Every fan knows that there are always a couple of players who just tend to crush your team. In an effort to find (and prosecute) these “team killers” I have scoured the resources of the internet to compile the the top team killers for each team in 2016. In order to find these dastardly fellows we have to set some criteria:
- Only hitters will be considered.
- To avoid players that only played a couple games against a team we will be focusing only on division rivals.
- Only hitters who have played in at least six games against the team will be considered. This is an attempt to block out players with very few pinch hitting appearances but allow for regular subs and pinch hitters to show up on the list.
The effectiveness of a killer will be based on On Base plus Slugging percentage (OPS). I’m using OPS because I want to identify players who did the most damage by getting on-base (average and walks) and hitting for extra-bases (slugging). Let’s get the ball back on track by looking at the killers of the American League West.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
The Angels were hurt by a lot of fresh young faces and one really, really familiar one. Guillermo Heredia, Ryon Healy, and Nomar Mazara were all rookies and Robinson Chirinos has only been in the league for three seasons. Of course, grizzled AL West legend Adrian Beltre rounded at the Angels’ killer list. Chirinos made the six games he played against Angels count: one double, three home runs, four RBIs, and three runs. That being said he never truly changed the course of the game. Heredia played in two less games and put up a similar line: one double, a home run, three RBIs, three runs, and had four walks. He played a part in big Mariner comebacks on August 6th and September 2nd. His home run in September started the comeback when they were down four runs.
Those two players may have the higher OPS but I still consider Mazara and Beltre better killers. This is because they played the Angels twice as much.
The usual suspects and an old enemy continued to pester the Astros this year. Albert Pujols made it his own personal mission to terrorize the Astros but then he finally left the NL Central. One year later, Houston moved to the AL West, obviously unaware that Pujols had signed a loooooong contract with a team in the AL West……bad move ‘stros. Seattle provided the home for the top two Astro killers; second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager. Seager got on base more than Cano, but Cano brought the bigger bat. The only thing that Seager did that Cano couldn’t top was hit triples.
By season’s end Cano had six doubles, nine home runs, 25 RBIs (almost a ¼ of his season total), and 11 runs against the Astros. Cano was a pure terror against the ‘stros, he had more games with two hits then he did without a single hit. He didn’t just hit, no, he made his hits count! Twice he hit game winning runs and once a bases clearing double, all in the ninth inning or later. And there was also that time he had SIX FREAKING RBIs ON TWO HITS! Seriously Houston fans, do you guys just close your eyes and pray when Cano comes up or what?
The division champs were plagued by platoon players and some starters. Khris Davis provided the most hurt but Seth Smith, veteran Coco Crisp, rookie Dae-ho Lee, and Danny Valencia all did their part against the Rangers. Seattle Outfielder Seth Smith did his part against Texas: a double, three home runs, seven RBIs, and nine runs. He tried hard for Seattle but in the end they were 6-11, when Smith played against Texas. Khris Davis made quite the impression in his first year in Oakland and you can be sure that Texas fans noticed him too. Six doubles, ten home runs, 24 RBIs, and six runs over 18 games. He had two hits, or more, in almost half of his games. He provided his share of big games:
- A 2-4 day with a home run, five RBIs, and three runs scored, albeit in a 14-5 win.
- Two home runs, a double, and three RBIs, one of which was a game-winning homer.
- And the biggest of all 3-5, three home runs and six RBIs. Including a WALK-OFF GRAND SLAM…..pretty sure you could call the Rangers dead after that game.
A couple old enemies and some relatively new ones killed the Mariners this year. I know AL West fans have been waiting for a certain player’s name to come and it finally has: Mike Trout….or as the folk of Seattle call him: Fish face. Fish Face’s fellow outfielder Kole Calhoun made the killer list along with Beltre and Jose Altuve. Mike Trout was only second best at killing the Mariners. Trout did his normal Mariner-killing thing over 19 games by hitting two doubles, two triples, seven home runs, 17 RBIs, and scoring 18 runs.
Former Astro (and now current Astro) Carlos Beltran returned to the AL West and made his presence known in Seattle. In ten games, Beltran hit four doubles, three home runs, nine RBIs, and scored eight runs. He was got on base nearly half the times he came up to bat. He had a hit in every game and had two, or more, hits in seven of those games. Beltran was able to seal the deal as the king Mariner killer because he hit well AND backed it up with a couple big games. He did his part, in a losing effort, because he went 4-5 with a two-run shot. However, his most influential game was on August 29th. He gave the Rangers a quick lead that they wouldn’t relinquish by going 3-4 with a double and a solo shot.
Bench bats mingle with a superstar and a bear in the Oakland Killer list. The White Bear himself Evan Gattis, fellow Astro Tony Kemp, and pinch hitter Chirinos all “appear” to be better Athletic killers than 2016 AL MVP Mike Trout. Chirinos and Kemp obviously have much higher OPS. However, combined they didn’t play the Athletics more than Gattis or Trout, and there is something to be said for a slightly lower OPS in literally twice the number of games.
Now if you want to crown Gattis the best killer of the Athletics I won’t argue with you too much… But I want to point out that Trout literally had an average 100 pts higher and the chances of him getting on base are the same of coin flip for heads. Trout played the complete 18 games against the Athletics and he made them pay: two doubles, five runs, 12 RBIs, nine walks, and scored 20 runs.
Here’s your crazy Trout stat of the day: Trout made it on base against the Athletics in 16 of 18 games. Trout was a big part of the Angels offense but had surprisingly few opportunities to hurt Oakland in big spots, though that is likely caused by the fact that Angel-Athletic games weren’t very close for the most part. Trout seemed to enjoy playing Oakland though, he had five games three-hit games although for some reason he didn’t hit for much power.
It appears that the key to winning the division is having the most team killers. Division Champs, the Texas Rangers, ended up with eight killers. The second place Mariners had the second most number of killers at six. Houston and Anaheim had 3 and 4 killers respectively. The 93 loss Athletics had three killers. Three players tied for most appearances (2): Robinson Chirinos, Mike Trout, and Adrian Beltre. By OPS, Chirinos was the best killer of them but he played 23 total games against the AL West. Whereas Mike Trout played every AL West team at least 16 times each and was a big thorn in every team’s side. So I’m gonna ahead and crown the 2016 AL MVP as the deadliest player of the AL West….was there really ever any doubt?
A REAL LIFE NIGHTMARE FOR THE AL WEST