MLB's most surprising league leaders

August 20th, 2021

Certain league leaders everybody can see coming. Fernando Tatis Jr. leading the NL in homers (and steals)? Not surprising. Gerrit Cole leading the AL in strikeouts? Not surprising.

But there are some weird league leaders out there that will shock you even if you’ve been watching baseball every day all season. There’s a lot of strange black ink on Baseball-Reference pages these days. Here are 10 of the wilder ones. We’ll start with pitching stats, and then move on to hitting stats (though you’ll see some pitchers listed there).


MLB Wins: , Cubs -- 14
Hendricks is playing for a team that’s 15 games under .500 and is starting at least four hitters who very well might be randomly generated names. And yet here he is, leading the National League (and the Majors) in wins. The Cubs have 54 wins this year: Hendricks, absurdly, has 14 of them. Even crazier: He also leads the Majors in hits allowed (159).

MLB Hits per 9: , Brewers -- 4.673
Two years ago, Peralta pitched 85 innings and gave up …. 87 hits. (This is a good way to get a 5.29 ERA.) This year, he has thrown 121 1/3 innings and given up … 63. That’s cutting his hits per nine in half. Even though he went on the injured list on Thursday with right shoulder inflammation, he leads the second-place Brandon Woodruff -- hey, why are the Brewers so good this year? -- by nearly 1.2 H/9, and, say, Cole by more than two.

MLB HBP: , Padres -- 16
I’m not saying that Adams will not be satisfied until he has plunked all of us, professional baseball players, accountants, actuaries, deli cashiers, everyone he sees. But he leads the Majors with 16 hit batsmen even though he has only thrown 41 2/3 innings. He has faced 183 batters and has hit 16 of them. That means he hits one out of every 11.4 batters he faces. Duck!

MLB Pickoffs: , Padres -- 8
The Padres do love their specialists. Weathers’ special skill is picking off runners: He has eight, most in the Majors, and he’s thrown just 78 1/3 innings.


NL Caught Stealing: , Marlins -- 7
Chisholm is a very exciting rookie who has flashed just about every tool there is this year. But he should probably be a little bit more careful on the basepaths. He has been thrown out in seven of his 18 attempts this year. But even more amusing, perhaps, is who is leading the American League.

MLB/AL Caught Stealing: , Angels -- 8
Ohtani, with 18 steals, has a better stolen-base percentage than Chisholm. It’s still hilarious that Ohtani has a non-zero chance to pull off the surreal HR/ERA/Caught Stealing Triple Crown.

NL HBP (hitters): , Reds -- 18
India has been a godsend for the Reds this year in several different ways, not least of which is his stunning .390 OBP. (That’s 25 points higher than he had in 2019, the last season he played organized baseball, in the Minors for the Reds.) A large portion of that OBP is HBP. Sometimes making it in the Majors requires a little pain.

MLB/AL HBP (hitters): , A’s -- 22
Canha is the sort of player who keeps hanging around and contributing largely by finding ways to help out wherever he can. He’s a model for India: Canha has been getting plunked regularly for seven years now.

MLB Sac Bunts: , Cardinals -- 12
Wainwright, who will turn 40 years old at the end of the month, is actually second in the NL in some major categories, including innings pitched and batters faced. But the former Silver Slugger has been putting down bunts like it’s 1984. He’s still only three up on the Royals’ Nicky Lopez, who leads the AL.

MLB At-Bats: , Rangers -- 481
Known by a lot of fantasy baseball players as “the guy who has catcher eligibility though he never catches,” Kiner-Falefa has been one of the most durable players in baseball this year, as he's tied for the AL lead in games (120) while leading the Majors in at-bats. He’s not necessarily doing a lot with those games and at-bats (.657 OPS), but there is always something to be said for still going out there and doing it every day.