The season-end awards have been handed out. The Christmas stockings have been emptied. The ball is about to drop.Before we officially turn our attention to 2018, let's take one more opportunity to appreciate what we saw in baseball in 2017. Here are 10 season stat lines that will be remembered
The season-end awards have been handed out. The Christmas stockings have been emptied. The ball is about to drop.
Before we officially turn our attention to 2018, let's take one more opportunity to appreciate what we saw in baseball in 2017. Here are 10 season stat lines that will be remembered well beyond the flip of the calendar.
Chris Sale: 308 strikeouts
Boston made a hefty investment in prospects to get Sale from the White Sox last winter, and he paid immediate dividends en route to a second-place finish in the American League Cy Young Award vote. Sale became the 16th pitcher in the modern era (since 1901) to cross the 300-strikeout plateau in a single season, and the ninth left-handed pitcher in that group. Sale and Randy Johnson are the only southpaws, however, to rack up at least 300 punchouts in the AL since the designated hitter was installed in 1973.
Corey Kluber: 11.82 second-half strikeout-to-walk ratio
Kluber prepared for his June 1 start having just spent nearly a month on the disabled list. His record was 3-2 and his ERA was an un-Kluber-like 4.36.
But Cleveland's ace surged back into the AL Cy Young discussion by the All-Star break, and he was nearly untouchable once the second-half began. In going 11-1 with a 1.79 after the break, Kluber struck out 142 batters while walking just 12 for an 11.82 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Since the dawn of the Live Ball Era in 1920, only seven other pitchers had made at least 10 second-half starts and recorded a K/BB rate above 10. Only three have ever bested the second-half rate Kluber just put up: Phil Hughes, Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez.
Dee Gordon and Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins: 60 steals and 59 home runs
Everyone saw Stanton's breathtaking chase for 60 homers en route to his first NL MVP, but setting the table -- and then scampering into scoring position -- in front of Stanton was Gordon. Together, Gordon and Stanton made the Marlins the first team in Major League history to feature a pair of teammates wih at least 60 steals and 50 homers. In fact, while Stanton became just the sixth player to belt at least 59 homers in a season, Gordon became only the ninth player to record at least 60 steals and 200 hits in the same year -- and the first since another Marlin, Juan Pierre, in 2003. Neither player will be suiting up in Miami next year, with Stanton Bronx-bound and Gordon dealt to the Mariners.
Joey Votto, Reds: 179 hits, 134 walks, 83 strikeouts, 36 home runs
Votto finished just two votes behind Stanton in the NL MVP vote, but he still stands among two of the greatest men to ever swing a bat after this season. Babe Ruth (four times) and Ted Williams (three) are the only players in Major League history to equal each of Votto's hits, walks and home run totals while also striking out 83 or fewer times in a single season.
J.D. Martinez, Tigers and D-backs: 45 home runs in 432 at-bats
A Lisfranc sprain in Martinez's right foot caused him to miss the first month of the season and fall just shy of qualifying for the year-end batting title, but It's still worth appreciating the incredible production Martinez put up. The right fielder clubbed one home run for every 9.6 times he was up at bat, an even quicker pace than Stanton. Looking at all players who have recorded at least 400 at-bats and slugged at least 20 home runs in one campaign since 1901, only seven players had ever hit dingers at a faster pace within a single season than Martinez. Those seven names need little introduction: Mark McGwire (four times), Ruth (three times), Barry Bonds (twice), Hank Greenberg, Mickey Mantle, Sammy Sosa and Jim Thome.
Scooter Gennett, Reds: 17 total bases on June 6 vs. STL
Gennett racked up those 17 bases via four home runs and an RBI single that night in Cincinnati, and he was an unlikely candidate to join the short list of four-homer games after hitting just 38 in his first 1,755 career plate appearances. All the same, on one glorious night Gennett joined Joe Adcock, Shawn Green, Josh Hamilton, Gil Hodges and Mike Schmidt as the only players in recorded history since 1913 to collect at least 17 total bases in a single Major League game.
Max Scherzer, Nationals: 268 strikeouts
Scherzer joined an exclusive club this fall as one of 10 pitchers who have won at least three Cy Young Awards. But Scherzer's 268 strikeouts also gave him four consecutive seasons with at least 250, a streak matched only by Fergie Jenkins (1968-71), Johnson (1997-2002) and Martinez (1997-2000). The most batters Scherzer walked in any of those four campaigns is 63, joining him with Curt Schilling as the only pitchers in history to tally at least four seasons with 250-plus strikeouts and 63 or fewer walks.
Jose Ramirez, Indians: 56 doubles, 29 home runs, six triples
Though he was ultimately overshadowed in the AL MVP race, we'll take the time to give Ramirez proper recognition here. Ramirez was, after all, the player who led the Junior Circuit with 91 extra-base hits, and those knocks were dispersed into rather unique totals of 56 doubles, 29 homers and six triples. How unique is that distribution? Well, no AL player had ever reached each of those three totals before Ramirez this past year. Only two NL players had ever done so, and both are in the Hall of Fame: Joe Medwick in his 1937 MVP season and Chuck Klein in 1930.
Aaron Judge, Yankees: AL-most 52 home runs, 127 walks, 208 strikeouts
It's safe to say Judge was ahead of the learning curve while he slammed a rookie-record 52 home runs. He also recorded a 171 OPS+ that ranks third-best by any rookie in modern history. Of course, Judge's MLB-most 208 strikeouts can't be overlooked, either. In fact Judge paced the AL in home runs, walks and strikeouts, or each of the "Three True Outcomes" that don't lead to a ball put in play.
Only five players before Judge had ever captured a "Three Outcomes Triple Crown" by leading his league in all three of those categories. The most recent was Dale Murphy in 1985, preceded by Schmidt, Mantle, Hack Wilson and Ruth.
Jose Altuve, Astros: AL-most 204 hits
Judge dominated the summer's headlines, but Altuve's metronome-like consistency ultimately netted him the AL MVP. In crossing the 200-hit threshold, Altuve joined Wade Boggs, Kirby Puckett, Ichiro Suzuki and Michael Young as the only players in history to reach that benchmark in at least four consecutive seasons. However, none of those four players -- or anyone else in history, for that matter -- had ever led his league in hits four straight times before Altuve. Houston's second baseman is truly on a historic roll.
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.