…same full disclosure as previous years: The Blowhard watches a whole helluva more American League baseball than National League. This is probably going to be short, but sweet!
Most Valuable Player:
- Christian Yelich, Milwaukee
- Cody Bellinger, LA Dodgers
- Anthony Rendon, Washington
- Ketel Marte, Arizona
- Nolan Arenado, Colorado
- Freddie Freeman, Atlanta
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Eugenio Suarez, Cincinnati
- Juan Soto, Washington
- Josh Bell, Pittsburgh
Like Mike Trout in the American League, Yelich missed the majority of the last month with injury, while the closest competitor played the whole season. But also like Trout, Yelich’s numbers were so sick when he played, he gets the nod for me. Plus, he had less help than Bellinger in his lineup…and entire team for that matter…and that kind of cemented the pick for me. Rendon also had a strong season, but he was a tick behind the other two.
Marte? Talk about coming out of nowhere. But he deserves the #4 spot. Arenado once again gets penalized for his home park. But perhaps I should reconsider after what DJ LeMahieu did in New York after leaving? Not yet…
The rest of the guys had great seasons, so you can put them in any order you want. Charlie Blackmon and maybe Trevor Story got penalized for Coors Field, as they could be top 10 as well. Ronald Acuna Jr. almost went 40/40 and Bryce Harper ended up straightening out his season and ended up with decent numbers. Anthony Rizzo and Kris Bryant from the Cubs, Jeff McNeil from the Mets. Max Muncy…etc. Some players put up some pretty good numbers, per usual. Any of them could be in the bottom half of the top ten. I’m going with the above.
- Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
- Hyun-Jin Ryu, LA Dodgers
- Max Scherzer, Washington
- Stephen Strasburg, Washington
- Jack Flaherty, St. Louis
Tougher than it looked here. Ryu was dominant in the first half and would have been the easy choice had he not had a stretch of starts in the second half where he got shelled…then had to be rested a bit. Max was Max, but he missed a handful of starts due to injury. Jake’s numbers were actually pretty close to what they were in 2018 when he won the Cy. Not having the sub-2.00 ERA may make people think otherwise, but take a look at the whole lot of them. That pushed me to make him the choice in 2019 as well.
Strasburg had a bit of a high ERA of 3.32, but his overall numbers made me slot him in at #4, again, not including the postseason, where he was dominant and the World Series MVP. But Flaherty, Walker Buehler, Clayton Kershaw, Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray (seriously?), Mike Soroka and even a closer like Josh Hader or perhaps Kirby Yates could have filled out #4-5 as well.
Rookie of the Year:
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
- Pete Alonso, NY Mets
This one should be unanimous. The kid hit 53 homers. But if I had to take a #2 & #3, I take Soroka second and Dakota Hudson, starting pitcher for St. Louis 3rd. Fernando Tatis Jr. is a finalist with Soroka in real life and no question he is a real talent. Along with Keston Hiura of the Brewers. But they both played 84 games, coincidentally. And while their numbers were good, they weren’t “Yordan Alvarez good”. So they both are a step behind. Special mention here to Sox legend Carl Yastrzemski’s grandson Mike here as well. The “kid” finally makes the majors at age 28 and hits 21 bombs and has a .852 OPS in 411 plate appearances. He is out of the top 5 in the Rookie of the Year voting for sure. And he may hit .211 with 10 homers next year. But it’s worth a shout out here anyway.
Manager of the Year:
- Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
- Mike Shildt, St. Louis
- Brian Snitker, Atlanta
Counsell seemed to do more with less this year, even though his team lost 7 more games than last season. Yelich’s injury at the end didn’t help. Travis Shaw and Jesus Aguilar fell off the face of the earth. 2018 #1 starter Jhoulys Chacin collapsed, was released and ended up starting bullpen games for the pitching depleted Red Sox in September. The three-headed monster in the bullpen (Hader, Corey Knebel and Jeremy Jeffress) was down to one this season…Hader. Knebel missed the entire season with injury. Jeffress was hurt a bit then sucked when he was healthy and he too was released. Etc. Seems like Counsell was the most deserving choice here.
Shildt got the Cards to the playoffs, despite guys like Matt Carpenter, Marcell Ozuna and even Paul Goldschmidt taking a dip down in production. Plus a few pitchers like Michael Wacha as well. Snitker led a 7 win improvement while having some pitchers having good seasons in 2018 take a downturn in 2019.
Dave Roberts gets penalized for having a stacked team. Dave Martinez led a 11 win improvement for the Nationals…and of course won the World Series. But when looking at that roster, it makes you wonder if he could’ve done even better in the regular season. Even after the team lost Harper. I guess when you win the World Series, it matters not. But I can’t vote with the postseason in mind, once again.
I actually thought of giving Mickey Callaway of the Mets some love for his 9 win improvement and keeping his team in the mix until close to the end, finishing 3 games out of the 2nd wild card spot. But he is apparently a nut job and ended up getting fired at the end of the season. So I guess maybe it wasn’t him that led the team to success?
NL squad is below. 32 players selected, 20 position players and 12 pitchers. Each team is represented, as we know. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Willson Contreras, ChC (S), Yasmani Grandal, Mil
Pretty easy. J.T. Realmuto was the only other option. Moving on.
1B: Josh Bell, Pit (S), Freddie Freeman, Atl, Pete Alonso, NYM, Max Muncy, LAD, Rhys Hoskins, Phi
DEEP position this year. I wanted to find room for Anthony Rizzo (ChC)…and I should have. Even Eric Hosmer (SD) and his ridiculous contract have 57 RBIs this year. But…you know, team and position constraints kept those guys off. Even with five making it. Because, you know, there is no DH in the National League. So there’s room for at least these five. Bell starts, yup, highest OPS. But if you went Freeman or Alonso, no worries. Alonso…what a year for the rookie. Something for Mets fans to cheer about. Well, unless you like clubhouse confrontations with reporters, that is. I thought Muncy’s year last year was a total fluke. Count me wrong on that…again. Inexplicably, Hoskins is the Philly rep. Hope that 13-year contract for Bryce Harper works out over the last 12 years anyway.
2B: Ketel Marte, AZ (S), Mike Moustakas, Mil
Cut and dried here too. Maybe Ozzie Albies (Atl) gets some votes. Didn’t see this out of Marte? Neither did most. And Moose playing second? No problem. He just keeps hitting dingers. Looks like he will be playing more third these days, but since he started out the year at second and has played a smidge more games there, we are slotting him here.
3B: Anthony Rendon, Was (S), Nolan Arenado, Col, Kris Bryant, ChC
Someone is going to pay Rendon a lot of money next offseason. Arenado is STILL getting penalized for being a Rockie. But you know what? We should actually be giving him some props. He got a sh%t-ton of money to stay in Denver. BUT, a lot of players STILL would have left. If he plays his whole career in Coors Field, he will glide into the Hall of Fame (barring injury. See: Helton, Todd). Anyone who leaves Colorado is foolish, in my opinion. They should take less money to stay. Helps their career. Anyway, we are still starting Rendon. Why? OPS is higher!! Bryant seems to be back on track. Plus he still plays the outfield. So there’s that. We also considered Eduardo Escobar (AZ). Yup, we did. And Manny Machado (SD). Not to be.
SS: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Trevor Story, Col
Paul DeJong (StL) and Dansby Swanson (Atl) merited consideration. But we are not there yet.
OF: Clay Bellinger, LAD (S), Christian Yelich, Mil (S), Juan Soto, Was (S), Ronald Acuna, Atl, Marcell Ozuna, StL, Charlie Blackmon, Col
Guess Yelich’s MVP year wasn’t a fluke, eh? So maybe Mookie’s was…which doesn’t help the writer. Anyway, Bellinger is apparently the real deal as well. Those two look like they will be fighting for the MVP this year. Another nice battle is between the kids, Soto and Acuna. We will be looking at them for years to come too. Soto gets the start, want to guess why? Hint: OPS!! Ozuna was taken over DeJong as remarkably the only guy from the Cards. Blackmon? Sigh…Colorado. But sometimes it is just impossible to ignore the pure numbers, regardless of the park. Jeez, even David Dahl (yes, Col) put himself in the mix this year. Hunter Renfroe (SD)? No room. Same can be said for Jeff McNeil (NYM) and his .341 average.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD, Mike Soroka, Atl, Jacob deGrom, NYM, Luis Castillo, Cin, Caleb Smith, Mia, Zack Greinke, AZ, Walker Buehler, LAD, Clayton Kershaw, LAD, Will Smith, SF, Josh Hader, Mil, Kirby Yates, SD
Honestly, the only other guys I considered here were Cole Hamels (ChC) and Felipe Vazquez (Pit). Maybe even Chris Paddack (SD). But this was kind of an easy list here. An impressive one? Not really. But these are the guys. Ryu is having a tremendous year. 7 walks all year in 103 innings? Awesome! I like Max’s overall numbers better, however. If you want to start Ryu, no worries here. But those are the two candidates. Caleb Smith is a stretch, but he is the Marlin rep. Castillo, Yates and Will Smith are their teams’ respective reps, but those were easy calls, to be honest. To steal a quote from last years’ column, I wasn’t on the Yates bandwagon then, but am certainly now. deGrom isn’t putting up as sick numbers as he did last season, but they are still nice. Kershaw isn’t as dominant as he has been in the past, but he is still getting it done. Not much else to say here.
Sssssoooooo…lets see how we match up against the real selections…
No preamble this year. The real picks (besides the starters) come out later today. And I am going to beat them…I think for the first time ever.
32 players are selected. 20 position players, 12 pitchers. This time I am not cheating on the numbers. Each team will still be represented. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: Gary Sanchez, NYY (S), James McCann, CWS
Sanchez is pretty obvious but McCann?? Yup. Actually, there were a few candidates for the backup job. Christian Vazquez (Bos), Josh Phegley (Oak), Robert Perez (Cle) or Omar Narvaez (Sea) would have suited just fine. McCann had the highest OPS of the five. Done.
1B: Carlos Santana, Cle (S), Luke Voit, NYY
Similar to catcher, Santana is clear-cut and then there were others that could have been selected instead of Voit. C.J. Cron (Min…after hitting 30 dingers for TB last year and getting released), Jose Abreu (CWS) or Edwin Encarnacion (Sea/NYY) could have filled this spot too. Voit had the highest OPS of the four. Done.
2B: DJ LeMahieu, NYY (S), Whit Merrifield, KC, Tommy La Stella, LAA
Tail between my legs on DJ. Although his glove is top-notch, I figured his offense was the product of Coors Field when he played half his games in Colorado. Whoops. In my defense, all of the major league teams apparently thought the same, including the Yankees themselves. When he signed in NY, with Gleybar Torres, Troy Tulowitski (until Didi Gregorius was healthy) and Miguel Andujar were supposed to handle 2B, SS & 3B, respectively. So where exactly was he going to play? 1B? Maybe. But they had Voit and Greg Bird already there too. People got hurt, DJ played and then made a lot of people look bad. I will accept that.
Merrifield is the Royal rep, but he has earned it. Even with the lack of steals this year. Hunter Dozier was really the only other KC candidate. But he has missed some time this year and sucked when he came up last year…so maybe it’s just a nice 50-something game run. I just realized Whit has played a bit more outfield this season than second, but I am going to leave him here. His versatility will be nice, as will La Stella’s. Speaking of sucking, La Stella is a journeyman. But thought he belonged. Took him over Brandon Lowe from the Rays, who doesn’t play against lefties and has fanned over 100 times already this year. As a middle infielder…yikes!
3B: Alex Bregman, Hou (S), Matt Chapman, Oak, Rafael Devers, Bos
Bregman was easy, Chapman was the A’s rep and Devers is having a breakout season. Yoan Moncada (CWS) is also having a breakout season, so if you put him over Devers I would not argue. But once again, Raffy has the higher OPS. Don…you get the point. Gio Urshela (NYY)? Nice season, but…no.
SS: Xander Bogaerts, Bos (S), Jorge Polanco, Min
No Francisco Lindor (Cle), who started late and hasn’t quite caught up yet. No Carlos Correa (Hou), who is hurt…again. Tim Anderson (CWS) started out blazing…and still has good numbers…and Elvis Andrus (Tex) is there too, but decided on just these two. Polanco won the real vote, but it looks like X has had the better season…and more established track record. For the record, I did not exclude Gleybar Torres because he is a New York Yankee. I excluded him because he has done a great deal of his damage against the wretched Baltimore Orioles. 10 of his 19 homers are against them, for instance. Enough said…for these purposes anyway.
OF: Mike Trout, LAA (S), George Springer, Hou (S), Joey Gallo, Tex (S), Eddie Rosario, Min, Max Kepler, Min, Trey Mancini, Bal
Trout…yup. The best player on the planet, still. Springer and Gallo were a little tougher. They’ve both missed a whole slew of games. But have been dominant when healthy, so that gave them the nod. TWO Twin outfielders? Yup. Well deserved. Mancini is the Oriole rep. But don’t discount his numbers. Michael Brantley (Hou) and Domingo Santana (Sea) and even Austin Meadows (TB) have cases. Wouldn’t fight any of them. Mookie Betts? Last years’ American League Most Valuable Player? Wasn’t even a consideration for me, despite me being an unabashed homer. While I actually expect him to make the real team, he has…not been very good this year. Maybe the expectations are too high. But SHOULDN’T they be? He looks completely disinterested. I actually didn’t even have him on my initial list. Sorry.
DH: J.D. Martinez, Bos (S), Daniel Vogelbach, Sea
J.D. is not having the same season as he did last year, but he is the clear choice here. Hunter Pence got voted in as the starter in the real world and although he has put up some nice numbers for a surprising Texas team, I just can’t do it. Vogelbach has cooled after a hot start, but we chose him as the Mariner rep over Domingo. If you included Pence and Domingo and dropped Vogelbach and someone else…so be it. There was a pretty tight race to determine a great deal of the American League reserves so I am very interested to see what happens in real life. Can’t go wrong with several players.
P: Justin Verlander, Hou (S), Charlie Morton, Hou, Jose Berrios, Min, Jake Odorizzi, Min, Lucas Giolito, CWS, Mike Minor, Tex, Gerrit Cole, Hou, Matthew Boyd, Det, Trevor Bauer, Cle, Shane Greene, Det, Ken Giles, Tor, Aroldis Chapman, NYY
YIKES!!!!! THESE are the best American League pitchers this year??? For real?? Well, I guess Frankie Montas would have been too. Damn PEDs!!
The list is so thin, that despite starting the year so putridly, and sitting at 3-7, we still considered Chris Sale (Bos) for the staff. His ERA sits at 3.82. But with some of his peripherals (148 Ks in 101.1 innings, 1.03 WHIP and .212 batting average against), he may actually have a shot at making the REAL team. Hey, he has the track record. And has started three consecutive All-Star games. I am not ruling it out.
As for the staff I picked…Verlander is clearly going to start. Morton is #2. Cole’s and Bauer’s ERA are a little high, but hey, it’s the era I guess. Minor, Odorizzi and Giolito? Sigh…Boyd was going to be my Tiger rep until I realized I couldn’t leave Greene and his 0.90 ERA off. Giles has always been shaky, but he has a 1.33 ERA and is the only player I remotely considered from Toronto (my sincere apologies Eric Sogard and I guess Marcus Stroman). Brad Hand (Cle) and Roberto Osuna (Hou)? Perhaps. But these are my picks. As hard as it is to believe…
Next: The 2019 National League All-Stars…