Results tagged ‘ American League ’

Revisiting My 2016 Preseason Predictions

I’ve been making preseason predictions for each of the past five years for how I feel each team will fare at the end of the season, and it never fails that I come up a long way from reality when all is said and done. This year is certainly no different.

In the American League East, I wasn’t too far off, but I still picked the Orioles to finish fourth, who are now currently in first place in the division. Likewise, in the American League Central, the Tigers have underperformed in my mind, but not as much as the Royals, who I picked to finish first, but are in third. The AL West has seen things going close to how I saw them, but I thought the Angels would be much better than they have been. Even so, I once again have been way off.

Things have gone a little better for me in the National League, however.

I haven’t done terribly in the East, where my pick of the Mets to be leading the division has been the only pick to go a little off track. For the Central, things have gone even better, with the top three teams lining up exactly where I saw them. In the West, I bought into the hype of the Diamondbacks, who sit in last place, despite me selecting them to come in first. But the Giants look destined to finish in first, so I would seem to be right with that one at least.

At the end of the day, there’s still a good amount of season left. Anything can and will happen as teams look to make their powerful pushes towards the postseason. Your guess is as good as mine as to where they’ll line up.

2016 Award Frontrunners at the All-Star Break

Sunday marked the last day of MLB games until Friday, and although the baseball world is currently focused on San Diego and the All-Star game that is set to take place tonight, I wanted to quickly focus my attention on the players who have posted amazing performances throughout the first half of the season.

For this post, I’m covering the players who I feel stand the best chance right now (given, it’s still early) of winning the three major awards of Most Valuable Player, Rookie of the Year and Cy Young. All three awards have multiple players who can be argued as being deserving, but I have my own opinion as to who deserves each award the most at this point in the season.

Most Valuable Player Award

American League: Mark Trumbo

Sitting as the league leader in home runs at the All-Star break, there is no true competition for Mark Trumbo when it Mark Trumbocomes to American League MVP. Trumbo has been absolutely tremendous for the Orioles all season long, batting .288 while driving in 68 runs with 28 homers, and is a huge part in them sitting in first place. Unless things fall apart for Trumbo, he should easily walk away with the award at season’s end.

National League: Kris Bryant

There are far more options to choose from when picking for the National League MVP award, but I’m going with Kris Bryant at the moment. Like the Orioles, the Cubs are in first place large in part due to Bryant’s stellar numbers for yet another season. With 25 home runs, including a three-homer performance earlier in the year, Bryant is truly showing how much of an impact he is in the National League.

Rookie of the Year Award

American League: Nomar Mazara

All season long, Nomar Mazara has wowed fans with his immense power displays that he has been able to put on withMazara each of his eleven home runs. He may not have overwhelming stats, but Mazara has done enough to earn him the American League Rookie of the Year award, in my mind. But even so, there’s a young Tigers’ rookie pitcher by the name of Michael Fulmer who is pressing to overtake Mazara. If Mazara doesn’t keep things going, he may lose out in the end.

National League: Corey Seager

This was one of the most difficult awards to decide upon. From Trevor Story to Kenta Maeda, there are several great options to choose from. But I wound up going with Corey Seager, who was the favorite to win the award even before the season began. With so many top notch NL rookies, this award could truly come down to the wire, but with Seager having blasted 17 homers with 42 RBI’s, all while hitting .297, I’ll go with him for now.

Cy Young Award

American League: Steven Wright

The most recent knuckleball pitcher to win the Cy Young award came back in 2012 when R.A. Dickey took home theKershaw honor. However, it appears that things may play out that way again this year. Steven Wright has been extremely consistent throughout this season with the Red Sox, breaking out as their true ace of the staff, despite David Price being on the team. Although his strikeout totals aren’t that high, Wright’s AL-best 2.68 ERA really stands out.

National League: Clayton Kershaw

Clayton Kershaw is currently on the disabled list, but as long as it doesn’t impact the rest of the season, Kershaw looks to be in line for yet another Cy Young award. His closest competition at the moment, Madison Bumgarner, has been just as good as Kershaw, having notched three more starts than Kershaw and holding a 1.94 ERA to Kershaw’s 1.79. When it comes down to it, though, I still see Kershaw pulling out the award win.

Whether or not you agree or disagree with my picks for who deserves each award at this point in the season, one thing is for sure: there is still a lot of season left where any player can have anything happen. With 19 of the 30 teams at .500 or better, in terms of wins-losses go, regardless of the award races, the games following the mid-summer classic are sure to make for an exciting second half.

2016 MLB All-Star Game Rosters Revealed

The American League and National League rosters for the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game, set to be held out at Petco Park, in San Diego, California, on July 12th (you can watch it on FOX at 8:00 Eastern) were released on Tuesday evening.

As always, the baseball world is hard at work discussing the rosters, debating over which players were snubbed from the teams, which players didn’t necessarily (in their eyes) deserve to make the cut, and (most importantly) which team they think will win when all is said and done. But that comes with each and every year and is part of what makes things so fun.

Here are the official All-Star rosters:

American League

Starters

C: Salvador Perez (4th)

1B: Eric Hosmer (1st)

2B: Jose Altuve (4th)

SS: Xander Bogaerts (1st)

3B: Manny Machado (3rd)

OF: Mike Trout (5th), Jackie Bradley Jr. (1st), Mookie Betts (1st)

DH: David Ortiz (10th)

Pitchers

LHP: Chris Sale (5th)

RHP: Craig Kimbrel (5th)

LHP: Zach Britton (2nd)

LHP: Andrew Miller (1st)

RHP: Wade Davis (2nd)

RHP: Marco Estrada (1st)

LHP: Cole Hamels (4th)

RHP: Danny Salazar (1st)

RHP: Steven Wright (1st)

RHP: Dellin Betances (3rd)

RHP: Brad Brach (1st)

RHP: Alex Colome (1st)

RHP: Kelvin Herrera (2nd)

RHP: Will Harris (1st)

Reserves

C: Stephen Vogt (2nd), Matt Wieters (4th)

1B: Miguel Cabrera (11th)

2B: Robinson Cano (7th)

SS: Francisco Lindor (1st), Eduardo Nunez (1st)

3B: Josh Donaldson (3rd)

OF: Carlos Beltran (9th), Ian Desmond (2nd), Mark Trumbo (2nd)

DH: Edwin Encarnacion (3rd)

National League

Starters

C: Buster Posey (4th)

1B: Anthony Rizzo (3rd)

2B: Ben Zobrist (3rd)

SS: Addison Russell (1st)

3B: Kris Bryant (2nd)

OF: Bryce Harper (4th), Yoenis Cespedes (2nd), Dexter Fowler (1st)

Pitchers

LHP: Clayton Kershaw (6th)

RHP: Jake Arrieta (1st)

RHP: Noah Syndergaard (1st)

RHP: Stephen Strasburg (2nd)

LHP: Madison Bumgarner (4th)

RHP: Jose Fernandez (2nd)

RHP: Johnny Cueto (2nd)

LHP: Jon Lester (4th)

RHP: Julio Teheran (2nd)

RHP: Jeurys Familia (1st)

RHP: Kenley Jansen (1st)

RHP: Mark Melancon (3rd)

RHP: A.J. Ramos (1st)

RHP: Fernando Rodney (3rd)

Reserves

C: Jonathan Lucroy (2nd), Wilson Ramos (1st)

1B: Paul Goldschmidt (4th), Wil Myers (1st)

2B: Daniel Murphy (2nd)

SS: Corey Seager (1st)

3B: Nolan Arenado (2nd), Matt Carpenter (3rd)

OF: Carlos Gonzalez (3rd), Odubel Herrera (1st), Marcell Ozuna (1st) Adam Duvall (1st)

Final Five

The final rosters for the 2016 All-Star game aren’t complete just yet, however. There is still one final spot up for grabs in the American League and National League. Which players fill those roles comes down to the fans. From now until Friday at 4:00 p.m. Eastern, you have the opportunity to vote for either Brandon Belt, Ryan Braun, Jake Lamb, Starling Marte or Trevor Story in the NL, and Ian Kinsler, Evan Longoria, Dustin Pedroia, Michael Saunders or George Springer  the AL.

For what it’s worth, I plan to cast my vote for Jake Lamb and George Springer, who are each having somewhat under-the-radar, but superb years. You can pick whoever you want to by going HERE and casting your ballot. It should be interesting to see how the game goes a week from tonight.

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – June 30th)

With the first three months of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been 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 have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads 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 – Edwin Encarnacion, Kevin Pillar and Corey Seager (80).

Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts (345)

Most Hits – Jose Altuve (111)

Highest Average – Jose Altuve (.357)

Highest OBP – Jose Altuve (.432)

Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.672)

Most Runs – Mookie Betts (67)

Most Doubles – David Ortiz (31)

Most Triples – Adam Eaton (7)

Most Home Runs – Todd Frazier and Mark Trumbo (23).

Most RBI’s – Edwin Encarnacion (70)

Most Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (64)

Most Strikeouts – Chris Davis (107)

Most Stolen Bases – Jonathan Villar (26)

Most Caught Stealing – Jonathan Villar (9)

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (14)

Most Hit By Pitch – Derek Dietrich and Brandon Guyer (15).

Most Sacrifice Flies – Chris Carter (7)

Most Total Bases – Manny Machado (184)

Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (50)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Dustin Pedroia (14)

Most Ground Outs – Adam Eaton (132)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Paul Goldschmidt (1,535)

Most Plate Appearances – Mookie Betts and George Springer (370).

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Chris Sale (13)

Most Losses – Chris Archer (11)

Best ERA – Clayton Kershaw (1.79)

Most Games Started – Eleven players tied for most (17).

Most Games Pitched – Hector Neris (42)

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia (27)

Most Innings Pitched – Clayton Kershaw (121)

Most Hits Allowed – Dallas Keuchel and Mike Pelfrey (118).

Most Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (64)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (61)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Chris Young (22)

Most Strikeouts – Max Scherzer (148)

Most Walks – Francisco Liriano (54)

Most Complete Games – Five players tied for most (3).

Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)

Best Opponent Avg. – Marco Estrada (.168)

Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (37)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (19)

Most Wild Pitches – Sonny Gray (11)

Most Balks – Matt Andriese (4)

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (28)

Most Pickoffs – Four players tied for most (4).

Most Batters Faced – Dallas Keuchel (468)

Most Pitches Thrown – Madison Bumgarner (1,814)

Who I’d Like to See in the 2016 Home Run Derby

The 2016 MLB Home Run Derby is exactly one month away, and I’m already excited. Although the official All-Star game is the must-see event in the mind of many baseball fans of what has become a three-day spectacle, for me, the Home Run Derby is the most thrilling of all the events.

With the rules of the derby being changed last year back to just eight players, and with hitters going up against a clock instead of ten outs, many baseball fans had a negative reaction to the change, but I truly liked it. I feel that it made things more fun to watch overall, and should do so again this time around. This year, the derby is taking place at Petco Park in San Diego. Not known as a hitters’ park, it should be interesting to see how the derby goes, but the players I chose each have no trouble hitting a ball out of any ballpark.

I picked my players based on four specific chriteria per league: I chose the current league leader, a rookie, an under-the-radar power hitter, and a personal selection. By choosing guys with a lot of power, but also by selecting a wide range of players, I think the players I went with for the American League and National League would make for a fantastic 2016 Home Run Derby.

American League

Mark Trumbo: After having a somewhat subpar season by his standards in 2015, Trumbo has exploded back onto the scene this season, becoming the first player to reach the 20-homer mark in early June. Having the most home runs in the American League, in addition to his tremendous power and ability to hit numerous blasts, Trumbo was the easiest pick of the American League half of things.

Nomar Mazara: This time last year, the majority of baseball fans had never even heard of Nomar Mazara. However, more and more fans are hearing of him now. Mazara holds unbelievable power, and should have the platform to show it off at the home run derby this year. Being a rookie, it would certainly bring interest into the derby, as fans look to see how the young star-in-the-making fares.

Khris Davis: Baltimore’s Chris Davis has been known for his power for quite some time now, but the Athletics’ own Khris Davis (with a ‘K’) isn’t far behind in that department. Originally a member of the Brewers, Davis has been on a tear ever since switching teams, and has shown off his power on numerous occasions this season. I feel that he needs to be one of the players in the derby this year.

Nelson Cruz: There are a lot of different ways this pick could have gone, and I spent a great amount of time debating it in my mind, but I wound up landing on Cruz. Known simply as the ‘Boomstick’, Cruz carries a ton of power in his bat, and would be some major competition for the National League side to compete with. Playing his home games at Safeco Field, Cruz is used to hitting at pitcher-friendly parks, and would do well at Petco.

National League

Nolan Arenado: There’s no doubt that Arenado has power to burn, tying for the most homers in all of baseball last season with 42, and well on his way to reaching that mark yet again. By playing in Colorado, Arenado doesn’t get the attention that he would if he were to be playing in a larger market, but he’s leading the National League in homers yet again and it would be a disservice to the event if Arenado didn’t participate.

Corey Seager: When Corey Seager came up at the final portion of last season and put on a hitting show, you could immediately tell that all of the hype was warranted, which hasn’t always been the case historically. This season, he’s done nothing but improve upon that hype, in this still his rookie year. Having a three-homer game earlier this season, the power is definitely there for Seager, and I think he’d do well in the derby.

Wil Myers: Injuries have plagued Myers over the course of his career, but without putting a jinx on him, it looks like Myers in on the verge of a major breakout season. Although he was once a consensus top-five prospect, I don’t feel he’s getting the attention he deserves. The derby would allow for that, in addition to his participation giving the hometown fans someone to root for, like Todd Frazier in Cincinnati last year.

Yoenis Cespedes: A home run derby without Cespedes just wouldn’t be the same after seeing what he’s capable of in previous derby spectacles. For that reason, I chose him as my fourth pick to take part in the derby. While Cespedes has struggled at time this season following a red hot start, he has the ability to put on an absolute show for both number of homers and distance in which he hits them, making him worthy of selection.

So, those are my picks for who I’d like to see in the 2016 Home Run Derby down at Petco Park on July 11th. Odds are that not all of them will be selected, but I truly hoped the majority of them are in the derby. It would make the Home Run Derby very exciting to watch, in my opinion.

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – May 31st)

With the first two months of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been 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 have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads 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 – Matt Duffy and Edwin Encarnacion (54).

Most At-Bats – Mookie Betts (230)

Most Hits – Daniel Murphy (77)

Highest Average – Daniel Murphy (.397)

Highest OBP – Ben Zobrist (.445)

Highest SLG – David Ortiz (.716)

Most Runs – Mookie Betts (49)

Most Doubles – David Ortiz (23)

Most Triples – Thirteen players tied for most (4).

Most Home Runs – Nolan Arenado and Todd Frazier (16).

Most RBI’s – David Ortiz (47)

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (49)

Most Strikeouts – Trevor Story (76)

Most Stolen Bases – Jonathan Villar (19)

Most Caught Stealing – Norichika Aoki and Mallex Smith (7).

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Bryce Harper (13)

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (14)

Most Sacrifice Flies – Chris Carter and Bryce Harper (5).

Most Total Bases – David Ortiz (126)

Most Extra Base Hits – David Ortiz (38)

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – Albert Pujols (10)

Most Ground Outs – Adam Eaton (90)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Mike Trout (1,038)

Most Plate Appearances – Mookie Betts (246)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Jake Arrieta, Chris Sale and Stephen Strasburg (9).

Most Losses – Five players tied for most (7).

Best ERA – Clayton Kershaw and Jake Arrieta (1.56).

Most Games Started – Forty-six players tied for most (11).

Most Games Pitched – Zach Duke (28)

Most Saves – Jeurys Familia and Jeanmar Gomez (17).

Most Innings Pitched – Clayton Kershaw (86.2)

Most Hits Allowed – Wily Peralta (85)

Most Runs Allowed – Anibal Sanchez (47)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Dallas Keuchel (43)

Most Home Runs Allowed – Max Scherzer (15)

Most Strikeouts – Clayton Kershaw (105)

Most Walks – Tom Koehler (35)

Most Complete Games – Four players tied for most (3).

Most Shutouts – Clayton Kershaw (3)

Best Opponent Avg. – Jake Arrieta (.161)

Most Games Finished – Jeurys Familia (25)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (17)

Most Wild Pitches – Sonny Gray (9)

Most Balks – Matt Andriese and Joakim Soria (3).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (15)

Most Pickoffs – Nick Tropeano (4)

Most Batters Faced – Johnny Cueto (318)

Most Pitches Thrown – Justin Verlander (1,191)

Latest MLB Leaders (April 3rd – April 30th)

With the first month of the 2016 MLB season in the books, I thought I’d take the first day of the new month to recap the season thus far. It’s been 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 have taken place so far this year, I decided to make a list of different categories and beside them name the player(s) that leads 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 – David Peralta (26)

Most At-Bats – Jean Segura (111)

Most Hits – Jean Segura (37)

Highest Average – Aledmys Diaz (.423)

Highest OBP – Dexter Fowler (.474)

Highest SLG – Aledmys Diaz (.732)

Most Runs – Josh Donaldson (24)

Most Doubles – Four players tied for most (11).

Most Triples – Jackie Bradley Jr. (4)

Most Home Runs – Nolan Arenado and Trevor Story (10).

Most RBI’s – Robinson Cano, Bryce Harper and Anthony Rizzo (24).

Most Base On Balls – Paul Goldschmidt (25)

Most Strikeouts – Justin Upton (38)

Most Stolen Bases – Jose Altuve (9)

Most Caught Stealing – Cesar Hernandez, Mallex Smith and George Springer (4).

Most Intentional Base On Balls – Brandon Crawford and Joe Mauer (5).

Most Hit By Pitch – Brandon Guyer (6).

Most Sacrifice Flies – Seven players tied for most (3).

Most Total Bases – Manny Machado and Trevor Story (64).

Most Extra Base Hits – Four players tied for most (17).

Most Grounded Into Double Plays – David Freese and Dustin Pedroia (6).

Most Ground Outs – Yunel Escobar (46)

Most Number Of Pitches Faced – Hunter Pence (497)

Most Plate Appearances – Jean Segura (116)

MLB LEADERS (AL and NL) – PITCHING

Most Wins – Four players tied for most (5).

Most Losses – Brett Cecil (5)

Best ERA – Jordan Zimmermann (0.55)

Most Games Started – Chris Archer and Zack Greinke (6).

Most Games Pitched – Zach Duke and Neftali Feliz (14).

Most Saves – Kenley Jansen (9)

Most Innings Pitched – Chris Sale (38)

Most Hits Allowed – Zack Greinke (47)

Most Runs Allowed – Jorge De La Rosa (24)

Most Earned Runs Allowed – Jorge De La Rosa and Zack Greinke (23).

Most Home Runs Allowed – Seven players tied for most (7).

Most Strikeouts – David Price (46)

Most Walks – Yordano Ventura (20)

Most Complete Games – Seven players tied for most (1).

Most Shutouts – Six players tied for most (1).

Best Opponent Avg. – Danny Salazar (.139)

Most Games Finished – Jeanmar Gomez (12)

Most Double Plays Achieved – Martin Perez (11)

Most Wild Pitches – Trevor May (5)

Most Balks – Twelve players tied for most (1).

Most Stolen Bases Allowed – Noah Syndergaard (9)

Most Pickoffs – Four players tied for most (2).

Most Batters Faced – Zack Greinke (166)

Most Pitches Thrown – Chris Archer (586)

My Initial 2016 MLB All-Star Game Ballot

We aren’t even a month into the baseball season, and the 2016 Major League Baseball All-Star game ballot has already been released. I feel it’s a little too early to be casting votes for the Midsummer Classic, as some superstar players have gotten off to rough starts and will likely get back to their former glory by the time the All-Star game arrives on July 12th out in San Diego, while some previously unknown players who have busted out of the gate will likely be merely trickling along by that time.San Diego

But even so, I decided to go ahead and post a blog on the subject, regardless of the earliness of it all.

Voting itself is simple. Although there are no longer paper ballots that you can pick up and fill out at your local ballpark, you can head over to MLB.com and fill out an online ballot with the player you feel most deserves the honor for each position. You can vote up to 5 times per day, and 35 times total, for the players of your choice. (Voting is open until June 30th.)

Due to the All-Star game still being over two months away, I divided things up a bit this year. I’m going to go ahead and cast 15 votes for the players I feel are All-Star worthy as of now (the players discussed below), with a plan to go back and cast my other 20 available votes in the final week leading up to the actual game. Odds are, at least a few of them will be different, but as for right now, here are the players at each position that I feel are deserving of playing in the 2016 MLB All-Star game:

FIRST BASE:  Joe Mauer (AL),  Adrian Gonzalez (NL)

With guys such as Eric Hosmer, Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis to choose from in the American League portion of things, this wasn’t necessarily an easy decision, but I ended up going with Joe Mauer. Leading the pack in batting average, Mauer has really gotten off to a nice start of what looks to be a bounce back season.

For the National League, I chose Adrian Gonzalez. He is second in the National League first basemen group in average, and is off to an equally good start as Joe Mauer. Amazingly, Joey Votto, Freddie Freeman and Anthony Rizzo are all batting down around .200, making this a somewhat easy choice.

SECOND BASE: Ian Kinsler (AL),  Neil Walker (NL)

Picking between Jose Altuve and Ian Kinsler was rather difficult, as both have stats very similar to the other. In the end, however, I chose Kinsler for the all-around game he brings to the table. While Altuve has had a hot bat to begin the season, it’s Kinsler who I feel can continue to hold his streak the longest.

There are multiple options for National League secondbaseman, with Daniel Murphy and Jean Segura’s high averages jumping out as All-Star worthy. But I wound up picking Neil Walker, who has a combination of a good average, along with a high early homer total that make him All-Star game worthy.

SHORTSTOP:  Carlos Correa (AL),  Zack Cozart (NL)

After winning the 2015 American League Rookie of the Year award, I currently have Carlos Correa being the AL starting shortstop at the All-Star game as well. Correa plays a great defense and has just as much pop in his bat as anyone around baseball. Therefore, I picked him on my ballot.

The National League shortstop spot goes to Zack Cozart in my mind. While Trevor Story leads the pack in homers and RBI’s, the majority of those came during his extremely hot (and historic) first several games. Recently, Story has cooled off a ton, and the shortstop spot is Cozart’s to lose, in my opinion.

THIRD BASE: Manny Machado (AL),  Nolan Arenado (NL)

There are a ton of worthy candidates in the American League for All-Star game third baseman, but, unfortunately, I could only choose one on my ballot. Josh Donaldson, Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos and even Adrian Beltre all have cases. But I went with Manny Machado, who has been incredible to start the season.

Going against Maikel Franco and Kris Bryant was extremely hard to do, especially with them getting off to good starts, but I didn’t go with either of them. Instead, I went with Nolan Arenado. Although his stats aren’t much better than any of the other options, Arenado is one of the best both offensively and defensively at the position.

CATCHER:  Salvador Perez (AL), Wellington Castillo  (NL)

Though his average is a good distance away from the magic .300 mark, Salvador Perez is deserving of the All-Star catcher slot. He is having a great season in Kansas City, once again, and easily earns my vote. Always consistently good, Perez is one of the best catchers in the game, and should be honored as such.

Yadier Molina is always the heavy favorite for National League starting catcher, and he is once again on top in batting average. But I didn’t go with Molina. Instead, I went with breakout catcher, Wellington Castillo. Castillo is having a great year to this point, and he has a very good case for being named the starter in July.

DESIGNATED HITTER: David Ortiz

David Ortiz could be hitting .100 by the time the All-Star game rolls around and he still would be worthy of the vote. Being his final season, and with all he’s done over his career, he deserves it no matter what. But the stats are there, regardless. Ortiz more than deserves to play in his final All-Star game.

OUTFIELD

It’s never easy to narrow down several dozen players to three All-Star picks for each league, especially when you could make a strong case for a dozen of the outfield choices for each league, but it’s a requirement when casting a ballot. So, while I voted for the players who I felt were All-Star caliber players at the moment, there are a few more I would’ve liked to vote for, but couldn’t. Keep that in mind when reading the outfielders I selected for the American League and National League:

Mark Trumbo, Mike Trout and Steven Souza Jr. (AL)

Picking Mark Trumbo and Steven Souza Jr. was a bit tough, but they’re having too good of seasons for me to ignore. Although they likely won’t be the top vote-getters when all is said and done, they earn my vote for now. Mike Trout, on the other hand, was a no-brainer. Despite a slow start, Trout is heating things up, and is still a superstar.

Bryce Harper, Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun (NL)

As with Mike Trout in the AL, picking Bryce Harper for National League outfield was the easiest choice of the three. But after a lot of debate between the candidates to fill the other places, I wound up choosing Yoenis Cespedes and Ryan Braun, who are each having uniquely great seasons, and are each very exciting players to watch.

Donaldson and Harper Win MVP Award

The Most Valuable Player award was first given out in 1911 to Ty Cobb of the American League and Frank Schulte of the National League. Originally known as the Chalmers award, named after Hugh Chalmers, the award didn’t catch on as well as had been hoped, and therefore was discontinued after the 1914 season.

In 1922 the League Awards were established to honor the baseball player in the American League (National League began being recognized in 1924) who provided the greatest all-around service to their club. The winner — who received a medal and cash for winning — was voted on by a committee of eight baseball writers, with a player not being able to win more than once. Like the Chalmers awards, these awards didn’t last long, stopping in 1929.

Finally in 1931 the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Most Valuable Player award was established, which is the award still given out today.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Most Valuable Player award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player fourteen points, a second place vote gets nine points, a third place vote receives eight points, a fourth place vote is worth seven points, and so on, all the way until tenth place for one point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

There is no specific criteria for the voters to use when choosing the Most Valuable Player, but some suggested attributes include value of a player to his team (strength of offense and defense), number of games played, and a player’s overall character, disposition, loyalty and effort.

The 2015 Major League Baseball Most Valuable Player award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Thursday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Josh Donaldson

Finalists: Lorenzo Cain, Josh Donaldson and Mike Trout

Winner: Josh Donaldson

Thoughts On Josh Donaldson Winning

Anytime a players posts a .297 average with 41 home runs and 123 RBI’s, they have to be considered as a very strong candidate for Most Valuable Player. That’s exactly what Josh Donaldson was able to do this season, and he was the Donaldsonfavorite heading into the award announcement on Thursday night.

Josh Donaldson wound up winning by a fairly large margin, amassing a total of 385 points off of 23 out of 30 first place votes, with Mike Trout getting the other 7 first place votes and 304 total points, and Lorenzo Cain placing third with 225 points of his own.

This marks the third time that Trout has finished second in the American League MVP voting, joining him with Mickey Mantle for second most runner up finishes in baseball history. But with the year Donaldson had, you simply had to pick him to take home the honor.

Helping the Blue Jays make the playoffs for the first time since 1993, Donaldson came up time and time again throughout the year for Toronto, and proved his value in some very big spots. He becomes just the second player in Blue Jays team history to win the Most Valuable Player award.

If Donaldson can keep it up and post another incredible season in 2016, it very well may not be his last time in the running for the award.

NATIONAL LEAGUE MOST VALUABLE PLAYER

Original Pick: Bryce Harper

Finalists: Paul Goldschmidt, Bryce Harper and Joey Votto

Winner: Bryce Harper

Thoughts On Bryce Harper Winning

There were three finalists for the National League Most Valuable Player award, but there was truly only one choice. The year Bryce Harper had made him more than deserving of the award in the minds of many people. Inevitably, the Baseball Writers Association of America agreed.Harper

Bryce Harper received all 30 first place votes for a collective 420 points. Paul Goldschmidt received 234 points, and Joey Votto got 175 point from the voters, earning him a third place finish.

At 23 years of age (Harper just turned 23 in October), Harper becomes the youngest player to ever win the MVP by a unanimous vote, and just the seventh all-time. In addition, Harper’s MVP is the first in Washington franchise history.

Batting .330 with 42 home runs, combined with a .460 OBP due to 124 walks, made Harper the easy pick for the award. While the Nationals didn’t make it to the postseason — a factor that has played a large part in the voting in recent years — it didn’t truly matter. His stats were more than worthy of him being the first player since Albert Pujols in 2008 to win MVP from a team that didn’t reach the playoffs.

Finally able to have a fully healthy season after battling injuries over the early part of his career, Harper ultimately was able to break out as a superstar, and all signs point to him being able to keep it up as he matures into his prime.

Both Josh Donaldson and Bryce Harper had terrific seasons in which they came up time and time again all season long for their given teams, making them very valuable. Moving forward, they will undoubtedly be in the MVP conversation in future seasons. It should be interesting to see which players emerge to challenge them in 2016.

Keuchel and Arrieta Win Cy Young Award

The Cy Young award — named after the Hall of Fame pitcher who died in 1955 — was first handed out in 1956 to Don Newcombe, with the goal of recognizing the “most valuable pitcher” from each season. The first eleven years of the award saw one pitcher per year receiving the honor, but in 1967 the Cy Young began being handed out to a pitcher from each league who was voted on as the best from the season.

Voting for the award is fairly straightforward.

Two writers from each city of both the American League and National League make up the Baseball Writers’ Association of America (BBWAA) voters for the Cy Young award, making a total of thirty voters for each league (fifteen teams, with two voters per city). A first place vote earns a player seven points, a second place vote gets four points, a third place vote receives three points, a fourth place vote is worth two points, with a fifth place vote earning a single point. Once added up, the player with the highest overall total wins.

The 2015 Major League Baseball Cy Young award winners for both the American League and National League were announced Wednesday night on MLB Network. Here are the winners, along with my thoughts on each:

AMERICAN LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: David Price

Finalists: Sonny Gray, Dallas Keuchel and David Price

Winner: Dallas Keuchel

Thoughts On Dallas Keuchel Winning

Things couldn’t have been any closer statistically between Dallas Keuchel and David Price. Keuchel posted a 2.45 ERA on the season compared to Price’s 2.48 mark; Keuchel won 20 games, while Price netted 18; Price won in the strikeoutDallas Keuchel race, but only by a total of nine punchouts. To make a long story short, their seasons were nearly identical.

Because of the close race, I unsuccessfully picked Price to win, but Keuchel ultimately had a slight edge by pitching 232 innings that included three complete games and two shutouts.

In addition, Keuchel set the record for most games won at home in a single season without a single loss, with 15 (the previous record was 13). For those reasons, the end result wasn’t as close as many had predicted.

Dallas Keuchel won the Cy Young award fairly easily, receiving 22 of the 30 first place votes for a total of 186 points, with David Price coming in second with 143 points and 8 first place votes, and Sonny Gray coming in third with a total of 82 points.

The season Dallas Keuchel had was inarguably unbelievable, and it should be very interesting to see if he can keep it up moving forward. Keuchel becomes the first Astros pitcher to win the Cy Young award since 2004, when Roger Clemens won the honor.

NATIONAL LEAGUE CY YOUNG

Original Pick: Jake Arrieta

Finalists: Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw

Winner: Jake Arrieta

Thoughts On Jake Arrieta Winning

As close as the American League Cy Young race was, the National League side of things was even closer. With Jake Arrieta, Zack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw all having terrific seasons in vastly different ways, it was difficult to pick between them for who was most deserving.Arrieta

Even so, it was Arrieta who wound up winning the National League Cy Young award. While Greinke’s 1.66 ERA was unfathomable, and Kershaw continued his dominance with 301 strikeouts, Arrieta did something in the second half of the season that I feel truly put him over the top in the Cy Young voting.

Following the All-Star game, Arrieta went on a stretch never before matched in the history of the game. Arrieta posted a mere 0.75 ERA over the entire second half of the season, bringing his ERA down to 1.77 on the year, and ultimately was a big factor in the Cubs making the postseason.

Jake Arrieta got 17 total first place votes for a collective 169 points, barely beating out Zack Greinke’s 147 points including 10 first place selections, and Clayton Kershaw who received three first place votes of his own but finished third with 101 points.

The fifth Cubs pitcher to ever win the award, and the first since Greg Maddux in 1992, Arrieta continues the Cubs’ offseason award winning streak. With Kris Bryant winning the Rookie of the Year and Joe Maddon picking up the Manager of the Year award, the Cubs become the first team with three major award winners since the Mariners in 2001.

With this year’s Cy Young award race being the closest it has been in years, it makes everyone around the baseball world begin to look ahead to the 2016 season. The best teams are usually the ones with great pitching, and it should be fun to see how Dallas Keuchel and Jake Arrieta, and their respective teams, do in 2016 and beyond.

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