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
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I was all fired up to write a Cahill for the AL Cy Young Award last night, but sadly he got shelled for 8 runs by the Yankees. His ERA ended up ballooning from 2.43 to 2.82 dropping him from second to third in ERA. He held the lead in WHIP with an amazing 0.99, but that ballooned to 1.07 after last night, and now he’s now second behind Cliff Lee in that department. He was going to need to lead those key categories if he was going to have any chance in winning a Cy Young. Cahill missed April with an injury, so he had some ground to make up in innings pitched to be considered. Since he doesn’t strike out a lot of guys he needed to keep that ERA and WHIP down to get any Cy Young votes. He’s about as dominating a ground ball pitcher as you can be, but voters value K’s A LOT, so falling out of the lead of those two major categories might have pushed him out of the Cy talks. Until last night, he’d lasted five or more innings, and given up seven or fewer hits in all 23 of his starts. That was broken up yesterday, but the streak was still good enough for an Oakland record, which is surprising thinking of all the pitching greats that have donned the green and gold over the years. I ended up posting Stealing First Base last night, because I was rattled by this rare ugly start for our 22 year old sensation. If he’d shut down the Yankees, there would be more optimism in his Cy Young candidacy. At this moment, I can’t really put him at the top, so I’d probably drop him down to the second tier where I have CC, Bucholtz, and Wilson. He’s got a month left to get a new streak of zeros going, but the way Felix has been firing on all cylinders he’s the man to dethrone now.
If it was decided today, I’d would crown King Felix with the AL Cy Young. He’s been phenomenal after a so-so May. If he played for any team but Seattle, he’d at least have 15 wins. If he was on the Yankees he’d probably have as many wins if not more than CC’s 18. A 10-10 record isn’t anything to write home about, but I care a lot more about the pure pitching numbers, and the 24 year old is having another great season. He’s lost a number of games where his team only scored one run for him or in some cases was completely shut out. Nothing surprising coming out of Seattle since they own the lowest total amount of runs scored in all of baseball. They can’t even score as much as Pittsburgh! Just checking out his game log, it tells the story of his lack of run support. Quality start after quality start, and nothing in the win column to show for it. Over his last 15 starts he’s pitched at least 6.2 innings, and has given up only three runs three times, and two or less runs in the other twelve starts. He’s currently second in K’s (192), second in ERA (2.47), third in WHIP (1.11), leads in IP (204.1), and is holding hitters to a .225 BA (sixth best in the AL). I’ve found myself feeling sorry for the guy. Every time he goes out there he gets the least run support of any of the candidates, and the Seattle crowd knows it, giving him standing ovations even when he leaves the game behind on the scoreboard, because they know they are watching a great pitcher that gave them everything he had. Maybe I’m picking him because I thought he deserved it last year or because he’s on one of my fantasy teams. If it weren’t for Greinke’s freakish year that made Felix an afterthought when the award was handed out, he could be going for back to back awards. Even Greinke got better run support in his Cy Young season last year than Felix has had these past two seasons. I know the award isn’t given out based on a two year period, but consistency can be taken into considered in a year that the award could go either way. Kind of like when Kobe and Barkley won their MVP awards in the NBA. Kobe wasn’t the overly obvious choice for the award, but sometimes you have to reward someone that is at the top for an extended period of time. Same went for Barkley, they might have been tired of giving it to Jordan, so they threw in a change up and gave it to the big man who finished runner up a few times. If Felix keeps doing what he’s been doing, he should win the award! Now that I’ve said all that, I bet Felix gets blown up by the Angels tonight…
I have to admit the only time Durant has failed me was during the NCAA tourney as a Longhorn. He made me a believer that he could single-handedly win a title during the year hitting a few buzzer beaters. Unfortunately, he had a god awful performance in the 2nd round of March Madness, and was out of college basketball forever. Needless to say it destroyed my brackets that year. When he went to Seattle I was pretty happy, and grew a mini-mancrush on him through his rookie season. After Presti hi-jacked the team, I’ve found it very hard to watch them. I feel like I should be boycotting anything that is the Thunder. Another reason why every picture I put up of Durant on posts is him in a Seattle uniform. Alas, it’s impossible not to watch this amazing young team hitting full stride, and Westbrook has grown a TON since he came into the league. The main reason for their success has been Kevin Durant, and how he has put them into contender status at the vetran age of 21 years old.
The Sonics (still resisting calling them the Thunder) are like that up and coming boxer that is knocking out everyone that they face, skyrocketing up the rankings. Most likely they will fall to the champ in a fight for the belt, but it’s always fun to see the potential of the young guns. Rattling off 9 straight wins has made them relevant in the west, and I don’t see losing the last two being overly devastating. It hasn’t been a small story that KD had 29 straight 25+ point performances, until he scored a measly 21 tonight. He’s turned into the full package, and if he ever learns how to start dishing it, watch out. Then again, why would he pass, when he’s going to score no matter how he’s being defended. I’m already more impressed with his offensive game more so than I am with Melo’s. It doesn’t matter who the other team puts on him or what kind of double team he is facing, he figures it out and finds a way to score! If Melo is a PC, then KD has to be Mac. There’s one thing I’ve always liked about Durant, and that is the fact that he only cares about basketball. I mean, could you ever see him shooting up a night club or even having a gun for that matter? Making a rap video? Sending naked texts of himself? That’s what I thought. He’s a pretty clean cut guy, and only seems to care about getting better at basketball. I wonder if he’ll get arrogant like Kobe and Jordan are. You see something different with him, he’s just one of those competitors that won’t allow himself to waste away his talent.
One thing he has going against him is that he’s playing in the Lebron era, because in any other year, he’d get my MVP vote. It’s wild that if you took Durant or Lebron off either these teams, both would probably be counting how many ping pong balls they had for the John Wall lottery. That is why, I’m picking both of them above Kobe. Their importance to their teams is invaluable. I can still see the Lake Show making the playoffs with the supporting cast they have in place. Lebron looks like he’s hitting his Michael Jordan type stride, where it’s going to be nearly impossible for anyone to get an MVP but him for a few years. I guess Jordan wasn’t given the award a couple times in what many felt was the league getting tired of giving the award to him, and just wanted a change of pace. It seems like as long as Lebron is healthy, and has a good enough cast to get the top seed, it will be his award to lose. I’m praying that I’ll get to see his Big-O impersonation one year, and average a triple double for a entire season. My question is, when are we going to see the third puppet come out in the MVPuppet commercials? KD is already sponsored by Nike, why wouldn’t they throw him in there! He’d be my favorite character of the three.
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.