Archive for the ‘baseball’ Category

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Franchise Four – Boston Red Sox

April 30, 2015

I have to admit, I’m quite fascinated by MLB.com’s Franchise Four campaign, in which people are encouraged to vote on the four players that best represent each franchise. Since I love baseball and I like sharing my opinion, I’ve decided to not only participate in the voting, but to share my thoughts on my blog. The aim here is to make my picks for one team a day for the next month, so stay tuned and we will see who the voters picked at the All-Star game in July.

Ted Williams

The Argument: Teddy Ballgame is quite easily the greatest Red Sox player of all-time and is always one of the first names you think of when you talk about the greatest hitters to ever play the game. Williams played his entire 19 year career with the Red Sox and slashed a ridiculous .344/.482/.634 and hit 521 homeruns and had 1839 RBI during his tenure, numbers that are even more mind-boggling considering he missed three full seasons during his prime while serving in the military during World War 2. His career OPS was 1.116 – a number no player has reached in a single season since Barry Bonds did it all the way back in 2004. His career .482 OBP is the highest of all-time and he’s also the last player to hit .400 for a full season. He won the AL MVP in 1946 and 1949, was a 17-time All-Star, and, of course, was inducted into the Hall Of Fame. The only thing missing from Williams’ sterling resume is a World Series title.

Carl Yastrzemski

The Argument: Thanks to Ted Williams’ three years in the war, Carl Yastrzemski is the Red Sox all-time leader in at bats, hits, runs, and RBI. He also slugged 452 HR and is the only player to rope over 3,000 hits in a Red Sox uniform. Yaz won the 1967 AL MVP when he hit for the Triple Crown by batting .326 and hitting 44 HR to go along with 121 RBI. Yaz is a Hall of Famer, 18-time All-Star, and won 7 Gold Gloves during his career.

Pedro Martinez

The Argument: Roger Clemens and Cy Young might have the most wins in Red Sox history and both pitched more innings, but Pedro Martinez is the best pitcher to ever wear a Boston uniform. Many would argue that Pedro’s 7 year stretch with the Red Sox is the most dominant by a starting pitcher in the history of baseball. Not just for the gaudy numbers – we’re talking 117 wins, 2.52 ERA, 5.44 K:BB ratio, 10.9 K/9 IP, .206 batting average against – but for the fact that he did it right smack dab in the middle of what we now call The Steroid Era in the brutal AL East where far more than half the games were being played at Fenway, Yankee Stadium, and the Sky Dome, all parks that heavily favor the hitter. He won four American League ERA titles and 3 strikeout titles. For his efforts, he was the recipient of two Cy Young Awards (and four more top 4 finishes) and was inducted into the Hall Of Fame in 2015.

David Ortiz

The Argument: David Ortiz has become so ingrained as the face of the Red Sox that most casual MLB fans would probably be stunned to learn that he actually played parts of six (6!) seasons for the Minnesota Twins. During his time with the BoSox Ortiz has clubbed 412 HR and posted a .289/.386/.566 triple slash line. Big Papi is a 9-time All-Star and has finished top 5 in the AL MVP voting five times. What probably endears Ortiz to Sox fans more than anything else is his role in their run to the 2004 World Series title, when he seemed to single-handedly will the Sox past the Yankees in the ALCS after losing the first three games to their hated rival. Not only did Ortiz play a huge role in ending one of the longest championship droughts in all of sports, but he also won rings in 2007 and 2013 and has hit .455 in the World Series for his career. After looking like he might be declining in his early 30s, Ortiz resurrected his career and has continued to bash well into his late 30s and should make a strong case for a Hall Of Fame DH when he becomes eligible within the next 10 years.

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Franchise Four – Baltimore Orioles

April 28, 2015

I have to admit, I’m quite fascinated by MLB.com’s Franchise Four campaign, in which people are encouraged to vote on the four players that best represent each franchise. Since I love baseball and I like sharing my opinion, I’ve decided to not only participate in the voting, but to share my thoughts on my blog. The aim here is to make my picks for one team a day for the next month, so stay tuned and we will see who the voters picked at the All-Star game in July.

Cal Ripken Jr.

The Argument: No surprise here. Ripken is still the face of the Orioles franchise long after he has retired. A career Oriole and Hall Of Famer, he was the 1982 Rookie Of The Year, 1983 MVP, and 1991 MVP and helped the O’s win a World Series in ’83. He was also a 19-time All-Star and is the all-time leader in HR as a shortstop. He finished his career with over 3,000 hits and is the career leader for the Orioles in basically every offensive counting stat. Oh, and he also played in more consecutive games than anyone else in baseball history.

Brooks Robinson

The Argument: Another lifelong Oriole and Hall Of Famer, Brooks Robinson is widely considered as the best defensive third baseman of all-time – and his 16 Gold Glove awards would be hard to argue against. He also ranks 2nd to Ripken on the Orioles all-time list for hits, runs, and RBI. Robinson helped lead the O’s to titles in 1966 and 1970 and was named the MVP of the ’70 series. He was a 15-time All-Star and a league MVP in 1964.

Jim Palmer

The Argument: Palmer is another Hall Of Fame Oriole that never played for another team. During his tenure, he helped the Orioles reach the World Series six times and finished his career with three rings, something neither Ripken or Robinson can lay claim to. Palmer won three Cy Young Awards and was an All-Star six times, logging 268 wins and finishing his career with a ridiculous 2.86 ERA.

Frank Robinson

The Argument: It was such a tough call between Frank Robinson and Eddie Murray that I almost considered tossing a coin on it. Ultimately, while Murray played more years for the O’s and has the sexier counting stats, Robinson’s years in Baltimore were unquestionably better. Not only did Robinson post a .944 OPS as an Oriole (Murray had an .868 OPS) and win the Triple Crown in 1966, but his arrival in Baltimore seemed to trigger a run of perennial success that led to two titles and four appearances in the World Series during his six year tenure.

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2014 Baseball Awards – First Half

July 18, 2014

Since I’m following baseball closely due to numerous season long bets and because I like to rank things and think my opinion is important, I’ve decided to pretend what I would do if I had a vote in baseball’s major awards. These are my votes for the first half:


American League MVP



1. Mike Trout (.310, 22 HR, 73 RBI, 65 Runs, 10 SB)
2. Nelson Cruz (.287-28-74-56-3)
3. Jose Abreu (.292-29-73-49-1)
4. Michael Brantley (.322-15-63-63-10)
5. Edwin Encarnacion (.277-26-70-57-2)
6. Victor Martinez (.328-21-55-45-2)
7. Miguel Cabrera (.306-14-75-57-0)
8. Jose Altuve (.335-2-27-49-41)
9. Robinson Cano (.334-7-57-49-7)
10. Ian Kinsler (.303-11-51-64-10)


Comments: The legend that is Mike Trout. The last time I posted my MVP rankings (in late May), Trout was sitting just outside my top ten and now, at the All-Star break, he’s firmly #1 in both the AL MVP ranks and fantasy baseball rankings – and the Angels are arguably the hottest team in baseball. Nelson Cruz and Jose Abreu are pretty much neck and neck at #2 and #3, with Cruz getting the slight edge because the Orioles look playoff bound and he’s undoubtedly carrying that offense. In actuality, Abreu’s numbers have been more impressive considering he missed some games due to injury. If someone showed you Michael Brantley’s numbers and said they were Mike Trout’s numbers, you would believe them – until you saw that he’s only fanned 32 times in 80+ games (Trout has 95 Ks). Victor Martinez, Miguel Cabrera, and Ian Kinsler have all put up ridiculous numbers for the Detroit Tigers. V-Mart has had a particularly amazing season hitting over .325 with 21 homers and only 23 strikeouts. Cabrera somewhat quietly leads MLB in RBI, but I expect him to separate himself from his teammates going forward. Robinson Cano’s power has disappeared, but hitting .334 playing half your games at Safeco Field is no small feat and he’s been the best hitter on a surprising Mariners team.


American League Cy Young


1. Felix Hernandez (11-2, 2.12 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 154 Ks)
2. Chris Sale (8-1, 2.08, 0.84, 102)
3. Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 2.51, 1.01, 135)
4. Scott Kazmir (11-3, 2.38, 0.98, 108)
5. Garrett Richards (11-2, 2.55, 1.06, 127)


Comments: Chris Sale has been lights out since returning to the rotation, but nobody has matched King Felix in mound production this year. Tanaka was a top Cy Young contender, but appears to be out of the season now. Scott Kazmir has been an amazing story: after pitching his way out of baseball for the 2011 and 2012 seasons, he returned last year to post some respectable comeback numbers, but is finally living up to the potential he flashed all the way back in 2007 when he posted 239 Ks in 206.2 innings with the Devil Rays. Garrett Richards has been another great story in the AL, seemingly coming out of nowhere to dominate the first half.


American League ROY


1. Jose Abreu (.292-29-73-49-1)
2. Masahiro Tanaka (12-4, 2.51, 1.01, 135)
3. Dellin Betances (4-0, 1.46, 0.70, 84)

Comments: Jose Abreu pretty much locked up the AL ROY as soon as Tanaka went on the DL. Abreu’s on pace to break Mark McGwire’s rookie record for homeruns in a season and also carries an RBI pace of 140+.. and he’s almost hitting .300. Pretty ridiculous. Miguel Cabrera would nod his head in approval at those offensive numbers. Betances has had an incredible season in relief with those 84 strikeouts coming in only 55.1 innings pitched.


National League MVP


1. Troy Tulowitski (.345-21-52-71-1)
2. Andrew McCutchen (.324-17-61-57-15)
3. Paul Goldschmidt (.308-16-61-66-8)
4. Giancarlo Stanton (.295-21-63-61-8)
5. Carlos Gomez (.304-14-48-58-17)
6. Todd Frazier (.290-19-53-57-14)
7. Charlie Blackmon (.306-14-52-53-18)
8. Anthony Rendon (.287-13-53-67-8)
9. Yasiel Puig (.309-12-52-53-7)
10. Billy Hamilton (.285-5-38-47-38)


Comments: The NL MVP race has become much closer since my last update when Troy Tulowitski was far and away the best candidate and Andrew McCutchen wasn’t even in the top 10. McCutchen has a tendency to heat up with the weather and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him run away with his second consecutive NL MVP award. Charlie Blackmon is hitting .355 with a .996 OPS at home and .248 with a .633 OPS on the road – with such drastic splits and the Rockies out of contention, it’s hard to imagine Blackmon finishing the season in the top 10. Todd Frazier and Anthony Rendon have quietly had huge seasons have carried their offenses while their superstar teammates have been hurt (Joey Votto and Bryce Harper, respectively). Billy Hamilton and Dee Gordon are having very similar seasons, but with such a close call, I have to go with the guy on my fantasy team!


National League Cy Young


1. Clayton Kershaw (11-2, 1.78, 0.83, 126)
2. Adam Wainwright (12-4, 1.83, 0.91, 115)
3. Johnny Cueto (10-6, 2.13, 0.89, 141)
4. Julio Teheran (9-6, 2.71, 1.04, 116)
5. Zack Greinke (11-5, 2.73, 1.17, 127)


Comments: Clayton Kershaw has been unreal since coming back from the disabled list…just look at his numbers over the past month: 5 wins, 0 losses, 0.22 ERA, 55 strikeouts, 5 walks in 41 innings. Absurd. Even with 40 less innings than his contemporaries, it’s hard to argue against Kershaw at this point. Nobody has been more dominant. Wainwright quietly continues to be one of the five best pitchers in baseball; he’s kind of the new Roy Halladay. Johnny Cueto has put together a remarkable year; he’s given up more than 3 ER in only one start this year and his K rate is way up.


National League ROY


1. Billy Hamilton
2. Jacob DeGrom
3. Chris Owings


Comments: Billy Hamilton has literally run away with the NL ROY award; his current pace: .285, 85 runs, 9 HR, 68 RBI, 68 SB – he’s proven all his skeptics wrong and he’s outperformed even his optimists’ offensive expectations. The power and average has been a really nice surprise and I wouldn’t be shocked to see him top those current runs scored and stolen base projections. Jacob Degrom has been solid for the Mets since his call up in the middle of May, posting 8 quality starts in 12 turns and a solid K/9 rate. Chris Owings is currently on the DL and likely to be passed on this list by Gregory Polanco at some point in the second half.

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2014 Baseball Awards V.2

June 5, 2014

Since I’m following baseball closely due to numerous season long bets and because I like to rank things and think my opinion is important, I’ve decided to pretend what I would do if I had a vote in baseball’s major awards. I made my initial rankings right before I left for the World Series Of Poker a couple weeks ago and those rankings are reflected in parentheses. I’ll try to update and post my votes a couple times a month. I should note that I refuse to vote for pitchers in the MVP races or relief pitchers for Cy Young.


American League MVP



1. Nelson Cruz (1)
2. Jose Bautista (4)
3. Josh Donaldson (8)
4. Edwin Encarnacion (UR)
5. Miguel Cabrera (UR)
6. Michael Brantley (2)
7. Jose Abreu (6)
8. Brandon Moss (5)
9. Victor Martinez (9)
10. Alexei Ramirez (3)


Other: Brian Dozier (7), Melky Cabrera (10), Mike Trout


Comments: Nelson Cruz has been the best hitter in the American League and the Orioles are squarely in the playoff hunt, so he deserves to be number one, but if this were truly a “most valuable” award rather than a “best hitter” award, then Edwin Encarnacion has to be in the conversation. EE was hitting .260 with 2 HR and 15 RBI at the end of April and is now amongst the league leaders in all categories after a monstrous May. More importantly, his success has directly reflected that of the Toronto Blue Jays, a .500 team with Jose Bautista and Melky Cabrera performing at an MVP level, but have emerged as the best team in the AL with Encarnacion’s production. After a forgettable April, Miguel Cabrera has also entered the MVP race. Victor Martinez is having an overlooked season, hitting over .330 with as many HR (13) as strikeouts (14). Mike Trout has gotten off to such a “slow” start that he’s only a fringe MVP candidate at the moment.


American League Cy Young


1. Masahiro Tanaka (1)
2. Felix Hernandez (2)
3. Chris Sale (UR)
4. Yu Darvish (5)
5. Mark Buehrle (UR)


Other: Sonny Gray (4), Max Scherzer (3), Scott Kazmir, Dallas Keuchel


Comments: Tanaka has absolutely dominated in his transition to the United States. I believed the hype, but I didn’t think he’d be overpowering MLB hitters like he has been. Sale arguably has put up the best numbers in all of baseball, but he’s still pitched less than 50 innings. It honestly pains me to give Buehrle a top five vote. Sure, he’s the only 10 game winner in baseball and boasts a sparkling 2.10 ERA, but he pitches to contact, resulting in a pathetic strikeout rate and allows a lot more baserunners than the pitchers ranked below him. Still, until those runners start crossing the plate, one has to give Buerhle credit for knowing what he’s doing. History suggests his weak peripheral numbers are going to catch up to him eventually and he’ll fall out of Cy Young race. Dallas Keuchel has been the best pitcher in baseball the past month and, remarkably, a Houston Astro pitcher is now in the Cy Young hunt.

American League ROY


1. Masahiro Tanaka (1)
2. Jose Abreu (2)
3. Dellin Betances (UR)


Other: Yangervis Solarte (3), George Springer, Xander Bogaerts, Collin McHugh


Comments: Tanaka and Abreu are easily the top two choices with their Cy Young and MVP caliber performances so far. Betances has put up crazy numbers for a non-closing relief pitcher. Only three closers have been more valuable to their fantasy teams and Betances doesn’t even have a single save. He’s had more fantasy value than legitimate Cy Young contenders like Sonny Gray and Max Scherzer. He’s almost striking out 2 batters an inning. Absurd. Springer got off to a rough start and has struck out in about a third of his ABs, but he had a huge May that would put him squarely in the ROY race if he can maintain an even remotely similar pace. The one stolen base is a disappointment though.


National League MVP


1. Troy Tulowitski (1)
2. Giancarlo Stanton (2)
3. Paul Goldschmidt (6)
4. Yasiel Puig (3)
5. Carlos Gomez (5)
6. Charlie Blackmon (4)
7. Justin Upton (7)
8. Hunter Pence (UR)
9. Michael Morse (UR)
10. Freddie Freeman (10)


Other: Justin Morneau (8), Dee Gordon (9), Ryan Braun


Comments: Nothing too exciting going on in the NL MVP race since my initial rankings. The most notable change is the cooling off of the Colorado hitters. Tulowitski has dropped to a mere mortal pace while Blackmon and Morneau have become ice cold and the Rockies have fallen out of the playoff hunt. Meanwhile, the best team in baseball, the San Francisco Giants, who had no representatives in my initial top ten, now have two players getting votes.


National League Cy Young


1. Johnny Cueto (1)
2. Adam Wainwright (2)
3. Tim Hudson (UR)
4. Julio Teheran (5)
5. Zack Greinke (3)


Other: Jose Fernandez (4), Michael Wacha, Kyle Lohse, Jason Hammel


Comments: Cueto has been the best pitcher in baseball so far, but I honestly can’t see him holding off Wainwright too much longer. Hudson is similar to Buehrle except he’s not allowing baserunners. He hasn’t been overpowering, but the National League has been helpless against him so far. Jose Fernandez sadly falls out of the race for good.


National League ROY


1. Billy Hamilton (1)
2. Chris Owings (2)
3. David Hale (3)


Other: None


Comments: This race has been uninspiring so far. Hamilton gets the edge due to his game-changing speed (22 steals), but even that hasn’t resulted in a lot of run scoring. Things could heat up soon with the recent promotion of Oscar Taveras and Gregory Polanco, Eddie Butler, and Andrew Heaney all expected to make their debuts in June.

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Mac’s MLB First Half Awards

July 10, 2012

MVP

AL – Mike Trout, Angels: Since his arrival in late April, Mike Trout has been one of the top two or three most productive players in baseball. More importantly, his impact on the Angels gives him the edge over Josh Hamilton for first half MVP. On April 27th, the Angels were scuffling to a 6-14 record and sitting in the AL West basement with super slugger Albert Pujols posting a monstrous 4 RBI so far. Enter Mike Trout. Since April 28th, Trout’s season debut, the Halos have posted a 42-24 record and have climbed into the American League Wild Card lead while Pujols has rediscovered his confidence, knocking in 47 runs since Trout arrived. Not only does Trout lead the American League with a .341 average and 26 steals, but he also sits a mere 6 runs scored behind MLB-leader Ian Kinsler despite spending almost all of April in AAA. But wait, there’s more! Trout isn’t just a speedy lead off guy… he’s also blasted 12 homers in 258 ABs, a pace that would give him 30 over a full season of 650 at bats. This dude is so sick that I can’t help but talk about him in Chuck Norris-like hyperbole: “I’m going to switch my entire wardrobe to nothing but Mike Trout jerseys.”

Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones, Miguel Cabrera

NL – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: The only player in MLB that has rivaled Mike Trout since May 1st is the dreadlocked Pirates outfielder. After inking a multiyear deal with the Bucs prior to the season, McCutchen has rewarded the normally cheap franchise with outstanding production. McCutchen leads MLB with a .362 average, is stealing bases and hitting homers at nearly a 40/40 pace, and also ranks in the top 3 in the NL in both runs scored and RBI. After a modest April, this kid’s bat has been scorching hot, raising his average from .302 and hitting all 18 of his homers since May 1st. Thanks to McCutchen’s emergence fantasy baseball’s most valuable asset in the first half and an early MVP candidate, the Pirates are not only a surprise atop the NL Central standings, but actually look like legitimate players for a playoff berth.

Honorable Mention: David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun

Cy Young

AL – Jered Weaver, Angels: The Halos righty might not be as dominant as Justin Verlander (6.8 K/9 vs 8.7 K/9), but one would be remiss to suggest Weaver hasn’t been as effective. Weaver is the only starting pitcher with at least 90 innings pitched to post an ERA under 2.00 and also leads all starters with a 0.90 WHIP. Weaver has also posted a 10-1 record for a team that has climbed its way into playoff contention. Oh, and he threw a no hitter.

Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Chris Sale

NL – R.A. Dickey, Mets: Who is this guy? Where did he come from? At age 37, Dickey is having an unprecedented breakout season, taking a career 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP and turning those numbers into 2.40 and 0.93, while posting a career high in wins (12)… in 17 first half starts. More improbably, Dickey and his ridiculous knuckleball are striking out batters at unfathomable rate, fanning more first half batters than notable strikeout artists Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Matt Cain.

Honorable Mention: Matt Cain, James McDonald, Stephen Strasburg

Rookie Of The Year

AL – Mike Trout, Angels: No explanation needed here.

Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Cook

NL – Bryce Harper, Nationals: The most highly touted prospect since Alex Rodriguez has been Mike Trout-lite for the NL East leading Nationals. Harper has burst into the nation’s capital by flashing all five tools and posting an .826 OPS at age 19. Harper could easily score 100 runs this season despite spending April in the minors and will probably post a 30/30 season as early as 2013 if his health holds up.

Honorable Mention: Norichika Aoki, Wade Miley

Comeback Player

AL – Adam Dunn, White Sox: It’s a close call between Dunn and teammate Jake Peavy and I’d say that Peavy’s resurrection has been more valuable to his team, but Dunn has come back from depths of suckdom that few sluggers have ever reached. In 2011, Dunn posted an inexcusable .159 average and 177 strikeouts in 415 ABs while hitting a career low 11 homers. While his inability to get base hits hasn’t improved much (.208 average) and he’s on pace to shatter the all-time strikeout record, he’s at least helping his team score runs in bunches and win games by smacking 25 homers in 84 games and getting on base at a .357 clip.

Honorable Mention: Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Joe Nathan

NL – David Wright, Mets: To put this comeback in perspective all you have to do is compare Wright’s first half numbers to his totals from all of 2011: he’s posted more hits and doubles and almost as many runs, homers, RBI, and steals in 87 less at bats. While Wright may never again approach 30/30 status like he did in 2007, it seems as if he’s become more selective at the plate, drastically increasing his average while bumping his walk rate to a career high and his strikeout rate to a career low.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill, Chris Capuano, Jason Heyward

Biggest Disappointment (Injured players ineligible)

AL – Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Expecting Gonzalez to hit .338 again is probably unfair and his current .283 average isn’t too far off his career number, but the complete lack of power is quite shocking, especially in a favorable park like Fenway. Gonzo is on pace for a career low in homers–by a long shot–and could post his lowest runs scored and RBI since his breakout season in 2006 despite holding down a premium spot in Boston’s potent line-up. Most alarmingly, Gonzalez has walked at least 74 times in each of the last four seasons, but has a mere 23 free passes through 86 games this year.

NL – Tim Lincecum, Giants: For whatever reason, The Freak has been tossing beach balls on the mound and opposing hitters have been teeing off on him. With a 3-10 record, 6.42 ERA, and 1.58 WHIP through 18 starts, it’s difficult to blame his results on bad luck. While Lincecum is still striking out his fair share of batters, he’s on pace to obliterate his career highs in both hits and walks allowed. With his funky delivery and so many teams doubting his sustainability before he started his professional career, there could be some reason to be concerned for his long term productivity.

Silver Sluggers

C – A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (.285-16-49)
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (.350-13-46)

1B – Paul Konerko, White Sox (.329-14-49)
Joey Votto, Red (.348-14-48-5)

2B – Robinson Cano, Yankees (.313-20-51)
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks (.300-11-40-7)

3B – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.324-18-71)
David Wright, Mets (.351-11-59-9)

SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees (.308-7-25-7)
Ian Desmond, Nationals (.285-17-51-11)

LF – Mark Trumbo, Angels (.306-22-57)
Ryan Braun, Brewers (.306-24-61-15)

CF – Josh Hamilton, Rangers (.308-27-75-6)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (.362-18-60-14)

RF – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (.244-27-65)
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (.296-20-65-8)

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2010 Baseball Awards

November 5, 2010

Congrats to the San Francisco Giants and their first title in over sixty years. They deserve it. Were they the best team in baseball this year? I don’t think so, but they were the hottest at the most important time and proved that they might have the deepest and most talented rotation in the game. With the World Series behind us, the 2010 MLB Award season is upon us. These aren’t exactly my predictions, just how I would vote myself:

American League MVP

1. Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers: .359-32-100, 95 runs, 8 SB, 1.044 OPS
2. Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers: .328-38-126, 111 runs, 1.042 OPS
3. Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays: .260-54-124, 109 runs, 9 SB, .995 OPS
4. Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox: .312-39-111, 89 runs, .977 OPS
5. Robinson Cano, New York Yankees: .319-29-109, 113 runs, .915 OPS

This is a really close race between the top three candidates, which could have been an easier call if Hamilton hadn’t gotten hurt down the stretch. With Hamilton nursing his injury and Cabrera losing steam in the final month, Bautista exploded in the second half and transformed from the most surprising outbreak of the year into a legitimate MVP candidate and possibly the most entertaining player in all of baseball over the last couple months. After all the dust settled, however, I still had a clear favorite. Hamilton put up ridiculous power numbers while leading the majors in batting average and OPS, plus he’s the only member of the top three to guide his team into the post season. In a race this close, those edges are enough to break a tie.

American League Cy Young

1. Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners: 13-12, 2.27 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 232 Ks, 3.31 K to BB ratio
2. Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels: 13-12, 3.01 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 233 Ks, 4.31 K:BB
3. C.C. Sabathia, New York Yankees: 21-7, 3.18 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 197 Ks, 2.66 K:BB
4. David Price, Tampa Bay Rays: 19-6, 2.72 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 188 Ks, 2.38 K:BB
5. Cliff Lee, Texas Rangers: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 185 Ks, 10.28 K:BB

The only thing easy about putting together my AL Cy list was deciding who deserves to win it. As baseball has progressed and evolved minds have come to understand that wins and losses are some of the least important factors when considering how dominate a pitcher has been, Felix Hernandez clearly had the best season in the American League and anyone else winning the award would be highway robbery. Not only did Felix lead AL starters in ERA, he did it while pitching more innings than anyone else in the AL and came up two strikeouts short of the leading the league in that category too. As doubtful as I’ve been about Felix actually winning the award, I’m starting to think the voters will get it right because his season was so much better than the competition. I have Weaver ranked second for similar reasons, although I have a feeling he won’t be finishing second in the voting. Sabathia and Price had similar seasons, but I give the edge to C.C. because he’s such an anchor and workhorse for his team. Cliff Lee over Justin Verlander, Jon Lester, Trevor Cahill, and Clay Buccholz might seem outrageous, but his control this season was legendarily good and deserves some kudos. Lastly, I left closers off the list because this is a starters award, just like the MVP is a position player award.

American League Rookie Of The Year

1. Neftali Feliz, Texas Rangers: 2.73 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 4 Wins, 40 Saves, 3.94 K:BB
2. Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers: .293-4-41, 103 runs, 27 SB, .745 OPS
3. Wade Davis, Tampa Bay Rays: 12-10, 4.07 ERA, 113 Ks, 1.35 WHIP, 1.82 K:BB

Pretty tough call between the top two guys, but I think Feliz had the more impressive season. While Jackson had a very solid (and somewhat unexpected) rookie year, Feliz was dominant in a high-pressure role as the closer for a contender. I’m sort of bias against closers, but you gotta respect the stat line. That WHIP is ridiculous and the rookie only blew three saves all season. Wade Davis gets my third place vote over Detroit’s Brennan Boesch, whose rookie season really boils down to two good months: .340-11-38 in May and June compared with a season line of .256-14-64.

National League MVP

1. Carlos Gonzalez, Colorado Rockies: .336-34-117, 111 runs, 26 SBs, .974 OPS
2. Joey Votto, Cincinatti Reds: .325-37-113, 106 runs, 16 SBs, 1.024 OPS
3. Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-42-118, 115 runs, 14 SBs, 1.010 OPS
4. Matt Holliday, St. Louis Cardinals: .312-28-103, 95 runs, 9 SBs, .922 OPS
5. Troy Tulowitski, Colorado Rockies: .315-27-95, 89 runs, 11 SBs, .949 OPS

This has to be the most exciting MVP race of my lifetime. Going in to the last six weeks of the season, CarGo, Votto, and Pujols all had legitimate chances of winning the Triple Crown, a feat that hasn’t been accomplished in over forty years. Unfortunately, CarGo took off in batting average while Pujols set the pace in power down the stretch and history wasn’t made. All three of those guys will probably get first place votes, but I’m giving the edge to Gonzalez because his line is the most impressive to me: leading the NL in batting, while posting crazy power numbers, and swiping 26 bases. Tulowitski gets my fifth place vote over some lines that are arguably better, but he also put up his numbers in about 100 less at bats than everyone else, plus that run in September was legendary.

National League Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, Philadelphia Phillies: 21-10, 2.44 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 219 Ks, 7.30 K:BB
2. Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals: 20-11, 2.42 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 213 Ks, 3.80 K:BB
3. Josh Johnson, Florida Marlins: 11-6, 2.30 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 186 Ks, 3.88 K:BB
4. Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia Phillies/Houston Astros: 13-13, 2.76 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 193 Ks, 3.51 K:BB
5. Ubaldo Jimenez, Colorado Rockies: 19-8, 2.88 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 214 Ks, 2.33 K:BB

It’s really a coin flip between Halladay and Wainwright: those stat lines are borderline identical and one could make a solid argument for either pitcher. While wins aren’t a crucial stat to me, they can play the role of tiebreaker and Halladay lead the majors in the category. He also displayed far superior control; however, since both starters’ WHIPs are nearly identical that also means that Halladay was far more hittable. It’s a tough call… but toss in a perfect game and a no hitter in the playoffs (which shouldn’t count, but I can’t erase the memory) and Halladay is my guy. Josh Johnson could have really been in the mix if he had pitched more innings, but staying healthy is part of winning season awards. It’s almost baffling that Jimenez didn’t notch twenty wins after having 14 by the All-Star break, but his line survived September a lot better than San Diego’s Mat Latos, who was a legitimate Cy contender until the season’s final month. Oswalt kind of came out of nowhere and had a great season that I don’t think too many people noticed. He was ridiculous for Philly down the stretch going 7-1, with a 1.74 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and 73 Ks in 12 starts.

National League Rookie Of The Year

1. Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants: .305-18-67, 58 runs, .862 OPS
3. Jason Heyward, Atlanta Braves: .277-18-71, 83 runs, 11 SBs, .849 OPS
2. Jamie Garcia, St. Louis Cardinals: 13-8, 2.70 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 132 Ks, 2.06 K:BB

Wow, what a group of rookies in the NL this year. I could probably list off at least ten NL rookies that had noteworthy seasons. I’m giving Posey top honors for several reasons though. First off, he outhit Heyward and basically matched the Braves rookie in homers and RBI despite having roughly 150 less plate appearances. While Heyward was a key part of the Braves’ run to the postseason, I’d argue that Posey carried his team. He was so crucial to the Giants’ success this year that I wouldn’t be surprised if he finished in the top 10 of the NL MVP voting… Heyward won’t. Cardinals fans would probably argue for Garcia, and while his season was impressive, the only stat that jumps out at you is his ERA. His line as a whole doesn’t really compare to what Posey did for the Giants or the numbers Heyward put up as a 20 year old. This list of notable NL rookie seasons is endless: Starlin Castro (.300, 31 2B, 10 SBs), Ike Davis (.261-19-71), Ian Desmond (.269-10-65, 17 SBs), Chris Johnson (.311-11-52), Pedro Alvarez (.256-16-64), Gaby Sanchez (.273-19-85), Mike Stanton (.259-22-59), Jose Tabata (.299, 19 SBs), Neil Walker (.296-12-66), John Axford (24 saves, 2.48 ERA, 8 wins), Madison Bumgarner (7-6, 3.00 ERA, 86 Ks, great postseason), Daniel Hudson (8-2, 2.45 ERA, 84 Ks), and, of course, The Chose One Stephen Strasburg (5-3, 2.91 ERA, 92:17 K:BB rate, and the most exciting rookie debut I can remember).

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Cliff Lee: What Are You Worth?

June 20, 2010

It wasn’t supposed to be like this. Cliff Lee was supposed to be the biggest reason why the Seattle Mariners were being projected to reach the World Series by multiple publications and had many local residents feeling a sense of optimism we haven’t felt since Ichiro’s rookie season. Somehow, despite having one of the best 1-2 punches at the top of their rotation in all of baseball, the Mariners find themselves 27-41, 13 games back in the AL West, and holding the 6th worst record in baseball, which is actually an improvement: last week they were 3rd worst. The Mariners have reeled off three straight wins, but I think fans have to accept the fact that the offense is going to continually let them down game after game and we’re never going to put together a big enough run to make us seem like contenders again this season. With that said, Cliff Lee will get traded. The only question now is when it will happen and what the Mariners can expect in return.

Here are a few possible scenarios:

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Philadelphia Phillies for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, and J.C. Ramirez.

Uh, yeah. This is the exact same trade we made to get Cliff Lee, but the Phillies are going to be in a position to want another ace to complement Roy Halladay, plus the Phils know exactly what Lee is capable of down the stretch… why not just call a Mulligan? While I don’t expect the Mariners would ask for these exact players, I don’t think it would be a shock for Philadelphia to come knocking.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Tampa Bay Rays for Carl Crawford.

No. It’s not as far-fetched as you think it is. Sure, Crawford is an elite player and the Rays are in the thick of a heated AL East race, but the speedy leftfielder is in the last year of his contract and the Rays have a ready replacement in Desmond Jennings (.274, 16 SBs) at AAA. Personally, I’d love this trade if the M’s could sign Crawford to a contract (unlikely) after the season. Also, the Rays don’t exactly need starting pitching; they have one of the best staffs in the majors and stud Jeremy Hellickson (8-2, 2.42 ERA, 84:20 K:BB ratio) hasn’t even cracked the big league rotation.

The Seattle Mariners trade a couple solid prospects to the San Diego Padres for Adrian Gonzalez.

Whoops! Well, this is the trade that should have happened. Unfortunately, not only are the Mariners tanking, but the Padres improbably find themselves atop the NL West. Gonzalez, another contract year player, would have filled a gaping hole at first base and provided the Mariners with the power hitter they’ve desperately been craving this year. Obviously, the Mariners aren’t going to be involved here, but it will be interesting to see how the Friars handle the Gonzalez situation as the trade deadline approaches.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the Cincinnati Reds for Homer Bailey and a couple other prospects.

Honestly, this trade wouldn’t surprise me at all. The Reds are surprising contenders and Lee would be a huge bolster to their rotation and post-season chances. Bailey has been borderline terrible so far in his early career for the Reds, which makes him a perfect candidate for the Mariners to steal him away. He’s been bad enough that the Reds might be ready to give up on him, but he’s also a ripe 24 years old and has shown enough flashes of brilliance that the M’s would be happy to take him. Hopefully Bailey’s value has dropped enough that the M’s can ask for another solid building block to come along with him. I really like how Bailey would fit in at Safeco and if we can sneak another piece or two in with him, I like the possibility of this trade.

The Seattle Mariners trade Ichiro Suzuki, Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez, and an AL West Banner to the Washington Nationals for Stephen Strasburg.

How sick is it that the Nats would probably REJECT this trade? It seems unreasonable since the Nats would undoubtedly be better after this trade, but Strasburg is honestly that good. The phenom has posted a 1.86 ERA with 32 Ks in 19.1 IP. It’s even arguable that his 32:5 strikeout to walk ratio is fluky. The mound in Cleveland during his second start was slippery and he issued five free passes. At home, Strasburg has struck out 24 and walked ZERO. The kid is unreal and there probably isn’t an offer that any team could come up with that would make the Nats give him up.

The Seattle Mariners trade Cliff Lee to the New York Mets for Ike Davis and Jenrry Mejia.

This might be wishful thinking as Davis and Mejia have a lot of value. However, if the Mets are trying to win this year, Cliff Lee might be worth the price tag. Davis isn’t exactly a phenom, but he’d be very useful to the M’s. The rookie has hit a respectful .261 and 8 homers for the Mets so far this year and doesn’t have such a high ceiling that the Mets wouldn’t move him. Mejia isn’t a franchise player either, but would have a solid future in the Mariners rotation for years to come. The Mets get better and the M’s get better. It’d be a win-win situation.

These are just some of the possible suitors (and some obvious jokes too) for Lee. Pretty much every other team in the AL West would be happy to nab Lee, but I can’t really see the M’s dealing him to a division rival, no matter how out of the race they are. Not to mention most of the players the M’s would like in return from the Rangers, specifically, are already impact players on the big league club. The Twins are another possibility, but no one really excites me in their system and hopefully the M’s would feel the same way. The San Francisco Giants have a lot of quality young players, but like the Rangers, most of those guys are already a big reason the Giants are contending right now. As it stands, I’d prefer to see Lee get dealt to either the Reds or the Mets for deals similar to the ones I fantasized about. What do you think?