Sunday, August 18, 2013

A Little Late, but CLOSE to on Time!

Remember how I did awards 1/3 of the way through the season?  Well, in theory, I was going to do awards 2/3 of the way through the season.  However, in the last 7 weeks, I have a) started a new job, b) moved into our first house, and c) had to meet approximately 6 million people, which takes a bit of time.  Needless to say, updating this blog, which is often the first thing that falls by the wayside in my life, fell victim yet again.  But here we are, about 120 games in - which means we're at (roughly) the 3/4 mark.  In my opinion, 75% is close enough to 67% that we're going to call this a win.

Anyway, without further ado, here are the awards as I see them.  I will also place my choice from the previous article, so that you can compare them without having to switch back and forth to the old post.  Finally, I'll make my best guess as to who wins each award.

AL Manager of the Year:  John Farrell, BOS
1/3 Choice:  Joe Girardi, NYY
Prediction:  John Farrell, BOS

As everyone knows, there are two ways to win the coach/manager of the year in major professional sports.  You can either lead a team so dominant that it's impossible not to give you the award, or you can surprise people.  As I see it, there is no one dominant enough in the AL to fall into the first category.  But in the second, there would be two choices:  John Farrell in Boston and Ron Washington in Texas.  Washington lost key players in the offseason.  You may have heard of the Hamilton fellow.  The Angels were going to be on the rise, and the A's had made big strides.  The Mariners even spent a good part of the year in the hunt.  But they have fallen off, and while the A's are still close, virtually NO ONE expected Texas to compete.  But that pales in comparison to the odds faced by Farrell before the season started.  A huge but aging payroll.  An "ace" in John Lackey who is, at this moment, exactly 1 game over .500 in FOUR YEARS in Boston.  A last place finish.  A clubhouse that was supposedly embattled.  A dump of star-level talent including Adrian Gonzalez and Carl Crawford.  It was an impossible situation, particularly for a manager who had a reputation as a guy who just couldn't get a team "over the hump," based on two years of managing an up-and-down Toronto team.  So what did he do?  Stepped in and brought the team to first place, that's what.  And not just first, but the best record in the American League.  Sounds like a Manager of the Year to me.

AL Rookie of the Year:  I still have no idea
1/3 Choice:  None
Prediction:  Probably Wil Myers, OF, TBR

Good luck with this one.  On the one hand, the only person with a sizable sample is probably Jose Iglesias.  But it's not too often that you see a guy traded midseason win a major award like that.  So I don't think it's going to happen.  On the other hand, whom do you vote for?  It's wide open, as far as I'm concerned, but Myers is the biggest name, so he'll probably get the win.  And when it's all said and done, he'll probably get my vote, too.  But there's too much season left and too many things could happen for me to make any sort of choice, much less a prediction.

AL Cy Young:  Felix Hernandez, SEA
1/3 Choice:  Hernandez
Prediction:  Max Scherzer, DET

Last year, I thought that Max Scherzer was probably the best pitcher in the AL.  I didn't have the stones to say it publicly, but it's what I thought.  He's AGAIN putting up stellar numbers.  I may actually change my mind on this one.  But midseason, I don't put too much thought into these awards, and Felix has been outstanding.  Leading the league in innings, and STILL with an ERA under 2.5?  Whew.  That's impressive.  Like 2010, he doesn't have the gaudy wins number.  Unlike 2010, he doesn't have the nasty losses number.  Like 2010, he's a workhorse.  Unlike 2010, he's not leading the league in ERA (he's second).   Hideki Kuroda, Anibal Sanchez, and Chris Sale (this year's Cliff Lee, who was last year the best pitcher in the NL but had a terrible record) would also be inspired choices.  It's a year where you can't go wrong.  But Scherzer has the best W-L, so he'll win.  And that's not necessarily wrong.

AL MVP:  A debate between Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET and Mike Trout, OF, LAA
1/3 Choice:  A debate between Miguel Cabrera, 1B, DET and Mike Trout, OF, LAA
Prediction:  Cabrera

"Here we go again."  I'm not the first person to write those words about this debate.  I won't be the last.  It's certainly a lot "closer" this year than last year, particularly without Cabrera having the Triple Crown.  However, Trout hasn't been quite as good, either.  Neither has dominated the other.  Well, Cabrera did for the first part of the season, but Trout snuck up by consistently outplaying him since June.  Either way, the poetically just thing would be for each of them to have an MVP after this astonishing two year stretch.  That won't happen, because Cabrera will win.  And it will just get filed away in my mind like all of Albert Pujols' if-only-Bonds-had-been-in-the-AL-2nd-place-MVP-finishes.

NL Manager of the Year:  The manager whose team wins the Central
1/3 Choice:  Mike Matheny, STL
Prediction:  The manager whose team wins the Central

That's totally a cop-out, I know.  But it's the truth.  Everyone thought Cinci had it in the bag.  They'll make the playoffs, sure.  But either St. Louis or Pittsburgh is going to win that division.  And the winning manager will have been a shock, and he'll deserve the win.  I also wouldn't be surprised if it were Fredi Gonzalez, but I said before the season that the Braves were the most talented team in baseball, so I can't imagine casting a vote for their manager when they have the best record.  Don Mattingly will get support here.  That's good, and justified.  But just remember:  people were calling for his head early in the season.  That was dumb, because he wasn't that bad.  But he's not THIS good either (though Yasiel Puig might be).  Any of those choices would be fine, but it's awfully tough to root against Pittsburgh and, by extension, Hurdle (especially because this season, unlike past ones, my Brewers aren't in the hunt).

NL Rookie of the Year:  Yasiel Puig, OF, LAD
1/3 Choice:  Shelby Miller, SP, STL
Prediction:  Puig

At the 1/3 marker, I wrote, " It's totally crazy, by the way, that I actually considered Yasmiel Puig's one week of play to make him the winner in this category.  He's been that scary good."  It hasn't let up.  He's been a monster.  He's obscuring fine seasons by the aforementioned Miller, Jose Fernandez (SP, MIA), Julio Teheran (SP, ATL), Nolan Arenado (3B, COL), among others.  It's a much deeper (and better) field than their American League counterparts, and it's a shame that only one of them will walk away with a ROY, while someone in the AL will grudgingly have to get one.

NL Cy Young:  Clayton Kershaw, LAD
1/3 Choice:  Kershaw
Prediction:  Kershaw

He leads the league in innings.  He leads in ERA.  He pitched the most, and he's prevented the most runs.  I said a lot more at the 1/3 point, but I think that about sums up my thoughts at this juncture.  Oh yeah:  and he's getting hotter as the season goes on.  Scary.

NL MVP:  Carlos Gomez, OF, MIL
1/3 Choice:  Gomez
Prediction:  Andrew McCutchen, OF, PIT

McCutchen and Gomez are both great choices.  At the moment, Baseball-Reference has each with 6.5 WAR.  I'm sticking with Gomez.  Not because he's a Brewer (at least I like to THINK it's not because he's a Brewer) but because he's been more consistent.  McCutchen has a 24-point advantage in OPS+.  If there were a "Def+" metric, I don't doubt Gomez would have a similar one over McCutchen.  Gomez has produced in a lineup that has been totally lackluster, with the exception of the outstanding Jean Segura.  Unfortunately, Gomez will get no support.  However, McCutchen has been great, and has been in this discussion for two years.  It will be a pleasure to see him get his due, even though I believe that I would have cast a vote for Gomez, if I had the opportunity.

Thanks to Baseball-Ref, to Fangraphs, and to The Baseball Gauge.  They're the three best sports statistics sites on the web, and they're all devoted to America's Pastime.

Sound off below on why I'm an idiot for my choices, or my predictions.