Comebacker Of The Year

Paul just put up his early look at the Comeback Player of the Year, but while this headline is similar, I’m going to talk about something quite different. A couple of days ago, Keith Law was being asked about comeback players on Twitter, and I jokingly suggested that perhaps the award should go to the guy who hit the most ground balls to the pitcher, sometimes referred to “comebackers”, at least by me anyway. Based on his terrible results and lack of power, I guessed that Yunel Escobar might rank pretty highly on the list.

In fairly quick order, several people started requesting just such a list, and so I hit up query-master Jeff Zimmerman, who came through as always, presenting me with a list of batters who had hit into the most groundouts where the pitcher got an assist. We are not giving any extra credit for hitting into double or triple plays – this is simply a straight count of balls hit back to the pitcher that resulted in an out.

The long awaited results for Comebacker Of The Year (So Far) after the jump.


Rank Player Comebackers
1 Yonder Alonso 18
2 Brian McCann 17
3 Jason Heyward 16
4 Michael Brantley 16
5 Jason Kipnis 16

Congratulations, Yonder Alonso – your combination of high contact rates, marginal power, and total lack of foot speed have made you the early leader for this dubious honor. Interestingly, though three other guys in the top five all run fairly well, so perhaps I’m overstating the effect of Alonso’s slugglishness on his comebacker ranking. After all, not too many guys are going to beat out a ground ball to the pitcher…

Yunel Escobar, if you’re curious, has only hit back to the pitcher four times all year, tying him for 150th in the Majors in this one particular thing. So, apparently, I’m not very good at guessing. Sorry for besmirching your good name, Mr. Escobar.



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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


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LeviDavis
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LeviDavis
3 years 10 months ago

Full list, please.

Well-Beered Englishman
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Well-Beered Englishman
3 years 10 months ago

Yeah, I want to see if it’s all Indians and Braves.

Dr_Caligari
Member
Dr_Caligari
3 years 10 months ago

It’ll be interspersed with Padres (and I would have to assume the occasional Cub and Astro because they are so bad), but I’m pretty sure that the top 50 has approximately 40 Indians and Braves, since 4/5 expands to 40/50.

Cus
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Cus
3 years 10 months ago

Obviously racist graph.

Bill G.
Member
Bill G.
3 years 10 months ago

Yunel’s ground balls rarely go up the middle. Instead, he has mastered the art of the weak groundout to short followed by a total lack of interest in even trying to beat the throw to first by running it out. He has been using his last few games hitting in the middle of the order to work on the lazy fly ball to the outfield.

Rob
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Rob
3 years 10 months ago

That sound you hear is Braves fans everywhere laughing and nodding.

larry bowa
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larry bowa
3 years 10 months ago

lolololol

J
Guest
J
3 years 10 months ago

Escobar is still better than the sack of bricks the Jays gave the Braves for him.

Sleight of Hand Pro
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Sleight of Hand Pro
3 years 10 months ago

true, but their sack of bricks isn’t making $5M/year either.

Wobatus
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Wobatus
3 years 10 months ago

Escobar was worth $19.3 million last year and $7.4 million so far this year, so I’m sure the Jays don’t mind that much paying him $5 million, although he has been a major disappointment this year at the plate.

Wil
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Wil
3 years 10 months ago

Wobatus, his “7.4” million dollar value is derived almost solely from his defensive metrics. It dang sure ain’t the 70 +wRC that’s doing it.

I’m sure you could get a purely defensive shortstop for a lot less than 5 million. Maybe they don’t mind his defense, but I’m sure they mind the whole he creates in their lineup for 5 million.

Ruggiano's Pizza
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Ruggiano's Pizza
3 years 10 months ago

Forget it Wil. Wobatus is an inveterate AL East fanboi who worships the ground AA walks on. Don’t confuse the poor lad with facts or anything that might contradict his devotion.

mcneildon
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mcneildon
3 years 10 months ago

I haven’t seen a single at bat that he’s had this year, but it looks to me like he’s been enveloped by Luck Dragons this year. His career babip is .307 and this year it’s .265. His line-drive rate is right at his career average. Although, his walk-rate is atrocious, so maybe he has fallen apart as a hitter. Still, I’d take him at $5 million per year.

Mark
Guest
Mark
3 years 10 months ago

Sadly our friend Bill is mistaken about the lack of effort put forth by Escobar. It’s easy to say that given his struggles, sure, but unless he’s watching a different Blue Jays game then I am, then there is no lack of effort or hustle by Escobar.

A shitload of groundballs, definitely. But not a lack of hustle.

Doc Milo
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Doc Milo
3 years 10 months ago

What about Chipper Jones? He’s having a better year than all of these guys. No?

Rob
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Rob
3 years 10 months ago

Considering this is a list of guys who have hit the most ground balls to the pitcher….probably not.

Doc Milo
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Doc Milo
3 years 10 months ago

Doh!

Jon L.
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Jon L.
3 years 10 months ago

Hey, how about Adam Dunn and David Wright? Someone ought to write an article about those guys!

Justin Bailey
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Justin Bailey
3 years 10 months ago

Why do people leave comments without reading the article? I don’t understand…

No_Comment
Guest
No_Comment
3 years 10 months ago

because its fun!

TKDC
Member
Member
TKDC
3 years 10 months ago

I don’t know how many these guys hit, but bunts should be excluded.

Alex
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Alex
3 years 10 months ago

Somehow, with bunts excluded, I think Alonso’s spot at the top of this list is safe.

Marver
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Marver
3 years 10 months ago

Oddly enough, Buddy Black had Yonder bunt against the A’s this year with a runner on second and no outs in the eighth. Normally I scream at the TV when the 1B (and the fifth guy in your lineup) puts down a sacrifice. However, the next two batters both struck out, but inbetween that, Forsythe scored on a wild pitch.

Funny, that game of baseball.

matt w
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matt w
3 years 10 months ago

Runner on second and no outs in late innings is usually the best time for a bunt, not accounting for who’s bunting.

DD
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DD
3 years 10 months ago

Freddie Galvis had to be up there until his injury/suspension.

Alex
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Alex
3 years 10 months ago

You know, George, the ocean called…

Jerk store
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Jerk store
3 years 10 months ago

Most cleverest comment EVER.

(Of the day.)

Radivel
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Radivel
3 years 10 months ago

The all-time best seller.

No_Comment
Guest
No_Comment
3 years 10 months ago

what does it mean?

No_Comment
Guest
No_Comment
3 years 10 months ago

is that a “jerk store” reference?

joebananas
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joebananas
3 years 10 months ago

needs animated gifs!

TheoK
Member
TheoK
3 years 10 months ago

Comebackers don’t have to be outs, they can also go for hits, Dave.

TheoK
Member
TheoK
3 years 10 months ago

I would actually go further.

Line drives that whiz right by the pitcher’s head, or that hit the pitcher, more accurately fit the description of “comebacker,” than do weak ground balls that are easily fielded.

No_Comment
Guest
No_Comment
3 years 10 months ago

we should be able get sortable video clips of every AB before too much longer. be kind of funny to see one player hitting 17 comebackers in a row.

mike_vivs
Member
mike_vivs
3 years 10 months ago

it should be noted that ground balls back to the pitcher in the context of timing the pitch (as a hitter) are not as dubious as those grounded to corner infielders. #foodforthought

Buddy
Guest
Buddy
3 years 10 months ago

McCann actually has 18 if you count the ball he smacked off of Javy Guerra’s face earlier this year.

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