When talks about the AL and NL Cy Young awards comes up, the general consensus usually comes up with four or five solid candidates for the awards. This season, there is no doubt that the NL race is between these three guys:
Tim Lincecum (SF)
Adam Wainwright (StL)
Chris Carpenter (StL)
So, that race is one in itself. The AL race is a totally different race from my perspective. There are so many quality guys in the AL that are worthy of the award but since I pretty much have to narrow it down to a few guys, I have come up with five guys that could possibly win it.
Being a Yankee fan myself, you have to think I’m gonna start off with the top guy in the Yankees’ rotation. And he is not just on this list because of where he plays. He is a legitimate candidate. Sabathia came just short of reaching twenty wins for the season when the Rays tore up the Yankees on Friday, 13-4. CC just wasn’t on his game and unfortunately he was unable to make it to twenty wins. That doesn’t mean his chance at winning Cy Young were shattered. No it just means that he isn’t going to have the distinction of having twenty wins. It’s alright. Adam Wainwright was also denied twenty wins when he recorded a no decision in his final start of the regular season.
Sabathia has had the pleasure of playing in New York and behind an offense that is probably the best in the league at scoring runs. That right field fence has looked great all year for Yankee hitters and he has really taken advantage of that. His record to finish off the season is 19-8. A solid record for any pitcher. To get to 19 wins is a huge aspect of his Cy Young resume. His 8 losses aren’t too bad a total but Sabathia definitely had some trouble at the beginning of the year that drew up that ugly loss total.
Sabathia’s ERA at the end of the season totals up at 3.37 which is a respectable one. Any ERA below 3.50 is generally considered solid. Sabathia has really picked it up toward the end of the year compared to the beginning of the year. He had real trouble early and that is why his ERA after the first month of play was really high.
Sabathia also finished the season with 197 strikeouts. He finished two complete games and one shutout. Sabathia’s season was definitely worthy of a Cy Young award. But personally, he would be my third choice for the award this year despite being a Yankee. I know it’s unfortunate but I am making my picks according to how good they had over the season and Sabathia did not have the best season among the AL pitchers.
2. Felix Hernandez
This young flamethrowing Mariner is a clear candidate for the Cy Young this year. His season has included two complete games and one shutout. He struck out 211 guys over the season. And guess what… he still has one more start today. Despite playing for a Mariners team that lacks much offense, other than Ichiro, Hernandez has done a great job of maintaining his success. Hernandez has one more game to go but his current record is 18-5. A record that is a little better than Sabathia’s. Sabathia does have one more win than Hernandez but Hernandez has less losses. It’s close but that is not the only thing that goes into account when thinking of a Cy Young resume.
Hernandez has a phenominal 2.38 ERA which to me is just fantastic considering he doesn’t get much run support from the M’s. He really can control a game and knows how to get it done like the best of them…. wait a minute, he is one of the best of them.
Hernandez’s age is what is so amazing. He is so successful so early in his career, this being his fifth year in the league. He still has a long way to go and this success and poise he is showing now will surely get him into high places as his career goes on.
Hernandez also finished the season with 232 innings of work which is clearly more than any other guy on the Mariner rotation or bullpen. He has really done something special in Seattle this year and he is a legitimate Cy Young candidate as well. He is my second pick in this contest.
3. Justin Verlander
Verlander has also had a fantastic season. He has led that Tigers team back to the spotlight in the AL Central after a few really really really really… okay you get the point… bad years. With the Tigers on the brink of a playoff birth, Verlander will be a key to the Tigers’ success if they get to the playoffs.
Verlander finished this season with a 19-9 record. A very good one that easily compares with Sabathia’s and Hernandez’s that will go up as the top three records in the league. Verlander has been a solid… more than solid… top of the rotation guy for the Tigers. He has been the vocal point of this team all year. The offense hasn’t been great but it has been good enough to support the pitching and Verlander hasn’t really needed all that support. With the stuff he has, there isn’t really much you can do to support him other than put a single run up on the board.
Verlander always finishes at the top or near the top of the strikeout list. This season, he finished with 264 and every one made the opposing batter just look back and think about how good the pitch was. Verlander is that good. You always have to include this flamethrower in the Cy Young conversation. The only difference this year is that his team has been a little more successful and he has gotten more recognition that he has the past few years. Verlander’s ERA was also fantastic this season at 3.45 which is a little lower than Sabathia’s. To me, either him or Sabathia would go third in my voting but I would put Sabathia there because of the success of the Yankees this year. Nothing against Verlander but they are both great performers.
Verlander also finished the season three complete games and one shutout.
4. Roy Halladay
You always have to include Roy Halladay in the Cy Young talks no matter what. He has had that kind of influence in this league since he came into it as a rookie.
Halladay’s numbers this year have been down and his Cy Young resume has decreased in value. Much of this came from the constant rumors of his being traded at the deadline in the summer. His performance surrounding the deadline shows many stats that are uncharacteristic of his career. Some bad losses, tough ERA numbers. And just about anything that can go wrong during an outing. It happened to him.
Halladay didn’t have a terrible season though. His record was 17-10 to finish the season. Not terrible but a tough number of losses. He probably could’ve come up with a win or two more but that was due to the trade rumors and the fact that the Jays had a tough time getting runs on the board over a period of time over the summer.
Halladay is the lowest on my list of candidates for every reason I explained to you now. He finished with nine complete games and four shutouts, which are two stats he holds over the other candidates in this competition. He struck out 208 guys which is a respectable number. His season has been a generally good on but not a Cy Young good season.
Winner: Zack Greinke
I know, I know he’s on the Royals. But that is a key reason why he is the winner of this competition. I mean come on… a Royals pitcher in this conversation? That’s ridiculous. Well, it’s not. With the numbers he has put up this season, he is clearly the best pitcher in the AL.
His record doesn’t give him justice of how well he has pitched. At 16-8, Greinke has lossed more games than he should have if he had more run support. His ERA is a league low 2.16. That just proves that he really didn’t get enough run support ot get the wins. If he gave up one or two runs a game, he lost the game because of the lack of run support the Royals’ offense gave him.
Greinke also put up some good strikeout numbers finishing the season with 242. He six complete games and three shutouts. With the team he was pitching behind, I think it is possible that he could get a loss when he threw a shutout. Just kidding but still, I’m just making a point. Greinke’s season would’ve been no doubt a perfect Cy Young season if he was with any other team that could put up three or four runs a game of run support. The Royals have had a tough history and Greinke has been unfortunate enough to be stuck on that team and be such a great pitcher. With the talent he has, he is no doubt the Cy Young award winner in the AL this season.
P.S. My NL Cy Young vote is Adam Wainwright.
Being a Yankee fan, or even for those Red Sox fans on this MLBlogosphere, these next four days should present nothing else but Red Sox-Yankees analysis on any Yankee fan’s or Red Sox fan’s blog. That’s so simple. The best rivalry in baseball is nothing short of what it is put up to be. It is the single best part of the MLB. It is my favorite part of the year when the Yankees and Red Sox face off and everyone else’s involved in this rivalry. And basically, it is the only thing that should be talked about by any Red Sox or Yankee fan during the 18 games they play each other every year. It is just STELLAR.
So, everyone knows that the Yankees have been unsuccessful against the Red Sox thus far this season. They have been unable to win at home or on the road; extremely disappointing to Yankee fans. Now, with first place in our posession (meaning the Yankees), the Bronx Bombers have a certain upside to things now, now that they have succeeded past the Sox without actually beating them. But these next few games they play against the Red Sox will be played with a bigger sense of importance. The Yankees can really pull away from the Red Sox, and push their already solid 2.5 game lead to maybe a 5 game lead or a 6 game lead at best. A sweep would be phenominal seeing that we haven’t beaten them once this season. Four straight wins would be STELLAR.
The Yankees and Red Sox play a total of ten games to finish off the season series. Three of those are in Boston and the rest of them are in New York. This is a huge advantage for the Yankees and they need to take advantage of it. I can’t think of any better way to say it than that. If you can’t win at home, you don’t have as good a chance to win on the road.
Victor Martinez… just aquired in a blockbuster deal from the Cleveland Indians. A catcher/first baseman that has helped the Red Sox immensely in their current infield situation. They have Mike Lowell who hasn’t been to the top of his health. Since this has been the case, he has not started at third in the recent past and has forced Kevin Youkilis to shift over to third, the position he came to the Red Sox to play. Victor Martinez has fit into the first base position and has let Jason Varitek remain behind the plate. Late in the games, Mike Lowell has appeared to pinch hit giving the Red Sox much needed depth. Martinez will get his first dose of the Yankees-Red Sox action and will be a huge part in it. Martinez is the offensive bat that has fit into an already loaded lineup for the Red Sox that has its fair share of power and just general good hitting. It will be interesting to watch how he performs.
Now, going sort of off topic. How about that Kung Fu Panda?
No not that one… this one.
Pablo Sandoval has been a huge part of bringing the San Francisco Giants back into the playoff race. They are currently first in the wild card race in the NL, only a half game ahead of their closest competitors in the NL West, the Colorado Rockies. The Giants aren’t going to get to the top of the division, with the Dodgers easily pulling away from day one, but with Sandoval leading the way offensively, the Giants could be the underdog that gets into the playoffs. They have the pitching; Lincecum and Cain. They have the defense; Rowand and Molina among them. They have the offense; Sandoval and Sanchez. What else is their that they need. Obviously they don’t have an overly great team, but they have what it takes to perform to a high standard and they could surely make it to the playoffs. Now, how far will they go in the playoffs? I’m not so sure. They do have to face off against the best of the best in the NL; the Dodgers, the Phils, most likely, and possibly the Cards, the Cubbies, or even the Brew Crew. All tough teams, but they should have enough to get into the playoffs in the first place. Sandoval leads the way offensively and all I can say to the Giants is this:
THE KUNG FU PANDA WILL LEAD YOU TO WHERE YOU NEED TO BE.
Now, some of you may know that fantasy baseball, to me, is a fun game that is a great way to make your baseball dreams come true. But it’s nothing more than that. It’s a game, nothing more. Now, I have made several rants on how I have a huge pet peeve over people who follow baseball, or whatever other sport, just to see how their fantasy team is doing. I mean, c’mon. That’s not why people love baseball. There are so many hypocrites out there that say they are baseball fans but only follow the sport to make sure their fantasy team wins. I hate that so much.
Well, I couldn’t think of anything else to write so I figured I would just talk about this. So, here we go. I myself love to play fantasy sports. It’s just fun. I love to make up my own team and manage it like I would if it was a professional team. But I still follow the game of baseball as a fan of the Yankees and not just as a fan of whoever is on my team. Whether or not I have any Yankee players on my team, I will still love the Yankees. As goes for Curtis Granderson or Ryan Braun or David Wright. I am still a true baseball fan whether or not I play fantasy. I play fantasy baseball, football, basketball, and hockey. But that’s pretty much it. I have fun with it and I usually don’t play in competitive leagues. Usually just casual. I figured I’d show you some of my teams.
Here’s one of my two baseball teams that I enjoy following more than the other. I am currently in sixth place out of ten, mostly because of injury problems. But here it is.
Team Name: The Silver Sluggers
C: Mike Napoli (LAA)
1B: Kevin Youkilis (Bos)
2B: Chase Utley (Phi)
3B: Emilio Bonifacio (Fla)
SS: Alexei Ramirez (CWS)
OF: Jermaine Dye (CWS)
OF: Jason Bay (Bos)
OF: Andrew McCutchen (Pit)
Util: Garret Jones (Pit)
Util: Shin Soo Choo (Cle)
Bn: Brad Hawpe (Col)
SP: Tim Lincecum (SF)
SP: Derek Lowe (Atl)
RP: Jonathon Papelbon (Bos)
RP: Huston Street (Col)
P: Chris Carpenter (StL)
P: Joakim Soria (KC)
P: David Price (TB)
Bn: Jair Jurrjens (Atl)
Bn: Johnny Cueto (Cin)
I’m doing pretty well in this league and I think I could make a run toward the end of the season. I have been playing a lot better of late because my team’s injury problems have diminished. I’ve been telling my friends that they better watch out for my team because I could be a spoiler in the playoffs.
On Friday, many of the people in the league that I have that baseball team in did a draft for football that starts up soon. I missed the whole draft except the last pick in which I chose Sidney Rice from Minnesota. I figured if Brett Favre ever signed with them that he would be a valuable guy. So I took a chance and picked him. Here’s the rest of my team.
Team Name: No Punt Intended
QB: Aaron Rodgers (GB)
WR: Steve Smith (Car)
WR: Marquis Colston (NO)
WR: Santonio Holmes (Pit)
RB: Adrian Peterson (Min)
RB: Frank Gore (SF)
TE: Anthony Fasano (Mia)
BN: Owen Daniels (Tex)
BN: Joseph Addai (Ind)
BN: Carson Palmer (Cin)
BN: Jericho Cotchery (NYJ)
BN: Sidney Rice (Min)
K: John Kasay (Car)
BN: Rian Lindell (Buf)
DEF: New England
So, this league is to start up obviously whenever the NFL season starts so I’m excited for that.
Well, now I’m really bored so I’ll hopefully have something more intersting to write about tomorrow.
Carl Crawford shined the brightest among the star studded rosters that participated in the 80th All Star Game last night. With a game saving catch to rob the Rockies’ Brad Hawpe of a home run and a 1-3 night at the plate, Carl Crawford was awarded the All Star Game MVP trophy from the commish Bud Selig. A great honor for Crawford who’s STELLAR play kept the AL in the game and gave them their 12th win in 13 years of All Star play. Congrats to Crawford for his achievement.
The game was a very good one, keeping me alert at all times. Different from the Home Run Derby the night before, the game was exciting and it was definitely worth watching. Most of the action happened early as the AL scored twice in the top of the first. The NL scored three times in the bottom of the second to go ahead in the game. Hmmmm. Maybe the NL had a shot at winning this thing. Well, maybe not.
In the fifth, the AL tied the score up with a run on a combined effort from Joe Mauer and Derek Jeter. The game then stayed scorelss until the eighth in which my favorite player, Curtis Granderson, tripled to deep left off the wall. Just missing a home run, Granderson swiftly made his way to third to put the go ahead run on. He was then driven in by an Adam Jones deep sacrifice fly. In fact when the ball first left his bat, I thought it was going out, but the wind must have knocked it down because it was just short of the warning track. It was deep enough to drive in Granderson and the AL went ahead.
The NL was then on the ropes for yet another loss in the All Star Game. They were unable to score in the bottom of the eighth as Joe Nathan got out of a little jam in which he had walked a guy and gave up a hit. In the bottom of the ninth, as he has his whole career, Mariano Rivera stepped up to the mound and shut down the NL 1-2-3.
Now, as I said in my first edition of this post, defense is a huge aspect of baseball, whether you think it is or not. In last night’s game, the ball off Brad Hawpe’s bat would have left the yard (barely) if it wasn’t for the great hustle from Crawford. His great concentration allowed him to catch the ball while hitting the wall. Michael Young made a couple nice plays over at third base in place for Evan Longoria who was a late scratch with an infection of his finger. All over the field, people were making some good plays. Ironically enough, each team had an error. Well, it didn’t seem to make that much of a difference but still… kind of ironic.
The All Star Game was a blast to watch. I was pumped that Curtis Granderson was a huge part of the game with his triple and game winning run. I didn’t know if he would get that much playing time but he did. In fact, his first at bat was when he hit the triple. That was the turning point in the game. It broke a tie and it broke the NL’s chances of winning for the first time in 13 years. Also, I was glad that Jeter and Rivera had good games. Teixeira didn’t really have any huge plays but his presence at first was felt as he played a solid game. The Yankees were well represented with their old skipper on the opposite bench, Joe Torre.
The starting pitching was supposed to be STELLAR but in fact, it wasn’t that STELLAR. Lincecum had trouble in the first inning where he gave up two runs on two hits. On the other side of things, Halladay gave up three runs on four hits. Only two of them were earned as one run scored on a Josh Hamilton throwing error. The rest of the game, the pitching was pretty good. Solid all around and it was a great thing to watch.
The All Star Game in general was pleasing to me. It got me back on track with baseball after a disappointing Home Run Derby Monday night. I’m pumped for the rest of the season and it is going to be a good one. The stars shone bright last night and the stars are going to shine bright the rest of the season as the playoffs near. The Yankees and Red Sox race for the top of the AL East is going to be a good one. The NL Central is about as tight as it gets. Everyone’s got a chance. The AL Central looks like the Tigers are going to take it. The Dodgers are still the best team in the bigs and will continue to play like it. Manny’s return will help them even more. It’s going to be a great second half of the season and I am psyched.
Now, seriously, tell me that is not one of the best backdrops to a stadium in all of the MLB stadiums. You’ve got a beautful stadium already and then you’ve got a nice calm, city outside the stadium and the famous St. Louis arch. It’s just a great sight and I think it is this picture is one of the best of any other MLB related picture.
So the guys that outperformed the rest of the MLB are going to be playing in one of the best stadiums around the MLB to try and secure their respective leagues a home field advantage for the 2009 World Series. Now, the past twelve years, the AL has won. No doubt, domination. The AL has just produced more top players than the NL and they have outperformed the NL the past decade + some. The pitching has been better the hitting has been better and the coaching has been better. Everything that makes up a team has been better on the AL side than the NL side.
In the 2003 All Star Game, Texas Rangers 3B Hank Blalock hit a pinch-hit two run home run in the eighth inning off, then, one of the best closers in the game, Eric Gagne. The shot was a no doubter and it put the AL on top and would be the game winning shot. That was the closest the NL has come to winning an All Star Game in the past twelve years other than the 2002 All Star game that ended in a tie.
This year, the NL may have a little better of a lineup but the AL counters it with a pretty good lineup itself and maybe some better pitching. The starters in the game are both very deserving of their spots: Roy Halladay and Tim Lincecum.
In my opinion, the NL has a better offensive lineup having a ton of power hitters , all capable of going yard at any moment. The AL has their offensive up sides as well, very little seperating the talent of the two lineups, but the AL may have a little more all around good play. They have more guys that can do the little things to win and the NL doesn’t necessarily have that.
On defense, the lineups are stacked with gold glovers or close to gold glovers. Solid defensive players all around and it will be interesting to see how the defense affects the game. As most of you know, defense is a huge part of the game. It may not seem so but it is. There have been some big defensive plays that have changed parts of the games in the past. You all remember Torii Hunter’s rob of Barry Bonds’ homer in the 2002 All Star Game, the one that ended in a tie because of the lack of pitchers. Yeah, if that ball had gone out, the game may not have ended in a tie. In fact the NL would have finally won an All Star Game.
The MLB stars that have been voted into this game have earned their spot and deserve their chance to represent their respective leagues. The game will hopefully be an intersting one. It is usually a great time, the All Star Game. And I don’t think there is a better place to have it than in Busch Stadium with the St. Louis arch in the backround and the fans pouring into the stands to watch the best of the best play America’s pastime. The stars will shine bright into the St. Louis night.
The All Star teams were announced Sunday and I was pumped to see a bunch of my favorite players make the teams. Jay-Bay, Big Tex, Tim “the Kid” Lincecum, Curtis “How Grand He is” Granderson. They all made the team and I am pumped for the game and the entire All Star weekend. It’s going to rock.
So now, with most of the spots filled, there are the final votes to think about to see who will make the final spot on the AL and NL rosters. In the AL, Ian Kinsler, Chone Figgins, Brandon Inge, Carlos Pena, and Adam Lind make up the final vote list. In the NL, Pablo Sandoval, Shane Victorino, Cristian Guzman, Matt Kemp, and Mark Reynolds line up in hope of having their All Star dreams come true. All deserving, all willing, and all worthy choices of these two spots. But only one can be picked and everyone has their own opinions on who should be in St. Louis for the game. I believe my picks are solid and I can back them up. Some may not agree with them but some will. It all depends on your point of perspective. Here’s mine.
The first thing voters have to think of when they make their votes for the entire rosters in general is how they think the game should be played. Should it be played to win or should it be played with just the top players in each league. If you think the game is to be won, you might alter your picks to make sure there is more versatility on each roster. In the AL, instead of picking Ian Kinsler, who is having a STELLAR season, you may pick Chone Figgins who can play a few different positions. He can be moved around for a switch when you need to pinch hit for a pitcher. Since the game is being played in the National League, this is a very important aspect of the game, assuming you are playing to win the game. Now, if you take the “the best players should play” route, then Ian Kinsler and Carlos Pena would most likely be at the top of most peoples’ list. They have the best stats of the five players in the AL and they are the most worthy of the spot. But again, it all depends on how you look at the game.
On the NL side, you might pick an outfielder for the final vote, Shane Victorino or Matt Kemp for instance. The outfield is the most versatile position for the All Star game and outfielders can generally move around from each of the three positions. On the other hand, if you look at who deserves it the most, Victorino and Kemp would be up there, and Pablo Sandoval would be up there. Among the five, those three have the best stats. The same for the AL goes for the NL. It all depends on how you look at the game.
Personally, the way I look at it is this… the best players should make it, regardless of their versatility. I mean, yeah some guys that deserve it more than others aren’t going to make it because there is no spot for their position on the roster left. They might not be the best at their position and they won’t make the team. Say an outfielder makes the team because there are more outfield spots on the roster than second baseman. But say the second baseman is having a better season than the outfielder. Tough break. He’s not going to make the team. That is going to happen sometimes. But the best players at the positions available should make the team. That is the whole concept of the All Star Game. All Stars are the best in the game. They are meant to be honored at the All Star game as the best of the best. Not the guys who will help the team win. That rule was only recently appointed anyway. Back in the day when the All Star game was first started, the rosters were made up of those who were the best in the league. Now that the game counts, people take on a different perspective that I think ruins the voting process. All Stars are All Stars… that’s so simple.
The two guys I would pick would be Kinsler and Victorino. Now, Kinsler doesn’t give you much versatility. Big deal. He is having a better season than the starting second baseman, Dustin Pedroia, but might not even get in because of his lack of versatility. Victorino on the other hand is an outfielder and is more valuable as a versatile tool than maybe the other guys. Sandoval is also very versatile, able to play at the catcher, third base, and first base positions. It doesn’t get much more versatile than that. And Kemp is an oufielder too. But out of the three, I think Victorino is the best and is having the best season. In this case, it all comes down to who you think is having a better season. If the player is having a good season and is also versatile, than you have a great player and an easy pick. It’s pretty simple.
Now, those are my thoughts on how the All Star voting process should go. I’m sure there are many of you out there who disagree with my whole point of view, but I really don’t care. My final thought… All Stars are All Stars.
So, the midsummer classic is coming up and some of my pals have been bugging me to post my picks for the game. Now, most of them are no doubters but others people might have an argument against. Well here they are.
C: Joe Mauer (Twins)
1B: Mark Teixeira (Yankees)
2B: Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)
3B: Evan Longoria (Rays)
SS: Derek Jeter (Yankees)
LF: Jason Bay (Red Sox)
CF: Curtis Granderson (Tigers)
RF: Ichiro Suzuki (Mariners)
P: Roy Halladay (Blue Jays)
C: Yadier Molina (Cardinals)
1B: Albert Pujols (Cardinals)
2B: Orlando Hudson (Dodgers)
3B: David Wright (Mets)
SS: Hanley Ramirez (Marlins)
LF: Ryan Braun (Brewers)
CF: Raul Ibanez (Phillies)
RF: Brad Hawpe
P: Tim Lincecum (Giants)
Now as you have probably noticed on many other ballots before, the AL squad is stacked with Yankees and Red Sox players. That is because they are the two best teams in the AL and they have the most All Star worthy players. So don’t yell at me because I picked them because one- they deserve it, and two- a ton of others have picked them in their ballots. Two Cards start at their own home stadium for the game (Pujols and Molina).