…same full disclosure as last year: The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League. This may be quick…
Most Valuable Player:
- Giancarlo Stanton, Miami
- Paul Goldschmidt, Arizona
- Joey Votto, Cincinnati
- Charlie Blackmon, Colorado
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Ryan Zimmerman, Washington
- Marcell Ozuna, Miami
- Bryce Harper, Washington
- Travis Shaw, Milwaukee
I wanted to give this to Goldschmidt. And I still probably should have. But Stanton’s numbers are hard to ignore. And so was Goldschmidt’s September (.175/3/11), which you know I weigh pretty heavily all around. Votto had some crazy numbers and led the league in WAR, again, if you fancy that stat. Maybe I’m blinded by the homers, but I’m narrowly going with Stanton here. If Goldschmidt wins in real life, I won’t argue.
You know how I feel about the inflated Colorado numbers. But Blackmon and Arenado put up some huge ones, so they have to be in here somewhere. Bellinger was big once they brought him up. Zimmerman’s season came completely out of nowhere. Hmmmmmm…Ozuna’s numbers were laaaaaahge. Harper missed about 50 games himself, but just like we did in the AL, we like to include those guys in the voting. But, in all seriousness, Bryce may have very well been on his way to the actual award if he stayed healthy. So he really has to be here. Shawsie 10th? Probably not. But the Blowhard certainly did want to recognize him here for his great year…and for the Red Sox’ mistake in giving him away for nothing. Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo, Daniel Murphy, Scooter, Genn…anyway, plenty of other guys could get some love for the Top Ten as well. It’s all a guessing game once you get past the first few.
I could have also added J.D. Martinez somewhere in these columns. 29 homers and 65 RBIs in 62 games in Arizona. 1.107 OPS. AZ made the playoffs…J.D. hit .303/45/104 between Detroit and Arizona. Nice year. He may actually get top ten votes in the NL for real.
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Clayton Kershaw, LA Dodgers
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington
- Kenley Jansen, LA Dodgers
- Corey Knebel, Milwaukee
Down to Max and Clayton. Scherzer made 4 more starts than Kershaw and that pretty much vaulted him into the top spot for me. Hated putting two relievers in the top five, but they had dominant seasons. There were some other starters that had some pretty good numbers, but they simply didn’t pitch enough innings. Even Kershaw and Strasburg were at about 175. Robbie Ray, Alex Wood…not enough. Zack Greinke went over 200 innings, but his 3.20 ERA was a little high for me, comparatively speaking to the other candidates of course.
Rookie of the Year:
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh
- Paul DeJong, St. Louis
Bellinger should be unanimous. Bell was around all year and that basically gives him second. DeJong spent the first 50 or so games in AAA, so that puts him third. Same goes for Ian Happ from the Cubs. If you wanted to put Happ third instead, I won’t argue. But he was the only other guy worth considering for the top three.
Manager of the Year:
- Torey Lovullo, Arizona
- Dave Roberts, LA Dodgers
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
Slam dunk here too, even though Roberts’ Dodgers finished 11 games ahead of Lovullo’s Diamondbacks. I think we all knew the Dodgers would be good. Lovullo took arguably the same type of players from 2016 and guided the team to 24 more wins and a playoff spot. Counsell took the Brewers to 13 more wins this year, even though they fell just short of the playoffs. I couldn’t do Dusty Baker this year. Certainly not Joe Maddon. Bud Black? Meh…
As promised, NL squad below. Only 32 players this year, down from 34 in recent years. 22 position players, 10 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: Buster Posey, SF (S), Yadier Molina, StL
Sticking with the 2 catcher maximum here. Kind of had to, with these two being their teams sole representatives. So yup, that means I didn’t select Carlos Martinez for my team. Oh well. He’ll be here more than a few times in the future more than likely. Anyway, the only other real option here was J.T. Realmuto. I can’t believe Realmuto has been on the fringe of my team for two years running. Maybe I should reevaluate him.
1B: Joey Votto, Cin (S), Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Ryan Zimmerman, Was, Freddie Freeman, Atl
This is what I wrote last year, “You can probably pretty much pencil in (Anthony) Rizzo and Goldy every year for the forseeable future, barring injury or change in leagues.” Oops. No Rizzo this year. He has rebounded nicely from his early season woes, but it wasn’t enough. Check the water in Zim’s locker. The last time he made an All-Star team was 1909…er, I mean, 2009. But you get the point. .218 in over 400 ABs last year and now at age 32 these numbers? Ok, but he deserves to start. And so does Goldschmidt. But I picked Votto. His numbers are a hair above both. Freeman could probably start too, but he missed half the season. And now he is playing third base. But I couldn’t justify any other Atlanta player being on my team. I don’t care how good Ender Inciarte is defensively.
2B: Daniel Murphy, Was (S), Anthony Rendon, Was, Justin Turner, LAD
Ok, I clearly cheated here. But I had to. To me, Murphs was the only legit 2b I could really consider here. Josh Harrison is a nice player, but not an All-Star. DJ LeMahieu? Nope. Colorado, for one. But secondly, I really don’t understand the infatuation. Whatever. So I am going with a couple of backups that play exclusively 3b now, but have played plenty of second base in the past. And I picked Rendon before his 6 ribbies on Saturday. Turner missed some time due to injury in the first half. But hard to ignore his .377 average and 1.000 plus OPS at the break.
3B: Jake Lamb, AZ (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC, Travis Shaw, Mil
Once again, Arenado gets penalized for playing in Colorado. But once again he deserves to be on the team. Just not starting. I really should have started Bryant, but Lamb has the superior numbers this year. By the end of the year that may be different. Bryant didn’t make the real team. That’s a crime. Sure, he isn’t putting up the MVP numbers of last year, but it’s not like he’s hitting .220 either. He has to be on the team, you know, being the reigning MVP and all. Numbers this year are good enough, I say. To boot, he is somehow my only Cub. Little disappointing over there in ChiTown this year. At least Wade Davis won’t blow my game like he did the real one. Last, but certainly not least…Shaw HAS to be on the team. First, Milwaukee is in first place and deserves more than the one rep they had in the real game. Second? What a stupid offseason trade by the Red Sox. Listen, I wasn’t the biggest Travis Shaw fan. He did fade as the year went on last year. But did they have to basically throw him in the trade for Tyler Thornburg? A middle reliever with apparent arm problems? Just seemed like the prospects the Sox sent should have been enough there. And now Thornburg will not pitch this year and the Sox are rotating between various minor leaguers at third base…after they finally pulled the plug on the Pablo Sandoval experiment. Sigh…
SS: Corey Seager, LAD (S), Trea Turner, Was
Thin yet again. Seager is easy. Turner should be easy…and yes, I know he is hurt. Doesn’t matter. Zack Cozart? Really?
OF: Giancarlo Stanton, Mia (S), Marcell Ozuna, Mia (S), Bryce Harper, Was (S), Cody Bellinger, LAD, Charlie Blackmon, Col, Wil Myers, SD, Aaron Altherr, Phi
Seven outfielders, four third basemen, four first basemen…of course some of those guys will fill the DH role. Once again, the starters were no-brainers. Though I suppose if Bellinger had been in the majors all year, he could have supplanted one of them. Since he’s a rookie, he will have to defer this year, either way. Blackmon has his Colorado numbers, but belongs on the team. I suppose I should have listed Myers at first, since he actually plays there. But I didn’t like the look of five first basemen for some reason. And Myers came up as an outfielder. So…who cares anyway? Myers and Altherr represent the Padres and Phillies, respectively. I don’t care how well Brad Hand pitches in the 6th-7th inning, I couldn’t stomach him being the Padres rep, as he was in reality. He’s a middle reliever on a team that has a closer with a 5.30 ERA (Brandon Maurer). If Hand can’t close over Maurer, he’s not an All-Star. As much as we all love Pat Neshek, same deal in Philly. If he can’t seize the closer role from any of the clowns that have closed for that squad this year (Hector Neris??!)…he is also not an All-Star. I feel better about picking Altherr this year than I do about picking Odubel Herrera last year, I can tell you that much.
P: Clayton Kershaw, LAD (S), Max Scherzer, Was, Zack Greinke, AZ, Robbie Ray, AZ, Gio Gonzalez, Was, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Ivan Nova, Pit, Corey Knebel, Mil, Greg Holland, Col, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Kershaw is a pretty good pitcher, eh? Once again putting up video game numbers. 14 wins at the break. Nice work. Max and Zack doing what they do. Robbie Ray coming out of nowhere. Well, he was a top prospect, now it appears he has taken the next step at age 25. I took Gio over Strasburg, but both could be here. deGrom is the Mets rep. Toyed with Jay Bruce, but had enough bats already. Nova is the Pirates rep. Underwhelming, I know. The apparently resurrected Andrew McCutchen would probably have been a better choice. But having to take Myers and Altherr and all those other bats left him off in favor of a pitcher. Knebel has been absolutely filthy for the Brew Crew and what Holland is doing in his comeback in Colorado is nothing short of amazing. Jansen has an ERA under 1.00 on that Dodger juggernaut, so he closes my game if it gets there.
There are a few pitchers that may have deserved better…Strasburg, Carlos Martinez, Alex Wood (10-0 at the break, but less innings than other starters), Wade Davis and gulp, Jimmy Nelson (??) could have arguments here. If you like middle relievers, Hand, Neshek and Archie Bradley (1.10 ERA at the break) could be in the discussion as well. Everyone can’t make it. As usual though, I think I nailed both teams!
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…