Archive for August 2011

The MVP Races

08/19/2011

First, please stop by Seattle Sports Central to check out my new post on the future of the Mariners.

Now, let’s turn to the MVP race, following the same format as the last time, by looking at the race today, the race at season’s end, and my picks.

AL MVP

Today:
1. Curtis Granderson
2. Jacoby Ellsbury
3. Jose Bautista

Season’s End:
1. Dustin Pedroia
2. Curtis Granderson
3. Justin Verlander

My Picks:
1. Jose Bautista
2. Justin Verlander
3. Dustin Pedroia

Thoughts: I think that Granderson’s Yankee success would put him ahead at the moment, giving they lead the AL East, and he is the team’s only candidate. I think the Sox will win the division by season’s end, so that will drop him to number two. Pedroia strikes me as the Sox best pick, and he has put a number of key late-game hits that are important in creating an award-winning narrative. I think Verlander will carry the Tigers to the playoffs, and I was very tempted to make him my overall pick. Unfortunately, Bautista is again being forgotten, and he is the best hitter in baseball this year.

NL MVP:

Today:
1. Justin Upton
2. Prince Fielder
3. Ryan Braun

Season’s End:
1. Justin Upton
2. Prince Fielder
3. Roy Halladay

My Picks:
1. Justin Upton
2. Ryan Braun
3. Matt Kemp

Thoughts: Justin Upton is having a great year on a surprising division leader. He cruises to the MVP if the Diamondbacks hold on, and giving the Giants’ bats, I think they will. Next come a pair of Brewers. Fielder has more home runs and RBI’s, and he could easily win the award. I think Braun is the better overall player. Kemp has had a fantastic year on an obscene team. I think he deserves an extra vote or two just for playing well on a team “owned” by Frank McCourt.

There are the MVP races. I am much more confident about the NL than the AL. The AL is especially fluid this year, and it could go a thousand different directions. Next up, a review of the book Strike Five.

A New Gig

08/17/2011

I am now doing some occasional posting over at Seattle Sports Central. I write about the Mariners, which is often a depressing topic. But if you are interested, please wander over and check out my first post, an early look back at the Doug Fister trade. I will still post here as well; please stop back by toward the end of the week to see a book review, and eventually I will do a look at the MVP races, too.

The Awards Races, Part 1

08/11/2011

This years is shaping up for a number of excellent awards races. I don’t think that any are firmly decided, unlike the various pennant races. I’ll start by putting up a top 3 in each category as I think they would finish if the vote was held today, a guess as to season-ending votes, and then my personal preferences. We’ll start with the Cy Young races today.

AL Cy Young –

Today:
1. Jered Weaver
2. Justin Verlander
3. C.C. Sabathia

Season’s End:
1. Justin Verlander
2. C.C. Sabathia
3. Jered Weaver

My picks:
1. Justin Verlander
2. C.C. Sabathia
3. Jered Weaver

Thoughts: I think that Weaver’s sub-2.00 ERA would win him the Cy Young if the vote was held today. I also think it will tick up above 2.00, and his case is substantially weaker without it. I expect Verlander and Sabathia to hold up better, as I don’t think either is really pitching over his head. For Sabathia to pull it out, I think he needs to beat the Red Sox at least once. That has become a storyline, and it hurts him. My pick: No one has dominated in the way Verlander has.

NL Cy Young:

Today:
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cole Hamels
3. Craig Kimbrel

Season’s End:
1. Cole Hamels
2. Roy Halladay
3. Clayton Kershaw

My Picks:
1. Roy Halladay
2. Cliff Lee
3. Cole Hamels

Thoughts: At the moment, Halladay leads the league in wins and is second in ERA by .03. That should secure the award for him. I think Kimbrel, with his league-leading saves total as a rookie would do surprisingly well. If anyone passes him, his support collapses. I think that Hamels will sneak ahead by season’s end because of the general share-the-wealth principal. Halladay hasn’t been much better, and he won last year. For me, I love all of Lee’s shutouts, and he was pulled an inning short of sixth last night, but they still don’t quite match up to Halladay’s consistency overall. And, wow, the Phillies can pitch.

Loving the Twins and Tim Wakefield

08/09/2011

My favorite players are Twins.  My all-time favorite was Kirby Puckett, followed ever so slightly by Roy Smalley.  My next favorite players include Brad Radke, Torii Hunter, and Joe Mauer.  I’m a Twins fan to the core, and unsurprisingly all of my favorite players have spent significant chunks of their career with the franchise.  But if you move into that benighted circle of those who have never been graced by a Twins uniform, all is not darkness and despair.  And in this realm full of non-Twins, written about extensively by such famous sports journalists as Dante Alighieri, my favorite player, for years, has been Tim Wakefield.

Last night, Wakefield pursued his elusive 200th victory against God’s elect, getting a lead in the eight on an error by the aforementioned Joe Mauer.  In a year in which the Twins are disastrously bad, it was easy, for a single night, to hope for Wakefield’s triumph, and I would be thrilled to welcome him to the 200-win club.  Unfortunately, his bullpen blew it in the bottom of the eighth, delaying his quest for 200 for another start.

What’s not to like about Wakefield?  He had the misfortune of joining the Pirates just as the franchise collapsed, and he did not start his career until age 25.  He lost part of his best season to the strike in 1995.  In that season, he went 16-8 with a 2.95 ERA (165 ERA+).  He finished third in AL Cy Young voting, behind his polar opposite, Randy Johnson.  Without the strike he would already have 200 wins.  His best playoff run was in the ALCS in 2003, when he went 2-1 with a 2.57 ERA in 14 innings.   But the 5.65 ERA of Pedro Martinez, the 6.43 ERA of Derek Lowe, and the 7.36 ERA of John Burkett kept the Yankees in the series, leading to Wakefield’s one bad pitch to Aaron Boone.

Through it all, Wakefield kept pitching.  He is now 45, and he has pitched for 19 seasons despite his late call-up.  He is now third on the Red Sox all-time wins list, second in games pitched, first in innings, second in strikeouts, and as any good knuckleballer should be, first in wild pitches by nearly 50.  He has been a model of class and skill.  He will never touch the Hall of Fame and shouldn’t.  But I hope that people will remember one of my all-time favorites, even if he never was a Twin.  May God have mercy on his soul despite that.

Restarting the Blog

08/08/2011

I think I will restart this blog over the course of the next week.  I have finally made progress on the PhD listed in the blog’s title, and I now have only to complete dissertation revisions and complete a defense before I move from The Sports PhD ABD to the The Sports PhD.  Given that, I have some more time to devote to blogging.  I have noticed than many, if not most, of my links are no good.  If you happen to see this and have an updated link, please send them to me.  I will try to get the site fully functional shortly, and then I will turn to various topics near and dear to my heart, such as award predictions, Elston Howard, why the Twins are so bad, and Edgar Martinez.  I look forward to having some more interactions with readers and commenters.