Predicting Every MLB Team’s 2014 Leader in Hits
See Who Will Lead Their Team in Hits in 2014
The "hits" statistic is one of the most important stats that is kept in baseball. It is the combination of all of the times a player was able to not only able to get good wood on a pitch, but perfectly place the ball where there are no fielders (preferably the seats).
Being a team hits leader in the MLB shows that player does not only have great baseball skills, but also has durability. A player might only take the field for 100 games in a given season and finish with a batting average of .330. But if they, hypothetically, only managed 130 hits that season did they really help the team as much as it appears? Most clubs will take the guy who played in 160 games, got 180 hits, but only had an average of .290. Batting averages can sometimes look better than they really are, hits are irrefutable.
The biggest thing to keep an eye out for this season will be if any players get past the 200-hit plateau. No one was able to accomplish this feat last year as Adrian Beltre of the Texas Rangers led the AL with 199 hits and Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals also led the NL with 199. In total, only six players in the Majors got in the 190-200 range, thus showing that getting hits might be harder now than it has been in the past.
So which players will lead their teams in this category in 2014? Some are household names, some might come as a surprise, but all of these players should be on pitchers radars because they have the best shot at getting the most hits on their respective clubs.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Paul Goldschmidt
Paul Goldschmidt broke onto the national stage last season as he established himself as the best hitter on the Arizona Diamondbacks. In only his second full season, Goldschmidt collected 182 hits to lead the D-Backs. He is young, has good power and there is no reason to think his hit total will decline in 2014.
Atlanta Braves: Freddie Freeman
Freddie Freeman had a solid rebound year for the Atlanta Braves in 2013, improving his hit total of only 140 in 2012 to 176 to lead Atlanta in the category. Third baseman Chris Johnson might challenge him for the top spot this season, but if Freeman continues this upward climb he should lead the Braves once again and further establish himself as a dangerous presence at the plate.
Baltimore Orioles: Adam Jones
Manny Machado had a fantastic first full season for the Baltimore Orioles last year in which he led the team with 189 hits. However, it is not too uncommon for players to experience a bit of a sophomore slump their second full year in the league. Adam Jones finished just behind Machado with 186 hits of his own last year and along with his experience in the Majors makes him the top choice in leading the O's in hits in 2014.
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia has been the heart and soul of the Red Sox for the past few seasons, so it comes as no surprise that he led the team in hits in 2013. Even with David Ortiz's big season, Pedroia still collected more hits because he plays in more games and thus gets more at-bats. Add together Pedroia's pure hitting skill and his desire to play every day and there is no reason he will not be the hit champion again for Boston.
Chicago Cubs: Anthony Rizzo
Anthony Rizzo was given the tough task of becoming the best bat in the Chicago Cubs lineup in 2013. While he put up respectable numbers of 23 homers and 80 RBI's, his hit total of 141 was a little on the low side. Starlin Castro led the Cubs in hits last season, but his hit totals have dropped significantly the previous two seasons. Look for Rizzo to get adjusted to being the leader of Chicago and for his hit total to go up a solid amount.
Chicago White Sox: Alexei Ramirez
The former home run hitting Cuban League player, Jose Abreu, would have been an interesting choice, but it is always tough to tell how a foreign player will fare in the MLB. Alexei Ramirez's 181 hits last year not only led the Chicago White Sox but were 16 more than his previous career high. He is a safe bet to lead Chi-town again this season.
Cincinnati Reds: Joey Votto
Joey Votto was once again the best all-around hitter for the Cincinnati Reds in 2013 leading them in hits with 177. Jay Bruce also had a great season by collecting over 30 homers and 100 RBI's, but he usually does not make contact with the ball as he also struck out 185 times. With Shin-Soo Choo gone and Brandon Phillips aging, it seems like Votto will be the guy getting the hits again for the Reds.
Cleveland Indians: Michael Brantley
Michael Brantley and Jason Kipnis both put up solid seasons for the Cleveland Indians, as Kipnis gathered 160 hits and Brantley collected 158 and it seems like their hit totals in 2014 will be extremely close again. However, Brantley struck out less than half as many times as Kipnis did (143 to 67). If Brantley continues to be twice as disciplined at the plate than Kipnis, then he will be leading the Indians in hits in 2014..
Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez
Michael Cuddyer led the Colorado Rockies in hits last year but it was by far the best season of his career as he hit 54 points higher than his career batting average and it is highly unlikely he will put up numbers like that again. Both Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki missed significant time last year due to injuries, but Gonzalez's history seems like he has a better chance of staying on the field more than Tulowitzki and will lead Colorado in hits in 2014.
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
With the title of being the winner of the AL MVP for the past two seasons, someone in the Detroit Tigers lineup will have to outhit Miguel Cabrera for a whole season before he is not the favorite to lead the team in this category. Despite facing injuries in 2013 and appearing in the fewest games of his career, Cabrera still led the team with 193 hits and seems poised to do it again in 2014.
Houston Astros: Jose Altuve
In a year in which the Houston Astros put together one of the worst season's in baseball history, Jose Altuve provided one of the few bright spots for Houston's lineup. His 177 hits were 46 more than Matt Dominguez who finished second for the Astros. Since Houston does not look like they are much improved from last year, expect Altuve to easily lead this team in hits again in 2014.
Kansas City Royals: Eric Hosmer
Eric Hosmer had the perfect rebound season for the Kansas City Royals in 2013 which his batting average went up a remarkable 70 points and he collected 64 more hits than he did the previous year. With great young talent and a confidence that should be soaring after a successful 2013, Hosmer should once again lead the Royals in hits in 2014.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Mike Trout
Mike Trout can arguably be seen as the second best hitter in the Majors and no one on the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim should top him in hits this season. Even though the Angels boast solid hitters in Mark Trumbo and Josh Hamilton, both of those guys finished over 40 hits behind Trout in 2013 and it seems like Trout will be even better in 2014.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez missed a sizable amount of games in 2013 for the second time in three years. However, he was unstoppable in the games that he did play in as he posted a .345 batting average while collecting 105 hits in only 86 games. Ramirez finished 66 behind teammate Adrian Gonzalez last year, but if he can play a full season he will easily lead the Los Angeles Dodgers in hits this season.
Miami Marlins: Giancarlo Stanton
Giancarlo Stanton is the best pure hitter in an otherwise weak Miami Marlins lineup, but the biggest key to leading his team in hits this year will be if he can remain healthy as he only appeared in 116 games in 2013. Adeiny Hechavarria got the most hits in 2013 for Miami with 123, 17 more than Stanton, but he had 118 more at-bats. If Stanton can play a full season then there's no doubt he will get the most hits for the Marlins.
Milwaukee Brewers: Jean Segura
Even though Ryan Braun is scheduled to play a full season after serving a 65-game suspension for PED's last year, there is no telling how effective he will be in 2014. Not only does he not have supplements that might have given him an edge in the past, but there will be a lot of animosity towards him that he will not be used to and it might be difficult for him to perform well. Look for Jean Segura to build off a successful first full season for the Milwaukee Brewers.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer
It was good news for Joe Mauer when he announced that he was going to be a full-time first baseman in 2014 and bad news for the Minnesota Twins. With the switch, the Twins lost one of the best offensive catchers in the league and created a void at the position. However, the less physically demanding position of first base should mean that Mauer can stay rested and his numbers will be the highest of his career.
New York Mets: Daniel Murphy
The casual fan might be surprised that it was Daniel Murphy who led the New York Mets in hits in 2013 and not all-star third baseman David Wright, but Murphy actually collected 56 more hits than Wright last year. With Murphy's numbers rising every year and Wright missing significant time due to injuries in two of the past three seasons, expect Murphy to once again lead the Mets in hits in 2014.
New York Yankees: Jacoby Ellsbury
Even though Derek Jeter can be regarded as one of the best hitters in New York Yankees and league history, there is no denying that age is slowing him down a bit and thus makes it a long shot that he will lead the Pinstripes in hits one more time. Look for newcomer Jacoby Ellsbury to get the most hits as he definitely has the potential to get over 200 hits in 2014.
Oakland Athletics: Josh Donaldson
It was a close race between Jed Lowrie and Josh Donaldson to see who would lead the Oakland Athletics in hits in 2013, a race that Lowrie ended up winning by one hit. However, Donaldson had 24 less at-bats and is a better all-around hitter as he has more homers, RBI's and a higher slugging percentage than Lowrie. Lowire might have won the hits race in 2013, but it will be Donaldson leading the Athletics in 2014.
Philadelphia Philles: Ben Revere
Ben Revere had a successful season with the Philadelphia Phillies in 2013 as he collected 96 hits in only 88 games. If he plays a full season, which he is expected to do, he should have no problem collecting more hits than veteran Jimmy Rollins, who led the team in hits last year, and the oft-injured Chase Utley.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
Andrew McCutchen became a household name in 2013 as he took home the NL MVP after a very successful season that saw him lead the Pittsburgh Pirates in hits, doubles, and runs. Pittsburgh also has a dangerous hitter in Pedro Alvarez, but he is more of a power hitter and not a contact one, so it should be easy for McCutchen to once again lead the Pirates in hits this upcoming season.
San Diego Padres: Everth Cabrera
Everth Cabrera was able to collect 108 hits in only 95 games for the San Diego Padres in 2013. More impressive than that is he stole 37 bases in those 95 games. He clearly has the speed that can turn a lot of outs into singles, and if he can play for a full season for the Padres, then he will lead them in the hits category in 2014.
San Francisco Giants: Hunter Pence
Hunter Pence was able to put up a great year for the San Francisco Giants in which he almost hit 30 homers and drove in 100 runs (he had 27 home runs and had 99 RBI's). He also led the team in hits with 178. Superstar catcher Buster Posey could be an interesting choice to lead the Giants in hits this year, but his position is so demanding that he will need days off, resulting in fewer at-bats than Pence and thus will get less hits.
Seattle Mariners: Robinson Cano
Let's put it this way, it would be a huge disappointment for the Seattle Mariners if Robinson Cano does not lead the club in every offensive category this year, including hits. After signing a ten year, $300 million contract in the offseason, the pressure will be on Cano to repeat, and better, the numbers he put up in New York. He will definitely be shooting for over 200 hits which would easily put him on the top of the Mariners list for this category.
St. Louis Cardinals: Matt Carpenter
After leading the NL in hits with 199 in only his second full season in the Majors, Matt Carpenter is poised to have another stellar season for the St. Louis Cardinals. He is part of one of the best lineups in baseball, thus making it hard for pitchers to pitch around him because there will be another tough hitter coming up behind him so he will always see good pitches to hit. Barring a significant injury, Carpenter should top the 200 hit mark in 2014.
Tampa Bay Rays: James Loney
James Loney finished behind Ben Zobrist and Evan Longoria for the most hits for the Tampa Bay Rays in 2013. He had one less hit than Longoria with 65 less at-bats and four less hits than Zobrist with 63 less at-bats. It should be no problem for Loney to become the Rays hit leader in 2014 if the gap in at-bats closes even a little bit.
Texas Rangers: Adrian Beltre
Adrian Beltre continues to defy the odds by putting up huge numbers even in the later years of his career. In fact, two of his three top hit totals have come in the last two seasons. With the arrival of the huge bat of Prince Fielderr to give him even more protection in the lineup, there is no reason to think that Beltre will slow slow down in 2014 and will once again lead the Texas Rangers in hits in 2014.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Reyes
There were positives and negatives for Jose Reyes' first season with the Toronto Blue Jays. The bad part was that he was injured for a lot of the season and only appeared in 93 games. The good part was he was very effective when he did play and collected 113 hits in those 93 games. Remarkably he only finished 31 hits behind team leader Edwin Encarnacion despite having 148 less at-bats. If Reyes can stay healthy he should have no problem becoming the Blue Jays hit leader in 2014.
Washington Nationals: Ian Desmond
Ian Desmond has seen a steady climb every season in his hit totals and it seems like there is no reason to think that trend should stop. Denard Span led the Washington Nationals in hits last year with 170, two more than Desmond, but his hit totals are kind of all over the place so there is no telling how many he will end up with in 2014. Desmond's consistent increase in hit totals will put him on top for the Nationals.