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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.