Game 1 of the ALCS is in the books

Leading up to game one of the ALCS all the talk was about the Boston Red Sox and not about the defending champions the Houston Astros. After game one the wind has shifted.

Houston came out and stunned Boston beating them 7-2 behind a great showing from Justin Verlander and a not so great start from Chris Sale.

Chris Sale
By Keith Allison from Hanover, MD, USA (Chris Sale) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Verlander held Red Sox hitters to just two hits over six innings and allowed two runs. While Sale only lasted four innings giving up two earned runs. Yes the stat line doesn’t look very different for the two starting pitchers, but the reality was Sale just was not at the top of his game.

Astros’ high powered offense was on full display with home runs by Josh Reddick and

Yuli Gurriel. Gurriel’s three run home run put this game out of reach in the ninth inning and deflated the Red Sox who couldn’t fight their way back from a five run deficit. Missing in action from this game was Boston’s offense being held to only three hits and no long balls.

Game two will have Gerrit Cole facing off against David Price on Sunday in Boston and it will be a chance for the Red Sox to heat up their cold bats. While Jose Altuve and Alex Bregman will try and get their first hits of the ALCS and join the hot offense that surrounds them.

Sunday’s game could be a turning point in this series and if Houston could win it could be all but over for Boston.

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Why aren’t we talking more about the Astros?

houston_astros_logo
By Houston Astros (https://twitter.com/astros) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Last night the Boston Red Sox, behind the bat of Brock Holt, beat up on the New York Yankees. It was an impressive win and history was made with Holt hitting for the cycle, but why is no one talking about the Houston Astros sweeping the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

Houston is the defending World Series Champions, they won 103 games in 2018 and beat Cleveland like they were playing a minor league team in spring training. Yet if you watched the news this morning you may not even realize they played. New York, Los Angeles and Boston are big TV markets, but let’s not loose sight of what the Astros are doing on their way to defending their 2017 Championship.

With all-stars like George Springer, Alex Bregman, Jose Altuve and Gerrit Cole the Astros have to be feared and respected. Let’s stop paying attention to a non-deciding game between the Yankees and Red Sox and start talking about the sweep that took place last night.

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.

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.