MLB 2011: Who Will Lead the AL in Each Major Category?

Lewie PollisSenior Analyst IIIMay 5, 2011

MLB 2011: Who Will Lead the AL in Each Major Category?

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    DETROIT - APRIL 26: Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers covers first base during the game against the Seattle Mariners at Comerica Park on April 26, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The Mariners defeated the Tigers 7-3. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    Who will be this year's batting champion? Who will hit the most home runs? Who will be the most valuable player in baseball?

    When the season starts, everyone has an answer to these questions. And almost everybody ends up being wrong.

    Two weeks into the season, 24 of Bleacher Report's MLB Featured Columnists gave their picks for who would lead both leagues in each of 10 categories: batting average, home runs, RBI, runs, steals, OPS, wins, ERA, UZR, and WAR.

    Today, we take a look at the results for how we thought the American League would shape up (NL to come tomorrow).

    Included this slideshow are the results for each category, as well as the average league-leading total and an explanation from someone who voted for the winner.

    Let's see how we did!

Batting Average: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.339)

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    DETROIT - APRIL 22: Jhonny Peralta #27 of the Detroit Tigers triples to deep center field in the second inning scoring Miguel Cabrera (not in photo) during the game against the Chicago White Sox at Comerica Park on April 22, 2011 in Detroit, Michigan. The
    Leon Halip/Getty Images

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—25 percent

    2. Howie Kendrick, Angels—21 percent

    T3. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—13 percent

    T3. Joe Mauer, Twins—13 percent

    T5. Billy Butler, Royals—8 percent

    T5. Robinson Cano, Yankees—8 percent

    T5. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox—8 percent

    8. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners—4 percent


    On Cabrera (by Brandon Williams)

    Tigers slugger Miguel Cabrera entered the week with a .350 average that ranks third in the American League, but there's little chance the two players above him (Toronto's Jose Batista and Minnesota's Jason Kubel) will be able to maintain their prolific numbers over the course of the season.

    His troubles with alcohol and weight are well-documented, which makes it a scary proposition when thinking about just how great the 28-year-old could be if/when his demons are finally exorcised.

Home Runs: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 17:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers signs autographs before their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 17, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—21 percent

    T2. Nelson Cruz, Rangers—17 percent

    T2. Adam Dunn, White Sox—17 percent

    T2. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox—17 percent

    T5. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays—13 percent

    T5. Mark Teixeira, Yankees—13 percent

    7. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees—4 percent


    On Cabrera (by Samantha Bunten)

    You have to like Cabrera's chances based on his consistency; he puts up the numbers year after year, and thus far is belting HRs at about the same pace as last season (five last April, five so far this April).

    Add to that the fact that most of Cabrera's home runs are of the tape measure variety rather than shots that barely clear the fence, indicating perhaps that he won't lose many long flies to near misses that get caught on the warning track.

RBI: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (128)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 17:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers in action during their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 17, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—29 percent

    2. Alex Rodriguez, Yankees—25 percent

    T3. Nelson Cruz, Rangers—13 percent

    T3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox—13 percent

    T3. Mark Teixeira, Yankees—13 percent

    6. Adam Dunn, White Sox—8 percent


    On Cabrera (by Matt Goldberg)

    The man can rake with the very best and has averaged 117 RBI in his seven full seasons heading into 2011. He hits at home or on the road, day or night, with two outs or none, and has a career .322 BA with RISP.

    Only 28, if he matches his 126 ribbies from last year, he surpasses 1,000 for his career. Care to bet against him leading the AL again?

Runs: Carl Crawford, Rays (115)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 20:  Carl Crawford #13 of the Boston Red Sox hits an RBI single that scored Kevin Youkilis #20 during their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 20, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Carl Crawford, Red Sox—38 percent

    T2. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—13 percent

    T2. Ian Kinsler, Rangers—13 percent

    T2. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox—13 percent

    T5. Robinson Cano, Yankees—4 percent

    T5. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox—4 percent

    T5. Brett Gardner, Yankees—4 percent

    T5. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox—4 percent

    T5. Derek Jeter, Yankees—4 percent

    T5. Alexei Ramirez, White Sox—4 percent


    On Crawford (by Robert Knapel)

    Carl Crawford has been off to an incredibly slow start this season. Most of his struggles can be tied to the fact that he currently has a .178 BABIP. Once this number returns back towards Crawford’s career average of .329, he should start scoring more runs.

    As long as Crawford gets on base, the Red Sox’ powerful lineup should be able to drive him in.

Stolen Bases: Juan Pierre, White Sox (54)

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    ST. PETERSBURG, FL - APRIL 21:  Infielder Ben Zobrist #18 of the Tampa Bay Rays is late with the tag as outfielder Juan Pierre #1 of the Chicago White Sox steals second base during the game at Tropicana Field on April 21, 2011 in St. Petersburg, Florida.
    J. Meric/Getty Images

    1. Juan Pierre, White Sox—54 percent

    2. Rajai Davis, Blue Jays—13 percent

    T3. Carl Crawford, Rays—8 percent

    T3. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox—8 percent

    T3. Brett Gardner, Yankees—8 percent

    T5. Denard Span, Twins—4 percent

    T5. Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners—4 percent


    On Pierre (by Brent Nault)

    Pierre led the MLB last season in stolen bases with 68, and I expect him to do about the same this year. Juan is without a doubt one of the speediest players in baseball and is always among the league leaders in stolen bases.

    Juan will keep trying to steal regardless of how many times he gets caught, and that's what makes me truly believe he will lead the AL in steals this season.

OPS: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (1.055)

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    OAKLAND, CA - APRIL 17:  Miguel Cabrera #24 of the Detroit Tigers in action during their game against the Oakland Athletics at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on April 17, 2011 in Oakland, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    1. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—59 percent

    2. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—14 percent

    T3. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox—9 percent

    T3. Justin Morneau, Twins—9 percent

    T5. Travis Hafner, Indians—5 percent

    T5. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—5 percent


    On Cabrera (by Dan Hiergesell)

    Miggy is back at it again. Despite offseason troubles with authorities, Miguel Cabrera has excelled past early expectations and has shown why he has been one of the best hitters in the past decade.

    The 28-year-old MVP candidate continues to hit for power in clutch spots and with his on-base prowess, it's a winning man's bet that he will lead the AL in OPS.

Wins: CC Sabathia, Yankees (20)

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    BALTIMORE, MD - APRIL 23:  Pitcher CC Sabathia #52 of the New York Yankees delivers to a Baltimore Orioles batter at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on April 23, 2011 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
    Rob Carr/Getty Images

    1. CC Sabathia, Yankees—29 percent

    2. Jered Weaver, Angels—25 percent

    3. Jon Lester, Red Sox—17 percent

    4. Dan Haren, Angels—8 percent

    T5. Felix Hernandez, Mariners—4 percent

    T5. Derek Holland, Rangers—4 percent

    T5. Francisco Liriano, Twins—4 percent

    T5. David Price, Rays—4 percent

    T5. Justin Verlander, Tigers—4 percent


    On Sabathia (by Jordan Schwartz)

    CC Sabathia has a tall hill to climb to catch Jered Weaver for most wins in the American League, but with the big lefty's history and the Yankees behind him, he should like his chances.

    Entering Tuesday's action, Sabathia ranked 15th in the AL with a 2.73 ERA and four of his five outings have been quality starts, so when the consistent run support comes around, so should the wins. And remember, Sabathia has led all of baseball in victories the past two seasons.

ERA: Felix Hernandez, Mariners (2.53)

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    KANSAS CITY, MO - APRIL 16:  Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez #34 of the Seattle Mariners pitches during the game against the Kansas City Royals on April 16, 2011 at Kauffman Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
    Jamie Squire/Getty Images

    1. Felix Hernandez, Mariners—54 percent

    2. Jered Weaver, Angels—17 percent

    3. Trevor Cahill, Athletics—13 percent

    4. Gio Gonzalez, Athletics—13 percent

    T5. Dan Haren, Angels—4 percent

    T5. Jon Lester, Red Sox—4 percent


    On Hernandez (by Bob Warja)

    "King" Felix led all of MLB in ERA in 2010 and is a good bet to do so again this year. That's because, for one, he's a dominating pitcher of course, but also because he knows he can't afford to give up many runs with the poor run support he has historically received (they have the league's worst run differential).

    He's young, and at age 25, hasn't seemingly even hit his peak yet, so there is no reason to expect a decline.

UZR: Brett Gardner, Yankees (19.6)

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    NEW YORK - JUNE 18:  Brett Gardner #11 of the New York Yankees makes a catch against the New York Mets on June 18, 2010 at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    1. Brett Gardner, Yankees—50 percent

    2. Franklin Gutierrez, Mariners—30 percent

    T3. Peter Bourjos, Angels—10 percent

    T3. Carl Crawford, Red Sox—10 percent


    On Gardner (by Nathan Palatsky and Chuck Platt)

    UZR is the combination of four metrics to mathematically express who is the best fielder in baseball, outfield arm, double plays, range and errors.

    Brett Gardner will successfully defend (literally) his UZR crown because of his speed, his comfort patrolling Yankee Stadium and his knack for reading batted. Gardner seldom makes an inaccurate read. It doesn’t hurt Gardner either that Yankee Stadium’s left field is pretty standard: no funny angles, strange shadows, etc.

WAR: Shin-Soo Choo, Indians (7.4)

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    ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 06:  Shin-Soo Choo #17 of the Cleveland Indians bats against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on September 6, 2010 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California. The  Indians won 3-2.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    1. Shin-Soo Choo, Indians—25 percent

    T2. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox—17 percent

    T2. Evan Longoria, Rays—17 percent

    T4. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers—8 percent

    T4. Robinson Cano, Yankees—8 percent

    T4. Carl Crawford, Red Sox—8 percent

    T4. Josh Hamilton, Rangers—8 percent

    T4. Felix Hernandez, Mariners—8 percent


    On Choo (by Lewie Pollis)

    The most underrated player in baseball according to a recent Sports Illustrated poll, Shin-Soo has quietly established himself as one of the best players in the game. His strong arm, good speed and power, and fantastic plate make him a five-tool player about whom other teams should be wary. 

    Last year, Baseball-Reference’s wins above replacement model had Choo at 7.3 WAR, good for second-best in baseball. Given that the guy ahead of him, Evan Longoria, has played only four games, I’d say it’s Choo’s spot to lose.

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