MLB News and Views @ MLBRT 8/10

 

This week’s questions…

1) Aaron Judge has slowed down in the second half of the season… by a lot… although he has hit somewhat better in his last few games including swatting his AL league lading 35th HR on Sunday. And, he still leads the league in runs scored and walks.

Having said all that…

Is there another AL rookie that will either give Judge a run for his money or maybe actually overtake Judge for the AL Rookie of the Year Award?  

Aaron Judge

Archie: No. He plays for the Yankees.

Next question.

Dan: I think both Rookie of the Year Awards are already claimed, so no, I don’t believe anybody can overtake Judge for the season and I think Judge will finish out the year strong for the playoff contending Yankees.

Joe: Looking at ESPN.com’s AL rookie statistics there are essentially just  five candidates in the running for the AL Rookie of the Year Award (ROY)… Ben Gamel (Seattle), Andrew Benintendi (Boston), Yuli Gurriel (Houston), Trey Mancini (Baltimore ) and of course Aaron Judge.

Straight up looking at the statistics the only player besides Judge who has a “reasonable” chance to get a first place AL ROY vote is Gurriel… When considering the power number stats of HRs and doubles Gurriel blows Judge away in the doubles category… by a lot. However, Judge blows Gurriel away in the HR category… by a lot.Their batting averages as of this morning (8/10) are exactly the same….  .294.

Then, it becomes no contest… in every other offensive category Judge has no equal including Gurriel. Judge is leading in runs scored, RBIs, OBP, Slugging Average and OPS… by a lot.

At this point, barring  a complete break down in his performance at the plate, if Judge doesn’t win the ROY award unanimously some voter will need to get his head examined  or tarred and feathered.

Maybe the question should have been who comes in second in the race for rookie of the year in the AL?

Steve: No way.

Aaron Judge is probably the front runner for AL MVP. Even with his slight decline the Rookie of the Year award is his to lose and should win it unanimously.

2) A number of players have already been placed on revocable waivers or post trade deadline waivers and made it through the process without being claimed by any other team. Notably Oakland’s Yonder Alonso wasn’t claimed and has already been traded to the Mariners. 

Who is your top candidate to go through revocable waivers, not get claimed and then actually get traded? Why?

Jay Bruce clears waivers & traded to Cleveland

Archie: Jay Bruce. Most teams in contention have settled on standing pat and most of the waiver wire guys that would actually get traded are serviceable at best. We all know guys like Harper and Votto are NOT going anywhere. Hernandez has a shitpot full no trade clause item to contend with. Unless some starter gets injured in the next couple of days, I don’t see a lot of movement taking place via waiver wire. Davis and Upton are both owed huge numbers on current contracts and while Crawford’s $8 million this season might not seem to bad up front; he is owed an additional $60 million the next four years.

So, with Jay Bruce on the last year of his current contract and having a good year, I can see where a contender needing a big southpaw bat would be interested in his services for the remainder of the year. Question is; how much are they willing to deal away to acquire him? But, he is my pick to move.

Dan: I think it’s a relief pitcher. Whether it be Bud Norris, Drew Storen or somebody in Baltimore, it’s definitely going to be a reliever. They’re too valuable to organizations now due to the overall less innings being pitched by the starters that the game is mostly left on the relievers to either make it or break it. And, one is getting traded before the waiver deadline.

Joe: My top candidate just went off the board last night… Outfielder Jay Bruce (29 HRs and 75 RBIs) had recently cleared waivers and last night was traded from the NY Mets to the Cleveland Indians for a minor league pitcher.

Steve: Honestly, I can’t think of anyone that this happens with.

I think it was a fluke with Alonso and isn’t going to happen again with another player, at least this season.

3) Houston’s Jose Altuve has, more or less, without a lot of fanfare been sneaking up on the AL MVP probables list and is arguably the leader for the award at this point in the season… he currently leads the AL a .364 batting average, as well as hits with 154; is second in doubles (33) and is third in stolen bases (24) and runs scored (77.)

He has some stiff competition in players such as teammate George Springer or Seattle’s Nelson Cruz, and, of course, the Yankees’ wonder rookie Aaron Judge but… barring any sort of prolonged slump or devastating injury… is this the year that Jose Altuve gets an MVP title? Why or why not?

Jose Altuve

Archie: I think he stands a really good shot at it, especially IF AJ continues to slip off his high horse. And, I say this because of what his team is doing as well. The Astros seem to be the team to beat out as the AL rep to the WS this season. IF, they do get there, win or lose, I think he will win the AL MVP.

Dan: I think so. He’s having a very successful season on a very good baseball team. If the Astros make it to the World Series, he’s an automatic lock but right now, with what he’s doing in Houston, not only leading  his team to the second-best record in baseball, but he’s putting up top numbers. He’s leading the league in batting average, hits, on-base percentage and on-base percentage plus. He’s having MVP-like numbers, he deserve the American League MVP.

Joe: In my opinion, Jose Altuve is long overdue for the MVP.

OK, he’s only been in the majors for six years (not counting 2017), but in the last three years he has put up numbers that to me that are very good. Three years running he has lead the AL in hits with at least 200 hits and over 40 doubles; two of the three years he has lead the Al in batting average and stolen bases and his HR power is has been on the rise… 15 in 2015, 24 in 2016 an in 2017 he already has 17.

Right now (as of 8/10) he leads the AL in BA (.364), OBP (.424), doubles (34) and hits (157); is second in OPS (1.000), 3rd in SB (24) and runs scored (78) and 4th in SlgA (.575).

At his point… if the voting were held right now… he deserves the award over everyone else.

Steve: He would have my vote for MVP.

Every game it seems like Altuve has a four hit game, can hit for power, and has some speed to compliment his play. He is a great fielder also, so it’s between him and Aaron Judge, but Altuve has the slight edge due to his all around play.

4) Who is the better player between rookie sensations… Cody Bellinger or Aaron Judge and which player has the better chance of sustaining his offensive output throughout his MLB career?

Aaron Judge and Cody Bellinger

Archie: Man, this is difficult to answer. My crystal ball is Murky and I can’t seem to see shit.

However, IF I had to choose one or the other to begin a team, I would take Bellinger. Mainly because I have an additional three years of youth he is only 22 and Judge is already 25. Judge also had “streaky” numbers in the minors although he has settled in a bit in the majors. Bellinger is more versatile as well. I’m not saying Judge could not be converted to 1st Base, but Cody can already play 1st or the outfield.

Dan: I think Aaron Judge is having the better season. He’s sitting at a 5.3 WAR compared to Bellinger’s 3.5 WAR, according to Baseball-Reference.com. Judge has hit two more home runs (35 to 33), has cashed in two more runs batting in (78 to 76) while walking 40 more times, yet striking out 43 more times. Yet, he has a better batting average (.294-.267), and Judge is beating Bellinger’s OBP by 80 points. While Bellinger is contributing like this on the team with the best season, Judge is just having the better individual year. But, don’t forget the Yankees are four games back from the Red Sox, and they currently sit first in the Wild Card race. The extra boost? Judge has a 167 OPS+ while Bellinger is 21 points under at 146 OPS+.

Joe: Before I answer this question I want to make a point… which is I constantly read about how Cody Bellinger is putting up these fantastic numbers.. and they are just that fantastic… in less games than Aaron Judge… but the reality? Judge, as of Wednesday (8/9) night has played in 108 games with 385 ABs and Bellinger has appeared in 93 games with 345 ABs. It’s not as big a difference between the two as some writers make it out to be. The ABs are virtually the same.

Judge (left ) & Bellinger showing off HR swings

Having said that… choosing between the two is real tough. They are almost mirror images of one another. Personally, I can’t recall when two rookies came on the scene at the same time and had numbers like they have had so far.

In the HR, RBI  Bellinger trails Judge by either 2, SB its 1. Judge’s slash numbers are much better than Bellinger’s although Bellinger’s numbers ain’t exactly chopped liver… Judge .294/.422/.616 vs Bellinger .267/.344/.617 . However Judge strikeouts a lot… I mean he Ks a LOT. He is on track to easily surpass 200… maybe 220 Ks in 2017. The point? He is prone to going through stretches where he can swing and miss a tad too often. Also, being in the NY area I see almost every Yankees’ game, so I see a lot of Judge’s ABs… in key situations, like late in the games; men on base, the Yanks trailing… he strikes out just a tad too often my liking. While more than a few times I have read that Bellinger has gotten a big hit or a HR in key situation. I would like to see the situational numbers before drawing any real conclusions but my guess is that Bellinger tends to get the big hit a little more than Judge does.

So what it all mean? I think… considering their age, Bellinger is 22 vs Judge is 25, and the fact that Bellinger strikes out a lot less than Judge and I haven’t notice any prolonged slumps with Bellinger when I have now seen two from Judge… last year when he had a brief but significant appearance with the Yanks late in the season and now in 2017 after the All-Star game… I’ll go with Bellinger, by a hair, to have the better career long term.

Steve: That’s a tough one.

But, I think Aaron Judge only for the sole reason because the AL has the DH rule and Judge can rest up on defense and still produce. Where Bellinger is going to be a Dodger for the foreseeable future without the luxury of the DH rule.

5) The Kansas Royals catcher Salvador Perez (.278/.308/.510 slash line with an already career-high 21 home runs and 4th in innings caught with 710 2/3) was placed on the 10-day DL with an intercostal strain. Word is that he will be out longer… maybe for 4 weeks.

How big of a blow is this to the Royals’ 2017 playoff hopes?

Archie: While there is a significant drop in plate production from Salvy to Butera, that is about it. Butera’s SBPCT is actually slightly better than Perez’, and Perez was leading the AL. But, Butera is 33 and has never been the offensive threat. Maybe Gallagher can step up.

Kansas City Royals’ catcher Salvador Perez

Dan: Yes, this is definitely a big blow to the organization. He’s been a vital part to their everyday pitching and line-up. He’s played in almost every game this season, has put in a lot of innings and usually puts up 300-500 more a season. Without him for four weeks will throw the chemistry of the entire team way off while somebody else has to take his place. He’s there, but he’s not. The Royals are 1-5 since he got injured on August 4th while currently sitting on a three-game losing streak against St Louis with final game of this home-and-home series losing by the scores of 10-3, 11-3 and 8-5. The offense and pitching hasn’t been the same and they’re really missing him. It’s going to hit them hard, especially  since they’re losing ground on Cleveland in the divisional race, and Seattle/New York with the Wild Card. They also need to watch out for Minnesota, who are only a half game behind Kansas City who is currently falling down quickly on a 2-8 skid the last ten games including four games with Perez. This can definitely ruin Kansas city’s whole season.

Joe: With how tight the wild card race is in the AL I don’t think it eliminate the Royals automatically, but without a key man on the field as well as in the clubhouse and the starting catcher to boot… it sure don’t help  their chances none.

Steve: Huge! And, it probably costs them a playoff spot. Too many teams are right on the heels of that second playoff spot held by Kansas City, and losing their best player is going to be a massive blow to the Royals.

Extra Innings…

Hall of Fame hurler “Happy Jack” Chesbro

Today in MLB history… in 1904 Jack Chesbro of  the New York Highlanders (who would later become the New York Yankees) is knocked out by the White Sox after pitching 30 complete games in a row. For the year he will win 41 games, pitching 48 complete games out of 51 starts for the New York Highlanders. All are post-1900 records.

However, the season, that he arguably rode into the Hall of Fame on, ended not so happily as he became the Bill Buckner of his time.

Heading into the last day of the season, New York was in second place, a game and a half behind Boston and New York and Boston playing a season-ending doubleheader that day. New York sweeps the doubleheader.. they win the pennant.

Chesbro got the start in the first game, and kept New York in it, tied 2-2 in the ninth. Then, with two outs and a runner on third, he unleashed a spitball that flew over the catcher’s head, allowing the pennant-winning run to score for Boston.

The Yanks won the next game, but by then the pennant race was a foregone conclusion.

 

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