The regular season begins
this Sunday tomorrow at 5:05PM PST when the Texas Rangers play the Houston Astros in that famous AL West rivalry, which means this week is all about previews, bold predictions, and message board put downs. I will say I am not good at predicting things, so let’s get that straight. Like everybody else though, I have an opinion on the matter of how events will play out. Let us preview the postseason, where the best team doesn’t always win due to the randomness of how the short series will go. It’s a first team to eleven wins once the DS begins, and normally the team that catches fire tends to do the celebrating. Also in my analysis, the team that scores more runs tend to win games. I’ll start with who I have going into the playoffs, then the predictions of the resulting postseason series. After that, I’ll go into regular season awards.
NL Playoff Seeding
1. Washington Nationals
2. Cincinnati Reds
3. Los Angeles Dodgers
4. Atlanta Braves
5. San Francisco Giants
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Atlanta beats San Francisco
Atlanta beats Washington
Cincinnati beats Los Angeles
Cincinnati beats Atlanta
AL Playoff Seeding
1. Detroit Tigers
2. Toronto Blue Jays
3. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
4. Tampa Bay Rays
5. Texas Rangers
Wild-Card Play-in Game
Tampa Bay beats Texas
Detroit beats Tampa Bay
Toronto beats LA of A
Detroit beats Toronto
World Series (game will be in AL Park when AL wins ASG)
Detroit beats Cincinnati
Don’t worry Tiger fans, I’m sure my predictions won’t be correct!
Regular Season Awards
I will go into who the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year for both leagues will be. These will also probably be wrong.
AL MVP — Mike Trout
Asking me if I’m mad, bro? Nah, not mad, but let’s say Mike Trout does even 80% of what he did in 2012 in 2013, and his team gets to the playoffs, the voters are going to give him his “redemption,” and feel good that “see, we don’t hate advanced stats,” as we roll our collective eyes together. Sophomore slump? Maybe a little, but the only thing that will stop this fish is if he gets hurt playing the game.
NL MVP — Justin Upton
They say a change of scenery can do wonders for a player, and how about playing with an organization that wants you? I’d say that’s a good start. I think Upton will have a career year, players like Braun and Posey will regress a little, and Upton will find his team in the playoffs. Justin Upton may not have the best year of everybody, but I think he gets the award.
AL Cy Young — Justin Verlander
Kind of like Trout, he’s only going to get stopped by an injury. He should continue to rack up the pitcher wins, satisfying the old school, and his team will make the playoffs all with lots of money, and lots of strikeouts. Probably not many multi-homer against games though. Verlander is just excellent.
NL Cy Young — Clayton Kershaw
Dickey was a great story in 2012, but I still side with the overall metrics a bit on Kershaw, believing he got snubbed by just a little bit, nothing too controversial. Kershaw, like Verlander, will be getting plenty of pitcher wins behind a boosted offense, and he’s still really, really good. Oh, and his team will be going to the playoffs so that equals instant votes.
AL Rookie of the Year — Jackie Bradley Jr.
Shot up the prospect lists in 2012 into 2013, and is projected to start with the team. For the kid, the defense will be getting peoples attention, while the stick may not be able to do anything super special, it’ll be enough. Lots of names for both RoY awards, JBJ just happens to be my guess right now.
NL Rookie of the Year — Zack Wheeler
Wheeler will not come up until June and he’ll still get the award. Dominating the minors, and yes, I understand the pain he’s going to cause Giants fans, but the kid is good, and will be going after his opposition from the get-go with heat and curveballs and breaking balls and strikeouts.
Let’s hear what your predictions are! Pretty much anything goes before the season gets going.
The National League was up first discussing guys like Ryan Braun, Buster Posey, and Yadier Molina were discussed by MLB Network, and Andrew McCutchen as well as Chase Headley had some discussion from the crowd in a very underrated and underreported race for the NL MVP. And it went to:
Buster Posey! Or as we like to call him around these parts: #MVPosey.
Posey garnered 27 of the 32 first place votes, and only one third place vote from a writer in Chicago. Half of his second-place votes came from Milwaukee voters who chose Braun for the MVP on their ballot. Posey was at a party for what he said was a charity event his wife was putting on. It is well recorded that in two of Buster’s three seasons, and in both of those seasons in which he’s been healthy, he has carried his team to the postseason, and the World Series where they would achieve the dream. As proud as I am to have this guy on the team I root fot most, the only thing I can think about right now is how that price tag of his is going up up up. No doubt it will be a goal of the ownership to make Posey a Giant for as long as possible whether it’s done taking out arbitration years to a monster contract, or taking it year-by-year and then signing the MVP to a monster contract.
Then there was the AL MVP, which wasn’t talked about that much so who cares who wins this one, right? Just foolin. Unfortunately this seemed to turn fans against each other and made for an “old school vs. new school” narrative that became nauseatingly old at a Billy Hamilton pace. In the end, let’s not forget the award does not change our opinion on these players and both of these guys are spectacular players for their teams and for baseball. And the much publicized result:
Of course my feeling is that the voters got it wrong, but this was an incredible time for baseball to become exposed to more advanced metrics than it probably cared for. The debate between the two is not over, but the writers have spoken for this year, and the title goes to the Triple Crown winner from Venezuela.
So now hopefully we can move on to talk about other baseball things, like how does our favorite team trade for Mike Trout. Go for it, Bleacher Report.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve followed a few Cardinals fans in my day living on Twitter (the past couple years), and boy the ones I followed sure were angry. They acted like they were always getting the cold shoulder from the mainstream, and in most cases they were right that they were getting unfairly ignored, however there was a bitterness that was very off-putting to the point where you did not want to consider their arguments. Fair to say though that every fanbase has these types of people, and I just had the opportunity to follow the ones I complained about but am always on the lookout for less angry fans. Rant over.
When I posted about the Silver Slugger a couple days ago, you may have noticed that Molina and Posey have both put up quite remarkable numbers this year at their catchers position. Seeing a tweet this morning simply stating Yadi was leading one of the WAR categories accompanied with the #Yadi4MVP hashtag brought me to investigate this “MVP” campaign. To be fair to the Trout-Cabrera argument… or more like “argument,” I wanted to try and fit in not just offensive categories but baserunning, and defensive categories as well. We all know defensive metrics are not as strong as we’d like right now, but I did my best to be fair here. A little background on the less common stats I don’t bring to the blog but show up in the graphic below:
- “BsR” is Fangraphs’ baserunning metric
- “rWAR” is Baseball Reference’s WAR, which I normally call “bWAR”
- “Rbaser” is from B-ref and it is their way of measuring “number of runs better of worse than average the player was for all baserunning events.”
At the very least, after looking at this, I wonder why I haven’t heard Yadier’s name more often, but I don’t wonder to the point where he has to be in the same graphic as Braun, McCutchen, and Posey. He will get Top 5 MVP consideration since his team will likely make the postseason. But here’s what I see when I look at these side-by-side stats: Buster’s slightly better in every offensive category except for stolen bases and grounding into double plays, yet still has a better baserunning set of stats from Fangraphs and B-Ref than Molina. Yadier, as always, is excellent at throwing out baserunners, and you can see that in his CS%. When it comes to the people that will vote, they’re going to also look at AVG, SLG, and RBI, which I’m not as big of a fan of as those guys, but bad news to the Molina camp because Buster leads in those offensive categories, too.
So should you applaud Yadier Molina for another great season? Absolutely, he’s a wonderful baseball player, and so much fun to watch especially on defense when baserunners foolishly challenge him. Unless he hits 8 HR in the last 5 games though, I have serious doubts about him winning the MVP.
A beat writer in the Arizona area yesterday asked his followers whom they considered to be the AL and NL MVPs. The MVP award is based only on regular season performance, and ballots must be submitted before the first pitch of the playoffs begin, and every year there is always some faction of fans that claim a player won the MVP because of their post-season performance. Those in the know would call those people “idiots.”
I consider the MVP to be an award for the baseball player that plays nearly every game, so when a pitcher wins it I feel like anyone that played everyday got cheated out of an award. By this logic, I do not consider relievers to be relevant to the MVP discussion due to them being in roughly 70 of the approximately 1400 innings played over the course of the season, although I understand that people that vouch for relievers will claim that they have “saved” games for their team, thus making them very valuable. I see the argument, but for the MVP, I don’t buy it. I’d be more willing to listen for the Cy Young, but even then, I still give more kudos to the starters.
Anyway, if you’re wondering who’s in the mix this year for AL and NL MVP, I’m going to write some names down, and you can selectively observe them down the stretch to make these last couple weeks of regular season baseball more fun for you.
My Clearly-Biased-I-Hate-Your-Team-AL MVP Candidates
Mike Trout, Angels (27 HR, 45 SB, .421 wOBA, 48.9 wRAA, 174 wRC+, 9.3 fWAR), who will win the AL ROY
Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (38 HR, .598 SLG%, .415 wOBA, 50.5 wRAA, 165 wRC+, 6.2 fWAR)
My I’m-Such-A-Homer-I-Need-A-Brain-NL MVP Candidates
Ryan Braun, Brewers (40 HR, 24 SB, .415 wOBA, 49.5 wRAA, 163 wRC+, 7.4 fWAR)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (28 HR, 18 SB, .410 wOBA, .391 BABIP, 46.5 wRAA, 163 wRC+, 7.4 fWAR)
Buster Posey, Giants (22 HR, .403 wOBA, 39.6 wRAA, 160 wRC+, 6.9 fWAR)
It’s hard for me to say who will win because I don’t know what each writer has up their sleeves, and they could look at any of the numbers I put up, or they could look at some of the simpler numbers. They could also be rationalizing the value of a player’s respective defensive position, as well as how many highlight-reel plays they saw a player make. And unfortunately, they could also consider if a player helped his team get to the playoffs.
When it’s all said and done, I would not be surprised to see a combination of Trout/Braun or Trout/Posey win the awards. I don’t think the Pirates will make the postseason, and therefore will scare away voters because some garbage about that making McCutchen “less valuable” or something. The nation also loves Trout, and Miggy Cabrera would have to do something like 50 HR to really give Trout a run for his money to convince the voters, in my opinion.