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…
As promised, the NL squad is below. 32 players are selected. 20 are supposed to be position players and 12 are supposed to be pitchers. I’ll stray from that a bit, as we always do here. Similar to the AL, 19 position players and 13 pitchers for the NL this year, but the reasoning is different. The Blowhard, in all seriousness, had problems coming up with the 32 players needed for the NL team. Each team is represented, as we know. Again, I don’t necessarily love this rule, but for all those spots, I suppose every team should have SOMEONE there. But there was one NL team that truly had ZERO real candidates. You’ll find that out soon enough. (S) for the starter. Comments below each position.
C: J.T. Realmuto, Mia (S), Francisco Cervelli, Pit
There were surprisingly several candidates at this position in the National League. But I’m sticking with my 2 catcher maximum. After Realmuto was a victim of taking only two catchers in the two previous years, he is the clear-cut starter this season. After that? HAD to go with Cervelli to back up. The Pittsburgh Pirates really do not have any candidates at all. Cervelli has missed some time with a concussion but has a .876 OPS when he has played. The only other Pirate player worth considering was their closer, Felipe Vazquez. 17 saves are great. But a 3.47 ERA and a WHIP of almost 1.35 is not. As for other dudes…Yadier Molina could have a case. Buster Posey always has a case. But Posey’s numbers are down from previous years.
1B: Freddie Freeman, Atl (S), Jesus Aguilar, Mil, Paul Goldschmidt, AZ, Joey Votto, Cin
Aguilar is a nice story, but I’m going Freeman to start. Goldy started slow but is on fire recently. Votto’s power is down, but he’s still having a nice year. If you wanted Brandon Belt instead, fine. Jose Martinez? Sure. I won’t argue about the last slot. Take whoever you want. Except for Eric Hosmer. Wow, that was a dumb contract the Padres gave him. And he ain’t doing much to earn it.
2B: Javier Baez, ChC (S), Scooter Gennett, Cin, Ozzie Albies, Atl, Asdrubal Cabrera, NYM
Baez by a slim margin over Gennett to start. Guess Gennett’s 2017 season was not a fluke, huh? Albies had a strong first half. Asdrubal? Yup. Deserved. If you wanted to take a fifth first baseman over him, I wouldn’t complain. But I’m keeping him on my squad. And no, he isn’t the only Met, if you can believe that.
3B: Eugenio Suarez, Cin (S), Nolan Arenado, Col
This is it for third base in the NL. And this year Arenado is NOT being penalized for playing in Colorado. Suarez’ overall numbers are simply better. And Max Muncy’s 20 dingers in 196 at-bats are nice. But not sure that gets him on.
SS: Brandon Crawford, SF (S), Trevor Story, Col
And…this is it for shortstop in the NL. Story is being penalized for playing in Colorado. Trea Turner? Not this year.
OF: Matt Kemp, LAD (S), Nick Markakis, Atl (S), David Peralta, AZ (S), Rhys Hoskins, Phi, Bryce Harper, Was
Matt Kemp? Nick Markakis? What year is this? Actually, even though these guys have been around forever, Kemp has actually made only two All-Star teams and Markakis…ZERO. So good for them with what they are doing this season. Peralta? Yikes! But he was really the best option for the last starting spot. I had actually originally picked Odubel Herrera instead of Hoskins…then I realized Hoskins was now pretty much an outfielder and doesn’t play much first base anymore. So I swapped them. Plus, I wanted to say that I picked Odubel, Aaron Altherr and Hoskins as All-Stars from the Phillie outfield in consecutive years. That seems a little crazy, no? Bryce…hmmm, I know. Tough call. .218 average would knock just about everyone else out of it. But power is there and OPS is too. So I said what the hell? Plus…Brandon Nimmo? Kyle Schwarber? Anyone from above I left off? I don’t think so.
P: Max Scherzer, Was (S), Jacob deGrom, NYM, Aaron Nola, Phi, Jon Lester, ChC, Miles Mikolas, StL, Patrick Corbin, AZ, Sean Newcomb, Atl, Mike Foltynewicz, Atl, Kyle Freeland, Col, Josh Hader, Mil, Sean Doolittle, Was, Brad Hand, SD, Kenley Jansen, LAD
Ouch. And…ouch…again. Take a look at the names on this list again. Max gets the start since the game is in his home park. But you could seriously give deGrom the ball. I don’t think a lot of people know what kind of season he is having because his team sucks so bad. Nola has had a nice first half as well. The rest? Ok. But most of the names are certainly underwhelming. It’s almost like I had to take Freeland because he is a starting pitcher from Colorado and with his numbers (8-6, 3.18), you have to take that into consideration. Newcomb has backslid a bit. Mikolas is the Cards rep. Folty has fewer innings than most starters. Corbin and Lester have been solid. But who’s next, Ross Stripling? Nope.
Hader was the only middle man taken on both teams. But he did close when the Brewers regular closer, Corey Knebel, was out. And you can’t scoff at 83 strikeouts in 44 2/3 innings and a 1.21 ERA. In fact, there is another middle guy on his team that probably deserves consideration in Jeremy Jeffress. Hand is the Padres rep. People have been on the Kirby Yates bandwagon. Not me. Doolittle belongs. Jansen isn’t quite as dominant as he has been in previous years, but he’s still the guy to close it out if it gets to that point. Kyle Barraclough and Adam Ottavino probably deserve consideration as middle guys as well. But I’m not doing that. Maybe Raisel Iglesias as another closer. But I’m going with these guys.
Aaaaaah…feels good to be on time…for once!
…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…