Posts Tagged ‘Mike Trout’

Another Top of the Line (?) ESPN List

July 6, 2017

Well, being ESPN they’ve put out another one of their lists. This promises to tell us the current top 100 players in Major League Baseball. As usual, it’s a combination of the sublime and the ridiculous. I’m certainly not going to give you the entire list here, but I’ll do my standard job on it. I’ll give you the top player at each position (his spot in the list 1-100 will be the number in parenthesis) plus five pitchers (one of which has to be a lefty and one has to be a right-hander), a reliever, and the first player whose position is already taken will be the DH. Got all that? Good. So here we go.

1b Paul Goldschmidt (4)

2b Jose Altuve (10)

ss Carlos Correa (9)

3b Kris Bryant (6)

rf Bryce Harper (3)

cf Mike Trout (1)

lf Michael Conforto (42)

c Buster Posey (19)

P Clayton Kershaw (2), Chris Sale (5), Max Scherzer (7), Stephen Strasberg (20), Dallas Keuchel (22)

reliever Andrew Miller (36)

DH Nolan Arenado (8 and the second third baseman listed)

Francisco Lindor at number 11 is the highest rated player not to make the team. There are a lot of right and center fielders ahead of Conforto, but I wanted one guy in each position. The list also has a lot more infielders than outfielders high on the chart.

The list is on ESPN where you can check it out. If you don’t like it, take it up with ESPN.

 

Good Bye to 2016

December 29, 2016
Hopefully I won't have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Hopefully I won’t have to be this old before the Dodgers win

Another baseball season is over. The winners are crowned, the loser mourned. The postseason awards are announced, the winter meetings are through, and the Veteran’s Committee has spoken. Here, in my usual nine things for nine innings format, are a few random thoughts on what we saw (and didn’t see) in 2016.

1. The Cubs finally won. It hadn’t happened in 108 years and the Cubs fans are joyous. But I wonder if some of the mystique that surrounded the Cubs wasn’t harmed. The “loveable loser” moniker is gone, as is the “sit in the sun, drink beer, and don’t worry about the score” motif of Cubsdom is over. Will it hurt the overall fan base, or not. I have no idea.

2. Can the Angels find a pitcher? They have Mike Trout, arguably the best player in the Major Leagues in a long time. They have Albert Pujols, a shadow of what he was at St. Louis, but still a formidable player (He had 119 RBIs and needs nine homers for 600). C. J. Cron is 26 and Kole Calhoun is 29. And they still can’t win. Maybe the problem is the staff, maybe it’s the coaching staff (Scioscia hasn’t led them very far in a while), but they just don’t win.

3. Sticking with the West Coast, but moving to Chavez Ravine, we say good-bye to Vin Scully who, for 67 years, graced us with his voice, his wit, his stories. I liked Jack Buck and Dizzy Dean. I liked Bob Prince and Russ Hodges, but there was only one Vin. Maybe he’ll be the first broadcaster elected to the Hall of Fame itself, not just to the broadcasters niche. And the Dodgers answered the question, “who needs an ace?” by rattling off a ton of wins with Clayton Kershaw injured.

4. I loved that Royals team that won in 2014 and 2015, but injuries and free agency have taken their toll. I’d love to see them back in the mix again, but I’m afraid it will have to be with a very different set of players. That’s a shame; they were fun to watch.

5. Then there’s Cleveland. They now have the longest streak of not having won the World Series (since 1948). It’s a good team with a very good manager and I’d like to see them break their streak (but not at the expense of my Dodgers). And sticking with the Indians, I hope the Terry Francona method of using his relievers in key situations, not just the ninth inning, catches on.

6. So Bud Selig is now a Hall of Famer. OK, I guess. There have been better choices and there have been worse choices. Ken Griffey, Jr. and Mike Piazza also made it. They were better, and easier, choices.

7. We lost W.P. Kinsella this year. He gave us the book Shoeless Joe, which in turn gave us the movie Field of Dreams. We also lost Hall of Famer Monte Irvin and broadcast legend Joe Garagiola, and  current pitcher Felix Fernandez, among others.

8. Dan Duquette is an honest man. He told us that the Orioles weren’t interested in Jose Bautista because the fans didn’t like him. OK, I guess. It’s honest, but I don’t know how much baseball sense it makes. Thoughts, Bloggess?

9. Buck Showalter is getting another year. He’s a fine manager, but he’s gotta know when to bring in his relief ace.

And finally it’s time for my annual Dodgers rallying cry “Wait ’til next year.” Why change the cry now; it’s been good for 28 years.

 

Random Thoughts on the 2016 Season Ending Awards

November 18, 2016

The postseason baseball awards are finished, or at least most of them are. There seems to be a ton of new stuff now. It’s almost as if the “participation trophy” syndrome has made it to MLB. But the ones I care most about are now revealed and here’s some thoughts on them.

First, here’s the list of winners in case you missed it (National League listed first):

Rookie of the Year: Corey Seager (Dodgers), Michael Fulmer (Tigers)

Manager of the Year: Dave Roberts (Dodgers), Terry Francona (Indians)

Cy Young Award: Max Scherzer (Nationals), Rick Porcello (Red Sox)

MVP: Kris Bryant (Cubs), Mike Trout (Angels)

All in all it’s not a bad list. I might have done it differently, but the BBWAA did a good job for a change. I’ve been critical of the writers on more than one occasion, but this year their list looks very much like mine (as if they care what mine looks like). In the NL Seager was an obvious choice, as was Bryant. Scherzer was not at all a bad choice either. I was a little surprised that Roberts beat out Joe Maddon for Manager of the Year. I thought the Cubs success would put him over the top for the second year in a row. What Roberts did with a team that looked like a surgery ward in a hospital made him my choice and its nice when the writers agree. To be blunt about it, your team loses the best pitcher in baseball (Clayton Kershaw) and they get better? The manager must be doing something right.

The American League was a little more interesting. Francona was, to me, an obvious choice. As with Roberts, he did wonderfully with a team of walking wounded. Hopefully, his strategy of using his best relievers when the game is in crisis rather than in the ninth inning will catch on. It was done in the 1950s and 1960s and there’s no reason not to return to that model. Frankly I thought Gary Sanchez of New York would win, but I’m gratified Fulmer took the award. Neither would have been a bad choice.

I presume that Trout and Porcello will be, as time goes along, the most controversial choices. Trout’s team didn’t win and Porcello didn’t get the most first place votes. It’s not like either is a bad choice and I got one right (Porcello) and one wrong (Trout) in my own betting on who would win. I expected Mookie Betts to win but I personally would have chosen Trout, who I feel had a better year. I would have chosen Justin Verlander over Porcello, but I thought he’d lose. What I didn’t expect he’d be left off two ballots (And did you see Kate Upton, his fiancée’s twitter post?). It’s one they’ll talk about for a while (actually I mean both the vote and Upton’s reply).

So congratulations to all the winners. It was a heck of a season and each of them made it a better year. Now on to the Hall of Fame votes.

 

2016 Awards Nominees Announced

November 10, 2016

It is now time for MLB to complete the 2016 season by naming the winners of its yearly awards. The new policy of announcing finalists (actually the 3 guys with the most votes) is still in effect. Apparently it’s the new normal.

OK, I guess, but I liked the old system better. I got to anticipate the winner in a different way than now. I got to wonder “who’s going to win?” and “who’s gonna finish fifth but shoulda won?” You don’t get to do that anymore and that’s kind of a shame. Now I know who’s been shafted before I even know who won.

Well, anyway, in case you haven’t seen the lists, here they are for your information and commentary if you want:

NL MVP: Kris Bryant, Daniel Murphy, Corey Seager (winner announced 17 November)

AL MVP: Jose Altuve, Mookie Betts, Mike Trout (also announced 17 November)

NL Cy Young: Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Max Scherzer (announced 16 November)

AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber, Rick Porcello, Justin Verlander (also 16 November)

NL Rookie: Kenta Maeda, Corey Seager, Trea Turner (announced 14 November)

AL Rookie: Michael Fulmer, Gary Sanchez, Tyler Naquin (also 14 November)

NL Manager: Joe Maddon, Dusty Baker, Dave Roberts (announced 15 November)

AL Manager: Jeff Bannister, Terry Francona, Buck Showalter (also 15 November

That’s the list. One thing I noted is how good the Tigers starting staff was just a few years ago: Verlander, Porcello, Scherzer. All three are nominees this season.

Good luck to all.

Nine Reasons to Remember the 2014 Season

December 30, 2014

Well, the year is almost over and so is the baseball season. As there are nine innings to a game and nine players to a side, it seemed reasonable to look back on the 2014 season in “nines”. So here’s nine reasons to remember in 2015 what happened in 2014.

1. Madison Bumgarner is one heck of a postseason pitcher. In World Series play he is 4-0 with an ERA of 0.25 in 36 innings with a save and a shutout. At 20 or more innings pitched, that’s number one. It’s also number one if you start with 25 innings, 30 innings, or 40 innings. To top that ERA you have to push the innings pitched total to over 50 innings (Sandy Koufax at 57 innings pitched).

2. Giants fans can take a breather in 2015. Since moving to San Francisco, the Giants have won six pennants. Five (1962, 2002, 2010, 2012, 2014) have been in even-numbered years. Only 1989 is an odd-numbered year.

3. Mike Trout finally won an MVP Award. It always looks strange to see a player win an MVP in a “down” year for them. Happened this year.

4. For the first time since Bob Gibson in 1968, a pitcher, Clayton Kershaw, won the National League MVP Award. How rare is it? The current NL award goes back to 1931 only Carl Hubbell (twice), Dizzy Dean, Bucky Walters, Jim Konstanty, and Don Newcombe won the award prior to the expansion era. Since expansion (1962 for the NL) only Sandy Koufax, Bob Gibson, and Kershaw have won. It’s somewhat more common in the American League. Add Newcombe to the expansion list and you have all of the NL pitchers who’ve won the MVP since the advent of the Cy Young Award.

5.  Derek Jeter, the last of the “Core Four” retired.

6. It was year 69 of the Cubs rebuilding. The last time Chicago made it to the World Series was 1945. Harry Truman was President.

7. The Kansas City Royals won a pennant for the first time since 1985. Their rebuilding only took 29 years.

8. For my Dodgers, it’s up to 26 years.

9. The Hall of Fame class of 2014 included three managers, two pitchers, and a power hitter. It was the biggest class since the mass enrollment of Negro League personnel in 2006.

That’s my nine. I presume yours will be different. Have a great 2015 and say it with me “Go Dodgers.”

A Few Random Thoughts on the 2014 Postseason Awards

November 13, 2014
Sandy Koufax's 1965 Cy Young Award

Sandy Koufax’s 1965 Cy Young Award; note the trophy is right handed

 

Now that the postseason awards are over, here’s a few comments on them:

1. For American League Rookie of the Year, did anybody not have Jose Abreu? He had this thing locked up well before the season ended. As for Jacob DeGrom, my reaction is “why not?” MLB is full of Rookies of the Year who have the one great opening season (sometimes really just a handful of opening months) then flame out (Joe Charboneau, anyone?). I have no idea what will happen with these two, but I wish them luck and hope they have long and productive careers.

2. The Manager of the Year Award generally comes down to one of two types: the guy takes a team that’s done nothing and makes it a winner or the guy takes a team that is full of adversity and makes a winner out of it. This year adversity takes the prize. With multiple players injured both Matt Williams and Buck Showalter took teams to the playoffs. I think Showalter is one of the better managers in baseball and I’m glad to see him win. Williams? As with DeGrom, “sure, why not?” BTW in case you haven’t noticed, Showalter was Manager of the Year in 1994, 2004, and 2014. You might want to get a bet down on 2024.

3. Again, did anybody not have Clayton Kershaw for the National League Cy Young Award? If so, I have this great bridge in Brooklyn you might be interested in. I’ll sell it cheap. I’m one of those who thought Corey Kluber should have won the AL Cy Young, so I’m happy there, but would have been neither upset nor surprised had Felix Hernandez gotten the award.

4. Over at ESPN there’s a story on Kershaw winning the award. It’s a nice little story and included with it is a factoid box that works as a great example of what’s wrong with cherry picking stats and facts. It states that Kershaw is one of six pitchers to win the Cy Young Award in three out of four years. Here’s the list: Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer, Greg Maddux, Pedro Martinez, Randy Johnson, Kershaw. That’s nice, isn’t it? Well, it’s not really as great as it sounds. They fail to mention that both Maddux and Johnson won not three out of four Cy Young Awards, but actually won four out of four Cy Young Awards. They also don’t tell you that Koufax won his when there was only one Cy Young Award given, not one in each league (and he’s still the only pitcher to win three by unanimous vote). Kershaw is good enough without having to cherry pick stats. Writers (including me, unfortunately) tend to look for ways to make someone sound good and forget that you can use stats to prove about anything. I remember when George Brett was about to retire someone found out that he and Willie Mays were the only guys with a specific number of home runs and stolen bases who also hit .300 (I forget the numbers involved). Of course if you move one of the home run or stolen base numbers around (not to mention change .300) you can get Mays alone or no one at all or twenty different guys. I try not to do that (at least not too often) but we’re all prone to it.

5. So the third time really was the charm for Mike Trout. I always find it interesting when someone wins a big award for a year that isn’t his best when he’s previously failed to win for a better year. Happens all the time. Now it becomes interesting to see what happens. Frequently a player keeps getting touted for an award, finally wins one, then sort of gets forgotten by voters. Wonder if that will happen to Trout?

6. And the ugly “can a pitcher win an MVP award?” question is upon us again. I always figure that it’s for the “most valuable player” not the “most valuable hitter” or “most valuable fielder” or “most valuable pitcher.” And the idea that between 1968 and 2014 no National League pitcher was more valuable than all the league’s hitters each and every year is simply silly. Of course the key word is “valuable.” I’ll be the first to admit that I define “valuable” differently than others (and if you’re honest, so do you). That’s actually one of the great things about “valuable”, it’s not self-defining. That makes it just nebulous enough to make it worthwhile to debate.

 

A Year’s End 9 Inning Celebration

December 31, 2013

So the year is ending, is it? Well, good riddance to bad rubbish. In many ways 2013 was a lousy year. The weather, the politics, the expenses, my wife broke a leg (which is now healed fine). But baseball provided some good moments. Here, in honor of nine innings and in no particular order, are some moments, both good and bad, that I remember.

1. The Dodgers made the playoffs and promptly hashed it. If you’re a Dodgers fan like me, this is a good sign.

2. The Miguel Cabrera/Mike Trout controversy stayed around. Isn’t it great that there are two players this quality in the Major Leagues today so we can debate the meaning of greatness?

3. Biogenesis. Who ever heard of them? I wish the whole PED issue would just go away, but I know it won’t.

4. Mariano Rivera did finally go away. That’s the wrong kind of going away. Never a Yankees fan, but it was a joy to watch Rivera perform. He was good, he had class, he had style. Name five other players you can say all that about.

5. The Red Sox won the World Series. OK, I’m not a BoSox fan either, but they’re a good team, a good organization, and David Ortiz is one heck of a hitter.

6. Clayton Kershaw proved why it’s now alright to mention his name in the same breath as you mention Sandy Koufax’s.

7. Albert Pujols proved mortal again. I hope it’s not the end of the line for the finest first baseman I ever saw.

8. Mike Matheny got his Cardinals to the World Series. Finally he can begin to move out from under Tony LaRussa’s shadow.

9. The Hall of Fame put in Deacon White and Jacob Ruppert, both of which I’d been pushing for, but left out everybody else except an ump and three managers. Are you kidding?

Hopefully, you have your own list of nine. These are mine. May you have a better 2014 than you had a 2013.

2012 Awards: MVP

November 1, 2012

Lefty Grove, 1st AL winner of the modern MVP Award holding the 1931 MVP trophy

Part three of this series looks at the MVP award.

NL–There seems to be a building consensus that this is Buster Posey’s award. OK, fine by me. Posey led the NL in average (and tied for first in sacrifice flies), was second in OBP, fourth in slugging, and sixth in RBIs. That’s a good enough season, but it’s not overwhelming. Ryan Braun, in particular, had an equally fine season. I know he will be punished for the steroid allegations. But remember he beat those and without reference to how he did  so, he is to be considered innocent. That won’t matter, he’ll still be stiffed. Melky Cabrera has the same problem, although there’s no question of his guilt. So I have no real problem with Posey winning, but if that’s the most valuable season in the Nl, then it wasn’t a great year for individual play in the NL (as opposed to great team play). Having said that, if I had a vote, it would go to Posey.

AL–Nearly everyone agrees this is a two-man race: Miguel Cabrera vs Mike Trout. I have no idea which will actually win, but my guess is there are enough traditionalists voting that the Triple Crown will push Cabrera over the top. I would vote that way myself.

There seem to be two arguments for Trout. One revolves around the stat WAR. In researching this post I read everything I could find on WAR that explained how it worked, what it showed. I found two problems with it. First, there seem to be two versions of the stat and I’m supposed to bow down before the baseball god that WAR has become when I don’t know which version to bow before? Gimme a break. Second, most of those articles included a sentence that went about like this, “WAR is flawed, but…”. And it’s the word “flawed” that bothers me. In the last half-dozen or so years WAR has become the queen of stats. Lead in WAR and you’re somehow a baseball god. But if experts admit it’s flawed why use it more than any other stat (all of which are flawed) as the be-all, end-all of statistics? This is not an indictment of WAR as a statistic, but an indictment of the idea that because someone leads his league in WAR, or average, or OBP, or OPS+ or God knows what else, that it automatically qualifies him for MVP. 

Another part of the WAR argument is that a 10.7 WAR is so rare that it merits an MVP. Any feat that is particularly difficult to accomplish must be worth more than one that’s at least a bit more common. If you buy that argument, then you vote for Cabrera. Trout is tied for 20th (with Willie Mays and Ted Williams) on the yearly WAR list (according to Baseball Reference). Know how many times someone won the Triple Crown in the entire 20th Century? Try 13 (and two more in the 19th Century). Apparently it’s harder to win the Triple Crown than it is to post 10.7 WAR.

The other argument for Trout deals with his impact on his team.The argument goes like this.  His team was floundering. They were supposed to be good, but they were having a rough time. So they brought up a player to fill in a key defensive position and the team went nuts, putting up winning numbers. That’s a good story, but it’s also the story of Pete Kozma at St. Louis, of Marco Scutaro at San Francisco and to some extent Brandon Inge at Oakland. No one (including me) has any of the latter three in the debate over the MVP. At least Kozma, Scutaro, and Inge helped their particular team to the playoffs. My point is that Trout did indeed provide a  spark to his team but so did other players. If your premise is that Trout showed up and helped a floundering team and that’s the sole reason you want Trout as MVP, it’s just not enough in my eyes. Trout may have been a better player than either Kozma or Scutaro, but I’m not sure he was more valuable. I understand that both Kozma and Scutaro were in the other league, but I  want to make the point that just revitalizing your team may not be enough to make you the MVP, especially if someone has great numbers and a winning team.

I know others will tell me I’m wrong (they’re entitled to make a mistake 🙂 ). But that’s my position. I’d vote for Cabrera and I hope the MVP voters do also.

One question about WAR about which I couldn’t find an answer. Is the replacement level player pool recalculated yearly? For instance in 1924 that level would include a guy named Gehrig. Today it wouldn’t. Does that make a difference?

2012 Awards: Rookie of the Year

October 31, 2012

The first Rookie of the Year winner, Jackie Robinson

Continuing my look at the 2012 postseason awards, here’s my take on the Rookie of the Year award.

AL–Mike Trout will win and should win this award. If you don’t know why, you aren’t paying attention.

NL–I have no idea who will really win this award. I have my choice as to who should win it, but I’m not confident about who will win it. It appears to come down to four candidates: Todd Frazier, Bryce Harper, Wade Miley, and Wilin Rosario. Frazier had a good season, especially when Joey Votto went down, but his late season numbers were way down and voters tend to remember the last thing they saw. Harper had all the press early. He was the phenom of phenoms. He played with emotion, he played with style. What he didn’t do was have the phenom of phenoms year. I have a feeling that will hurt him. I also think the Strasburg mess will hurt him because it took the spotlight off Harper and put it somewhere else. That’s never a good thing if you’re trying to win an award. Miley is the pitcher in the mix. He became the ace at Arizona and piled up 16 wins (tied for sixth in the NL) with a 3.33 ERA. Rosario had a great year power-wise, hitting 28 home runs and putting up 71 RBIs, both of which led our rookie candidates. Unfortunately he did most of that damage in Coors Field and that’s not going to win him a lot of support. Voters don’t seem to take seriously anything that happens in Coors Field. Further, he’s a catcher, and not much of one. My personal choice for RoY is Miley and I wouldn’t be surprised if the voters favoring the hitters split their votes and Miley slipped in to win. But my guess is that ultimately Harper will win, if for no other reason than his team had the best overall record.