With about three weeks left there are a TON of good looking rookies in the NL. For awhile I thought it was Jaime Garcia, then Buster Posey took a slight lead, then Gaby Sanchez, and now Jason Heyward is remaking his case for the ROY award with a hot streak. What I’ve found most interesting about the NL ROY race is that guys like Mike Stanton have 20 homers, Tyler Colvin has 19 homers, Ike Davis has 18 homers, Neil Walker has a .306 average, John Axeford has 21 saves, Stephen Strasberg was insanely good for a bit, and none of these guys are going to be considered for the award. It’s has been an insane year for the youth in the NL, and will probably be just like the NL West race coming down to who has the best final weeks of the season. I’m going to take a look at the top five candidates, and try to figure out which one is the best choice. I’m already leaning towards Heyward during his resurgence, and being in the big leagues all year helps his case. Gaby Sanchez is so underrated that I feel like I should almost just pick him for shock value, but I just can’t do it. Here’s my thoughts on the top five candidates in no particular order. I heavily weighted one thing in my list, and that was the word YEAR, as in playing a complete season. Continue reading
Tag Archives: NL
Prince Fielder was plunked by a heat seeking 80 mph fastball in spring training today by the Bay Area flamethrower, Barry Zito. I think this is the first moment I’ve truly felt baseball is REALLY starting. There’s something about the competitiveness of this incident that makes it feel like they are starting to care about the games. The retaliation beanball was for a choreographed team celebration after Prince hit a walkoff in the 12th inning of a game in early September last year (pictured above). It pretty much killed the Giants season as they were holding onto a very slim playoff hope. I guess they still had a chip on their shoulders about it. There was no previous bad blood between the teams, and that’s what makes this one of the greatest parts about baseball. Most sports when you retaliate for anything you get called for a foul, whether it’s a technical in basketball or an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the NFL. The only sport you can really retaliate in is baseball. A sport that is built on traditions and history, never forgets a time when the team was slighted or given a cheap shot. Zito and the Giants didn’t forget when Prince strolled to the plate today. Zito helped them get some of those pent up feelings out in one pitch for things that happened long ago. It’s cool that a team can feel some kind of revenge 6 months after the fact, even if it was during a spring training game. I didn’t really see it as showboating in the walkoff, but I guess this is a sport that pitchers get mad when hitters stroll to first admiring their homers going out of the park. It’s not the Lebron and company doing their sideshow pregame. Regardless of how meaningless it is in the scope of things, I love how one beanball got me excited about the upcoming season!
The Rockies started off slow just as anybody would start off an ice cold Coors in April, but just after the All-Star break the Rockies have powered their way close to a .700 record turning that blue bottle label white hot indicating it’s time to pound! The Rockies have pounded the ball and surprised us with some decent pitching as well. The Rockies took the wild card lead back by one game today, and they truly look like the force they were in their last playoff run in 2007. The Rox 2.0 just picked up Jason Giambi, who arrived in Colorado today. They have added him as a pinch hitter plus a sub for Helton to keep that always troublesome back of his from acting up. Giambino made his first NL atbat of his career tonight that netted a bases loaded RBI walk. He knows he’s not a major piece, but feels he can help them out with his experience saying “There is no small role when you’re in a pennant race.” The Rockies also added Jose Contreras from the White Sox for a minor league pitcher yesterday who should fill in nicely for injured starter Aaron Cook. He should get his first start this Saturday. The move from AL to NL has been very kind to many pitchers that were performing at a much lower level (See Smoltz).
Their closest competitors are the Giants, which I unfortunately don’t see them hanging in there. I hope they can pull it out, because they have great pitching that would be fun to see in the playoffs. They still can’t consistently score runs though. They never really filled that hitting void that everyone was talking about for the months leading up to the trade deadline. It feels like they just have big holes in their lineup where you decide, they won’t score this inning before they even bat. They were shut out tonight, which could have been Hamels brilliance, but it could just as easily been that they don’t have that many good hitters. Freddy Sanchez and his continually delayed return could help a little, but they need some more power. He wasn’t the guy they should’ve gone for at the trade deadline. Penny just signed with SF, and just like the cases mentioned earlier going from the AL to the NL should treat him well or at least descent. Zito is quietly throwing up lots of zeros on the scoreboard. It’s unfortunate that he hasn’t pitched to the level of his contract, but this is a start.
The Braves and Marlins are the next closest teams to them, but seem to have trouble playing any better than .500 ball as both teams have been just above or below there all season. I think the Wild Card winner should be a good 8 games over .500, at least we’ll hope that’s the case! Tim Hudson made his return tonight for Atlanta, and pitched pretty well. That has to help the Braves chances if he can stay healthy. He’s always been a big competitor, and should give them everything he can. I do like the makeup of the Braves, but they’ll need their pitching to step up especially Lowe. I just saw that Hanley left the game tonight in Florida with some more of that hamstring tightness he seems to have a lot of. They can ill afford to lose him, and if they do you can kiss goodbye to the wild card spot.
Ultimately I think it’s the Rockies spot to lose, since they have been consistently playing better than the other teams in the hunt over the second half of the season. I don’t care if the Giants swept them in a series, and they lost a couple more. They could have broken the spirits of the Giants, but now I believe it’s just a minor stumble as they are now back in first. Another reason I attach myself to the Rockies, is because they have some former A’s players on their team. With the addition of Giambi, it’s too hard to resist picking them. Carlos Gonzalez homered tonight, and he’s heated to white label hot over the last month! I hate second guessing things, but I wonder if we should have kept him over trading for Holliday. We’ll have to see how Brett Wallace turns out to answer that one, on another post.
Mauer has been my fantasy teams MVP this season, but does he have a case for the AL MVP this year? Currently ranked 3rd in Yahoo fantasy games, Mauer figures to be a top contender in the running for AL MVP. You can’t say that he’s been a huge surprise, because he’s always been an elite hitter consistently in the batting title race, but it’s his home run totals that have made his case much stronger for being the MVP this year. It’s pretty tough to argue with the man’s stats so far, .383 average (1st in majors), slugging .643 (1st in majors), 1.088 OPS (1st in majors), 25 homers (10th in AL), and 77 RBI’s on the season even after missing nearly the whole first month. It’s too bad the Twins are starting to fade back in the race for the central, but I feel he should win the AL MVP if he keeps his current pace. Who knows, a .400 batting average may not be out of reach either!
I don’t blame people for picking Mark Teixeira as he is having a great season with 30 homers and 86 RBI’s, but he hasn’t had the better overall season that Mauer has. They are both top notch gold glovers on the defensive side at their positions, so that’s a wash. Besides, nobody picks the MVP based on their defense, because that’s what gold gloves are for. If I did for argument’s sake, I’d have to say playing catcher would have to be a little more difficult than first base. In evaluating an MVP, you have to include other factors like the ballparks they play in. The new Yankee stadium is obviously a hitter’s park, while the Metrodome is much more of a pitcher’s park. Maybe that doesn’t even out the home run totals, but when you look at the fact that only 11 of Teixeira’s homers are on the road, it has to be weighed in. The Yankees have scored sixty more runs than the Twins this year. I’d assume that that is why Teixeira has more RBI’s as he has more chances. Stats would support that as well as Mauer is hitting .403 with RISP, and Tex is hitting .258 with RISP. Who is more clutch for their team? Numbers say Mauer.
Many argue that the MVP should come from a team that is going to the playoffs. This definitely hurts my Mauer argument, but it’s unlike basketball where it’s basically a requirement to be on the best team. Baseball’s voters don’t limit their view to the best teams as there have been 47 MVP’s that didn’t make the playoffs. It is one of the criteria, but it isn’t weighed nearly as heavily as football and baseball. If Kobe wants to try to take the MVP he can chuck up 50 shots a game, and surely he’ll average 35 per. Drew Brees can throw the ball 50 times in a game to put up crazy numbers (Wait, he already does that. Bad example.), but in baseball a hitter only comes to the plate once every nine players. He can’t control how many times he bats or if his teammates don’t do anything at the plate. So penalizing Mauer because his teammates are worse is unfair.
As for the NL MVP race, it’s pretty clear cut that Pujols is leading the way. He doesn’t look like he’ll win the triple crown, but it’s still not out of reach for him. He should be going for his fourth or fifth MVP by now, but for some reason the voters decided to pick someone that is more valuable to a team than him a few times. Most recently, I don’t see how Ryan Howard won the MVP over him last season. Not that Howards numbers weren’t incredible, but how can anyone really say that Pujols isn’t more valuable to his team than Howard? The Phillies have three guys that can potentially win the MVP every year. The easiest way to prove this theory is seeing how well Ibanez has benefitted from moving to a hitter friendly park and hitter friendly lineup. He is even in the race for the NL MVP if he can shake off the post injury rust. It’s like the Teixeira argument; he just has better players around him to help him put those stats up. Now that Pujols is matched with Holliday, his numbers should be indisputable by seasons end.