Being a baseball fan in 2000 was fun for everybody. You had a double-digit number of players with 40+ home runs and 100+ RBI’s. You had dominant starting pitching on all of the contenders that were nearly unhittable. And you basically had to pitch around a dominant hitter no matter who you faced.
But today, we’ll be talking about Darin Erstad. He’s not exactly a household name, but in 2000, he lit the world on fire.
Erstad’s 2000 Statistics
As somebody that has always loved studying sports statistics, few things have shocked me like the numbers put up for the Angels in 2000. He was an All-Star, plus Gold Glove and Silver Slugger winner. And now, for the stats themselves.
Erstad batted .355 (!!), recording 240 hits, including 39 doubles, six triples and 25 home runs. He knocked in 100 runs, had an OBP of .409 and stole 28 bases. Erstad also crossed home plate 121 times that season. And yet, as good as these numbers were for the outfielder, the other players in the AL somehow outperformed him (more on this later).
Erstad was a key piece to the Angels World Series title in 2002, but he managed just 10 home runs and fewer than 75 RBI’s, with a .283 batting average. The reason his 2000 season stands out so much, is because of what all his career-highs are outside that year.
Outside of 2000, these were Erstad’s best totals: 19 home runs, 82 RBI’s, 177 hits, 24 stolen bases, .360 OBP, .299 batting average, 99 runs scored. He set career-highs across the board in that one season in 2000.
And the craziest part of all? He finished EIGHTH(!) in MVP voting in the American League. Seven players were supposedly better than Erstad in a year where he put up Godzilla numbers.
The Other Guys
The winner of the 2000 AL MVP was Oakland A’s slugger Jason Giambi, who clubbed 43 home runs and drove in 137 runs. He batted .333 with a .476 OBP and scored 108 runs. The next six guys in order were: Frank Thomas, Alex Rodriguez, Carlos Delgado, Pedro Martinez, Edgar Martinez and Manny Ramirez.
And not listed was Nomar Garciaparra, who beat out Darin Erstad for the AL batting title by hitting .372 for the season. 12 other players (not named Erstad) had over 100 RBI’s for the year. Six of them had 130+. The power numbers were off the charts in 2000, with so many guys just clubbing dingers like there was no tomorrow.
Pedro Martinez had 18 wins, nearly 300 strikeouts and a sub-2.00 ERA. In most years in the modern era, that’s enough to give the MVP to the pitcher. But he finished fifth. It’s incredible that given how dominant he was, the pure power numbers put up by those around him were deemed more impressive.
Troy Glaus was Erstad’s teammate in LA that year. He hit 47 home runs. That led the AL. He didn’t receive a single MVP vote. The AL in 2000 was truly just bonkers.
Erstad’s Ranking Among AL Leaders
Erstad was #3 in WAR (8.7), but just #10 in WAR on offense, crazy given his totals. His on-base percentage was only tenth, which would be far higher in most seasons. Erstad didn’t even make it inside of the top 10 in slugging percentage.
Erstad did lead the AL with 676 at-bats and 747 plate appearances. He was fourth in runs scored, with just one more than his power-hitting teammate Troy Glaus. He was second in total bases right behind Carlos Delgado, who had a dominant year for the Jays.
If Erstad had a season like he did in 2000 in the modern era, he would be heaping all the praises. But because of the talent around the majors, his season doesn’t get the love it deserves. It’s one you need to remember, because we won’t see a “very good”, but not “great” player turn in a season like this again for a long time.
Players come out of nowhere and surprise us as fans sometimes, but not like Erstad did. The season was an all-time great campaign, and yet seven players received more MVP votes.
But, if you do one thing today, let it be this: Remember how dominant Darin Erstad was in 2000. And then remember he is a World Series champion.