A memorable 60-game sprint has reached the finish line, and after a truly memorable regular season, the postseason is next up beginning Tuesday. Before we turn the page to October baseball, here’s a look at which players led Major League Baseball, or their respective leagues, in notable statistical categories for the 2020 regular season -- from traditional stats to Statcast metrics.
Here's a look at the leaders in each category this season:
AL/MLB -- Luke Voit (NYY): 22
The MLB homer crown stays in New York for another year, as Voit follows fellow first baseman Pete Alonso of the Mets, who led the Majors last year with 53 round-trippers. Voit’s teammate Aaron Judge paced the AL with 52 homers in 2017, but Voit is the first Yankee to lead the Majors outright in dingers since Alex Rodriguez smacked 54 in 2007. One could argue that Voit’s breakout actually came last year, but he surpassed his 2019 homer total (21) in fewer than half the total plate appearances.
NL -- Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 18
Ozuna’s one-year contract with the Braves couldn’t have gone much better in the regular season. He’s the first Braves player to lead the NL in homers since Andruw Jones led the Majors in home runs with 51 in 2005.
AL/MLB -- DJ LeMahieu (NYY): .364
LeMahieu and Voit made some serious history, making the 2020 Yankees the first team since the 1959 Milwaukee Braves (Hank Aaron and Eddie Mathews) to feature both the Majors’ batting leader and home run champion. LeMahieu himself became the first player since Ed Delahanty way back in 1902 (just the AL’s second year of existence) to win a batting title in both leagues, with LeMahieu already possessing the ‘16 NL title (.348 average) with the Rockies.
Believe it or not, LeMahieu is the Yankees’ first AL batting champ since Bernie Williams in 1998. He’s also the pinstripes’ first overall MLB batting champ since Mickey Mantle in 1956.
NL -- Juan Soto (WSH): .351
At 21 years and 338 days old on Sunday, Soto is the fifth-youngest player to win a batting title in the modern era (since 1900). Only 1955 Al Kaline (20 years, 280 days), 1907 Ty Cobb (20 years, 292 days), 1996 Alex Rodriguez (21 years, 65 days) and 1908 Cobb (21 years, 295 days) were younger. Soto is the first Nationals player to win a batting title since the team moved to Washington in 2005, and third in franchise history after Tim Raines (1986) and Al Oliver (1982) did so in Montreal. His .351 batting average was fourth-highest by a player in a qualified season in his age-21 season or younger.
Soto also paced the Majors in on-base percentage (.490), slugging (.695) and OPS (1.185), easily making him an NL MVP Award favorite for 2021.
AL/MLB -- José Abreu (CWS): 60
Chicago’s veteran leader was integral to the franchise’s march back to the postseason for the first time since 2008. Abreu’s 60 RBIs are the most by any player in his team’s first 60 games of a season since Miguel Cabrera tallied 67 to begin 2013, and they are the most by a White Sox slugger since Hall of Famer Frank Thomas racked up 66 to begin the 1996 campaign.
NL -- Marcell Ozuna (ATL): 56
Ozuna quite suddenly was within striking distance of the NL Triple Crown before Soto pulled away for the batting title, but he might be the NL’s hottest player entering the postseason after he drove in 33 runs in 26 games during the month of September. Ozuna is the Braves’ first RBI champ since Andruw Jones drove in 128 runs back in 2005, and teammate Freddie Freeman was close behind Ozuna with 53 RBIs of his own.
AL/MLB -- Adalberto Mondesi (KC): 24
This is Mondesi’s first stolen base title, but it’s familiar territory for Royals fans that saw Whit Merrifield capture back-to-back steal titles in 2017-18 -- including the overall MLB title in ‘18. Kansas City attempted 69 steals in 2020, more than any other club.
NL -- Trevor Story (COL): 15
The multi-dimensional Story is the Rockies’ fourth NL stolen base champ, following Willy Taveras (2008), Juan Pierre (split title with Jimmy Rollins in ‘01) and Eric Young Sr. (1996). Story also tied Trea Turner and Mike Yastrzemski for the NL triples lead with four, paced his team with 11 homers and played excellent defense at shortstop.
NL/MLB -- Fernando Tatis Jr. (SD): 32
Tatis’ incredible season at the plate was fueled in large part by leading the Majors in barrels, which are batted balls with the ideal combination of launch angle and exit velocity, typically resulting in extra-base hits. Prior to 2020, the most barrels a Padres player had tallied in a season was Justin Upton’s 40 in ‘15 -- and Upton appeared in 150 games that season, while Tatis only played in 59. The five previous “barrel kings” since Statcast began tracking were J.D Martinez (‘15), Miguel Cabrera (‘16), Aaron Judge (‘17), Khris Davis (‘18) and Jorge Soler (‘19).
AL -- José Abreu and Eloy Jiménez (CWS): 26
Final-week struggles aside, the White Sox battered AL pitchers with these two sluggers doing a lot of the damage. Abreu’s 14.3% barrel-per-batted ball rate marked his best season by that metric since Statcast began tracking in 2015, while Jiménez topped all qualified AL hitters by recording a barrel in 11.5% of his total plate appearances.
Bieber wrapped up a share of the MLB wins crown with a win over the White Sox on Wednesday, and Darvish followed with his eighth victory over that same White Sox team on Friday. That means Bieber earned an MLB pitching Triple Crown this year since he also topped baseball in ERA and strikeouts, making him the first to claim that honor since Johan Santana in 2006. Bieber topped Seattle’s Marco Gonzales, who finished with seven wins, in the AL and Darvish finished one win clear of San Diego’s Zach Davies and Atlanta’s Max Fried.
AL/MLB -- Shane Bieber (CLE): 1.63
Bieber was the game’s best starting pitcher this year by just about any measure, including the traditional ERA standard. He follows former teammate Corey Kluber (2017) as the Tribe’s second MLB ERA champ in the past four seasons, and is Cleveland’s sixth MLB ERA champ overall following Kluber, Mike Garcia (1949), Vean Gregg (1911), Addie Joss (1904 and ‘08) and Earl Moore (1903).
NL -- Trevor Bauer (CIN): 1.73
Bieber’s former teammate and good friend sealed the NL ERA title with a strong one-run, 12-strikeout performance against the Brewers on Wednesday. The cerebral righty is the Reds’ first league ERA champ since Ed Heusser (aka “The Wild Elk of the Wasatch”) way back in 1944.
AL/MLB -- Shane Bieber (CLE): 122
Bieber was the second pitcher in Indians history with an American League pitching Triple Crown, along with 1940 Bob Feller, but he did not lead the Majors in all three like Bieber. Bieber is the first Indians pitcher to lead the AL in strikeouts since Len Barker in 1981, and first to lead the Majors in strikeouts since Sam McDowell in 1970.
NL -- Jacob deGrom (NYM): 104
deGrom may not win his third consecutive NL Cy Young Award, but he did sew up his second straight league strikeout crown by striking out 10 Nationals on Saturday to pass Bauer (100) for the Senior Circuit lead. deGrom joins David Cone (1990-91), Dwight Gooden (‘84-85) and Tom Seaver (‘75-76 and ‘70-71) on the list of Mets pitchers who claimed back-to-back NL strikeout titles.
AL/MLB -- Brad Hand (CLE): 16
The left-hander beat out Oakland’s Liam Hendriks (14), picking up his final save with 1 1/3 scoreless innings against the Pirates on Sunday -- his first outing of more than three outs this year. Hand isn’t overpowering in the way many closers are -- his fastball averages 91.4 mph -- but thanks to a nasty slider, he finished the season with a 29-to-4 strikeout-to-walk ratio and zero homers allowed in 22 innings.
NL -- Josh Hader (MIL): 13
Following up on a 37-save campaign in 2019, Hader edged Miami’s Brandon Kintzler (12) for the NL title this year. He did that despite throwing only 19 total innings. Hader didn’t allow a hit until his 13th appearance, on Sept. 5, and finished with just eight hits allowed, compared with 31 strikeouts.
Outs Above Average (outfielders)
AL/MLB -- Jackie Bradley Jr. (BOS): +7 (entering Sunday)
Statcast's Outs Above Average is pretty straightforward -- it takes the catch probability of every ball hit to an outfielder, then credits them for the plays they make and debits them for the ones they miss. No one was better this season than Boston’s perennial center field stalwart, Bradley, who entered Sunday 2 OAA clear of the field.
The Dodgers knew that they would not only pair two former MVP-level hitters in Betts and Bellinger when they traded for Betts last offseason -- they also acquired one of baseball’s best defenders in right field. The Dodgers’ outfield as a whole was baseball’s best by OAA this year, thanks in large part to Bellinger and Betts. Grisham’s first season out west saw him turn a lot of heads, both at the plate and with the glove in center field.