Theo or Tito, who gets it done?

Yesterday I wrote about Theo Epstein and the fact that if he ends the Chicago Cubs World Series Championship drought that we would have to call him a baseball genius. Then today I realized there is a good chance the 2016 World Series could be played by the Cubs and Cleveland Indians. Why is that of importance, two reasons.

First, if you were not aware the Cubs and Indians are the MBL clubs with the first and second longest period of time without a World Series Championship. Both have a realistic shot of ending their streak this year.

Second, Terry Francona and Theo Epstein were the dynamic duo that ended the Boston Red Sox historic World Series Championship streak. Both of them could now be the saviour of a new city.

It’s still to be determined if either of these teams will make it to the final series, but what if they both do? Would we have to call both of these men baseball geniuses or just the one who wins? And if one beats the other does that diminish the reputation of the loser? I know, it is a lot to think about, but it is a great thing to spend time thinking about while we wait for the Dodgers and Nationals game to start.

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Is Theo Epstein a Genius?

Rays vs Red Sox 9/8/10
By Scott Slingsby from Rochester, NH (Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
With the Chicago Cubs winning yesterday in game four of the NLDS against the San Francisco Giants the possibility of the Cubs World Series drought ending is becoming more and more realistic. If that happens Theo Epstein will be responsible for ending the two most celebrated championship cold streaks in baseball history.

On November 25th, 2002 Epstein became the general manager of the Boston Red Sox. At the time he was the youngest GM in MLB history. Just two years later he was in charge when the Red Sox won their first World Series in 86 years and again when they won it again in 2007. He was the hero of Fenway and never had to buy another meal in Boston.

In 2011 Epstein became President of Baseball Operations for the Chicago Cubs, the current record holder for longest time without a World Series title. In just five years he has taken the Cubs from lovable losers, to the top team in baseball and given the city of Chicago real hope of winning their first Championship since 1908.

If Theo is able to complete this championship run and give the Cubs a World Series banner we would have no choice but to name him the greatest baseball operations guy ever. Ok, the title needs a little work, but you get my point. He single handedly would be responsible for ending the two most prolific curses in all of sports. The only man to be part of both historic events.

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.

Should David Price be in Consideration for the AL Cy Young?

david_price_on_august_172c_2016
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
If you haven’t been paying close attention you probably have no idea who the Cy Young favorites are in the American League. I don’t blame you as there really is no clear cut choice. Of the contenders the two most likely to win it are Justin Verlander and Corey Kluber. Others who have received honorable mention have been Danny Duffy, Aaron Sanchez and Michael Fulmer. One name though that should be in consideration is David Price. Yes, the same David Price who through the first two months of the season had a 5.11 ERA.

After Price’s last start in May on May 29th he had an eye popping 5.11 ERA, an 8 – 3 record and 79 strikeouts in 68.7 innings. Why was the ERA eye popping? Because David Price was supposed to be an ace this season and not be sub leaguer average in ERA. He got off to a horrible start in 2016 by giving up 5+ earned runs in four of this first 11 starts. He seemed off and he noticed it. Teammate Dustin Pedroia noticed it too and told Price he wasn’t bringing his hands up as high as he use to, at least that is the story we were told.

If that was the difference or not I couldn’t tell you, but what I do know is that something changed after May. From July 5th on Price has had an ERA almost two runs lower than that 5.11 with a 3.21 ERA. He has only had two games since then where he has give up 5+ runs, half as many as he had in the first two months of the season and he has continued his above average strikeout rate. Looking at his last nine games he has been even better with a 2.47 ERA.

Why though should he be considered for the Cy Young? Even with the horrible start Price got off to he has managed to get his season long ERA down to 3.87 and if the trend continues it will only get lower. He has won 15 games, pitched 197.7 innings and has 201 strikeouts. He is an innings eater going 7+ innings in 17 of his 30 starts. No his ERA is not down to Kluber’s 3.05, yet, but he won’t finish the season far from that number if he keeps up what he has been doing.

When thinking about who should be the Cy Young I ask myself this question, all things being equal if I had one game to win who do I want on the mound? For me I would choose Price over Kluber or Verlander with Kluber being a close second and Verlander a distant third.