Crowning the best of the season: Part five

Last award of the BBA season, the Stan Musial award, going to the most valuable player.  The most prestigious award is reserved for the best of the best.  Hall of Fame careers are often judged on how many of these the player can get.   One is almost mandatory (actually it isn’t).  But win a couple and you’re almost guaranteed to get in.

American League:

  1. Mike Trout – Angels:  Even though he tanked in the playoffs, this year he finally wins the award.  When he got off to a slow start, many were questioning whether he was in for a slight down year….nope.  Angels are paying him a shit load and still getting a great deal.
  2. Michael Brantley – Indians:  Came out of seemingly nowhere to be the best player on the Indians by far.  He was a mini Trout, hitting for average, some power and moved around the bases.
  3. Jose Bautista – Blue Jays: Some though Joey Bats was heading towards the downside, and he might never top 40 HR again, but he upped his average and was the consistent bat int he BlueJays lineup.

 

National League:

  1. Andrew McCutchen – Pirates:  A repeat MVP is on tap for this year.  McCutchen seemingly had a quieter year this year…maybe because the Pirates being in the playoff race wasn’t a novelty this year – it was expected.  But he was the best player in the NL by far in a somewhat weak field.
  2. Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers:  I’ll repeat what I said in the Walter Johnson award voting.  Pitchers get on this list when they are as dominant as Kershaw.  Not sure how he isn’t the winner/favorite of this award for the next several years.  Just a ridiculous, ridiculous talent.  Apparently the HR he gave up to Matt Adams was the FIRST HR he ver gave up to a lefty on his curve ball.
  3. Giancarlo Stanton – Marlins:  Stanton had a real shot ton win before wearing a fastball to the face.  He was having a killer year and proving that he is one of the best young bats in baseball after a disappointing stretch the previous seasons.  Will need to stay healthy an entire season to climb to number one on this list.
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Crowning the best of the season: Part four

Getting down to the brass tacks in our season ending awards run.  Time for the Walter Johnson Award to the best pitchers in the league.  These guys do everything from throw unhittable chest high fastballs, paint the black of the plate, and buckle knees with sweeping curves.  These guys are fun to watch.

American League:

  1. Felix Hernandez – Mariners:  Barely edging out the runner up was the best pitcher in the American League over the last 5 years.  Felix nearly led the Mariners to a playoff spot and held up his end of the bargain even on the last day of the season.
  2. Corey Kluber – Indians:  Amazing that Kluber is the same age King Felix.  Just missed out but definitely more bang for the buck than Felix.
  3. Chris Sale – White Sox:  Didn’t get a full season of work, but is one of the guys I’d want in a one game playoff.

National League:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Dodgers:  Not sure how he isn’t the winner/favorite of this award for the next several years.  Just a ridiculous, ridiculous talent.  Apparently the HR he gave up to Matt Adams was the FIRST HR he ver gave up to a lefty on his curve ball.
  2. Stephen Strasburg – Nationals:  Just short of winning the award many expected him to rack up when he came into the league.
  3. Adam Wainwright – Cardinals: Hard to keep this guy out of the top three.  Keeps turning out fantastic seasons in a loaded Cardinals’ rotation.
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Crowning the best of the season: Part three

Continuing the award season for BBA we move on to the late inning guys.   The ones who have to get up quickly and come in to keep a lead.  The guys who get overrated by compiling saves and the ones who grind the middle innings all year long.  The Goose Gossage award for relief pitchers.

American League:

  1. Dellin Betances – Yankees:  Same reason as his nomination for Willie Mays (rookie) award.  Delivered a ridiculous 3.2 WAR from his position.  He was absolutely unhittable and should become a shutdown closer one day and be heavily overpaid.
  2. Greg Holland – Dominant in a great KC bullpen and helped lead the Royals to their first playoff appearance since 1985.
  3. Jake McGee – Great young reliever who pitched well enough that Joe Madden had to move into closers role.

National League:

  1. Aroldis Chapman – Reds:  Didn’t even pitch the first month or so and still had the highest WAR of any NL reliever and racked up 36 saves.  Reds have to try him at starter next year.
  2. Craig Kimbrel – Braves:  Just keeps shutting the 9th inning down for the Braves.  Not quite as good as years past but he set a ridiculous bar.
  3. Kenley Jansen – Dodgers: Will be closing games for the Dodgers…or some other team for a very long time.
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Crowning the best of the season: Part two

Continuing the award season for BBA we move on to the young guns.   Which rookies did the most to help their teams and move their names into the consciousness of the casual baseball fan.

Willie Mays Award:

American League:

  1. Jose Abreu – White Sox:  Pretty much a no brainer.  Abreu was one of the top offensive players in all of baseball – not just the rookies.  Will look forward to him hitting bombs for years to come.
  2. Masahiro Tanaka – Yankees:  An injury was the only thing keeping Tanaka for pressing Abreu for the award and he was even on Cy Young pace before the injury.  Should be back in full force next year.
  3. Dellin Betances – Yankees:  Weird for a middle reliever/setup man to be on here but he delivered a ridiculous 3.2 WAR from his position.  He was absolutely unhittable and should become a shutdown closer one day and be heavily overpaid.

National League:

  1. Billy Hamilton – Reds:  The fastest man in baseball surprisingly didn’t lead the league in steals but made up for that shortfall by hitting better than anyone thought he would.  The Reds have a center fielder for years to come.
  2. Jacob deGrom – Mets:  Last year the Mets had a rookie pitching sensation in Matt Harvey.  deGrom didn’t quite duplicate Harvey’s performance, but he was the best pitcher on staff this year.
  3. Ender Inciarte – Diamondbacks: The DBacks haven’t won many trades recently, but having Inciarte become a fixture in the lineup will help a bit.
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Crowning the best of the season: Part one

Now that we have 4 real playoff teams in each league (sorry losing wildcard teams), we can look back on the season and give out awards for the players/coaches who tried the hardest outperformed everyone else.  The post is part of the Baseball Bloggers Alliance annual season awards voting.  Just one say in how those award will turn out.  We’ll reveal awards over a series of posts in the next week or so.  First award up….

Connie Mack Award:

American League:

  1. Buck Showalter – Orioles:  Showalter has been a top manager for a long time and he wins it this year by leading this Orioles to a division title in a difficult division and with some of his best players not contributing as they should (cough…Chris Davis, Matt Wieters)
  2. Mike Scioscia – Angels:  Best record in baseball.  Not too long ago was rumored to be on the hot seat.
  3. Ned Yost – Royals:  Not sure why I’d vote for a guy who makes in game mistakes but he got Royals to playoffs…so…what the hell.

National League:

  1. Bruce Bochy – Giants:  He gets the nod for getting to the playoffs with less headline talent than the other teams int he league and for constantly having the Giants in contention.
  2. Clint Hurdle – Pirates:  Two years of playoffs in a row for the Pirates!?!  Yep.
  3. Mike Redmond – Marlins:  A little random, but the Marlins were in wildcard contention until a late fade and without their best player.

 

 

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Rank relief: Houston can’t close and loses sweep of mighty Mariners

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields stares at his handiwork

Kyle Seager poses while Josh Fields stares at his handiwork

In a game between two pretty bad teams, Josh Fields turned out to have the worst day.  Attempting to close the game and protect a one run lead for the Astros, he gave up three runs in walk off fashion.  Kyle Seager has been awful this season until his two home runs in this game.  I wouldn’t have minded having Seager and his .158 BA up to the plate plate with the game on the line, but he did 22 home runs in 2013 and should be expected to provide that kind of pop going forward.

So exactly how did the 9th inning go for Fields…let’s take a look.

Screen Shot 2014-04-24 at 8.38.08 PM

After a pair of singles, Field was able to strike out and a game ending double play was in play.  But Fields threw a fat 4 seamer that Seager deposited over the wall.  Game.

The Astros did take 2 of 3 from the Mariners on the road which is a nice accomplishment, but still lag a game behind for last place.  After a hot start, the Mariners have fallen flat on their faces.  Nobody really thinks either of these teams is going anywhere this year, but it could be an interesting race for last place.

Looking back at early season win over/unders for each of the teams puts a little perspective on the two teams.  Seattle was pegged at 81.5, Houston at 62.5.  My guess at this point in the season is Seattle hits the under and Houston gets the over.  Anybody thinking about laying money down on one of these lines could do so at a offshore sportsbook, but keep a little bit for beer money for when the season ends – maybe happy beer…maybe sad beer.

 

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2014 Season Predictions: Stone cold guesses

Predictions are predictably wrong.  But just in case we can get them right, it’s fun to go back and look at what you thought.  These are not based on simulations or modeling which is probably the best way to do things.  If you want those, there are plenty of places that do that.  The best thing about my predictions is that you know they came from the guy who picked the Angels to make the World Series…and the Blue Jays to win the AL East.  What can I say?  I guess I’m a sucker for the higher priced things in life.  (Side note:  No way can I get on board with paying a portly slugger $30M when he’s 41.)

Without further ado, here is what I think will happen during the 2014 season:

National League

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I have the Nationals and Reds meeting up in the Queen City for the wild card matchup with the Nationals throwing Stephen Strasburg and winning.

I have the Dodgers falling short again to the Cardinals in the NLCS to make their second World Series in a row.  These two staffs are really good, but I see the Cardinals as the better staff overall – and that will prove the difference.

American League

Screen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.15 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.33 PMScreen Shot 2014-03-30 at 1.56.46 PM

I think the Red Sox and A’s match up in the wild card with Sonny Gray putting his big boy pants on and shutting down Boston.

The Yankees will somehow beat the Tigers in the ALCS and get back to the place they seemingly were every year.

World Series:

That trip will be short lived however as the Cardinals will win the World Series this year. I hate this as a Reds fan and hopefully I will jinx them by picking them (I won’t).  Let’s say it will take 7 games to add some drama in my life.

Other Predictions:

AL MVP – Mike Trout.  He’s the best player and he’ll finally get over the Miggy hump.

NL MVP – Ryan Braun Bryce Harper – The story becomes Harper vs. Trout.  He’s looked jacked this spring and has all the skills in the world.

AL Cy Young – Justin Verlander.  I know the trend is down, but with much of the top pitching in the NL I think he’s got a shot.

NL Cy Young – Stephen Strasburg.  If he’s healthy and dealing I think he is on Kershaw’s level.  Voters like new faces.

 

I almost had my son randomly pick teams for this as it might be as accurate.  That post might be coming up soon.

 

 

 

 

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MLB.tv officially renewed

Officially renewed my MLB.tv premium account for 2014.  Especially during the summer when I usually dump cable, being able to watch the Reds, Mariners and all the great matchups is a serious bump to the summer enjoyment level.

I’m hoping to complete the back patio so that I can come home from work, turn on the Reds game in the 3rd inning on the iPad and watch the game whilst (yes…whilst) consuming an adult beverage in the sun.

MLB.tv as a product puts every other sports package to shame.  I’m assuming the others will catch up eventually but only time will tell.

Pro tip:  If you don’t have cable and want to watch your home team or a national ESPN game, you can spoof your IP to make it look like you’re logging in from somewhere else.  I’m sure this is breaking the terms of service so do so at your own risk.

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AL wins an exhibition game and they win home field advantage…makes sense?

This post is brought to you by The Sports Geek.  A great place to go for free betting advice.

The first half of the season has been a great one.  Highlighted by Chris Davis’s home run bonanza, no hitters by Homer Bailey and Tim Lincecum, two brawls in Los Angeles, the upstart Pirates claiming the 3rd best record in baseball, Miggy cementing himself as the most dominant hitter since Barry Bonds and other great moments.  The standing may not look very much like I thought they would at the beginning of the season but they are nonetheless interesting.  Here’s where we stand so far in both leagues:

AL standings 7.15NL standings 7.15

A few observations:

  • The Red Sox, the only team I said didn’t have a shot to win the AL east, are in first place in the toughest division in baseball (sorry NL Central).
  • The Pirates have had another great first half.  Can they avoid another second half dumpster fire?
  • Oakland has the best record in baseball over the last 162 games.  Look at the roster.  It’s incredible.
  • My NL World series pick, the Giants, are not making me look good.  I still feel a second half run.
  • The Houston Astros and Miami Marlins haven’t let anybody down by being the worst teams in baseball.

This isn’t really the mid point in the season.  Teams have played over 90 games.  They have less than 70 games to keep their lead or make up ground.  Buster Olney put together a list of the toughest schedules left among the contenders. (Insider)  Hint:  It’s the Royals, Braves have easiest.  I think the Red Sox and the A’s end up with the AL wild cards.  The Rays, Tigers, and Rangers will take the divisions.  In the NL, The Dodgers and Reds will manage to get the wild cards while the Braves, Cardinals, and Diamondbacks will win the divisions.

Maybe the biggest question looming over the second half is whether Chris Davis can continue his torrid pace and get over the 60 HR mark and prevent Miguel Cabrera from winning his second straight Triple Crown in the process.  I’m pegging Davis to come up short of 60…somewhere around 55-57.  Which, clearly is still ridiculous and will be enough to stay ahead of Cabrera.

What about some of the smaller plots?  Let’s see:

  • Can Max Scherzer hold onto his sizable lead in the AL Cy Young race?  No.  I’m going to go with Yu Darvish.  Hopefully his injury issue is nothing and he’ll be right back.
  • Who will be the big buyer/seller at the trade deadline?  With team’s valuing their prospects more, the big deals are harder to come buy, but I think the Dodgers will make some moves now that they are within striking distance.  The White Sox will definitely be unloading and, despite the public saying to the contrary, the Phillies will figure out that they need to blow that thing up.
  • What will happen with the Biogenesis scandal?  Who will get suspended?  I’ve made it known I don’t agree with the MLB’s investigation tactics, but it looks more and more like they will suspend somewhere between a few and a bunch of players.  This is going to get ugly before it gets better.

These questions and more will be on the mind of baseball fans for another few months.  We’ll get answers and most of us will have sarcastic things to say about it on Twitter.  Enjoy the second half.

 

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Angel Pagan hits a walk off inside the park home run

 

Should we call it a “run-off” home run?  Not sure?  Well whatever it was, it was awesome.  The San Francisco Giants ended up beating the Colorado Rockies and got to a tie for first place in the NL West.

Check out the video at MLB.com [Walk-off]

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