Our Most Popular Pieces of 2016

Every year, we run lots of pieces here in the FanGraphs family of blogs. We take a look at the “best” of them each week, but that’s fairly subjective, and there’s also an effort to spread the love, since a true “best of” post would just be 10-15 articles by Jeff Sullivan every week, and that wouldn’t be an entertaining exercise. Not even for Jeff.

This article is something we try to do every year, though sometimes I forget. This is all about the numbers — which posts were the most popular? We’ll do an overall top 15, since we do 15 posts for the “best of” post, with some honorable mentions as well. We’ll start at No. 15, because if nothing else, I want to make you scroll you down the page a little. Just in case it’s not clear, this top-15 list is going to be limited to pieces which were posted in 2016.

No. 15 (Mar. 29)
Let’s Find Rusney Castillo a New Home, by Dave Cameron
Sadly, Rusney Castillo did not find a new home, though he did hit better in the second half in Triple-A. I’m still not ready to give up on him, but Boston’s outfield is beyond crowded, so this story might not have a happy ending.

No. 14 (Jan. 11)
An Early Look at the Projected Standings, by Dave Cameron
Featured in this post were two handy graphs. This was one of them:

2016vs2015baseruns-1

Eh, turned out pretty close to that.

No. 13 (Jan. 5)
Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Boston Red Sox, by Dan Farnsworth
Sometimes, we get slapped with the “FenGraphs” label, but people seem to want to know about the Red Sox. So…

No. 12 (Mar. 8)
Rotographs Ranking March Update – Starting Pitchers, by Paul Sporer
Preseason is a time for fantasy rankings, and if that’s your bag, it’s hard to do much better than Paul Sporer ranking starting pitchers. He’s got a bit of a rep for that.

No. 11 (Jul. 25)
An Improved KATOH Top-100 List, by Chris Mitchell
This piece represented a great deal of hard work on Chris’ part, so it’s nice to see that it was well read.

No. 10 (Feb. 16)
FanGraphs Membership, by David Appelman
I debated not including this one, since it’s not technically baseball analysis, but it is definitely one of the most important things we did in 2016, so it didn’t feel right to selectively cut it out either. As always, we’ll never charge you to use the site, but your support of the site will be/is greatly appreciated.

No. 9 (Dec. 23)
The Link Between Travis d’Arnaud’s Set-Up, Struggles, by Gerald Schifman
When you consider that the traffic statistics fueling this post were given to me on Dec. 30, it’s pretty remarkable that this post cracked the top 10 in just a week, particularly when that week was during the holidays. That it did is a testament to Gerald’s always marvelous work.

No. 8 (Sept. 26)
The Worst Called Ball on Record, by Jeff Sullivan
“Sometimes, things just go bad.” Except for Jeff’s work, of course. It is always annoyingly great.

No. 7 (Oct. 21)
Why They Don’t Run Like Mad on Jon Lester, by Jeff Sullivan
What is one out, when it’s for science, indeed. Another trademark Sullivan breakdown.

No. 6 (Jan. 7)
Evaluating the 2016 Prospects: Chicago Cubs, by Dan Farnsworth
Now that the Cubs have won it all, I wonder how long it will take before people start hating them the way some people now hate the Red Sox. Will it be quick, or will they get an extended honeymoon? I guess we’ll see.

No. 5 (Sept. 26)
I Can’t Wait to Tell My Son About Jose Fernandez, by Dave Cameron
This was an article that we all wish never had to be written, but unfortunately it did, and Dave did a great job with it. The picture of Fernandez watching the fireworks show gets me every time.

No. 4 (Feb. 16)
The Worst Transactions of the 2016 Offseason, by Dave Cameron
People like lists.

No. 3 (Feb. 15)
The Best Transactions of the 2016 Offseason, by Dave Cameron
People really like lists. Also, it’s nice to see the “best” list get more play than the “worst” list. There is actually a pretty sizable gap between the two posts.

No. 2 (Feb. 22)
Grading the Offseasons for All 30 Teams, by Dave Cameron
What’s interesting about this piece is that was written in the sliver of time when it looked like Dexter Fowler would play for the Baltimore Orioles in 2016. It’s funny to think back that that close to the regular season there was still an important decision still to come.

No. 1 (Apr. 29)
The Doug Mirabelli Trade: An Oral History, by Tim Healey
Combine a quirky story that many baseball fans sort of remembered, with some top-notch reporting that saw the author talk to three general managers, three former players and even the stateys, and you have yourself one hell of a story. When Tim told me the initial idea for this story, which was built off of the Josh Beckett anecdote, the story seemed too good to be true. It wasn’t. This was easily the most read story that we published in 2016.

Honorable Mentions
Most Popular Article of the Year That Wasn’t Published This Year
The Story Behind Billy Ripken’s F*ck Face Card, by Carson Cistulli
This narrowly edged out the Mirabelli story for the most read FanGraphs story of 2016, though it is an honorable mention due to the fact it was published in the olden times of 2010. #keepnotgraphs

Second-Most Popular Article of the Year Not Actually Published in 2016
2016-17 MLB Draft Rankings: Ridiculously Early Edition, by Kiley McDaniel
This one initially was just behind the Red Sox prospect list in the rankings, but then I noticed that it was actually a 2015 article. Obviously Kiley didn’t get nail the predictions for all of these guys, but that he got some of them is pretty impressive, and it’s that eye for talent that got him hired back into the industry.

Most Popular Community Article of the Year
What Is Wrong With Adam Wainwright?, by ecoccaro
This was a thorough breakdown of what would become a season-long issue, though Adam Wainwright was certainly at his worst in April, and did manage to turn in a nearly three-win season.



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Paul Swydan is the managing editor of The Hardball Times, a writer and editor for FanGraphs and a writer for Boston.com. He has written for The Boston Globe, ESPN MLB Insider and ESPN the Magazine, among others. Follow him on Twitter @Swydan.


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