The National League's Most Prolific Offensive Players of the 2000s
The list I have compiled sorts through the players who have created and produced the most runs in the National League from 2000-2009.
To do this, I have looked at the runs created and runs produced stats.
Runs created is a statistical tool created by Bill James that does an excellent job at gauging a particular player’s direct contribution to the team’s run total.
I will be the first to admit that I’m not fully on board the sabermetrics bandwagon, because sometimes stats can be deceptive, but I feel that the runs created statistic is fully reliable in it’s current form.
Runs produced is simply home runs plus RBI plus runs scored.
First, I made the cut-off for making this list to be 900 runs created from 2000-2009, and I found that only 10 players mounted those numbers over the past 10 seasons.
From there, I compiled those same players numbers for runs created and added these two numbers (runs created plus runs produced) together in order get a more complete profile of the most prolific offensive players of the past decade in the NL.
This simple addition changed the order of the list around quite a bit, removing Todd Helton from the top spot and instead placing Albert Pujols as King of the Hill. It also moved Adam Dunn out of the top 10 entirely, and moved little man Jimmy Rollins all the way up to eighth.
What I have done by combining these two statistics, runs created and runs produced, accounts for a player like Rollins, who has lesser power than the others, to make his way onto the list for his effectiveness of producing runs.
Of course, this is still an imperfect tool, and I’m not by any means arguing that this is a concrete list of the 10 most prolific offensive players in the last decade.
As you will see, there are the usual suspects scattered across this list, but there are certainly some names that surprised me.
I am confident, however, in saying that this list is a very reliable representation of the elite men at the plate in the NL for the past 10 seasons.
*Corresponding numbers are runs created/runs produced—total run contribution*
Albert Pujols: 1,364/1,817—3,181
“The Machine” was just 21-years old when he began his assault on the NL in 2001, and he hasn’t relented ever since.
Pujols has only posted a sub-1.000 OPS twice in his career (2002, 2007) and has won four Silver Slugger awards at three different positions (third base, first base, outfield).
Todd Helton: 1,370/ 1,738—3,108
Helton had an on base plus slugging percentage of 1.000 or higher for five straight seasons from 2000-2004, and with a .328 career average, he ranks third among active players (trailing only Ichiro and Pujols).
In college, he suffered an injury while playing quarterback at the University of Tennessee, giving the starting job to Peyton Manning.
I’d say that injury worked out just fine for the sweet-swinging lefty in the long run.
Lance Berkman: 1,242/1,676—2,918
The Big Puma does a spectacular job from both sides of the plate and in 2006, he joined Mickey Mantle (who did it four times) as only the second switch-hitter to belt 40 or more home runs in two different seasons.
A Texan throughout his whole life, he’s never slugged fewer than 20 long balls in a full season’s work.
Chipper Jones: 1,146/1,564—2,710
Although Jones played in all 10 seasons this decade, he still notched the second fewest plate appearances (5,887) of any player on this list because of his litany of injuries.
He has smashed 273 homers since the turn of the century, and has collected the third most home runs all-time for a switch-hitter, behind only Mantle and Eddie Murray.
Brian Giles: 1,075/1,459—2,534
I know what you’re saying: Brian Giles?
Believe it or not, he ranks up there with the big swingers over the past decade in the National League. Giles has averaged 69 extra base hits and 93 RBI per 162 games in this decade, quietly mounting an outstanding career.
He is also the only full-time outfielder to make it onto this list, and keep in mind he played only 61 games in 2009, which significantly cut down his plate appearances for the entire decade.
Derrek Lee: 1,041/1,425—2,466
Unheralded as far as rewards go, Lee owns only one Silver Slugger (2005) and two All-Star appearances (2005, 2007) in his career.
In 2005, he collected 99 extra base hits (50 of which were doubles), falling just short of the rare milestone of a season with triple-digit extra base hits.
Barry Bonds: 1,171/1,152—2,323
Bonds had the fewest plate appearances (4,072) by far of any player turning up on this list, but the ridiculously inflated numbers he posted in 2001 rocketed him into the cream of the crop.
Additionally, he has the most walks (1,128) of anyone on the list, leading Helton by over 100 base on balls.
He won four consecutive MVP awards from 2001-2004, and steroids or not, the guy flat out annihilated the ball.
Jimmy Rollins: 899/1,420—2,319
Rollins has scored 100 or more runs in five of his last six seasons, and having Ryan Howard to drive him home certainly has aided his stats.
Even so, Rollins is a unique talent and with 146 home runs in the decade, he has the fewest total of anyone on the list.
Jeff Kent: 902/1,388—2,290
He might not be able to wash his truck (allegedly) without breaking his wrist, but the grumpy Kent maintained a .300 batting average and hit 216 home runs in this decade.
Kent won four Silver Sluggers from 2000-2005, and is the all-time leader in home runs by a second baseman.
Luis Gonzalez: 935/1,325—2,260
Gonzo, along with Bonds, was lifted by an insane 2001 season when he hit 57 home runs. Aside from that season, he never hit more than 31, and that total came just the year before in 2000.
Then again, he is one of the only players to prove that Mariano Rivera is mortal in the postseason.
Others who just missed: Andruw Jones (2,226), Aramis Ramirez (2,231), Adam Dunn (2,184), and Jim Edmonds (2,141)
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