pacific Northwest tends to sap one’s power.

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The National League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2014

1. Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles

Key Numbers: 1.77 ERA, 21 wins, 3 losses, .875 win percentage, 27 starts, 6 complete games, 198.1 innings, 31 walks, 239 strikeouts.

Among Kershaw’s sensational numbers: His lone career no-hitter (achieved with an MLB season-high 15 strikeouts), a 42-consecutive scoreless-inning streak, and a fourth straight ERA title—something not accomplished by a NL pitcher in 50 years.

2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis

Key Numbers: 2.38 ERA, 20 wins, 9 losses, .690 win percentage, 32 starts, 3 shutouts, 227 innings, 50 walks, 24 grounded into double plays.

In 12 of his 32 starts, Wainwright pitched at least seven innings and didn’t give up any runs; he won his last five starts to reach 20 victories for the second time.

3. Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati

Key Numbers: 2.25 ERA, 20 wins, 9 losses, .690 win percentage, 34 starts, 243.2 innings, 242 strikeouts, 15 hit-by-pitches.

After being denied a 20th win two years earlier, Cueto took matters into his own hands and reached the milestone with a game-winning hit in his last start.

4. Jordan Zimmermann, Washington

Key Numbers: 2.66 ERA, 14 wins, 5 losses, .737 win percentage, 32 starts, 199.2 innings, 29 walks.

Zimmermann won his last eight decisions and saved his best for last, no-hitting Miami on the season’s final day.

5. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco

Key Numbers: 2.98 ERA, 18 wins, 10 losses, 33 starts, 217.1 innings, 43 walks, 7 stolen bases allowed, 16 caught stealing/picked off.

Not only could Bumgarner pitch well (especially in the postseason), but he could also hit well—slugging four homers with 15 RBIs among 17 hits in 66 at-bats.

6. Jake Arrieta, Chicago

Key Numbers: 2.53 ERA, 10 wins, 5 losses, 25 starts, 156.2 innings, 24 stolen bases allowed.

After three-plus years of frustration in Baltimore, Arrieta played out his first full year with the Cubs and marveled—especially at home, losing only once in 12 starts with a 1.46 ERA.

7. Francisco Rodriguez, Milwaukee

Key Numbers: 3.04 ERA, 5 wins, 5 losses, 44 saves, 5 blown saves, 69 appearances, 68 innings.

His career having detoured through a landmine of decreased effectiveness on the mound and increased domestic assault charges off it, Rodriguez got his Mojo back—along with some peace. His 13 saves before the end of April set a record.

8. Tanner Roark, Washington

Key Numbers: 2.85 ERA, 15 wins, 10 losses, 31 starts, 198.2 innings, 39 walks.

Roark gave advance warning late the year before when he won seven of eight decisions with a 1.51 ERA, but his 2014 performance still likely exceeded everyone’s expectations.

9. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles

Key Numbers: 2.71 ERA, 17 wins, 8 losses, .680 win percentage, 32 starts, 202.1 innings, 43 walks, 12 wild pitches, 20 grounded into double plays.

With Alex Rodriguez suspended for the season, Greinke emerged as baseball’s highest-priced player—and he earned it.

10. Doug Fister, Washington

Key Numbers: 2.41 ERA, 16 wins, 6 losses, .727 win percentage, 25 starts, 164 innings, 24 walks, 0 stolen bases allowed, 2 caught stealing/picked off.

In his first of two years at D.C., Fister led a field of strong Nationals rotation mates in wins; he might have had a crack at the NL lead were it not for missing the season’s first six weeks to injury.

The American League’s Top 10 Pitchers, 2014

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle

Key Numbers: 2.14 ERA, 15 wins, 6 losses, .714 win percentage, 34 starts, 236 innings, 46 walks, 18 wild pitches, 20 stolen bases allowed.

King Felix grabbed the AL crown when four runs given up in his penultimate start were reclassified as unearned after a scoring review.

2. Corey Kluber, Cleveland

Key Numbers: 2.44 ERA, 18 wins, 9 losses, 34 starts, 235.2 innings, 269 strikeouts.

“Kublot,” named as such for his robotic-like disposition, edged out Hernandez for the AL Cy Young Award after exploding on the scene with a fiery second-half performance.

3. Chris Sale, Chicago

Key Numbers: 2.17 ERA, 12 wins, 4 losses, .750 win percentage, 26 starts, 174 innings, 39 walks.

In an August 30 game against the Tigers, Sale struck out the side four different times—the first pitcher to do that since Kerry Wood’s famous 20-K performance from 1998.

4. Jon Lester, Boston-Oakland

Key Numbers: 2.46 ERA, 16 wins, 11 losses, 32 starts, 219.2 innings, 48 walks, 21 grounded into double plays.

Dealt from an unexpected last-place team in the Red Sox, Lester found the postseason as a rental for Oakland before taking his act via free agency to the Cubs.

5. Zach Britton, Baltimore

Key Numbers: 1.65 ERA, 3 wins, 2 losses, 37 saves, 4 blown saves, 71 appearances, 76.1 innings, 14 walks, 13 grounded into double plays.

Entering the year with one game of relief experience, Britton easily exceeded expectations of replacing Josh Johnson (who bombed in Oakland) as the new Baltimore closer.

6. Garrett Richards, Los Angeles of Anaheim

Key Numbers: 2.61 ERA, 13 wins, 4 losses, .765 win percentage, 26 starts, 168.2 innings, 22 wild pitches.

Before a brutal late-summer knee injury, Richards finally gave the Angels badly needed (if fleeting) rotation depth.

7. Greg Holland, Kansas City

Key Numbers: 1.44 ERA, 1 win, 3 losses, 46 saves, 2 blown saves, 65 appearances, 62.1 innings, 9 wild pitches.

A second straight superb season for Holland, who this time around was able to augment his numbers in the postseason with seven more saves (including for all four ALCS wins) and just a run on four hits allowed through 11 innings.

8. Max Scherzer, Detroit

Key Numbers: 3.15 ERA, 18 wins, 5 losses, .783 win percentage, 33 starts, 220.1 innings, 10 wild pitches.

One of Scherzer’s AL-leading 18 wins came on June 12 as his first career complete-game effort, in his 179th major league start; no other pitcher had gone that long without going the distance.

9. Dallas Keuchel, Houston

Key Numbers: 2.93 ERA, 12 wins, 9 losses, 29 starts, 5 complete games, 200 innings, 48 walks, 36 grounded into double plays.

After two years mired in 5.00-plus ERA territory, the thick-bearded Keuchel discovered a nasty slider and, ergo, success to mirror the rags-to-riches upswing of the Astros.

10. David Price, Tampa Bay-Detroit

Key Numbers: 3.26 ERA, 15 wins, 12 losses, 34 starts, 248.1 innings, 360 total bases allowed, 38 walks, 271 strikeouts.

Unfortunately, the Price was no longer right for the tight-fisted Rays, who had no choice but to deal him to the Tigers rather than risk losing him for nothing with free agency looming.

2014 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