…so now that the World Series has concluded, Major League Baseball is about ready to announce their award winners. The Gold Glove awards (yaaaaaaawn) were announced last night. The Blowhard of course feels like he should add his two cents, starting with the American League…and remember, the postseason does not count:
Most Valuable Player:
- Aaron Judge, NY Yankees
- Jose Altuve, Houston
- Jose Ramirez, Cleveland
- Carlos Correa, Houston
- Mike Trout, LA Angels
- Nelson Cruz, Seattle
- Brian Dozier, Minnesota
- George Springer, Houston
- Josh Donaldson, Toronto
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
Again, a 10 person ballot, so we did what we needed to do here. Turns out MLB had the same top 3, though it appears there are really only two candidates in Judge and Altuve. Spots 3 through even 20, I suppose you could have all kinds of different orders. Since Ramirez had the same OPS as Altuve and was on the best team in the league, I went with him third.
Anyway, back to the top two candidates. It appears that Altuve may have a leg up on the real ballot, based on what is being talked about nationwide. And sure, he was consistent all year long, while Judge was miserable in August and not so good in July either. Altuve hit 62 points higher. And Judge struck out 124 more times. But if you take a deeper dive, Judge’s OPS was 92 points higher, he scored 16 more runs (with Altuve being probably in a better overall lineup), walked a ton more and of course…the 52 homers. For those of you who believe in sabermetrics and the WAR stat, Judge was on top 8.8 to 7.9.
You probably can’t go wrong either way. But what sealed it for me? Judge hit .311, with 15 homers, 32 RBI’s and a 1.352 OPS is September as the Yanks made their playoff push. I know, he may have been hitting some of those bombs against minor league callups. But one also probably should consider the pressure of a playoff race as a factor as well. Along with the fact that everyone else is hitting off the same bums too. Anyway…
As for the rest…the true MVP may well have been Correa if he hadn’t missed over 50 games. Trout obviously still stakes a real claim to being the best player in baseball. So despite Mikey missing almost 50 games himself, he’s still gotta be there. Another member of the “about 50 games missed” club is Donaldson. His team sucked after having high expectations at the start of the season. But his numbers were sick in the games he did play. So I found a place for him.
I felt that someone from that inexplicable Twin playoff team had to be in the Top Ten…so that’s why Dozier is here. And he won a Gold Glove too…YAAAAY! Cruz and Springer…I suppose Francisco Lindor, Gary Sanchez, Jose Abreu, Justin Upton, Jonathan Schoop, Edwin Encarnacion or whoever else could have filled those spots. Lastly, as I’ve said in the past, I don’t love including pitchers in the MVP race. Once every 5 days for a starter and once every 3 days or so for a closer aren’t the same as playing every single day. But for one, I included 3 guys that missed about a third of the season here. And for two, if a pitcher’s performance deserves consideration, then it deserves consideration. Kluber’s 5-0, 0.84 in September helped him to deserve consideration.
- Corey Kluber, Cleveland
- Chris Sale, Boston
- Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland
- Luis Severino, NY Yankees
- Craig Kimbrel, Boston
This race seems pretty cut and dried to me. As opposed to last year where Kluber, Rick Porcello or Justin Verlander were pretty tight and any one of them could have won. Porcello did and boy do the voters probably feel foolish about that now. Maybe not, since each year is different. But we all know Porcello was horrific this year. Kind of makes me personally want to take the award away from him last year.
As for this year, Sale had his 300 strikeouts and all and had probably had a healthy lead in this race as the summer wore on. But Kluber’s stretch run blew him past Sale to take the Cy. Severino will be third in the real world, as he has already been announced as the third finalist. I’m going with Carrasco though, maybe for the sole reason that I hate the Yankees, I don’t know. Kimbrel was pretty dominant this year, so even though I don’t love relievers in this spot, his performance was hard to ignore. If you put Verlander there, I could live with that. But Ervin Santana or Drew Pomer…nevermind.
Rookie of the Year:
- Aaron Judge, NY Yankees
- Trey Mancini, Baltimore
- Andrew Benintendi, Boston
There really is no 2nd and 3rd here. Judge will be unanimous. Mancini had a higher OPS than Benintendi (.826 to .776), so I went with him 2nd. Plus, I was continuously furious with Andrew for all the boneheaded plays he made on the bases this season. Deserves to be knocked down. There really weren’t any other choices here. Yuli Gurriel is apparently technically a rookie this year. But since he is 33 years old, has played professionally since he was about 8 and had exactly 130 at-bats in 2016 (if he had 131, he would not have been considered a rookie in 2017), I’m passing on him for my ballot. Honorable mention goes to Matt Olson of Oakland here, since he hit 24 bombs in only 59 games and 216 plate appearances this year. Maybe I should have put him second…
Manager of the Year:
- Paul Molitor, Minnesota
- A.J. Hinch, Houston
- Terry Francona, Cleveland
Hinch’s Astros won the World Series. Tito’s Indians had the best record in the league. But Molitor is the ONLY choice here. The Twins made the playoffs this year after losing 103 games in 2016. How did they do that? I have no idea. Have you seen that squad?
Dozier had a good year. Miguel Sano was having a good year…until he missed the last 6 weeks or so with some sort of shin problem. Byron Buxton woke up in the second half (and won a Gold Glove…YAAAAY). Jose Berrios developed some and Santana had a nice year leading the rotation.
But the rest? Brandon Kintzler was an All-Star closer for the team…then was dealt to the Nationals at the trading deadline. The corpse of Joe Mauer is still around…and did hit .305. Kind of an empty .305 though. The rest of the pitching staff was pretty horrendous…and they actually gave a 44-year-old Bartolo Colon 15 starts, AFTER he went 2-8, 8.14 in 13 starts for the Braves.
I can’t see how this team finished anywhere near the playoffs. So Molitor should win this thing unanimously. Though I’m sure some idiot voted for John Farrell because the Red Sox finished first this year. After all, Nick Cafardo probably has a vote, eh?
Next: The National League
Yup, the All-Star Game was this past Tuesday. But…close enough. And a nice topic to get back in the swing of things. So here is my team. Only 32 players this year, down from 34 in recent years. 21 position players, 11 pitchers, with each team represented (Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule…but…it is the rule). (S) for starter. Comments below each position.
C: Salvador Perez, KC (S), Gary Sanchez, NYY
Three catchers are usually selected for the actual game. This year thankfully there were only two…for both leagues. Not sure why this changed, but it’s absolutely for the better. Two is about the max that deserve to be there. Last year I took only one on my team (Perez). If I took a third this year, it would’ve been either Brian McCann or Alex Avila. No thanks. Anyway, I’ve said pretty much enough on catchers. Sanchez may be the future, but not giving him the starting gig over Big Sal…this year.
1B: Justin Smoak, Tor (S), Logan Morrison, TB, Jose Abreu, CWS, Yonder Alonso, Oak
Just…yuck. Just feels really strange with no Miguel Cabrera anywhere to be found here. These guys are simply having better years though. And thanks to the “every team has to be represented” rule, here are each of these 4 teams’ representatives! Smoak started the real game and, sadly enough, he was the right choice. Morrison had a similar OPS (.931 to Smoaks’ .936), so if you wanted him to start, you won’t get an argument from me. Not sure how he didn’t even make the real team. I’m all set with Corey Dickerson. Actually, I’m all set with Morrison too, but his numbers are there this year. Avisail Garcia was the real life ChiSox rep, but I prefer Abreu. Probably doesn’t matter either way. It was either Alonso, Khris Davis or Ryon Healy for the A’s. Alonso’s .934 OPS was also right with Morrison and Smoak. The other A’s were in the .800’s. Plus Davis and Healy DH a fair amount. But still…these 4 guys are All-Stars?
2B: Jose Altuve, Hou (S), Jonathan Schoop, Bal, Robinson Cano, Sea, Starlin Castro, NYY
It’s Altuve and then everyone else once again. Not enough superlatives out there for that guy. Schoop is shockingly enough the Orioles rep. If you wanted to put Manny Machado on the team because he’s Manny Machado, I’d probably be ok with it though. I’m not putting Robby Cano here because he was the MVP of the real game. No, seriously. He is kind of quietly having a pretty good year. As is Castro.
3B: Jose Ramirez, Cle (S), Miguel Sano, Min, Mike Moustakas, KC
Jose Ramirez is 3rd in the AL in OPS, .005 behind 2nd place. Jose Ramirez! Let that one sink in for a while. Sure he had a pretty good year last year. But was abysmal two years ago. Of course he was only 22 then, so…but still. Pretty impressive. Sano is another guy breaking out this year. His 120 K’s already are pretty unsightly though. Having second thoughts about “Moose” as I write this…but I guess 25 bombs and good defense should count for something.
SS: Carlos Correa, Hou (S), Elvis Andrus, Tex
You may be able to pencil in Correa’s name here for years to come. Francisco Lindor may have something to say about it eventually, but not this year. Correa has been filthy this season. I will also say Lindor was on the edge of my team and if you wanted to find space for him, it wouldn’t upset me. Andrus was going to be my sole Rangers player, though that did change. Still deserving of a place on my squad however. And please Red Sox fans…admittedly, I am a total homer. But the fact that Xander Bogaerts was in the Final Five voting was an absolute joke, I’m sorry. Disappointing year for X, to put it mildly.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), Aaron Judge, NYY (S), George Springer, Hou (S), Mookie Betts, Bos
This is what I wrote last year: “Just copy and paste Trout here for at least the next decade…unless he switches leagues at some point.” His injury this year changes nothing. There really is not much to say about Judge and Springer. Monster years from the both of them. Now here is where I become a little of that Boston homer I just referred to. In my opinion, Betts hasn’t necessarily been “All-Star-ish” this year. Just hasn’t seemed it. Comparatively speaking to last year anyway. But maybe we were spoiled last year. However, when you review the numbers as a whole, you can justify a spot for him. And I did.
DH: Nelson Cruz, Sea (S)
1 DH is enough. One of the jamokes selected at 1B can handle DH in my game if they need to. I would nominate Abreu.
UT: Marwin Gonzalez, Hou
How can a guy who doesn’t even start for his own team be an All-Star? Well, let me introduce you to this year’s Brock Holt!! Except…way better. .967 OPS. He actually has been playing every day for a while now. I mean, Norichika Aoki? Please. But Marwin plays all over the place too. If you play fantasy baseball, and I do, he is pretty much eligible at every position no matter what type of league you are in. That’s worth something if you can create offense along with the defensive flexibility. Oh, and the Astros are 10 games better than everyone else in the American League. Take as many guys as you want from that team and put them here. Although, I will draw the line at Josh Reddick.
P: Chris Sale, CWS (S), Jason Vargas, KC, Dallas Keuchel, Hou, Corey Kluber, Cle, Carlos Carrasco, Cle, Michael Fulmer, Det, Ervin Santana, Min, Yu Darvish, Tex, Luis Severino, NYY, Andrew Miller, Cle, Craig Kimbrel, Bos
I will probably cut and paste this preamble every year, in case there are any new readers that may give a crap. I know, fat chance. Anyway, here it is: As I’ve explained in the past, my inclination is to take way more starting pitchers than closers and certainly middle relievers. Great starters are infinitely more important to their team and that is why they get the big bucks, as they say. Closers historically get hot for a year or three, but unless they are Mariano Rivera or Trevor Hoffman, they inevitably fail and fall back into middle relief or the minors or out of baseball. Very few of the elite ones that can do it for 10 years plus. Middle relievers are usually failed starters AND closers. So even though they can be dominant, it usually doesn’t last. And if it does, they will go back to another key role.
Last year, I picked 3 closers and 2 part middle relievers, part closers and only 8 starters. Kind of made me sick to my stomach. This year we get back to normal…9 starters, 1 middle man, 1 closer. Sale is the relatively easy choice to start, though if Kuechel or even Kluber didn’t miss time in the first half, they would have certainly made it closer. Specifically Kluber, with his playoff performance last year, as well as the fact that his own Indian coaching staff were the coaches for this years’ All-Star Game. Journeyman 34-year-old Vargas leads the league in wins and ERA, as well as WAR, if that’s a statistic that floats your boat. Good for him for making his first All-Star team.
I’m surprised that Carrasco wasn’t on the real squad. He got hammered in one start in late June that jacked up his ERA a bit. But even so, 3.44 ain’t bad. Combined with his other numbers, he seemed like an easy pick to me. Fulmer was my Detroit pick…as he was in reality (until they added Justin Upton to the squad as well). Can’t ignore Ervin’s contributions to the surprising Twins this year (as surprising as 2 games over .500 is…but they are only 2.5 games out…and I’m not sure anyone saw that coming). Darvish and Severino have high-ish ERA’s, but they are still in the top 10 and have good numbers otherwise. Maybe Lance McCullers Jr. and Marcus Stroman deserve some consideration as well. But they get squeezed out on my team.
Kimbrel is a no-brainer…the guy has been virtually untouchable this year. As has been Miller. Even though Miller doesn’t close, it’s hard to ignore his dominance. As for relievers that missed the cut, maybe a case for Roberto Osuna could have been made. But Alex Colome, Brandon Kintzler, Kelvin Herrera, Kenny Giles? Nah. Justin Wilson & Dellin Betances? Perhaps. But I’m comfortable with just Miller and Kimbrel.
So there you go…NL to follow..at some point…first I have to celebrate the fact that the Fat Panda is finally out of Boston…good riddance…
…so now it’s up to Clay Buchholz.
Think about that for a second.
Ok, that’s enough of that. Now get your head out of the oven.
The good news? This series is not over. The Red Sox are coming back home and that, in and of itself, should create a glimmer of hope. Cleveland is barely a .500 team on the road. They also score about a run and a half less per game away from their friendly confines. Their offensive numbers overall are much worse on the road, though the pitching splits are admittedly pretty similar. But Josh Tomlin should not be unbeatable either.
You would assume the Sox offense will wake up at Fenway. Well, they certainly can’t be any worse. The only guy who has shown up so far is Brock Holt. I suppose Andrew Benintendi too. But that is it. Similar to Cleveland, the Sox’ offensive numbers spike upwards at home. Though not the same as the Indians, their pitching stats do get worse at Fenway.
The bad news? Where do we start?
The Sox obviously have a good team and have the capability to not only come back in the series, but also take three in a row to win it. But does anyone have that vibe now? I don’t.
After winning 11 in a row to seal up the AL East, the Sox dropped 5 of their last 6 regular season games. This obviously cost them home field, at least for this series. How big was that really? Didn’t think it was a huge deal before the series. Feeling like that was the wrong assumption now.
People may write off the end of the season too. Players were tired, they wrapped up a playoff spot and lost focus, home field wasn’t THAT important, etc. But most of the regulars played most of those last 6 games. So John Farrell must have though they still did have something to play for. And then they didn’t get the job done in that respect.
This may have carried over to the first 2 games of this series. We have seen an alarming number of brain cramps and bad plays in a mere two games: Dustin Pedroia with an uncharacteristically brutal error in Game 2. Benintendi being lazy on a fly ball in Game 1, allowing a catcher to tag from first to second. Jackie Bradley Jr. with some terrible throws from the outfield, not to mention some horrific at-bats. Sandy Leon with a bad throw or two. David Price walking a the #9 hitter Roberto Perez, who hit .183 this season, TWICE in two at-bats. Rick Porcello giving up three bombs in one inning. Maybe even Marco Hernandez not taking third on a loose ball at the plate in the eighth inning in Game 1 (though there was only 1 out and he may not have made it, so maybe I’m being picky on this one). This is only to name some.
Has the season-long farewell tour caught up to David Ortiz as well? Especially with all of the events last week? Perhaps.
More bad news? You got it! Due to Corey Kluber’s performance in Game 2, the Cleveland bullpen will be fresh for Game 3 on Sunday. Specifically Andrew Miller and Cody Allen. So if Tomlin gets ripped, Terry Francona can do a similar thing Sunday that he did Thursday. And doesn’t everyone expect Buchholz to get blasted too? So Game 3 could very well play out exactly like Game 1. Not good for the Sox.
I would very much like to blame John Farrell for this series. But I can’t really. His two “aces” lasted 7 2/3 combined innings. His offense completely shut down. He has seemed to make the right bullpen moves. People may have complained about moving Holt to 2nd in the batting order and Xander Bogaerts down to 6th, but Holt has performed. I’m honestly not sure what else he could have done differently across the board. As much as I would like to bash him, I really can’t.
One thing I would consider though: Moving Benintendi to center and inserting Chris Young in left for Game 3. Bradley is 0-6 with 5 strikeouts. Probably would be 0-7 with 6 K’s if he didn’t get hit by a 0-2 pitch in his last at-bat Friday. He doesn’t look right any way you slice it. But what else can you do with the team? Not much I am afraid. Just have to hope the home cooking helps win Game 3. Then maybe bring Porcello and Price back on short rest and hope the results in their second starts in the series are vastly different than their first ones. Though how can we really expect that with Price’s career futility in the postseason?
I’m not packing it in, but it really does look like a lifeless team now, no? And then to have to rely on Buchholz. Yikes! But we’ve seen them do it before. Just have to hold out some hope for that.
The best thing about coming back to Fenway? No more shots of LeBron James and the rest of the Cavalier clowns in their luxury box. Please TBS, how many times did we really have to see that?
Speaking of TBS…I think we’ve had enough of them too…