MLB News & Views @ MLBRT 9/28


1) Who is your AL MVP? Who do you think wins the AL MVP? Why?

Archie: Jose Altuve.

I mean; what more does a player have to do?

Dan: Jose Altuve is my AL MVP. He had the top batting average, top WAR, had 24 home runs to go along with 32 stolen bases. He passed 200 hits, only had 83 strikeouts compared to 58 walks. I take him over Aaron Judge, Mike Trout, and Jose Ramirez. He’s leading the Astros to the top AL seed in the playoffs as well. I also think he’ll win. He deserves it the most.

Watch for Aaron Judge to be extremely close.

Judge or Altuve, who wins AL MVP Award?

Joe: I really wrangled with this…. in my opinion its between Jose Altuve and Aaron Judge and nobody else.  And, Altuve was my no-brainer choice until Judge rebounded from his second half slump and has had a spectacular September, including hitting his 50th HR to break the MLB rookie record for HRs.

So what to do? I decided to look at all the key statistical categories and I came out with this…

Altuve is a lock for 200-plus hits and with a .348 will lead the AL in both those categories. Judge’ .283 ain’t even close to him.  Not a bad average but not in Altuve territory.

Judge leads Altuve in the following categories (all statistics are as of 9/26 and  followed by AL rank in parentheses if relevant as a league leader)… runs 124 (1st) to 107 (2nd); HR 50 (1st)  to 24; RBI 108 (2nd) to 81; Walks 120 (1st) to 58; OBP .418 (2nd) to .414 (3rd); SlgA .620 (2nd to .554 (3rd) and OPS 1.038 (2nd to .968 (3rd.)

the final tally… Judge leads in 7 major statistical categories to Altuve’s 2. And, Judge leads the AL in HRs, runs and walks; he is 2nd in RBI, OBP, SlgA and OPS.

I gotta go with Judge as my MVP.

But, I think Altuve wins it because the writers will feel he got screwed out of it last year and they owe it to him this year and Judge will have his chances going forward… which by the by sometimes never works out that way.

Steve: Jose Altuve is the MVP of the league, it is close between him and Aaron Judge, but due to Altuve’s consistency at the plate, batting average, and on the field play, he gets my vote, and I think he gets the writers vote as well.

Judge has a claim, but he is going to run away with the ROY award, and I think since Altuve was runner up last year, he gets the nod by the voters this year.

2) Who is your NL MVP? Who do you think wins the NL MVP? Why?

From left to right: Nolan Arenado, Giancarlo Stanton & Paul Goldschmidt

Archie: I think Giancarlo Stanton will WIN the award but I believe he is not the most deserving.

The problem is that the other guys that I DO feel more deserving are both on the same team and will cancel each other out in voting, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado. Either of those two on another playoff team could easily get the award.

Dan: Joey Votto would get my NL MVP. He’s quietly had a fantastic season boasting a 7.4 WAR, which is only .1 behind Giancarlo Stanton’s. He’s had 36 home runs, 99 RBI and was batting .319 with Cincinnati. The one thing that really pokes out at me is the SO/BB ratio. He’s struck out only 80 times compared to 134 walks. That’s incredible.

I think Giancarlo Stanton will win it though in a great season where he did have the higher WAR, but he also dominated Votto in the home run category with 59 including 126 strikeouts and has kept Miami in the race all season.

Joe: The NL has four players that I think could win the NL MVP…. Giancarlo Stanton, Paul Goldschmidt, Charlie Blackmon and Nolan Arenado.

However, when I crunch the numbers and look at what I think is a players worth to his team… I think only two players would be in contention for the NL MVP in my mind if i were a voter.

First, let me eliminate the two players that I think are the 3rd and 4th runner-ups…

Stanton will probably get to 60 HRs and lead the league in slugging average, might even sneak in as the RBI leader too, when the season ends but two things play against him: the Marlins are not going to the playoffs and (sorry sometimes that figures into why a player is, or is not, an MVP) and besides the fact he has tremendous power and how many wins did he really add to the Marlins final tally sheet?

Nolan Arenado & Charlie Blackmon

Arenado is a fan and media favorite but outside of the fact he leads the league in RBIs, which Stanton could still steal that lead away from him, he really doesn’t appear near the top in many other stats. Yes, stats alone are not an indicator of how valuable a player is to his team but the reality is there is another player on his team who is either the league leader in a number of stats or sometimes, in my opinion, is just better because every time I watch his team play (and, yes, I have actually seen him play live at Yankee Stadium  and I was impressed) the guy seems to be in the middle of everything offensively going on… Charlie Blackmon, who happens to be on of my finalists.

Goldschmidt is in my mind just so damn consistent and up there every year in the statistics that seem to matter the most and this year he is doing it agin… the is third in RBIs, OBP, HR, Runs scored and sixth in SlgA. And, that is what, I think, hurts him when it comes time for folks to vote on this award, the dude just never stands out! Some day he will win the NL MVP. But it won’t be this year.

Blackmon is my winner. Like I said earlier, he seems to always be in the mix when the Rockies are doing something offensively, and this year he is having a standout season offensively to boot. He Leads the NL in BA, Hits, runs, triples, is second in slugging, third in HRs, and will, by season end, have 100 RBIs.

The real winner when the votes are cast? If Stanton gets 60 HRs some voters will be swayed by that number but I think Blackmon pulls it out in the end.

Steve: This is a tough one. I would give it to Paul Goldschmidt of the Diamondbacks, he has led Arizona to a playoff spot for the first time since 2008. He has been so close before, and like Altuve, he should get it over Stanton, who will finish a close second on my ballot.

That being said, It think Stanton will just edge out Goldy, if in fact he can get to 60 HR this season. My vote is Goldschmidt, but I would bet Stanton gets it by the voters.

3) Who is your AL Cy Young Award winner? Who do you think wins the AL Cy Young Award? Why?

Who wins the AL CY Young… Corey Kluber (left) or Chris Sale?

Archie: Kluber has won me over in this award this season. Sale had the big time lead early before the ASG but Kluber has won it down the stretch.

Don’t be surprised however IF Sale still wins it; those 300 K’s goes a long way in netting votes.

Dan: Corey Kluber gets my vote. He had an absolutely stunning season in which he led the American League with 18 wins. He only had 4 losses, started 28 games in which he had 262 strikeouts and only 36 walks. 8.0 WAR led the American League starters. Also leading ERA with a 2.27 (next closest was Chris Sale at 2.90 who pitched in 15 more innings despite starting 4 more games). Kluber’s WHIP was 0.86. I definitely think he wins the award this year as well. Look at the amazing streak the Indians had in which they won 22 games in a row. Kluber was absolutely lights out during that stretch. I can’t see how you can give it to someone else (besides Chris Sale hitting 300 strikeouts despite posting worse overall numbers than Kluber).

Joe: I like Corey Kluber to win the AL Cy Young Award. Chris Sale is not a bad choice but I think Kluber finished stronger than Sale and his lower, as well as league leading, ERA, WHIP, and 18-4 record combined with 262 strikeouts lets Kluber slip in and grab his second Cy Young.

I also think he gets the award over Sale in a very close vote.

Steve: Another close tight race between Corey Kluber and Chris Sale.

I give it to Sale based on his pure dominance, and his 300 strikeouts. Again, I think that the voters will disagree with me and give it to Kluber. No one has been better than Kluber since the break, and the voters usually go with what have you done for me lately. Kluber has been great, but so has Sale. The Strikeouts give Sale the nod for me, but Kluber wins it for the voters. 

4) Who is your NL Cy Young Award winner? Who do you think wins the NL Cy Young Award? Why? 

Cy Young Race: Kershaw (left) or Scherzer?

Archie: I have a little conflict here as well.

It would be easy at first glance to say Kershaw but my honest opinion would be to vote for Scherzer. Their numbers are comparative and in the end Scherzer put in more innings and has a slight edge in a couple categories like WHIP. I would vote for Max.

Dan: The Nationals have three starters in the running for Rookie of the Year. Those three also are all in the top four for ERA in the National League. Despite Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers leading, I’m going to go with one of the Nationals’ starters. Max Scherzer gets my vote. 2.55 ERA, 7.0 WAR (compared to Kershaw’s 4.9). He had two less wins and two more losses, but he posted a lower WHIP (0.91 compared to Kershaw’s 0.93). He had 263 strikeouts and pitched 26.1 more innings than Kershaw in four more starts.

I think Scherzer will win it, but I definitely won’t be surprised if they, yet again, gave the award to Kershaw. He deserves it, but I think Scherzer deserves it more.

Joe: This is another award I wrangled over. It’s between Clayton Kershaw (of course) and Max Scherzer. 

Scherzer has the slightly better Whip… 0.91 to 0.93, a mere 0.02 points. Kershaw has the better ERA… 2.21 to 2.55.  Kershaw has a better record… 18-4 to Scherzer’s 16-6. Scherzer leads in strikeouts 263 to 200. I give it to Kershaw.

However, I don’t think Kershaw is a lock for the award even though Kershaw has very arguably been the best pitcher in the NL this season. He’s allowed the fewest earned runs per nine innings pitched, leads in many of the statistical categories and his strikeout-to-walk rate is unmatched. But, his injury happened, and he missed six weeks and the Dodgers still ran off to a humongous lead in the standings. I think the voters will take that into consideration and it will swing the award to Scherzer.

Steve: National League Cy Young is going to be tough, but I will give it to Clayton Kershaw, and I think the media will agree with me here. Despite a long injury for Kershaw, he is still going to lead the league in most pitching categories. If, he gets to 19 wins, he should be a lock. Had Scherzer been healthy for the last part of the year, I would probably say he wins it, but Kershaw has been so good on his starts.

5) Who is your AL Manager of the Year? Who do you think wins the AL Manager of the Year? Why?

Can Terry Francona make it 2 AL Manager of the Year Awards in a row?

Archie: Two months ago I had A.J. Hinch as a lock for this; then the Indians went on that tear. I would most definitely now vote for Francona.

What the Indians have done is not only historic but it has been FUN to watch. 

Dan: AL Manager of the Year – Terry Francona.

Why? Look at what he’s done with the Cleveland Indians… 22 game winning streak, fighting for the top overall seed in the playoffs, took over the top American League seed and currently have 100 wins. I don’t think they could have made it that far without his calm and collective attitude and the way he leads a baseball club. He deserves it. He’ll get it.

Joe: I’m picking the Yankees’ Joe Girardi.

No one gave the Yanks a chance to make the playoffs this year, in fact some people predicted a possible last place finish in the AL East. But Girardi managed the Baby Bombers to a playoff berth and for that reason  he is the AL manger of the year.

I think because of their near record win streak (22 straight games) the Indian’s Terry Francona wins it.

Steve: To me it has to be Terry Francona. I give it to the Indians manager due to their massive 22 game winning streak, and a second straight division title. They were all but out of the conversation for best record in the American League at the All Star Break, trailing the Astros by as many as 11 games. Now, they hold a lead over them for the best record.

Francona deserves this award, and I think he gets it.

5) Who is your NL Manager of the Year? Who do you think wins the NL Manager of the Year? Why?

Tore Lovullo

Archie: Hard to deny Dave Roberts this award. Any club that reaches the 100 win total deserves accolades from all.

I think they can pull out at least one more win and I would be voting for Roberts.

Dan: NL Manager of the Year – Torey Lovullo. He has came out of nowhere and brought the Diamondbacks with the first Wild Card slot locked in with, so far, 92 wins heading into the final weekend of regular season baseball. They have shocked me with the way they’ve been playing this season. They would be leading the NL Central and they would be tied for first with the Red Sox in the AL East. This team has impressed tremendously and are the favorites over the Rockies and Brewers for the advancement after the Wild Card play-in game.

I think Lovullo will win it but I wouldn’t be surprised if Dusty Baker wins it for leading the Nationals to the second best record in the NL, three top pitchers in the Cy Young race, and having to deal with a couple major injuries this season.

Joe: The D’backs like the Yankees were not supposed to be in the playoffs this year. Last year the D’backs were 69-93, this year Torey Lovullo has them at 90-plus wins and a wild card spot.

I think the writers will also give the award to Lovullo.

Steve: I give it to Craig Counsell of the Brewers. Who would have thought that the Milwaukee Brewers would be in the playoff conversation not just a wild-card, but a division championship this late in the season. Most experts picked them to finish no better than fourth in the Central, and not even sniffing the playoffs. Counsell has these guys playing some great baseball in all aspect all season. They have a solid pitching staff, and a great offense. He has my vote, though writers tend to vote for managers who actually get in to the playoffs, and because the Brewers are not guaranteed a spot, I think they give it to Torey Lovullo of the Diamondbacks just based on their great season, and heading back to the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

Extra Innings…

Last Wednesday at the Yankees’ afternoon game versus the Twins, Todd Frazier hit a rocket foul ball down the left field lien that unfortunately struck a two-year old girl in the mouth. By all reports… Frazier has been in contact with the family and confirms this… the girl will be OK after some TLC and recovery time. The immediate result is that players, media peeps and fans as well some political folks, have been very outspoken in calling for protective netting to be extended beyond the dugouts to protect fans from similar incidents occurring. Our panel weighs in with their opinions…

And, oh yeah. NY radio sports personality Fran Francesa had this to say about the incident to a caller to his WFAN talk show…  “No, I’m telling you her parents weren’t paying attention. They’ve got to be able to protect… you couldn’t protect the person sitting next to you, in the seat next to you? You couldn’t protect the person next to you?”

Archie: Okay, what is far enough down the line? That is an analyst question I can’t answer. Should it be made mandatory to extend the netting? Do they make it mandatory that kids are not allowed in those “hot zones”? No. So I guess the answer would be the same; leave it up to each club to do the right thing but also leave it up to each individual club to face the liabilities of NOT protecting their spectators. I do believe it is going to take only 1 MAJOR lawsuit to fix this issue.

As far as “who’s” responsible for kids at the ball park? I have to agree to a certain point that IF you elect to bring small kids to the ball park it is totally up to the parent/guardian(in this case, grandparent) to PAY ATTENTION and protect that child. When I go to the ballpark to catch a game I watch EVERY DAMN pitch to ensure I don’t take one in the mouth. 

Dan: I think, in all reality, the nets were fine with where they were. But, for the extra safety concern, just put them to the dug out. That’s as far as the requirement should go. If you want to extend the nets, go ahead. But I definitely think that the end of the dug out is far enough. Too far and the players are basically playing in a huge net. You have to be paying attention when you sit in hot zones. It’ll also say, as a warning, watch out for all flying objects including bats and balls. This doesn’t happen all the time, but this got a lot of coverage because it was a young girl, which can impact a lot of families decisions on attending a game.

I wouldn’t necessarily put the blame on anybody in this situation. I think it was a just a fluke incident that can happen at a stadium which is just part of attending as well as playing. It happened to be a young girl which is a little more concerning and it was a hot shot right in the hot zone. While the parents and child could have definitely been paying more attention and watching out for something like that, these accidents do happen and it’s always sad to see. I wouldn’t blame anybody. You can’t. It’s an accident. Anybody in that seat could have been hit at any given time. It happened to be her. Wish her the best, but it happens. Nobody is at fault.

Joe: I was at that game.I was sitting directly across from where it happened, down the right field line and had a perfect view oft he entire incident. The ball off of Frazier’s bat was a bullet… a direct line drive. When it happened I said, “I hope no one got hit.” Within seconds I could see someone waving for ushers to come down for assistance and said “Oh, (expletive deleted).”

nd then something I have never seen happen at a game happened… Frazier knelt with his chin against his bat rocking slowly… the players all were frozen in time… the umps never asked for the game to continue… the stadium was totally silent… no one moved… there was no noise… time had still still… there was not a sound until the girl was removed..carried from the stands. Then reverent applause and the umps called time in. And, the game continued.

In my opinion, it was an unfortunate accident and I don’t know what could have been done to prevent it from happening. Except… protective netting.

I have always been opposed to the netting because I think it does impede sight lines, especially if a fan wants to take pictures of the game… a fan like myself. However, I have to say, due to the fact of what I witnessed… Pictures ain’t that important, if it can protect a fan from being hit like that little girl was.

As for what Francesa said… The dude is oblivious to reality. He also had the temerity to say later on the show that he has never seen a fan get hit at a game he’s attended and therefore doesn’t understand all the fuss over more protection…. “I’ve been to thousands of games and I’ve been a season-ticket holder at both stadiums. I’ve had tickets in the first row behind the dugout and I’ve never seen anybody get hit in my life.”

Francesa is either lying or needs to put the pipe (or bottle)down… I have been to between 50 and 100 games in my life and I am here to tell you I have at least witnessed ten… most likely many more… fans either get hit by a batted ball or a broken bat , and, yes, sometimes seriously enough where assistance was needed by ballpark personnel. I find his statements totally baffling, appalling and not based in reality.

Steve: They absolutely need to extend the nets. What needs to happen before something happens? Does someone need to die? Well someone almost did, a two year old little girl. It would make perfect sense for them to extend the nets just past the dugout. It will not obscure the view. I have gone to several minor league games, where the net is extended past the dugout, and I have sat right behind the dugout, it makes me feel a lot safer, and again it does not obstruct the view. This needs to happen before something even more serious happens. It plays a tole on the players as well as the fans involved.

His view on Francesa comments:

Are you kidding me? There is no way anyone could have gotten out of the way of a 105 mph hit ball. Even if you had a glove, it wouldn’t matter if you were paying attention or not. The reason this girl got hit was because there was no net protecting the fans. “Blame the parents, blame the grandparents.” That is a crock of crap if you ask me. Francesca should be ashamed of himself for even thinking this.

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