Friday, May 31, 2013

MLB A-Third-Of-The-Way-Through-the-Season Awards

Trust me, THIS TIME WE MEAN IT when we say the blog is back up and running. May is a crazy month. Isn't it a crazy month? It's always SUCH a crazy month.

We are now about 1/3 of the way through the MLB season. Though we have a very long way to go, let's take a look at the first two months of baseball. What a great two months it has been.

Oh, just Jean Segura stealing first base. No big deal.


AL MVP

BB: Just because I think it's very unlikely that he'll be in the conversation for MVP at the end of the season, I'm going with Orioles first baseman Chris Davis. He has absolutely raked this year, with 16 home runs already to go with a .716 slugging percentage and a .471 wOBA (highest in baseball as of 5/27). He and Miguel Cabrera are basically tied for best stats in the AL right now, so the nod goes to the somewhat surprising Chris Davis.

SP: Miguel Cabrera is fat, drunk, and terrible at fielding. He's also the best hitter in baseball and it isn't even close. He is likely going to win the MVP again and this time he might actually deserve it!

JM: Both Davis and Cabrera are great choices, but I'm going to choose Davis because his pace is utterly unsustainable. His Isolated Power - subtract batting average from slugging - is .401, while  Bryce Harper is 2nd and a mile away at .300 and Cabrera is 3rd at .290 (Fangraphs states that .250 is excellent). His BABIP is .382, and of Davis' 66 hits NINETEEN have gone out of the yard and so aren't included in that statistic. It helps that he still strikes out a lot, but these numbers are both undeniable and impossible in the long term.

NL MVP

BB: In the "won't be there at the end of the season" MVP race, I'm taking Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks. The D-Backs are in first place, and Goldschmidt has been great. He definitely could walk a tad more, but he's tied for 3rd in the NL with 12 homers and is 2nd in wOBA.

SP: Andrew McCutchen has led the Pirates to an unexpectedly good record and is really good at all parts of baseball game sport. I hope the Pirates finish above .500 even if it means fewer replays of Barry Bonds' off-target throw and Sid Bream's awesome old-man slide.

JM: You know I'm going with CarGo. You know the one hitting almost .330 and on pace for a 30/30 season. Plays stellar outfield defense. Oh you thought I was talking about Carlos Gonzalez, superstar left fielder for the Colorado Rockies? Hell no! Carlos Gomez, superstar center fielder for the last place Milwaukee Brewers is the pick. He leads the league in WAR! And if I know anything, it's that sportswriters put a lot of stock in WAR when making MVP picks.

AL Cy Young

BB: The best pitcher in the NL has been that guy on the Tigers. Y'know, THAT guy. Anibal Sanchez. He leads the AL in FIP and WAR, and he's 4th in ERA. I very well could have picked Clay Buchholz, but in my heart of hearts, I know Sanchez has been just a teensy bit better.

SP: Yu Darvish. Maybe we should start respecting Japanese players a bit more. He and Kuroda have been great this season and Dice-K...well fine we don't have to respect Dice-K but the other guys should get some more love.

JM: While I'll never tire of making broken English jokes with the name Yu Darvish (pretend the Backstreet Boys are singing "I Want It That Way" to Yu Darvish. It'll make the song even better), I'm going with King Felix. He's one of about seven pitchers having almost identically great seasons in the AL (somehow four of them are on the Tigers), and I think he has the best chance of keeping it up. This is a way of saying I don't really know how to pick between them.

NL Cy Young

BB: I think everyone's pick for the Cy Young by the end of the year will be Clayton Kershaw, but so far, I'm sticking with Adam Wainwright. League leader in FIP and WAR, and for what it's worth, his BABIP is a very sustainable .326 (and for the record, in this type of awards, it's not worth basically anything, but it is a bit surprising).

SP: It is probably too early to say that Matt Harvey is the Cy Young but damn can he pitch. He throws 96 like it is nothing. No one wins Cy Youngs for last-place teams like Mets' pitchers--mad love.

JM: It's true the Wainwright's peripherals are better than Clayton Kershaw, but a 1.68 ERA after 11 starts is pretty undeniably spectacular, even if you pitch home games in Dodger Stadium and play in the NL West. The scary thing is I expect Kershaw's peripherals to catch up to his results more than I expect the other way around. His strikeouts are a bit down, and while he's been lucky surrendering only 4 home runs thus far, that's somehow not very out of line with his career averages.

AL Rookie of the First Two Months

BB: The rookie who leads the AL in WAR is Indians catcher Yan Gomes, but he's only played in 20 games so far, so I'm not really comfortable giving it to him. I'll throw a bone to the Astros and say it's Brandon Barnes, even though he has only played in 34 games himself. But .323/.405/.477 splits are hard to ignore. Too bad his BABIP is an impossible .475. Enjoy this while you can, Astros fans.

SP: The Rangers' success over the past four years is due in large part to their depth. They always seem to have three pitchers hurt and random-ass new dudes filling in. This year's random-ass dude is Justin Grimm. His numbers don't jump off the page -- 1.0 WAR, 3.66 FIp -- but a guy like him coming in and not shitting the bed is how you win 95 games instead of 90.

JM: Not a whole lot of rookies contributing in the AL this year, so I'm going with Justin Grimm who has helped keep the Rangers in first place despite a spate of injuries to their starting pitching. A 3.93 ERA isn't by any means spectacular, but Grimm pitches in Arlington and he's been good enough.

NL Rookie of the First Two Months

BB: I'm going with Cardinals starter Shelby Miller. 2.02 ERA is one of the best in baseball, and he churns out quality start after quality start for the Cardinals.

SP: The Simpsons has been around for so long, I'm pretty sure Shelby Miller is named after Shelbyville. He's also good at pitching.

JM: There's really no way around giving this to Shelby Miller, who is putting up Cy Young-caliber numbers. Props also to Didi Gregorius of the Diamondbacks for hitting the crap out of the ball the past month and having a fantastic name.

Most Surprisingly Good Team

BB: The fucking Yankees. Lyle Overbay is a GD All-Star, Vernon Wells has resurrected, and all of their pitchers are good. Like, how good is Hiroki Kuroda? Jesus. I hate them. They cannot be this good. And now all their guys are coming back. Oh this is just GREAT!

SP: The fucking Cardinals. They just have like only good hitters and their stars always perform. Matt Holliday, Carlos Beltran, and Adam Wainwright are all stars but the rest of them are all just like awesome dudes who you have never heard of that win 67% of their games. I thought LaRussa leaving would kill these assholes but somehow they fucking lurk and lurk until they luck their way into another World Series.

JM: They're not world beaters by any stretch of the imagination, but I really didn't expect the Cleveland Indians to be remotely good. With the tantalizing and no longer terrible Justin Masterson supplanting the is-he-washed-up-I-think-yes-he-is Ubaldo Jimenez as team ace, their pitching has been better than expected (SCOTT KAZMIR IS THROWING GOOD INNINGS FOR THEM). They also have a bunch of young hitters who've progressed in a polar opposite way to the Royals core, meaning they're actually good.

Most Disappointing Team

BB: We were not fooled by the Dodgers' hype on this blog, and I think I was half-fooled by the Blue Jays' hype (last year's Marlins, except with a knuckleballer and in Canada! Idiot). But I was fooled hook, line and sinker by the hype around the Angels. I absolutely think they can turn it around and win this division still (they just have SO much talent), but this is a team that has been extremely disappointing so far. This will be Mike Scioscia's last year.

SP: I bought into some of the hype on the Blue Jays. In theory they should be good: they have a bunch of pitchers who could be really good, and you figure that they would eventually have like three of them throwing well at the same time. No, they never will. Jose Reyes got hurt because that's what he does and R.A. Dickey looks old and bad. These guys are always a fucking disappointment.

JM: In my heart it's the pathetic Milwaukee Brewers, who are wasting the only good stretch of Yuni Betancourt's career. In reality, it's Toronto which I expected to at least contend for a wild card. But I should have remembered both Reyes and Josh Johnson would get hurt and RA.. Dickey does not look like a defending Cy Young Award winner. Also, did you know that the Mariners currently have more home runs than the Angels?

Surprising Player

BB: Other than some of the MVPs we've talked about, the most surprising player so far has been Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson. Go ahead, ask me who that even is. I wouldn't even know. Meanwhile, he's been the best third baseman in baseball behind some guy named Miguel (Manny Machado may have something to say about that, but I give Donaldson the edge).

SP: Evan Gattis. He has 12 homers and absurd power. His story is incredible. He was basically a druggy and a drifter for like four years before he decided to play baseball again. He swings as hard as he can at every pitch and has some flaws in his swing, but damn is he fun to watch. After Justin Upton, he's the most exciting Braves hitter to watch. EL OSO BLANCO.

JM: Jean Segura is another Brewers player having an impossible-to-sustain year, and he's currently in the top 10 in WAR. He plays excellent defense and the Brewers were counting on him to get on base at about an average clip and steal a bunch of bases. He doesn't walk, so when his astronomical BABIP comes down so will his OBP, but he's still slugging .554 with eight home runs. I think the Angels might regret giving him up for half a season of Zack Greinke. HE ALSO ONCE STOLE FIRST BASE.

Disappointing Player

BB: Definitely Matt Kemp for me. He has a negative WAR to this point in the year, and his slugging percentage this year (.333) barely bests his batting average from his 2011 MVP-caliber campaign (.324). He's in the toilet, just like the Dodgers.

SP: I hate to say it given that I'm a big fan of his, but JFC Bossman Junior! What are you doing? Upton hasn't hit all season and Jordan Schafer is actually the better option for the Braves right now. Jason Heyward gets an honorable mention although, he did lose his appendix, so I'm giving him a bit of a pass on his slow start.

JM: Mike Trout is putting up the kind of sophomore season that makes it clear why Miguel Cabrera was the choice for MVP last season. Just kidding, he's again one of the top five players in the AL. My choice for most disappointing could go to one of Trout's teammates (Josh Hamilton, though it's not too surprising he's shitting the bed so spectacularly), but I'm picking R.A. Dickey himself. His ERA has almost doubled from last season to this one, and a move from the NL East to the AL East doesn't even come close to explaining that.

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