Last minute end of season predictions

Mookie Betts
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Mookie Betts) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Tomorrow we all will get to enjoy the beginning of the NLCS and Saturday the ALCS, so it is time to make some last minute predictions.

Let’s start with the National League awards. Clearly the National League MVP will be Christian Yelich. He has risen above all other candidates and lead his team to the playoffs and in to the NLCS. Yelich lead the NL in batting average, tied for third in home runs and third in OBP. What a season and what a major breakout.

Staying in the National League we turn to the Cy Young award. My heart wants Jacob DeGrom to win this one, but with only 10 wins it just may be too much to ask. So, I have no choice but to turn to, nope not Max Scherzer like you thought I would say, but to Aaron Nola. Nola finished the season with 17 wins, a WHIP of 0.97 and second in ERA at 2.37. Talk about a breakout, Nola improved his ERA by over 1.0 point and that was with an increase of nearly 60 more innings over last season. He is well deserving of the Cy Young and should be walking away with that hardware.

Switching leagues now to the American League we look at the AL MVP. This year the AL MVP won’t be going to my favorite player Mike Trout, instead it will head to the East Coast and go to Mookie Betts. Betts finished the regular season tied for ninth in home runs and first in runs and batting average with 129 and an average of .346. Though not quite as impressive as Nola’s breakout Betts does stay with our theme of breakout players winning hardware.

Finally the AL Cy Young will be awarded to a player who barely made the All-Star team this season, what a joke, Blake Snell. Snell may have been the best breakout of all of our breakouts this year. First in ERA and wins and second in WHIP the decision to give Snell the AL’s top pitching honor is a no brainer, but then again I thought him making the All-Star game was as well.

Ok, since you twisted my arm I will give one more prediction. Our 2018 World Series Champions will be the Houston Astros. They are not getting the respect they deserve, but will show everyone who the champs are.

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Biggest Surprise So Far

Who is the biggest surprise at this point in the 2017 MLB season? Is it the Minnesota Twins who are leading their division and have the third best record in the American League at 25 – 18. Or the Colorado Rockies who have the second best record in all of baseball?

Tweet us and tell us your thoughts or post them in the comments section on this age.

Is Houston a runaway favorite?

houston_astros_logo
By Houston Astros (https://twitter.com/astros) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
As the New Year kicks off it is time to start looking forward to the 2017 baseball season. I decide the best way to start is to look at the teams that are front runners for their respective divisions.

Today we are focusing on the Houston Astros. After two surprisingly good seasons the Astros likely come in to 2017 as the favorite to win the AL West. On paper they have one of the stoutest lineups in all of baseball with huge power from start to finish. On paper however is not where games are played.

Houston’s pitching staff is full of young live arms, but at times in 2016 they were inconsistent at best. Dallas Keuchel, Lance McCullers and Collin McHugh will be mainstays of the rotation with Joe Musgrove likely next in line. After that however it is yet to be seen who will follow. In baseball youth is a virtue, but with youth comes a certain unpredictability. Youth isn’t just found in the Astro’s pitching staff either, as their lineup will be one of the youngest in baseball as it was the last two years.

With young studs all over the infield and extra talent brought in this offseason it remains to be seen how the Astros will get everyone on the field. Players like Evan Gattis, Marwin Gonzalez, A.J. Reed and Tyler White will likely see extended time on the bench or in the minors due to the log jam of talent. With another year of solid defense and outstanding power out of guys like George Springer, Carlos Correa, Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman runs will come in bunches. Only downside to this offense is the amount of swing and miss that will be in the lineup.

Houston’s offensive prowess will carry them for this season and for the near term future, but will it be enough to overcome what was at times very shaky pitching is yet to be seen.

A Deeper Look at Deciding the MVP

 

Every season there is much debate about who should win the MVP award in the American and National Leagues. There are many out there who think that the award should go to a player on a contending team, while others say that is not the case. We decided to look a little deeper and share our opinion on the subject.

The official rules for voting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America for the MVP award look like this: (1) actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense; (2) number of games played; (3) general character, disposition, loyalty and effort; (4) former winners are eligible; and (5) members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team. As you can clearly read in no way does the strength of the player’s team come in to the rules of voting. There is no mention of games won, a team being in playoff contention or anything else regarding the team a player plays for. So, why is it that so many people in the media and around the water cooler feel that the MVP needs to be on a contending team?

Does a player on a contending team play harder than one who is not? Or do opposing teams not give their best against players on non-contending teams? Of course not, so why care what the team’s performance has been for an individual award.

With all that being said there really is no argument in my mind as to how the MVP should be chosen. It is simple, use Wins Above Replacement or WAR. By definition WAR is a measure of how many wins, or how much value, an individual player brings to a team over a replacement level player. Higher the WAR, the more valuable that player is to their team. It’s a measure that takes team record and performance out of the equation and is strictly based on the individual.

Now that we have established how he MVP awards should be decided it’s easy to see that the National League MVP is Kris Bryant with a WAR of 7.3 and the American League MVP is Mike Trout with an MLB leading WAR of 10.0. Neither of these players isn’t already in the discussion for MVP, which just adds more credibility to the argument that WAR is the measure of who should be MVP.

On a side note, if you don’t realize it Mike Trout’s WAR of 10.0 is somewhat historic.

If you need more proof, then just look at the runner-ups in the AL and NL; Mookie Betts and Corey Seager. Both of them are also in the MVP discussion. Or maybe we should look at last year’s MVPs and where they fell in WAR. Bryce Harper lead MLB in WAR and Josh Donaldson was 5th. Not convinced yet? Ok, 2014’s MVPs Clayton Kershaw and Mike Trout were number one and two in MLB WAR.

Yes, there will be plenty who say I am oversimplifying the MVP award by using one stat as the deciding factor, but those people are just behind the times and don’t realize stats rule baseball.

We Should be Talking about Rick Porcello More

rick_porcello_on_april_242c_2015
By Keith Allison on Flickr (Original version) UCinternational (Crop) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Recently we wrote a post about why David Price should be in the conversation for the AL Cy Young. Though we still think that to be true, there may be an even better candidate on his same team. Even Price seems to think so.

Rick Porcello is having an amazing season that not enough of us are talking about. Porcello has a 21 – 4 record, a 3.08 ERA, 0.978 WHIP and 174 strikeouts to 29 walks in 210.7 innings. This has been by far the best season if his career. He has a career low ERA and WHIP and has matched his career high in complete games for a season.

So, why is it that he hasn’t been mentioned much as a candidate for the AL Cy Young? There are likely a few reasons. First, he is overshadowed in Boston by David Price and David Ortiz. It’s hard to be a candidate for the Cy Young when you are not even considered the best pitcher on your team. Second, he is not a dominant strikeout pitcher. Currently he is not even in the top 10 in strikeouts even though he is tied for second in innings pitched and only has 7.4 K/9. Third, he is Rick Porcello and many just don’t believe he is really this good.

Reality is that Porcello has to be talked about more. He leads AL pitchers in wins, third in EAR, first in WHIP, tied for third in complete games, first in strikeout to walk ratio and he plays in the pressure cooker that is Boston, MA. If Porcello does not figure in to the AL Cy Young voting then something is wrong with the system.