The Most and Least Improved Hitters of 2014, by wRC+

The 2014 MLB regular season is officially something that happened. With its passing comes the need to get our affairs in order, for the lists, they are coming. They will be many, they will be tenacious. You, there! Guard that outpost! Get those archers ready, there’s no time to lose! The first of the lists are coming over the horizon. Brace yourselves, there is no end in sight.

Here are the most-improved (qualified) hitters of 2014, by the metric of wRC+:

Name 2013 wRC+ 2014 wRC+ Diff
Victor Martinez 112 167 54
Michael Brantley 103 155 52
Jose Altuve 85 135 50
Anthony Rizzo 103 153 50
Alcides Escobar 49 95 45
Starlin Castro 72 115 43
Adeiny Hechavarria 53 82 28
Jose Bautista 133 159 26
Adam LaRoche 102 127 25
Giancarlo Stanton 135 159 24
Todd Frazier 100 122 22
Justin Morneau 101 123 21
Denard Span 97 117 20
Trevor Plouffe 92 112 19
Nick Markakis 88 106 18
Alex Gordon 104 122 18
Brian Dozier 100 118 18
Jimmy Rollins 85 102 18
Jonathan Lucroy 117 133 17
Neil Walker 114 130 16

Seeing names like Martinez, Brantley, and Altuve on this list shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise, given the news surrounding their 2014 efforts. Some other interesting names pop up, however. Anthony Rizzo has taken a significant jump. Alcides Escobar has gone from loathesome to respectable, and Jose Bautista got better which doesn’t seem very fair.

In contrast, here are 2014’s least-improved (again, qualified) batters. You could also say these batters got the most worse, but that doesn’t sound either correct or pleasing.

Name 2013 wRC+ 2014 wRC+ Diff
Chris Davis 168 94 -74
Allen Craig 134 69 -65
Shin-Soo Choo 151 100 -51
Domonic Brown 123 75 -48
Miguel Cabrera 192 147 -44
Chris Johnson 127 82 -44
Jason Kipnis 129 86 -43
Jean Segura 105 67 -38
Jay Bruce 117 79 -38
Joe Mauer 143 106 -38
Matt Carpenter 146 117 -29
Marlon Byrd 137 109 -28
Jed Lowrie 120 94 -27
Evan Longoria 133 107 -26
Matt Dominguez 88 63 -25
Zack Cozart 79 56 -23
Austin Jackson 107 85 -22
Chase Utley 127 106 -21
Eric Hosmer 120 100 -21
Billy Butler 117 97 -20

The top three names here offer an interesting juxtaposition of two sluggers falling to around league-average, and a pretty-good hitter falling off like a Clayton Kershaw curveball. The inclusion of Davis and Craig on this list is notable, as if I expand the search to the last 20 years, they also make the cut.

Name Season 1 Yr1 wRC+ Season 2 Yr2 wRC+ Diff
Scott Brosius 1996 131 1997 50 -81
Adam Dunn 2010 136 2011 60 -75
Chris Davis 2013 168 2014 94 -74
Adrian Beltre 2004 161 2005 90 -71
Willie McGee 1985 151 1986 85 -66
Brook Jacoby 1987 144 1988 78 -66
Allen Craig 2013 134 2014 69 -65
Cal Ripken 1991 154 1992 90 -64
Ray Durham 2006 126 2007 62 -63
Jose Hernandez 2002 119 2003 58 -61
Howard Johnson 1989 166 1990 106 -60
Roberto Alomar 2001 151 2002 91 -60
Larry Sheets 1987 141 1988 83 -58
Chipper Jones 2008 174 2009 116 -58
Gary Gaetti 1988 144 1989 86 -58
Edgardo Alfonzo 2000 150 2001 93 -58
Aubrey Huff 2008 134 2009 77 -58
Derek Bell 1998 129 1999 72 -57
Casey Kotchman 2011 127 2012 70 -57
Darin Erstad 2000 140 2001 83 -56

Both Chris Davis and Allen Craig rank in the top seven of worst hitting drop-offs of the last 20 years. The reasons why should warrant some deeper digging. This is neither the time nor place for such digging — with these things typically being left for the cold, dark expanses of winter. For now, let us gaze upon these lists, acknowledge that they are indeed lists, and glean whatever value or joy we desire from them.





David G. Temple is the Managing Editor of TechGraphs and a contributor to FanGraphs, NotGraphs and The Hardball Times. He hosts the award-eligible podcast Stealing Home. Dayn Perry once called him a "Bible Made of Lasers." Follow him on Twitter @davidgtemple.

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Ned Stark's Severed Head
7 years ago

Winter is Coming