I love early-season baseball. Early-season baseball is the only time when players hit .415. Players don’t hit .415 for a full season anymore so pulling up the leaderboards and seeing .415 is like a huge neon sign blinking EARLY-SEASON BASEBALL. It’s fun to follow the MVP races later in the year, but to me now is the best time to check the leaderboards we keep here at FanGraphs because now is when things are absurd. Little is more absurd than early-season leaderboards.
So let’s look at some! I’ll give you the category, last season’s leader for some context, and the on-pace-to-finish-with figure of the current leader. Then I’ll comment! Seems a handy dandy format, wouldn’t you say?
We’ll start with hitters, unless you decide not to read this, in which case I’ll just start with hitters all by myself. Numbers are current as of yesterday afternoon. Rankings marked with a t denote that the corresponding players are tied.
Let’s start with…
Double Plays Hit Into
t1. David Freese, 5
t1. Andrelton Simmons, 5
t3. Five Players, 4
Last Year’s Leader: Trevor Plouffe, 28
2016 Leader’s Pace: 62
For some reason I find this category fascinating. You can’t score two points on yourself in basketball when you miss a shot, but in baseball players can create two outs with one hit. It’s magical. So it’s fitting that the seventh video on David Freese’s MLB.com player page features Freese grounding into a double play. They’re on to you, David. Though this does make sense as 63.9% of Freese’s balls in play have been ground balls this season. That’s a lot of grounders. Add that to the Pirates current high on-base percentage of .432, eighth-best in baseball, and you have a batter hitting lots of grounders with runners on base.
This is going smoothly!