Results tagged ‘ Ryan Braun ’

For MVP: Justin Verlander and Matt Kemp (No…Ryan Braun)

If you accept the premise that Felix Hernandez really was the American League Cy Young Award Winner in 2010, then the conundrum is solved as to who is the American League MVP in 2011.

The premise of a pitcher with a won-loss record of 13-12, who led his league in only one standard category, is that the Cy Young goes not to the most valuable pitcher, but to some kind of statistically “best” one. We can argue forever about whether that’s the way it should be (I don’t think so) or if, even accepting the premise, Hernandez really fulfilled the requirement (I also don’t think so). But the arguments are academic and the precedent is set.

Thus, whatever award can go to the “most valuable” pitcher it is not the Cy Young, and by process of elimination it necessarily must be the MVP. Before the Cy was established in 1956, this was an accepted premise that was applied for starters (Lefty Grove) as early as the first year of BBWAA voting in 1931, and for relievers (Jim Konstanty) as early as 1950. If you were a pitcher, and your team rode you to whatever success it achieved, you could be the MVP.

Seems to me that after the Hernandez victory it’s a little clearer, in fact. If the Cy Young can go to a guy whose only exposure to the pennant race was watching on MLB Tonight, then the guy in the middle of the thing has to get thrown into the MVP consideration.

And that’s Justin Verlander.

You can argue that Miguel Cabrera has had an excellent season, and Victor Martinez, too. Jose Valverde has shed his past unreliability to become a bullpen rock. But the Tigers are where they are because Verlander won 24 games. Period. The Tigers have one twenty-homer man (Cabrera), one 100-RBI man (Cabrera), one six-steal man (Austin Jackson, 22), one nine-hold guy (Joaquin Benoit), two .300 hitters (Cabrera and Martinez), and, until Doug Fister came along, they had one pitcher with an ERA under 4.30 (Verlander).

He’s a one-man team.

All of the other American League candidates are flawed. Bautista hit home runs but is going to finish around 12th in RBI. Granderson may lead the majors in Homers and RBI but his awful secret is that over the last 30 days he’s batted .215 and struck out once in every three at bats and is one of the primary reasons the Yankees should be considered decided underdogs in the ALDS. Gonzalez has had a spectacular year in Boston, but frankly, the Red Sox disaster owes to much more than the fact that their pitching staff is broken.

It’s a perfect storm in the American League voting: no clear position-player winner, and a good division winner carried from start to finish by a pitcher. Verlander should be the first starting pitcher chosen MVP since Roger Clemens in 1986 – but I’m not counting on it.

To me, the National League is a lot less clear. The argument for Matt Kemp, Triple Crown Winner, is inarguable. The problem becomes if he finishes third in batting, or “a few” homers or RBI away from something not done in the National League since 1937 and in either league since 1967 (and remember, even that year Carl Yastrzemski tied for the home run crown – I like to note that Frank Robinson was the last pure winner in 1966).

My argument to this point has been that one other statistic has made Kemp the MVP even if it’s just close on the Triple Crown. He has stolen 40 bases. Consider Jose Canseco’s MVP season in 1988: league-leading 42 homers and 124 RBI, plus he finished fourth with 40 steals. So far this looks a lot like what Kemp may end up with. Except Canseco hit just .309, to finish ninth. Kemp seems a lock to finish third or better in the 2011 NL Batting Race.

It’s a compelling argument, until you consider that Ryan Braun is leading that batting race, and is only five homers and ten RBI behind Kemp, and second to Kemp in runs scored, and will finish seventh or eighth in stolen bases – and all of it, in the crucible that is a pennant race.

If I had a vote – and they will give me one when hell freezes over – I would have to wait until Wednesday’s boxscores are in. A year ago Kemp was on the verge of ruining his career, and he’s done what he’s done in a near vacuum (although Andre Ethier wasn’t a bad foil in the batting order), and in the chaos of the nightmare season at Chavez Ravine. But, as much as I hate to say that the MVP should be decided in the last three days of the season, I’d really need Kemp to win the Triple Crown – or miss it by thismuch – to vote against the guy who put up parallel numbers in the heat of the race.

Oh? Cy Youngs? Anybody who doesn’t vote for Kershaw should be banned for life from major league ballparks. He’s going to win the pitching Triple Crown (K, ERA, Strikeouts) with no support. The American League is Verlander, has been for awhile.

But perhaps the most important thing the writers can do is convene a meeting this winter in which they specify eligibility and criteria for these awards so we don’t have to go through this every freaking year.

Beerless Forecasts

Avast Ye, Matey

Did you see Matt Capps of the Pirates, after Friday Night’s meltdown, warming up before last night’s tilt with the Rockies?

He was wearing a blindfold over his left eye.
Admittedly it was a white sleeve or sock, and it was over the wrong eye, but otherwise it was a mirror image of the Pirates’ old logo (not the ’90s one that appeared to show The Soup Nazi from’Seinfeld.’). And as pitching coach Joe Kerrigan stood next to him, it looked like the Pittsburgh closer had lost a bet, or was trying to do his impression of the late Eddie Feigner from the softball team “The King And His Court,” and couldn’t quite do the whole handkerchief-over-both-eyes-while-pitching trick.
“Capps was turning his head, over-rotating towards 3rd Base, causing his front shoulder to point behind the righthanders’ batter’s box,” Kerrigan tells me by e-mail from Pittsburgh. “You put a patch over his left eye, so his right eye can see the target, hence he can’t overturn. Simple playground stuff.”
Love that.
Capps and Kerrigan, according to the Pirates’ game broadcast Saturday night, were also looking at tape of the reliever’s salad days of 2007 and the comparisons to this season are not happy ones. His arm has been well behind his body – he’s expending his energy long before his arm is fully extended and he’s ready to release the ball. Kerrigan apparently diagnosed the problem as he described in the e-mail — over-rotation — and came up with the simple solution for a bullpen session (the out-of-synch release might also explain Capps’ elbow bruising and discomfort).
Unfortunately I don’t think Capps can use it in a game.
HOW ABOUT USING GAMEL IN A GAME?

Did the Brewers really call up one of the game’s top two or three power prospects so he could sit behind the bench for a week, get some DH work during inter-league, and then send him back down?
Apparently.
Third Baseman Mat Gamel was summoned Wednesday from Nashville and entering play today had gotten exactly one at bat. Even when Rickie Weeks took himself out of this afternoon’s game with soreness in his wrist, the Brewers simply moved Craig Counsell from third to second, and inserted Bill Hall at third.
Milwaukee started the day with the second best record in the NL, Counsell has been hot lately, and Ken Macha and Doug Melvin have done a lot more managing and general managing than I have, but the week’s inactivity makes no sense, not in a division as competitive and seemingly as balanced as the Central. The Brewers say they want to treat him more like Prince Fielder in 2005 than Ryan Braun in 2007 but that may not be a luxury they can afford. Gamel is either a vital component (if he can improve to bare-minimum status defensively at third), or a wonderful trading chip (if he can’t, and he has to become a corner outfielder, first baseman, or DH, none of which Milwaukee needs).
Why just have him sit around?
In short, play him (at Milwaukee or Nashville), or trade him!
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