Last week we started the Team Killers Series with the NL Central. If you read that then you can skip the first two paragraphs.
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). Today we are going to look at the team killers of the American League Central.
Chicago White Sox
There are some big names on this list: former MVP Miguel Cabrera, all-star Brian Dozier, J.D. Martinez, and former top prospect Byron Buxton. All of these players did damage throughout the year but J.D. Martinez was the biggest pain by far. J.D. collected 10 doubles, three homers, 11 RBIs, 14 runs, and nine walks but his effectiveness goes farther than counting numbers.
In nine of the ten games, that the Tigers won, J.D. had at least a run and/or an RBI. He made a quite a few important plays against the White Sox: a game winning HR in his only plate appearance, went 3-3 with three runs and a two run homer, and made the difference in a 7-4 ball game by getting three RBIs, including a two run homer off Chris Sale. Martinez straight up owned the White Sox this year. In only one game did he not get a hit, don’t worry he still drew a walk and scored a run.
|Byung Ho Park||MIN||0.348||0.385||0.870||1.254|
The Cleveland Indians had one of the top baseball staffs in baseball this year but that didn’t keep four out of the five Cleveland killers from being platoon/bench bats. “Rookie”, and Korean import, Byung Ho Park and 1B/C Drew Butera were the top two killers. Backup catcher Drew Butera,(aka the best position player pitcher on the KC roster) only played in eight games (started six) but he was able to tally up three doubles, a triple, and two home runs, totalling up five RBIs.
Although Butera had an OPS of 1.344 against Cleveland, the rest of his team did not do so well…Kansas City lost seven of the eight games he played. The Indians pitching staff really shines here because Butera gave them the most trouble and his best day was two doubles in two at bats with an RBI. That stat line doesn’t really jump off the page and he never changed a game into the Royals favor.
The list of Tiger killers is one of the higher quality lists so far. Everyone on this list is a starter and played the Tigers at least 15 times. Alex Gordon had a down year this season but you couldn’t tell if you were a Tigers fan. Gordon saw the Tigers 15 times and he hit three doubles, fourhome runs, and nine RBIs. As good as Gordon was Jose Abreu was the true Tiger Killer this season. He was absolutely brutal; four doubles, five home runs, 14 RBIs, and more walks than strikeouts. Abreu didn’t participate in many heroics for the White Sox, due to the fact that Chicago only won 8 games of 18, but he was still a problem as he hit in all but two games and had nine multi-hit games.
Kansas City Royals
Cleveland reign supreme over the Royals with three of the top five players. All-stars Brian Dozier and Francisco Lindor are the most lucrative Royal killers. However, they occupy the lower part of this list. Michael Martinez, now famous for being the final out of the 2017 World Series, is the king killer of Kansas City. He only came to bat four times but he got three hits, one of which was a two-run home run (should’ve chose a different time to do that Michael). Although Martinez had the highest OPS, Tyler Naquin was a much bigger pain. The rookie had 38 more plate appearances than Martinez. He had two doubles, five home runs, and drove in 12 runs. Naquin went three for four with a double, two home runs, and six RBIs on July 20th…he literally outscored the Royals by himself.
The Minnesota Twins were one of the worst teams in the league this year, which makes it a little surprising that the OPS of their killers is so low, compared to the other teams of the AL Central. Tyler Naquin and Mike Napoli both went to town on the Twins, making this their second appearance on a killer list. Former World Series MVP Salvador Perez was the runner-up killer by tallying a 1.032 OPS. Against the Twins, Perez had seven doubles, two triples, two homers, 15 runs scored, and 13 runs driven in.
The top killer was Tyler Naquin, whom made a quick and poor impression on the Twins in his first season. In 15 games Naquin scored 11 runs, with two doubles, two home runs, and only two less walks than strikeouts. Tyler never truly ruined Minnesota’s day but he was persistent, annoying, player that was always on base….it was a literal coin flip if Naquin was going to be on base or not (.500 OBP). The game on August 1st was the only time that Naquin did not reach base against the Twins. Unfortunately, the Twins are going to be seeing a lot more of Naquin in the coming years.
By the numbers:
Just like in the NL Central, the division winner had the highest number of killers. In total, Cleveland Indians appeared seven times. Shockingly, the 78-84 Chicago White Sox had the second highest number of killers with five. The other three teams were tied with four killers each. This time around there is not a clear cut AL Central killer; Dozier and Naquin both appear twice but ties are no fun. I’m going to go with the rookie from Cleveland: Mr. Tyler Naquin. Naquin topped one killer list and was second in another. Against the AL Central, Naquin hit .336 with six doubles, three triples, 10 home runs , 26 RBIs, and scored 30 runs. He’s young, controllable, and resides in Cleveland where they latch on to young talent. All told the AL Central better hold on because this was his first year and he’ll likely get better.
Hey AL Central, this will be a familiar face for years to come: