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.

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.

An Underdog Story Re-Visited

jose_altuve_spring_2015_swinging_bat
By EricEnfermero (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
If you haven’t been paying attention you may have missed out on the new Mighty Mouse in baseball. His name is Jose Altuve. Though he may not be tall enough to ride all the rides at your local amusement park he is tall enough to stand with the big boys in MLB. If you only pay attention to what he has done on the field you are missing out on much of the story.

Altuve was not suppose to make it to the big leagues. He showed up for an open tryout for the Astros and after the first day was told to go home. Luckily for us as fans, he didn’t listen. He came back for day two of that workout and ultimately impressed the scouts enough to be signed.

We have seen Altuve over the years be a good on-base and batting average guy, not to mention he can steal a base whenever he wants to. This season however he has taken it to another level. He leads all of MLB in batting average and hits. He is second in second in total bases, top ten in stolen bases and third in Wins Above Replacement (WAR). On top of all that he has 21 home runs as of August 29th and is one of only five players with a 20/20 season to date.

Even with all of these impressive stats if you ask people outside of the main baseball fan base, and likely residents of the Houston area, they would have no clue who Jose Altuve is. He isn’t even the most well known player on his team thanks to last year’s Rookie of the Year Carlos Correa. He is by far the most underrated player in baseball and is making a very strong case to be the American League MVP. If I had a vote he would be my hands down MVP.