Choosing the Most Valuable Player from each league is the most difficult decision of all the major baseball awards handed out at the conclusion of each season. With Rookie of the Year and Cy Young you can usually look solely at which player had the best overall stats, but Most Valuable Player sometimes involves a bit more than just stats. While it’s important that an MVP winner had a great statistical year, the best offensive player doesn’t automatically become the most valuable.
With that said, it was an even more difficult vote for me this season than it has been in seasons past. There are several players, including Josh Donaldson, Mike Trout, and even Chris Davis, who were all extremely valuable members of their given team in the American League. However, in the end, only one player can win the Most Valuable Player award.
Chris Davis posted some unbelievable stats in 2015, of 47 home runs and 117 RBI’s all while hitting a solid .262. Whenever a player does that, they have to at the very least be acknowledged as a valuable member of their given team. Even so, while Davis was arguably the most valuable Orioles player, he was by no means the most valuable player in all of the American League.
That honor came down to Mike Trout (once again) and Josh Donaldson. But while Trout had another incredible statistical season, in which he brought a tremendous amount of value, he won’t be picking up his second straight MVP. Despite an elite on base percentage of .402, along with 41 homers, Trout didn’t quite put up the numbers needed to win the award.
In my opinion, and the opinion of many others around the baseball world, Josh Donaldson is the best choice for the 2015 American League Most Valuable Player award. All season long, Donaldson came up big for the Blue Jays time and time again. Although the likes of Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion did their fare share of carrying the team, it was Donaldson leading the charge. With his 41 homers, league-leading 123 RBI’s and batting average of .301, Donaldson truly earned the MVP.
As I stated in my American League Cy Young post, each season there are usually several pitchers from each league that have incredible seasons, making it difficult to choose between them for who most deserves the Cy Young award. This year, however, it’s really between a mere three. Jake Arrieta, Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke stood out as the best of the best from the National League crop in 2015, but in the end only one can with the National League Cy Young award.
Zack Greinke had a great season, and lead the majors with a superb 1.66 ERA over the course of 222.2 innings pitched. But although he was terrific, he isn’t likely going to win the Cy Young award, which is a true shame. But when you’re going up against Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw, you had to have an utterly historic season. Even though Greinke had a once in a decade year, he didn’t do enough to beat out the competition.
Between Jake Arrieta and Clayton Kershaw, you can’t go wrong. No matter which one you decide on, you’re choosing a player that was the best at what they do in 2015.
With that said, I regrettably had to pass on giving the award to Clayton Kershaw. As hard as that is for me to do with Kershaw putting up a 2.13 ERA and striking out an astonishing 301 batters on the year, I couldn’t pick Kershaw. What makes his season even more remarkable is the fact that he posted these type of numbers after getting off to a poor start to the season. To come as far as he did is unreal.
But with all of that said, the player I went with to with the 2015 National League Cy Young award is Jake Arrieta. As if his 1.77 ERA and record of 22-6 on the year aren’t impressive enough, Arrieta made it all the more impressive by posting the best second half ERA in baseball history. Over the course of his final 15 starts of the 2015 season, Arrieta posted a mere 0.75 ERA and held batters to a .148 average. It’s numbers like those that give Arrieta the slightest of edges for 2015 National League Cy Young.
Each year there are usually several pitchers from each league that have incredible seasons, making it difficult to choose between them for who most deserves the Cy Young award. This year is no different. The American League saw Chris Sale, Chris Archer, Dallas Keuchel and David Price all having great seasons. However, in the end, only one player can take home the Cy Young award.
Chris Sale had a terrific year, setting the all-time strikeout record for a White Sox pitcher with 274, but he is the least likely to win it of the players on this list. Despite his amazing strikeout number, Sale’s 3.41 ERA barely broke the top 10 in the American League, and therefore won’t give him the Cy Young.
On the other hand, Chris Archer does in fact have a chance. Admittedly, it’s a small chance, but his number deserve recognition. Archer posted a 3.23 ERA this season over the course of 34 starts and struck out a respectable 252 batters, giving him true Ace status for the Rays. Even so, this isn’t the year he wins the top pitching award in my mind.
It comes down to David Price and Dallas Keuchel for me, with either one having a strong case for the award. In the end, though, I had to just pass on Keuchel. Although he had an amazing year for the Astros, helping them make the playoffs, he didn’t quite have the numbers, even with his 2.48 ERA.
For me, the difficult but correct choice for the 2015 American League Cy Young award — and likely controversial selection — is the Blue Jays’ star pitcher, David Price. While Price wasn’t overly dominant all season long, his 2.45 ERA was the lowest of his career. While things are going to be very close between Price and Keuchel, I just have to give it to Price, who was a big part of the Blue Jays’ squad this season.
As I stated in my American League Rookie of the Year post, watching young players succeed upon their first year in the majors is always fun. Though it never guarantees that any given player will carry that early success throughout their career, it’s always a good indication of which players are going to be stars for years to come. We certainly had a fair share of those type of players in the National League this season, with players such as Justin Bour, Joc Pederson, Matt Duffy, Jung Ho Kang, Kris Bryant and Noah Syndergaard all having seasons worthy of recognition. However, in the end, only one player can win the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
Joc Pederson began the season on a tear right out of the gate, but he saw a tremendous downfall in his stats as the season went on, especially in the second half. His 25 home runs are impressive, but his .210 average (the lowest of all National League rookies) is definitely not. Therefore, he won’t be getting the award.
Another player who had a noteworthy season but not an award worthy season is Matt Duffy. All season long, Duffy was an impactful player for the Giants, notching 76 RBI’s all while hitting a cool .296, but he doesn’t even finish in the top three or four in my mind.
Likewise, Jung Ho Kang (15 homers and a .287 average) and Noah Syndergaard (3.24 ERA with 166 strikeouts) each had a big impact on their respective teams, but neither of them will take home the top rookie honor for the NL. Even so, both helped their teams make the playoffs, and both should be big impact players moving forward.
Justin Bour would likely receive more consideration if he had recorded a higher batting average, as his 23 home runs and 76 RBI’s are impressive. Bour also held the unique ability of coming up big for the Marlins throughout the season, but there was one player in the National League who simply didn’t give any other player a shot.
There is absolutely only one choice for the National League Rookie of the Year award for 2015, and that’s Kris Bryant. Although he struck out nearly 200 times, Bryant came through for the Cubs more often than not this year. He was in fact a big reason they made it to the postseason, recording 26 homers and 99 RBI’s for 2015. As he begins to gain more experience, expect his numbers only to grow more an more. It’s truly amazing the talent level that Bryant possesses.
Watching young players succeed upon their first year in the majors is always fun. Though it never guarantees that any given player will carry that early success throughout their career, it’s always a good indication of which players are going to be stars for years to come. We certainly had a fair share of those type of players in the American League this season, with players such as Francisco Lindor, Carlos Correa, Miguel Sano, Lance McCullers Jr., and Carson Smith all having seasons worthy of recognition. However, in the end, only one player can win the coveted Rookie of the Year award.
Carson Smith had a terrific rookie season as a reliever with the Mariners. Posting a 2.31 ERA over the course of 70 innings pitched, all while striking out 92, Smith will likely have many more years to come as a top notch relief pitcher. But although his year was great, it’s no where near good enough for the Rookie of the Year.
Lance McCullers Jr., like Smith, is a pitcher who had a good season, making 22 starts for the Astros and striking out more batters than innings pitched. However, also like Carson Smith, McCullers won’t be taking home any hardware in 2015.
Miguel Sano is a solid candidate for the top rookie honor, but he didn’t quite do enough to receive it in my mind. His 18 homers and 52 RBI’s over just 79 games with the Twins is very impressive, but the numbers just aren’t there for him. Even so, Sano is going to be a force to be reckoned with for the next decade or so.
It came down to Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor for me, but Lindor just misses out. He really exploded onto the scene with the Indians back in June and is cementing himself as a future Gold Glove winner. Lindor’s .356 on base percentage and 12 homers as a shortstop are impressive, but not as impressive as another fellow rookie shortstop.
For me, while it was close between Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa, there’s no other choice for 2015 American League Rookie of the Year over Correa. Hyped ever since he was selected as the number one overall draft pick in 2012, Correa burst into the Astros lineup and never looked back. Blasting 22 home runs (an Astros rookie record) and knocking in 68 runs, Correa is sure to be a future All-Star shortstop for Houston.
We’re just a few days into the 2015 MLB postseason, but it’s certainly been exciting so far. A lot of unexpected and equally exciting things are sure to take place over the course of the coming weeks, and it will be something worth watching to see which teams perform as predicted and which teams fail to live up to their full potentials.
However, regardless of that, I’m not going to discuss anything related to the playoffs in this blog post. Instead, I’m going to focus on the Arizona Fall League. More specifically, the through the mail (TTM) autograph requests that I’m sending out to various participating players.
Taking place every October/November — this year it’s October 13th through November 14th — the Arizona Fall League (AFL) provides top Minor League players who didn’t get a full season of playing time, for one reason or another, a chance to show their organization what they can do, as well as provide them with a little more baseball experience. With several of this year’s MLB All-Stars being former AFL players, the best of the best certainly travel through the fall league.
I usually only send off autograph requests in March, for Spring Training, and October, for the Arizona Fall League. Some people send requests to players throughout the season, however, I’ve never really wanted to do that — they’re too busy going around from ballpark to ballpark. In Spring Training and the Arizona Fall League players stay in the same relative area for over a month. In my mind, that provides a better chance of success.
There is a ton of great talent in this year’s Fall League, but I’m not sending to all of them. That would take dozens of stamps to complete, and I simply don’t want to put the money and time into addressing all of those envelopes, only to receive back a few. Last year I sent six autograph requests to the AFL and got back just three. Therefore, I’m only sending to a select group of players this time around, beginning with Josh Hader, Lewis Brinson, A.J. Reed, Brett Phillips, Austin Meadows, Dominic Smith and Alex Reyes.
All of those players have bright futures ahead in the big leagues. In addition, they all have a history of signing through the mail for people. While that doesn’t guarantee that they will sign during the fall league, I’m willing to take that chance.
I may or may not send off a few more requests in the next couple of weeks, depending on who is signing for people. But no matter what, I plan to post an update every time I receive back a few autographs, as I did this year during Spring Training; assuming I get any autographs back at all. So be sure to check back over the next few months to see updates of the autographs I successfully receive.
For the fourth straight season, I made preseason predictions as to how I felt each division would play out, and for the fourth straight season I was extremely far off. For one reason or another, I’m not very good at making division predictions before a given season begins.
This year, though, I hope to finally correctly predict how the postseason will play out. While I’ll likely be off, either by a little or a lot, it’s always fun to make predictions. Who knows? Maybe I’ll get lucky and have a perfect prediction of how the postseason will play out. You never can tell what may happen in October.
WILD CARD GAMES (AL October 6th & NL October 7th)
American League: Yankees Vs. Astros
It’s somewhat difficult to pick a winner of this matchup. Neither one of these teams were locks to make the playoffs at all when the season began, and yet here they are. I would have to say that the Astros’ lineup has more thump in it than the Yankees by a bit, but when it comes down to it, I think the bullpen will decide this game. With Masahiro Tanaka going up against Dallas Keuchel, the relievers could very well be the ultimate factor. With that said, I think the Yankees will be able to hold off the Astros and advance to the next round.
National League: Pirates Vs. Cubs
This is another tough one to call. With it being just one game, and with Jake Arrieta going up against Gerrit Cole, you can basically flip a coin to pick which team is more likely to win. Overall, though, I think that the Cubs will have the added motivation of trying to break the century long World Series drought that will help them prevail. Even so, this is sure to be one of the best games of the entire playoffs when all is said and done. Both teams have great lineups, and each has the ability to make this an unforgettable game.
AMERICAN LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES (Begins October 8th)
Blue Jays Vs. Rangers
Winner: Blue Jays
The Rangers have a good pitching staff as well as a good lineup, but they are quite simply no match for the Blue Jays in my mind. I could easily see this being a three-game sweep by the Blue Jays if Toronto’s pitchers can pitch well. Their roster, consisting of unbelievable power throughout the lineup, is more than enough to dominate the Rangers. Although the Rangers made an impressive run to even make it into the playoffs, their run will likely end in the first true round of the 2015 postseason.
Royals Vs. Yankees
After making it all the way to the World Series in 2014 — they lost to the Giants in game seven — I think the Royals will easily overtake the Yankees. The Royals have a strong team in every single aspect. From their pitching staff to their bullpen to their extremely diverse lineup, the Royals are a very formidable club. Although I’m not sure they will make it to the World Series as they did in 2014, I think they will have no problem overtaking the Yankees, despite the Yankees being a good team as well.
NATIONAL LEAGUE DIVISION SERIES (Begins October 9th)
Dodgers Vs. Mets
This is going to be a series for the ages. The Dodgers have one of the best one-two pitching staff punches in baseball history, with Clayton Kershaw and Zack Greinke, and their offense is one that can score a lot of runs. Likewise, the Mets have a deep pitching staff that starts with phenom Matt Harvey, and they can score runs with the best of them as well. I could see this series going down to a game five, with the team that scores first being the team that holds on to advance to the Championship series.
Cardinals Vs. Cubs
Unfortunately, this is where I see the Cubs’ hopes for a 2015 World Championship coming to an end. They are a good team, as I previously stated, but I don’t think they can withstand the team with the best record from the regular season. The Cardinals are a great team, and they know how to win. I think they will continue their winning ways and push on to the next round of the playoffs. Despite that, it should be fun to watch the Cubs put up a fight to take out the Cardinals. If absolutely everything goes perfect, they could do it, but I just don’t see that happening.
AMERICAN LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (Begins October 16th)
Blue Jays Vs. Royals
Winner: Blue Jays
What a series this would be. Both teams are dynamic, and both teams are very talented. However, both teams can’t win. With that said, I think it will be back and forth series in every sense of the word. I think this series will take six or seven games to decide, and it will be extremely exciting to watch. In the end, however, the Jays have an extremely good team, and I see them knocking the Royals out of contention. Although the Blue Jays haven’t been to the World Series since 1993, I have them making it there this year.
NATIONAL LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES (Begins October 17th)
Cardinals Vs. Dodgers
Another sure to be great series against two great teams, this is yet again a nearly impossible matchup to predict (as many of them are). It could honestly go either way, depending on an exponential number of factors. It will all come down to who is hot at the right times and which team comes up with the clutch hits. But if Kershaw can hold up against the Cardinals (something history has shown he’s had a difficulty doing), I would bet my money on the Dodgers. They have the ability to make it into the World Series.
WORLD SERIES (Begins October 27th)
Blue Jays Vs. Dodgers
If the Blue Jays can’t score runs they can’t win games. That’s the logic I’m using for trying to predict the World Series. Going up against the Dodgers’ unbelievable pitching staff, it may be difficult for Toronto to come out on top. The Blue Jays’ strength is undoubtedly their power bats, which the Dodgers don’t have as much of. But the Dodgers have more than their share of good pitching, which is what usually has the edge. When all is said and done, and the season has completely come to an end, I see the Dodgers as the only team remaining, as World Series Champions.
Leave a comment with who you have winning the World Series. I’d love to hear your picks.
With the 2015 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take today to recap the entire season. It was all very exciting as well as disappointing, depending on how you look at it and who you’re rooting for.
But instead of talking about the events that took place this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that lead that particular category. I’ve done lists like these for the past several years, and they have been well received, so I decided to do it again.
The following lists are categorized into hitting and pitching, but not AL or NL:
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – HITTING
Most Games Played – Manny Machado and Kyle Seager (161).
Most At-Bats – Jose Altuve (638)
Most Hits – Dee Gordon (205)
Highest Average – Miguel Cabrera (.338)
Highest OBP – Bryce Harper (.460)
Highest SLG – Bryce Harper (.649)
Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (122)
Most Doubles – Michael Brantley (45)
Most Triples – Eddie Rosario (15)
Most Home Runs – Chris Davis (47)
Most RBI’s – Nolan Arenado (130)
Most Base On Balls – Joey Votto (143)
Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (208)
Most Stolen Bases – Dee Gordon (58)
Most Caught Stealing – Dee Gordon (20)
Most Intentional Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (29)
Most Hit By Pitch – Anthony Rizzo (30)
Most Sacrifice Flies – Nolan Arenado (11)
Most Total Bases – Nolan Arenado (354)
Most Extra Base Hits – Nolan Arenado (89)
Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Trevor Plouffe (28)
Most Ground Outs – Joe Mauer (242)
Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Joey Votto (3,020)
Most Plate Appearances – Manny Machado (713)
MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING
Most Wins – Jake Arrieta (22)
Most Losses – Shelby Miller (17)
Best ERA – Zack Greinke (1.66)
Most Games Started – Chris Archer (34)
Most Games Pitched – Kevin Siegrist (81)
Most Saves – Mark Melancon (51)
Most Innings Pitched – Clayton Kershaw (232.2)
Most Hits Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (228)
Most Runs Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (122)
Most Earned Runs Allowed – Jeff Samardzija (118)
Most Home Runs Allowed – Kyle Kendrick and James Shields (33).
Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (301)
Most Walks – Tyson Ross (84)
Most Complete Games – Six players tied for most (4).
Most Shutouts – Jake Arrieta, Max Scherzer and Clayton Kershaw (3).
Best Opponent Avg. – Jake Arrieta (.185)
Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (65)
Most Double Plays Achieved – John Lackey and Mike Pelfrey (29).
Most Wild Pitches – Garrett Richards (17)
Most Balks – Al Alburquerque, Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels (4).
Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Jon Lester (44)
Most Pickoffs – Clayton Kershaw (9)
Most Batters Faced – Dallas Keuchel (911)
Most Pitches Thrown – Dallas Keuchel (3,492)
I haven’t been blogging all that often lately, but that’s about to change in a big way.
On Sunday night, I’m planning to post the final “Latest Leaders” blog post of the 2015 season. (I’m not doing it on the first day of the month because the season is ending on the 4th.) So be on the lookout for that.
But that’s just the beginning.
After that post, things will get hectic. On the 5th, I’ll be posting my postseason predictions for the 2015 playoffs. With the two Wild Card games being played on the 6th and 7th, it seemed to be the perfect time to do so. It should be interesting to see how I do with so many teams in the postseason that I hadn’t predicted at the start of the year.
Then, at some point towards the end of that week, I’m going to publish a pair of blog posts on who I feel should be the American League and National League Rookie of the Year, Cy Young winner and MVP’s. I’ll also be giving my reasoning behind those. I’m planning to post the AL version and NL version of each award on back to back days, with a day in between each of the three awards. That may not make a lot of sense, but it will be more understandable as I publish them.
Once the World Series teams have been decided, I’ll also be posting a blog post with my predictions on who will win the World Series. But that’s still several weeks down the road. I have a very busy blog schedule remaining between now and then.
Heading into Friday, the Cubs were a mere one game from clinching a playoff berth. Either a win by the Cubs or a Giants loss would mean October baseball for the Cubs for the first time since back in 2008. However, it appeared that things may have to wait for another day after the Cubs lost to the Pirates 3-2 in the afternoon’s game.
With the loss, attention swung to Oakland, where the Giants were playing that night. If the A’s could pick up the win, the Giants would be eliminated from Wild Card contention, and the Cubs would become the fifth team to clinch a playoff spot. The Giants would end up come through for the Cubs, losing to Oakland, and being knocked out of the running.
Now that the Cubs have officially made the playoffs, it allows baseball fans from all over to set their sights on perhaps bigger things in Chicago. It’s common knowledge for any follower of the game that the Cubs haven’t won the World Series since 1908, having not even reached the Fall Classic since all the way back in 1945. To say fans in Chicago have been waiting for a World Series appearance for awhile would be a vast understatement.
But with the Cubs making the postseason, there officially begins to arise a bit of hope. Perhaps — maybe, just maybe — this is finally the year the Cubs break the longest World Series drought in baseball history and finally go the distance. However, they face a tough road to even reach the final seven game series.
Friday’s game against the Pirates was likely a preview of the Wild Card game set to take place on October 7th, assuming the Cardinals can hold onto their three game lead over the Pirates. But if Friday’s game was any indication, the Cubs will have to be on top of their game to advance to the Divisional Series.
One of the upsides for the Cubs is that they will likely have Jake Arrieta on the mound against Gerrit Cole, instead of Jon Lester as they had on Friday. While Lester is a terrific pitcher, Arrieta has had an unbelievable season and will likely give the Cubs their best shot at advancing.
The Cubs certainly have a good enough lineup to compete with any team they may encounter. With Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo, among many other young stars and veteran players, run scoring shouldn’t be a problem for the most part. On the flip side, while their pitching isn’t terrible by any means, it’s also not that dominant either.
Past Jon Lester and Jake Arrieta, their rotation falls off a little bit, but they are each more than capable of picking up a win, especially with the lineup they have to score runs. In the long run, the Cubs may find they can’t compete with other teams’ pitching staffs, but I feel they will at least make it past the win or go home Wild Card game.
As history has shown, once a team reaches the first five game playoff series, pretty much anything can happen. While on paper the other teams around baseball would appear to have an advantage, October baseball has a way of throwing stats out the window. After all, the Cubs were supposed to still be “a few years away” from contention. They’ve already proved a lot of people wrong by breaking those odds.
This may turn out to be a historical year when all is said and done.