By Dr. Rug
Today’s the day folks; the day we finally reveal the numero uno of YK Fastball. First, how about that thrilling Super Bowl game yesterday? I’m not sure what was more impressive, the offensive firepower, the non-stop excitement, or the incredible half-time performance. But I must say, the highlight of the entire show was the postgame kiss. A love for the ages was on full display for the world to see; it touched my heart and brought a tear to my eye. This right here is the GOAT:
Before we dive into the top ten list it’s worth noting that 6 of the top 11 players in these rankings played on the 2011 & 2012 Pirates team. One of YK Fastball’s greatest “What-Ifs” is what if the Traitorous Thiel had never sabotaged the Pirates teams? Would they have dominated the last half decade of YK Fastball or were they doomed to fall apart with or without Thiel’s treachery? I guess we’ll never know.
Before you scroll down and find out who the best of the best are, quiz yourself and see if you can guess the top ten…
Go ahead, I’ll wait…
Ready to go?
Here’s the top 10 (complete with what I can only assume would be their Tinder profile pics if they were single):
10. Chad Hinchey
DJ Cynergii’s alter ego is the first of three Hincheys in the top 10. He leads the Hinchey brothers in home runs with 12 (to Devin’s 10 and Garrett’s 8) but trails his brothers in pretty much every other category. His numbers were still good enough to crack the top 10, though so that’s saying something.
Chad is also the only player in the league to make the top 10 of Dr. Rug’s rankings every year running. He finished 8th in 2012, 9th in 2013, 8th in 2017, and 10th here. Excellent consistency!
9. Devin Hinchey
Hinchey brother #2 slots just ahead of Chad in the rankings thanks in large part to the extra 30 plate appearances that he’s had. Dev leads the Hinchey family in doubles but is behind at least one of his brothers in every other category except strikeouts.
This brings us to the random Hinchey fact of the day. Over the course of the 7 years all three Hinchey brothers have struck out exactly 14 times (for the record, papa Brent has only K’d 5 times). Devin is definitely the most improved of the brothers (as his rise from #37 in 2012 to #1 in 2017 will attest to) but the success in recent years isn’t enough to offset the slow start. Give it another decade or so and I’d put my money on Devin being the #1 Hinchey in Dr. Rug’s rankings.
(Dr. Rug Note: Since I had him as the odds-on favourite in the previous column to be #1 in 2025, this probably is a little redundant… oh well, redundancy is bound to happen in a 5 part article written over the course of 8 months.)
8. Jon Whitford
I have to admit, if you’d asked me to guess the top 10 names before running the numbers through the Dr. Rug Algorithm (patent pending), I probably would have gotten 9 out of 10 correct. The one I would have missed would have been Jon (with Nichols or Mueller being the player I included that was incorrect). However, Jon was top 6 in PA, Hits, HRs, Runs, RBIs, and average. Numbers like that will definitely get you into the top 10 of the rankings.
(Dr. Rug Note: After the first part of the rankings were released I received an email from Jon detailing out his complete 2018 stats along with the cryptic message “Mediocre is the Orioles new jersey colour”. I’m not sure what to make of any of it but I appreciate the email Jon.)
(Dr. Rug Note on the Note: If anything, mediocre has always been the Orioles forte, it’s nothing new.)
7. Ryan Strain
My how the mighty have fallen. Well he hasn’t really fallen that far but when I penned the first PTV column back in 2012, Rhino was battling for a triple crown title (either winning it that year or falling just short in batting average depending on your minimum at-bats threshold) and a contender for the #1 spot. Now, a few years later he’s fallen to the point where he needs Devin Theriault to vouch for him just to get a try-out for a spot on a team.
Over the 7 years, Rhino leads the league in two stats. The first is category is most plate appearances without being hit by a pitch. It must be those nimble feet of his!
The second is strikeout rate. Of any player to appear in the rankings that has at least 50 PAs, Ryan has struck out at the lowest rate, putting up a mere 6 Ks over 274 plate appearances. For the record, here’s the top 5 in lowest K percentages in the league:
Brad Mueller – 3.1%
Curtis Gibeau – 2.7%
Ryan Nichols – 2.6%
Matt Simms – 2.5%
Ryan Strain – 2.2%
(Dr. Rug Note: I personally finished just outside the top 5 at #6 with a 3.8% rate and I blame this 100% on Steve Thomas. I had a 1.3% strikeout rate in the first 6 years of stats and then went and K’d 5 times in 2017 to raise my rate to 3.8%. F*ck you Steve!!)
6. Brian Couvrette
I look at this top ten list and wish I had taken the time to interview Rhino specifically so I could ask him his thoughts on Couvrette being slightly ahead of him in the rankings. Ryan, if you’re reading this, please fire me an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and respond to this ranking.
That being said, the Vette does deserve being ranked where he is (keeping in mind that external factors like “clubhouse presence,” “likability,” and “social media presence” are not taken into account). He ranks in the top 6 in the league in hits, doubles, triples, home runs, runs, RBIs, stolen bases, and placing his hits exactly where he wants. I really hate to say it but that’s a very impressive resume.
(Dr. Rug Note: I’d like to take a minute out of the countdown to throw a little appreciation out to all of the fastball wives out there that take care of the kids while dad is at the ball field playing. On behalf of the YK Fastball league, thank you for all that you do to make our league possible. In particular, since we’re at this point in the countdown, I’d like to recognize what a saint Hawna is for not only raising three boys, but for also taking care of the Vette each and every day, all year round. Dealing with him for 2 hours per night, 2 nights per week, 3 months of the year is too much for me; I’m not sure how you manage to do it 24/7/365.)
5. Kevin Vallillee
Get ready for a barrage of weird/incredible stats that I found when compiling Ishii’s numbers for these rankings:
- It’s not that it’s a surprise that he led the league in walks given his approach at the plate, but he put up 82 walks total; the next closest was Andy Williams at 44. Kevin walked in over 21% of his plate appearances. That’s ridiculous.
- As mentioned earlier, Kevin was top ten in the league in total strikeouts. I still find that difficult to believe.
- All total, he had 120 plate appearances where he didn’t put the ball in play (walked, hit by pitch, or struck out), only 64 people in these rankings even had that many total plate appearances.
- Kevin scored almost twice as many runs as he drove in (176 to 94), this is indication of either his excellent baserunning skills or the ineptitude of the bottom of the Slades order. I’ll let you decide which one.
- Thanks in large part to his walk total, Kevin was on base 244 times, or 31 times more than anyone else in the league. That means that on average he made it on base more than twice per game over the seven year period.
- The walk total also led to Kevin having 29 more runs scored than he had total base hits. The only other person in the top 50 with more runs scored than base hits was Primetime (+10).
These crazy stats have me wishing we tracked pitches seen, you have to think that Kevin’s total would be at least twice as high as the second place guy… maybe even three times?
4. Garrett Hinchey
Finally. After all these years and all these rankings Garrett has an opportunity to call himself the top Hinchey!!
As much as this is a ranking of offensive performance, let’s take a minute to appreciate the immense strides that Garrett has made in his pitching over the last 7 years. Here’s an excerpt from my 2012 PTV rankings, where Garrett finished 20th:
“Ok, so maybe not everyone in this category is a ‘top of the rotation’ chucker… At times this year Garrett has actually shown some control on the mound, unfortunately it hasn’t been consistent enough to consider him an elite pitcher.”
Contrast that review with Garrett taking the mound for every important HBC game last year and leading them to two titles. He may have still finished with a higher ERA and WHIP than the other two HBC aces (i.e. Auge and Nichols) but he is undoubtedly the most improved pitcher of the last decade in the league.
On the offensive side of things, it’s really no surprise at all that Garrett leads the league in average (minimum 35 PA) and triples. A .613 average over 300+ plate appearances is incredible and his 27 triples are the result of him being able to absolutely crush the ball to the opposite field (and the right fielders’ collective lack of understanding of this ability).
Congratulations Garrett on finally ascending to the top of the Hinchey hill, it is well deserved!
3. Devin Case
My balls still cringe every time I write about Case in a fastball article.
Devin is likely your best bet of the player to be in the top ten on this list for the longest time. His skills have developed as expected and he’s turned into a perennial MVP candidate. I remember the 2012 ranking when I wrote that “a smart GM would trade for him right now” and proceeded to offer Jared for Devin straight up… how I wish now that I’d sweetened that offer a little and included Blewett or someone that would have made the deal happen.
(Dr. Rug Note: Who am I kidding, as sweet as he is, adding Blewett wouldn’t have sweetened the deal enough to get Case.)
Case leads the league in no categories but is near the top in every category. He’s a little like Vette in that regard, except that you’d much rather have him on your team.
2. Kirk Sangris
Kirk’s case for the top spot in the rankings ends up just short in large part due to missed games. He has appeared in at least 20 less games and has at least 50 less PAs than everyone else in the top ten. However, he almost makes up for this lack of games played with his powerful bat. He’s second in total home runs, and first in both slugging percentage and OPS with an incredible 1.854 OPS (123 points higher than Mueller in second place). The skill was there to give him a shot at the top, unfortunately the longevity was not.
Which brings us to the top dog in the rankings.
1. Andy Williams
Honestly, this wasn’t even a close race. Andy led the league in hits, double, home runs, and finished second in slugging percentage and OPS. The difference in the final numbers from Dr. Rug’s algorithm between Andy and Kirk was about the same as the difference between Kirk and Devin Hinchey (9th place). Well done Andy, well done.
Now let’s see if you can keep it up once you’re married and start making little mini-Ginas that will be running around everywhere, chasing your ever-growing pack of labradoodles, and making you late for everything. Good luck!