Results tagged ‘ Andrew McCutchen ’

My Vote for National League Most Valuable Player

As I stated in my American League MVP blog post, 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 look solely at which player had the better stats, however, Most Valuable Player involves a bit more than just stats. While it’s important that a MVP winner had a great statistical year, the best offensive player doesn’t automatically become the most valuable, in my opinion.

The way I view things, MVP has to come from a team that had a decent year, but that doesn’t necessarily mean their team had to make the playoffs. Contrary to what many believe, I feel the Most Valuable Player award needs to go to a player on a team that helped their ny_g_goldschmidt1x_sq_600team win the most, regardless of a postseason appearance. Remove them from the lineup and the team would be nowhere near the same.

Therefore, after considering the stats and going over a few other of my “requirements”, I narrowed down my top candidates for National League MVP to Freddie Freeman, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen and Yasiel Puig.

Every single one of those players had a great season, however, I feel McCutchen can quickly be knocked off the list. While he had a good year, McCutchen wasn’t the only reason the Pirates made the postseason for the first time in over twenty years. Other players on the team made a big impact as well. Last season McCutchen batted 10 points higher, blasted 10 more home runs and drove in 12 more runs than he did this year, yet the Pirates finished fourth in their division — further proving my point.

Of the three remaining candidates, in Goldschmidt, Freeman and Puig, as much as I feel Puig made an incredible impact, and initially had him as my vote up until a few days ago, I thought the better of picking him. But that’s not to knock what he did this season. Batting .319 with 19 homers and 42 RBI’s in 104 games, Puig came up in June and helped completely turn around a struggling Dodgers team, taking them from 7.5 games back of first upon his arrival, to winning their division by eleven games. The impact he made is vastly evident, but it wasn’t quite enough, when you take the time to really think about it.

In the end, I went with Paul Goldschmidt for National League Most Valuable Player, despite the fact that the Diamondback’s missed the playoffs.

Goldschmidt had an incredible year, leading all of the National League in home runs (36) and RBI’s (125), to go along with a batting average of .302. The D-back’s didn’t make the postseason, but Goldschmidt came up big in key spots all throughout the entire season to give his team a great chance to win. Therefore, when choosing between Freddie Freeman — even though the Braves made it past the regular season — and Paul Goldschmidt, I had to go with the D-back’s first baseman — the difficult but logical choice.

First Non-Losing Record for Pirates Since 1992

With a win on Tuesday night, against the Milwaukee Brewers, the Pittsburg Pirates secured a non-losing record for the first time since 1992.

Letting that sink in for a minute — their first .500 or above season in 21 years — this is a big deal. Not only for the Pirates and their fans, but for fans of all teams around the baseball world. Anytime a teams goes on such a bad skid for so long, you find yourself rooting for them to succeed. And that’s just what everyone has been doing as of late.

img23466604But now isn’t the time to celebrate, according to many. While the Pirates have accomplished something great, by their recent standards, they still need to keep their focus on winning; which they will assuredly do. Although they will undoubtedly make the playoffs, they still determine their own fate, in terms of whether their playoff appearance will be via a division title, or a Wild Card spot — the title, obviously, being their goal.

Many, however, don’t see the Pirates as having a good enough team to hold off the Cardinals and Reds for first place in the National League Central, but I have to disagree. While the Reds and Cardinals are both excellent teams, the Pirates are a completely different team than they have been in years past. A team that I could see making a deep playoff push.

The Pirates have a decent pitching staff — in veterans A.J. Burnett and Jason Grilli (their closer), as well as rookie Gerritt Cole — and while they haven’t been anywhere near dominant for the majority of the year, they’ve found a way to come through in big games–the same holding true for the rest of the team. Andrew McCutchen has had a great season, and newly acquired players, Justin Morneau and Marlon Byrd, are sure to help out in the final stretch.

With just over three weeks remaining in the regular season, where anything can happen, it’s game on in the National League Central. The Pirates, Cardinals and Reds are likely to exchange places a few times in the standings before all is said and done, but in the end, I feel that the Pirates’ magic they’ve had all season long will continue into the post season.

When Is Intentionally Hitting A Player Justafiable?

Whether it’s Dodgers vs. Diamondbacks, Red Sox vs. Rays, or Reds vs. Pirates, more and more lately have pitchers been hitting opposing teams’ star players for retaliation against what they feel a player, or the team as a whole, did to “show them up”. While there are a few baseball fans who seem to enjoy this kind of baseball, I, along with many other baseball fans, am getting somewhat tired of it all. I have no problem with evening the score when necessary, but things have gone far beyond that recently.

To me, the only time it’s “acceptable” to intentionally hit a batter is after you feel an opposing pitcher did the same to a player on your team, for130611-galleryimg-dodgers-diamondbacks-brawl-yasiel-puig-hit whatever reason. Then, if you feel the need, after you plunk the batter, that should be the end of it. You evened the score. But all of this hitting a batter because he celebrated too much after a home run, or a great play, is absolutely ridiculous.

The best way to get back at that player is to get them out. That’s your job anyway. I’ve never understood getting upset for excessive celebrating anyway. Are you supposed to just hold it all in after you hit a home run, or make a diving play? I don’t think so.

But there’s really not much that can be done to stop it. Some have suggested increasing the penalties for suspensions resulting from intentionally hitting a batter, especially when it’s up around the head, but I don’t think that would do a lot of good.

Like with performance enhancing drugs, you’re going to have players who don’t care about the consequences, no matter how great, and just do what they want. And while worsening suspension time might defer a few, there’s no fair way to do it for a pitcher. If you suspend them for 5-10 games, it’s usually only one start. But if you suspend them for 5-10 starts, they miss nearly two months. It’s all very complicated. It’s hard to say exactly what should be done.

So I guess what I’m saying is, I’m tired of what baseball is turning in to. It’s time to go back to striking a guy out for his past antics, instead of throwing up around his head. It’s time to stop all of this before it gets so far out of control that you’ll never return things to the way they used to be. But unfortunately, it may already be at that point.

Fastest & Slowest Starts to the 2013 MLB Season

We’re just over a week into the 2013 MLB regular season, and I wanted to post a blog, just like last year, on the fastest and slowest starts to the season for both entire teams and individual players. While it’s a small sample size, the list gives you an idea of what’s been taking place so far this season. Some of the players and teams are performing nearly as well as expected, but others are putting on performances that I never would’ve predicted them to begin the season with.

FASTEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Braves (6-1)

2) Diamondbacks (5-2)

3) Rockies (5-2)

4) Red Sox (5-2)

5) Athletics (5-2)

6) Rangers (5-2)

7) Reds (5-2)

8) Mets (5-2)

The Braves currently lead all of baseball with a win percentage of .857. Justin Upton has been making a major impact, hitting six home runs in the first seven games, and I fully expected the Braves to have a season long performance like the one they’re currently starting out with. The Diamondbacks, Rockies, Red Sox and Mets are all surprising me, so far, as I expected them to all have poor seasons, and while it’s still very early, at the moment, they’re making things interesting. As far as the Athletics, Rangers and Reds go, it’s not a shock that they’re doing so well. Though I thought the Rangers would have a bit of a struggle this season, without Josh Hamilton, they seem to be doing just fine. It should be interesting to see if they can keep it up.

Players:

1) Adam Jones (.500)

2) Jed Lowrie (.500)

3) Carlos Santana (.500)

4) Michael Cuddyer (.478)

5) Carl Crawford (.450)

6) Jean Segura (.450)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

Adam Jones is the only player on the list of fastest start players that I’m not surprised with. Having recorded a 32 homer, 82 RBI season, in 2012, Jones is in the prime of his career, and is set to have another fantastic season. For Jed Lowrie, Carlos Santana, Michael Cuddyer, Carl Crawford and Jean Segura, they better enjoy the hot start while it lasts, because I don’t see any of them having an all that spectacular year. But as with anything in baseball, there’s always the chance for me to be proven wrong.

SLOWEST STARTS TO THE SEASON

Teams:

1) Astros (1-6)

2) Marlins (1-6)

3) Padres (1-5)

4) Pirates (2-5)

5) Brewers (2-5)

6) Phillies (2-5)

7) Cubs (2-5)

After beating the Rangers, 8-2, on Opening Night, the Astros have done nothing but go down hill, ever since. With 155 games left to play, and just 94 losses away from 100, it’s likely the Astros’ season will end with yet another year of 100+ losses. The Marlins, Padres and Pirates are all teams that have the potential to win now, but it’s likely to be a year or two before they start to become big time contenders in their divisions. The Brewers and Phillies are the only teams that surprise me, somewhat, on this list, but they just haven’t performed well so far this year. And as for the Cubs, they’re just being themselves; destined to make it 105 seasons without a World Series title.

Players:

1) Jeff Keppinger (.048)

2) Ryan Hanigan (.050)

3) Aaron Hicks (.067)

4) Pedro Alvarez (.080)

5) Neil Walker (.083)

*Minimum of 20 AB’s

No one on this list surprises me, other than Neil Walker. Walker is arguably the best player on the list, but he hasn’t been able to find his groove so far this season. I look for him to get things going, however, and record another season like he has the past few years–10-15 homers and 65-80 RBI’s, with a high 200’s batting average. For Jeff Keppinger, Ryan Hanigan, Aaron Hicks and Pedro Alvarez, it will be interesting to see if they get their acts together, or if this is a sign of things to come for them this season, as things can certainly only go up.

Keep in mind, while those are the players and teams with the fastest and slowest starts to the season, there’s still a lot of baseball left to be played, and anything can happen. Only time will tell if the current trends will last; that’s why they play 162 games.

My Vote for National League M.V.P.

This is the first of four blog posts I plan to publish over the coming days; all of which will focus on who I feel should win the three major awards of Most Valuable Player (MVP), Cy Young and Rookie of the Year (ROY).

If you missed the post on who I feel should win AL MVP, go ahead and check that out now. If you’ve already read it, then you know the guidlines I tend to follow when making a vote for MVP:

I’m not all that influenced by stats, and I especially don’t lean towards a player just because their team made it to the playoffs and another player’s team didn’t. I’ve always chosen to look at it by which player had the greatest positive impact on their team, and I’m not about to change things.

As I stated in a previous blog entry, I don’t want you to think of these as predictions, but rather as cases for which player I feel deserves each award. The player I feel most deserves a specific award isn’t necessarily the player I think will win it. (Keep that in mind as you’re reading.)

Andrew McCutchen

If MVP voting took place during the All-Star break Andrew McCutchen would have my vote, hands down. McCutchen was a big reason the Pirates were 11 games over .500 and atop the NL Central at the time. With McCutchen leading the way, it appeared that the Pirates were well on their way to the teams first .500+ season since 1992–but things didn’t go as planned for McCutchen and the Bucco’s.

In the games following the Midsummer Classic, the Pirates did nothing but tumble; with McCutchen sharing in the same fate. Losing a spot in the standings each month following July, the Pirates finished the year 18 games back of first place in their division (good enough for 4th); with McCutchen’s batting average falling from .362 to .327 over that time span.

Though McCutchen batted .327 on the year, with 31 home runs and 96 RBI’s, he couldn’t keep up the pace throughout the entire season, which is very key in my book when it comes to making a selection for MVP. When a team relies on a player as much as the Pirates relied on McCutchen, that player has to be able to step up all season long to ensure that the team succeeds. Unfortunately, McCutchen wasn’t able to pull if off.

Thus, McCutchen isn’t my pick for MVP…

Buster Posey

When Melky Cabrera was suspended in August for his PED use, the Giants’ needed someone to step up and start impacting the team in a major way, should they have a hope at keeping up with the sizzling Dodgers; who were one game ahead in the division standings at the time. That person would end up being Buster Posey….Brandon Belt…Pablo Sandoval…and pretty much 75 percent of the team. But wait….that’s more than one person. I know. (That’s exactly my point.)

Buster Posey put up incredible stats this season, batting .336 on the year, with 24 home runs and 103 RBI’s, but he didn’t single-handedly put the Giants in the postseason; which is what I’ve been hearing a lot of lately. While Posey certainly played a major role in the Giants’ run to the playoffs, he wasn’t the only one coming up big night, after night, after night. There were several other guys that made major contributions as well.

That’s one of the main reasons I feel voting for MVP based on whether or not a player’s team made the playoffs is crazy. Nearly 100 percent of the time, a player didn’t push his team into the playoffs without some help from his teamates along the way.

So, although Posey had a stellar year, he didn’t quite make my cut…

My Vote for M.V.P.

My vote for Most Valuable Player of the National League goes to Ryan Braun.

While he didn’t ‘lead his team to the playoffs’, no player in the National League had the impact that Braun had on the Brewers. Without Braun, the Brewers don’t finish out the season as strongly as they did. Which is one of the key reasons he’s my pick for MVP.

Braun was ‘that guy’ for the Brewers all season long, and he didn’t let up when September rolled around, even though it appeared the Brewers were out of contention; if anything, Braun got even better. That’s the kind of player Braun is. He impacts his team day in and day out, even when it would be easy to hang it up.

Something I’ve been hearing a lot of lately is that Braun won’t win the MVP award due to his 2011 Performance Enhancing Drug (PED) accusation. Even though Braun was found not guilty, some are still holding it against him. My response to that being: Get over it.

By putting up even better numbers than last year, Braun has proven to the world that he doesn’t need banned substances to make him a beast; he’s a beast by nature. Though his batting average fell 13 points from last year, Braun smacked 8 more home runs–and for good measure, an extra RBI–than he did in 2011. While I don’t hold too much stock in stats, that really jumps out at me.

It’s incredible what Braun was able to do all season long to help out his team. He had the greatest impact of any other player in the NL, and doing so earns him my pick for 2012 National League MVP.

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