By Mark Simon

Which player has had the best season in baseball this year?

That’s a very tough question to answer right now. Cody Bellinger of the Dodgers and Mike Trout of the Angels are basically neck-and-neck in Sports Info Solutions’ measuring stick, the Total Runs leaderboard.

Total Runs is the sum of a player’s Runs Created (using Bill James’ formula), Defensive Runs Saved, and Baserunning Runs, along with a positional adjustment. The positional adjustment rewards a player for his playing time at a tougher position (for example, it’s harder to be an average shortstop than an average first baseman). For pitchers, Pitching Runs Created are included to account for how much a pitcher has limited opponent scoring.

Trout has 122 Runs Created, one run better than Christian Yelich and six better than Bellinger. Trout’s edge over Bellinger stems from his big advantage in reaching base (.436 on-base percentage to .409). He also has a six-point edge in slugging percentage (.651 to .645).

Trout is also eight Baserunning Runs better than Bellinger. He’s credited with six to Bellinger’s negative-two. Trout ranks first in Bill James’ Baserunning Gain stat (+25), which measures how often a runner takes an extra base on hits, wild pitches, and the like, while avoiding outs on the bases.

Bellinger is hurt by below-average stolen base efficiency. He’s stolen 11-of-16 after stealing 14-of-15 a year ago. He’s also dinged for going second-to-home on a single only six times in 17 opportunities (a 35% rate — the MLB average is about 60%). Trout has scored 12 times from second on 16 singles (75%).

Summing batting and baserunning gives Trout 128 runs and Bellinger 114 runs.

Where Bellinger makes up the ground is on defense. His 23 Defensive Runs Saved are tied for most in the majors. Bellinger has taken to right field well in his first full-time season there. He has an MLB-best 19 Runs Saved there, with a combination of outstanding catches and assists (this one and this one are among the best). He also has three Runs Saved in 26 games at first base.

Trout has saved two runs with his defense, down from eight in 2018. He’s been hindered by 15 Defensive Misplays & Errors as charted by our video scouts. That’s up from seven in 2018.

Now Bellinger has the advantage, 137 to 130, with only the positional adjustment left to be made.

Trout narrows the gap there. His adjustment is worth 20 runs. Bellinger’s is worth 15 runs.

That gives Bellinger 152 Total Runs and Trout 150 Total Runs. Wow, it’s close.

Here’s the current leaderboard. If you want to keep up to date with this race, follow along at Bill James Online by clicking here.

Total Runs Leaderboard
Player Team Total Runs
Cody Bellinger Dodgers 152
Mike Trout Angels 150
Trevor Story Rockies 143
Ketel Marte Diamondbacks 143
Ronald Acuna Jr. Braves 138
Christian Yelich Brewers 136
Justin Verlander Astros 129
Marcus Semien Athletics 129
Mookie Betts Red Sox 129
Alex Bregman Astros 129