Results tagged ‘ Triple Crown ’

American League Predictions for 2014

For the third season in a row, I’m making predictions (you should too) as to how I feel each Major League Baseball team will fare throughout the coming season. Although I haven’t come close yet to predicting the exact finishing order of each division (I picked the Red Sox to finish last in 2013 and they won the World Series), it’s a new year, and with it comes a new chance to luck out and get everything right.

I’ll be posting my predictions for the National League in the next few days, but for now, I’m going to give my predictions for the American League (along with my reasoning), starting with the American League East:

EAST

1. Red Sox

2. Yankees

3. Rays

4. Orioles

5. Blue Jays

Originally, I had the Yankees winning the division, but the more I thought about it the more I second-guessed the choice. The Red Sox are far too good of a team to ignore, and should have just enough to beat out every other team in the American League East. What really puts them over the Yankees when it comes to deciding first and second place is their pitching depth. Not just their starting rotation, but their bullpen as well. From Jon Lester, Jake Peavy and John Lackey, to a top of the line closer in Koji Uehara, there is a ton of talent to keep the opposing teams from scoring runs. As far as their own lineup goes, it’s one of the best in the division, with a good mix of veterans — David Ortiz, Dustin Pedroia, A.J. Pierzynski — as well as young future stars — Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Will Middlebrooks. And therefore, they should be able to win the division, yet again.

The Yankees did a lot of things right this past offseason, and I really feel confident in them for the coming year, but I can’t quite see them placing first. They lost their All-Star closer, Mariano Rivera, and didn’t really address that by signing another closer to take his place. On the topic of pitching, their starting pitching improved a bit with the addition of Masahiro Tanaka, but it will take a bounce back year from C.C. Sabathia, and the rest of their rotation, for the Yankees to pitch themselves to a lot of wins. But what they lack in pitching, they more than make up for in their lineup. Newcomers Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann will go a long way in helping the offense score runs. Even without their star second baseman, Robinson Cano, to provide a major power threat, the Yankees still have a chance to go far, in this Derek Jeter’s farewell season.

There were a lot of rumors this offseason that the Rays’ 2012 Cy Young winner, David Price, was going to be traded. But that didn’t happen, which is what will help them barely beat out the Orioles, in my opinion. If Price can return to form, combined with Chris Archer, Matt Moore and the remaining players of their entire pitching staff, including newly acquired Grant Balfour to fill their closer role they lost when Fernando Rodney left, the Rays will be good to go. Their lineup is decent, with Evan Longoria and Wil Myers being the standouts, and with James Loney and Ben Zobrist likely being good yet again, their overall lineup should be good enough to compete. Towards the end of the 2013 season, the Rays went on a run, and if they can do that at the right times throughout this year, they could surprise some people.

The Orioles have the ability to beat out the Rays for third, but I don’t think they’ll be quite good enough to get there. I have them finishing next to last, as despite adding Nelson Cruz to go along with Manny Machado, Adam Jones and Chris Davis as the big impact players in their lineup, they don’t have the best pitching. Signing Ubaldo Jimenez will go a long way in making them a good team if he is able to have a breakout year, but losing their All-Star closer, Jim Johnson, to the Athletics, will hurt them at the end of games, as they have no true replacement for him. If everyone up and down the lineup and all throughout the bullpen can get going, the Orioles could move up the division ranks, and make a push. But I don’t see that happening until their top prospects Kevin Gausman and Dylan Bundy are full time members sometime next season.

Last season after signing so many impact players in the winter months, many had the Blue Jays making the playoffs, with some going as far as to predict a World Series championship for Toronto. I thought those predictions were a little far fetched, and I predicted a fourth place finish for them, despite having some veteran proven pitchers such as R.A. Dickey and Mark Buehrle. After they disappointed many by finishing dead last in the AL East last season, I’m putting the Blue Jays last again. They didn’t do a whole lot this offseason, and if anything they got a little worse by losing some players to free agency. It would take a near perfect and injury free season by their star players Jose Bautista, Edwin Encarnacion, Jose Reyes and Brett Lawrie, as well as perfect years by all of their starting pitchers, for them to compete in their division. To me, that’s an awful lot to ask out of the Jays.

CENTRAL

1. Tigers

2. Royals

3. Indians

4. White Sox

5. Twins

There’s no reason why the Tigers shouldn’t run away with things in the American League Central. Although they lost one of the biggest bats in the game, Prince Fielder, trading him away for Ian Kinsler, who will play second, freed up their options. Meaning 2012 Triple Crown winner, Miguel Cabrera, will now move back to first, with top prospect, Nick Castellanos, taking over his spot at third base. With Jose Iglesias at shortstop, who could pick up a Gold Glove this season, there really aren’t any holes in their infield, or anywhere in their entire lineup for that matter. And that continues with their pitching staff. The Tigers have a superb starting rotation, with Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, and strengthened the back end of their bullpen by signing proven closer, Joe Nathan. Everything combined together, the Tigers could have a magical season.

This is finally the year for the Royals, in my mind. They made a strong push towards the end of last season, with their first baseman, Eric Hosmer, beginning to play like many predicted he was capable of, but they came up just short. This season, however, the Royals have enough to finish second if they can get everything to come together. Their starting rotation won’t dominate, but it will do fairly well, from James Shields to rookie Yordano Ventura. They have one of the best, under the radar, closers, Greg Holland, and he should have a great year again. In addition, their consistent players such as Billy Butler and Alex Gordon will continue to perform, but it will take production from players like Norichika Aoki, Omar Infante and Mike Moustakas (he has something to prove this season) for the Royals to make any sort of a deep playoff push.

The Indians made the playoffs last season via the Wild Card, quickly being eliminated, but I don’t see them getting back this year. I have them finishing third, but a down year by the Royals could see them moving up a spot. Their rotation has the potential to be good, with Justin Masterson and Danny Salazar leading the way, but they lost Scott Kazmir, and need Trevor Bauer to finally come through for them more than ever. As far as their lineup goes, it’s pretty good. Yan Gomes will likely be their catcher, with Carlos Santana transitioning to third, and Asdrubal Cabrera, Michael Bourn and Jason Kipnis will contribute both offensively and defensively, along with Jason Giambi providing the Indians some pop. Francisco Lindor, their top prospect, could see major league time towards the end of the season, but it likely won’t be enough to push them over the edge.

While the White Sox probably won’t do much this season, finishing next to last in my book, they will have a slightly better season than the one they had last year. Chris Sale, one of the best players on the team, will be the leader of their starting rotation, which is good but no where near great. Another spot where they have a ton of holes is their lineup, however, Jose Abreu is set to be the next big, power hitter out of Cuba, so it will be interesting to see how he does. If he can perform well, along with Adam Dunn and Paul Konerko, who have been known for years for their power, the Sox should have a decent year. One of the biggest things that will hurt them is the loss of their overpowering closer, Addison Reed, who was great at finishing out games for them. With so many question marks and missing pieces, it will take a lot for the White Sox to finish any better than fourth.

I have the Twins finishing last again, but it will likely be the final year for awhile. They have numerous top prospects coming up in the next few years, including Alex Meyer, Trevor May, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton, and those players will definitely have an incredible impact. But with the players they have for this season, they will likely have a subpar year. With a rotation of Scott Diamond, Kyle Gibson, and Phil Hughes, among others, the Twins don’t have a true ace of their pitching staff like a lot of teams do. They also no longer have Justin Morneau at first base, losing him in the second half of last year, and the rest of their infield is a question mark. One of their stronger points is their outfield, with Aaron Hicks and Josh Willingham, as well as newly signed catcher, Kurt Suzuki, but those players alone won’t be enough to win the Twins many games in 2014.

WEST

1. Rangers

2. Athletics

3. Mariners

4. Angels

5. Astros

Trading away Ian Kinsler in exchange for Prince Fielder will really go a long way in helping the Rangers beat out the Athletics for the number one spot in the AL West. Adding Fielder to an already great infield of Adrian Beltre, Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar, will give the Rangers their first production from first base since Mark Teixeira left in 2007. The only thing that could hurt the Rangers is their pitching, as Derek Holland will miss the first portion of the season, along with a few other of their key pieces. Yu Darvish will be dominant again, and Tommy Hanson, Martin Perez and Robbie Ross will help a bit, but the loss of their closer, Joe Nathan, will have somewhat of an effect. If newcomer Shin-Soo Choo can produce from the leadoff spot the same as he was able to do in 2013, the Rangers, and several players on their team, could have an amazing year.

As far as the Athletics go, although they’ve won the division the past two seasons and made some fairly good moves this offseason as they seem to always do, they don’t have the lineup threats that the Rangers do. They do, however, have an overall better pitching staff (especially in the bullpen) with young stars Sonny Gray, Jarrod Parker and Dan Straily leading the rotation. A pickup of Scott Kazmir and closer Jim Johnson will have a great impact on their success throughout the coming season, as will Coco Crisp and Eric Sogard, who really broke out in 2013. But it will take great seasons from Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick for the A’s to make a run at beating out the Rangers. With the seasons they’ve been able to put together without any superstars on the team, however, it wouldn’t be all that difficult for the Athletics to surprise me.

The Mariners, with all of the offseason moves they made, could potentially place better than third place, but I’m projecting them to disappoint a lot of people. The biggest signing they made was undeniably the top free agent of the offseason, Robinson Cano, for the next ten years. He will go a long way in turning the Mariners back around. But other than Cano, and possibly Corey Hart who they signed as well, there’s no major power threat in the lineup. Logan Morrison will add some average hitting, and young players such as Mike Zunino, Kyle Seager and Brad Miller will be decent. The one player that needs to produce is Dustin Ackley, but you never know with him. Their pitching should be excellent, with Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma, etc., as well as new closer, Fernando Rodney, but if they don’t produce a ton offensively, it won’t do them much good.

After really disappointed a lot of people last season, the Angels could very well could do so again this year, finishing next to last in my opinion, as they didn’t do a lot to get much better this offseason. Their rotation doesn’t extend much past Jered Weaver and C.J. Wilson, though they did pick up promising prospect Tyler Skaggs. While Mike Trout is going to be amazingly good, as he has proven he can be, and I feel Albert Pujols will have a bounce back year, Josh Hamilton isn’t really looking all that promising. Also, although they picked up David Freese this offseason, they lost a huge impact bat in Mark Trumbo, and really don’t have any other major impact players to place in their lineup. While they certainly have the pieces to surprise many people this year if everything goes right, I just don’t see it happening for the Angels.

It’s becoming routine for the Astros to finish dead last, and they will likely do so again this season, but on a brighter note, they could possibly finish with fewer than 100 losses, which they haven’t been able to do since 2010. The Astros don’t have any impact players to speak of for their rotation or lineup, but one of their top prospects, George Springer, if called up soon enough, could play a big role in the outfield. Jarred Cosart will likely be their best starting pitcher, with players such as Jose Altuve, Chris Carter and Matt Dominguez making some noise with their bats. However, it won’t be enough to do any better than fifth. But it shouldn’t be long until the Astros are moving up in their division, as they have several fantastic prospects coming up in the next year or two. From Mark Appel to Carlos Correa, the Astros could have a very formidable team in the very near future.

Leave a comment below with whether or not you agree with my predictions.

Cabrera & Fielder Bound for Opposite Years from 2013

Prince Fielder is one of the most underrated players in all of Major League Baseball. Sure, he receives a lot of praise, and is respected in terms of how much he can affect any team he’s on, but as far as the overall value he brings, he isn’t viewed as the absurdly impactful player that he should be seen as – and that includes the impact he has on his teammates.Miguel+Cabrera+Prince+Fielder+New+York+Yankees+aX_ZhggquWAl

Going back to 2011 when Ryan Braun won the National League Most Valuable Player award — bringing controversy, as many felt Matt Kemp’s 39 home runs and 126 RBI’s deserved the honor more than Braun’s 33 homers and 111 RBI’s – Prince Fielder acted as protection for Braun in the Brewers’ lineup, batting behind him in the cleanup spot. And even so, Fielder was able to put together 38 home runs and 120 RBI’s of his own — truly amazing.

Then, in the 2012 season, after going to the Tigers, Fielder aided to Miguel Cabrera’s stats, taking him from a 30 homer, 105 RBI star the season before, to a 44 home run, 139 RBI mega superstar in 2012 — good enough to earn Cabrera the first Triple Crown award in 45 years. And once again, Fielder posted solid numbers, tallying 30 home runs and 108 RBI’s — remarkable.

Although Fielder had a somewhat down year by his standards last season, posting 25 home runs and 106 RBI’s, he still gave Cabrera added help by making pitchers pitch to him, given Fielder’s well known track record. That led to another fantastic year for Cabrera, where — if not for Chris Davis’ breakout 53 home run season — he nearly won a second straight Triple Crown award, knocking 44 home runs for the second straight year and driving in 137 runs.

That’s the incredible personal, and team, impact that Prince Fielder brings on a daily basis.

But with Fielder moving to the Rangers in the offseason, as part of a trade between the Tigers and Rangers, Cabrera could very well see his stats tumble a bit, with Fielder having a bounce back year to become more like his normal self. While Cabrera isn’t going to 3308797_Glose his stardom, and will post an amazing stat line this season, it likely won’t be the 40+ homers, 130+ RBI’s that he’s been able to amass over the past two season, as Victor Martinez will be his protection in the lineup. Not quite as threatening as Fielder.

While Ryan Braun in 2012, after Fielder’s departure, was able to post even better stats without him than he did the previous season in which he won the MVP, I don’t see Cabrera keeping up the same numbers, as Miller Park is more of a hitter friendly ballpark than Comerica Park.

Realistically, I see Cabrera having more of a 30 homer, 110 RBI season. And that’s nothing to be ashamed of. Many players aim for that year after year. But Cabrera has simply set the bar so high in recent years that without Fielder, I don’t see him keeping up his monster stats for three years in a row. Hopefully he’ll prove me wrong.

Just the opposite of Cabrera, I could easily see Fielder having a breakout season in 2014.

For the first time in Fielder’s career, he won’t be providing protection to someone else. Instead, he’ll be provided protection by Adrian Beltre, who is reportedly going to be batting in the cleanup spot behind Fielder, after he had so much success there in 2013. With that ballpark being a left-handed-hitting-paradise, combined with the protection of Beltre, I feel that Fielder will have a 40+ homer, 130+ RBI year, especially with newly acquired Shin-Soo Choo getting on base in front of him. Though that’s not a career year for him – Fielder hit 50 homers in 2007 and had 141 RBI’s in 2009 — it’s a major improvement from his past few seasons.

Everything combined together, the Rangers could once again have enough to beat out the Athletics in 2014, who have won the division the past two seasons. If every player plays to the best of their ability and are able to stay healthy — that shouldn’t be an issue with Fielder, who has played in 157 or more games every full season of his career – it’s very possible, although their starting pitching is a bit of a question heading into the season. It comes down to which team has the most go right.

Prince Fielder heading to the Rangers does two things: It helps the Rangers and himself, and it hurts the Tigers and Miguel Cabrera. While the Tigers and Rangers will both be competitive teams in their divisions this season, it will clearly be seen how big of an impact player Fielder is to any team he’s on.

That’s truly something to look forward to — unless you’re Miguel Cabrera.

Davis Launches 51st Homer, Makes Orioles’ History

Chris Davis blasted his 51st home run of the season off of Ryan Dempster during Tuesday night’s game against the Red Sox, making him the new Orioles’ record holder for most homers in a single season; breaking the old record of 50, posted by Brady Anderson in 1996.

With that game-tying, solo-shot home run, Davis also tied Anderson’s franchise record for extra-base hits in a year with 92 — both Davis’ HR and extra-base numbers lead the Majors, to go along with a .293 batting average — and joins Babe Ruth and Albert Belle as the only players in MLB history with 50 home runs and 40 doubles in a season.

Needless to say, Davis is having an incredible year.

Untitled

And he’s not alone.

In addition to Davis, the Orioles have their young phenom, Manny Machado, — currently tied for most doubles this season with 51 — playing tremendously, as well as Adam Jones, who is having another great season. Combine it all together, and you have a very potent lineup.

But despite the great team the Orioles have, they’re still fighting to make the playoffs, as they currently sit two games back of the second Wild Card spot, held by the Rangers, with just twelve games remaining.

Part of that has to do with the Orioles’ pitching, which hasn’t been extremely great all season long. For me, if they miss the playoffs it’s going to be because of their pitching staff.

Therefore, while not impossible, it’s going to take a lot of production, and a bit of luck, from everyone on the squad. Davis is certainly giving it his best shot, as he shows no signs of slowing down any time soon.

That’s bad news if you’re Miguel Cabrera — or if you’re just rooting for him. Although he leads the Majors in batting average and RBI’s — just one more RBI than Davis — Davis is leading Cabrera by eight home runs. With so few games left, it’s going to take a power surge from Cabrera, and a power outage from Davis, for things to work out — not likely to happen.

But while you’re probably not going to witness history, in Cabrera becoming the first player to ever win back-to-back Triple Crown awards, you’re getting the privilege of seeing one of the game’s best sluggers put on an amazing performance.

No matter the outcome of the season, 2013 will go down as a memorable year for Chris Davis and the Orioles. A year which included an exciting playoff chase, as well as one that could end with Davis receiving a major award: The American League M.V.P.

Story Lines Worth Watching In the Final Month

It’s hard to believe but the 2013 MLB regular season is almost over. (Today marks exactly one month until the final games of the season, on September 29th.) Teams are making their final push for the post season, and every player is doing their best to finish out the season strong. With all of this going on, I thought I’d post an entry on the five main story lines I plan to keep an eye on throughout the final stretch.

American League Home Run Race

Davis_Cabrera_6jrfjauv_n0whcjqfIt’s a two-man race, between the Orioles’ Chris Davis and the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera, for who will receive the title of 2013 home run champion. But more importantly for Cabrera, he’s not just chasing down Davis for that title alone; Cabrera is trying to do what no one in the history of the game has ever been able to do: Win back-to-back Triple Crowns.

Davis currently holds a four home run lead over Cabrera (who is day-to-day, after suffering an injury in Thursday’s game) — Cabrera leads all of baseball in batting average and RBI’s — and with a mere month left of the season, it’s going to take a real display of power for Cabrera to overtake Davis. But if anyone can do it, Miguel Cabrera can.

Candidates for Rookie of the Year Award

puig_original_original_crop_exactThe Rookie of the Year award is going to be a difficult award to decide, for both the American League and National League. Both leagues have several players that have strong cases, so it’s going to be interesting to see which player will have a great final month to move themselves above the rest.

Currently, top candidates from the American League, for the R.O.Y. award, include Wil Myers, Chris Archer and David Lough, while the National League has quite a few more top candidates, in Yasiel Puig, Matt Adams, Nolan Arenado, Jedd Gyorko, Evan Gattis, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Jose Fernandez and Shelby Miller, among others. Making this a story line well worth watching.

National League Central Division

imagesCAQNTVO6The National League Central is currently the closest of all the divisions in Major League Baseball. Less than four games separate the top three teams, being the Cardinals, Pirates and Reds. (This is the first season in 21 years that the Pirates will finish with a winning record.) With the Diamondback’s slowly falling out of the race to catch up — though there’s still a slight chance they could — it would appear to be between these three teams for who will win the division.

No matter which team is able to hold on in the final month of the season, to win the division, all three are likely to make the post season, with the extra Wild Card spot, that was added last season.

Max Scherzer’s Cy Young Quest

untitledOf all of the great pitchers in the American League none have been as dominant throughout the entire season as Max Scherzer. Having gone 19-1 — only the third pitcher to ever start a season winning 19 out of their first 20 decisions — with a 2.90 ERA, Scherzer is well on his way to winning the Cy Young award, if he can keep up the great performance.

Though I think Yu Darvish will get a lot of consideration for the award — rightfully so, currently sitting at 12-5, with a 2.68 ERA, leading all of baseball in strikeouts — the award is currently Scherzer’s to lose, in the minds of many around the baseball world.

Houston Astros’ Loss Record

afbe15b4-c329-4994-8d21-cec9680d2991news_ap_org_r620x349With 30 games left to play, the Houston Astros hold a win-loss record of 44-88 — the worst record in all of baseball. They currently sit 33.5 games out of first place in their division, and look to have a losing record for the fifth straight season. Having lost 107 games in 2012, and 106 in 2011, it will be interesting to see if the Astros can finish with fewer than 100 losses this season.

They’ll have to go 19-11, in their final 30 games, which isn’t impossible, but with it being the Astros, it’s not all that likely. It should be interesting to see if the Astros can at least finish out the year on a high note, after yet another disappointing season.

What’re you looking forward to? Leave a comment below.

Miguel Cabrera Heating Up; Matt Harvey Shut Down

Miguel Cabrera has been on fire all season long, but lately he’s been producing at an absurd rate. In his last 10 games, Cabrera has gone 15-41 (.366 average), with three home runs and thirteen RBI’s. An incredible performance, without question, but even with all of 628x471this recent success, in his chase for a second straight Triple Crown Cabrera is still short in one major category: Home Runs.

The one person standing in Cabrera’s way of doing something that has never been done in MLB history — winning back-to-back Triple Crowns — is the Orioles’ Chris Davis, who currently holds a four homer lead over Cabrera.

But there’s still a month of baseball left to be played, in which Cabrera could easily catch up.

Leading all of baseball in RBI’s, with 128, and batting average, at .360, Cabrera is well on his way to winning yet another Triple Crown award, if he can harness his power in the coming weeks.

Regardless of whether or not the hot-hitting Cabrera can win back-to-back Triple Crowns, it’s still very likely that he’ll do something nearly as impressive: Win back-to-back MVP awards.

But just as one of baseball’s biggest stars is heating up, another has had his season stopped in its tracks.

Mets Ace, Matt Harvey, received the unfortunate news on Monday afternoon that he has a partially torn UCL in his right elbow, after undergoing an MRI. While there’s still the chance that Harvey won’t need surgery, the Mets are taking a great deal of caution by shutting down Harvey for the remainder of the season.

“There is some swelling in the forearm; may be some in the elbow”, said Mets’ general manager, Sandy Alderson, in a news conference. Matt Harvey“He’s had forearm issues for some time that have been treated….[Harvey's been] getting preventive elbow treatment since Spring Training.”

“[We're] not going to do anything to jeopardize Matt’s future with the Mets. [We] wouldn’t expect him to pitch the rest of the season….By no means is this a career ending injury.”

According to Matt Harvey, who has gone 9-5 with a 2.27 ERA this season, the arm soreness has been going on for some time, however, it was at its worst after his most recent start on Saturday, when he gave up a career high thirteen hits–prompting Harvey to get an MRI.

“It was something I felt like I could pitch through and schedule treatment on”, said Harvey. “When I heard the news, I was pretty shocked….I’m still very optimistic. I’m going to do everything I can so I don’t have to get surgery….I’m going to do whatever I can to prepare for next year.”

While Harvey was scheduled to be shut down later this season anyway, once he hit his innings limit, this is still a major disappointment for both Harvey and the Mets. Though they were out of things, playoff wise, Harvey is the type of guy fans love to come out to watch pitch.

But more importantly, this injury doesn’t just end Harvey’s season, it also ends his case for 2013 National League Cy Young. A true shame after the great season Harvey has been able to put together.

Miguel Cabrera On Pace for Triple Crown….Again

Homering three times in Sunday night’s game versus the Texas Rangers–increasing his season stats to 11 homers and 47 RBI’s, to go along with a .387 batting average–there’s no denying that Miguel Cabrera is currently the best hitter in all of baseball. Having won the Triple Crown last season–the first player to do so since Carl Yastrezemski, in 1967–Cabrera is currently on a good pace to do so again, as he’s already ahead of his miguel_cabrera-167stats from last year; some by a fairly good margin.

Through 43 games played, Cabrera is batting 83 points higher, with three more home runs and thirteen more RBI’s than he had through the same number of games last season, in which he won the Triple Crown. If Cabrera can continue his hot pace, he stands a good chance of becoming just the third player in the history of Major League Baseball to win two Triple Crown awards in their career–Ted Williams and Rogers Hornsby being the other players. (No player has ever accomplished the feat in back-to-back seasons.)

As is to be expected with a player as good as Cabrera, many are beginning to form comparisons of his stats to other players’, such as HOFer Hank Aaron, as well as star players, Albert Pujols and Alex Rodriguez. ESPN even went as far as to say that Miguel Cabrera is the Babe Ruth of our generation, in a tweet after Cabrera’s three home run performance Sunday night. While I strongly disagree with that statement, I do agree that Cabrera is one of the best hitters the game has ever seen.

Therefore, although there’s still a lot of the season left, in which anything can happen, Miguel Cabrera is a player you need to be keeping an eye on. Regardless of if he wins his second straight Triple Crown award, you’re watching a player that will inevitably go down as one of the games all-time greats, once all is said and done. That alone is reason enough to take the time to appreciate just how good Miguel Cabrera is while he’s still around.

My Vote for American League M.V.P.

When it comes to the 2012 Most Valuable Player award it seems as if many people could care less about who wins it from the National League. Ryan Braun…Buster Posey…Andrew McCutchen…give it to any of them, and no one would really complain.

The main focus falls on the American League portion, where baseball fans have sided with either Miguel Cabrera or Mike Trout. Everyone (no matter which player they side with) has a dozen reasons behind why their pick is the best, and they’re all adamant as to who they think should win the award. I’m no different.

My vote for MVP of the American League would have to go to Mike Trout.

Before you ask, no, I haven’t been living under a rock for the past week. I’m fully aware that Miguel Cabrera won the Triple Crown (the first player to do so since 1967), and while that’s extremely impressive–and nothing to sneeze at–if you take the time to examine both player’s effect on their respective team, you start to see there’s really no contest. You quickly find yourself leaning a bit more towards Mike Trout; or at least that’s the case with me.

When making a pick for Most Valuable Player, I feel it’s extremely important to remember what the award is truly for: The player who had the greatest positive impact on their team, and thus was the “most valuable”. While it’s easy to look at the stats and declare Miguel Cabrera the winner, MVP is not necessarily an award for the better player, but rather an award for the player that held a bigger role in helping their team succeed.

That’s what I feel gets lost in translation. People see the incredible stats that Cabrera was able to post and they find themselves thinking, “with numbers like that, he’s got to win.” While that may be true in some situations, this particular instance, it’s just not the case in my opinion.

As far as statistics go, Trout and Cabrera were under completely different circumstances while at the plate, which makes it a bit difficult to compare the two. For example:

Trout bats leadoff, thus (in at least one at-bat) has no chance at having anyone on base to knock in; yet he accumulated 83 RBI’s. Cabrera on the other hand batted in the three-hole, giving him a higher chance of an RBI situation every time he stepped into the batters box.

Another thing Trout had going against him by batting leadoff was the fact that he had no one behind him in the lineup for protection. In an RBI pressure situation Trout didn’t have a guy like Prince Fielder to fall back on. If Trout didn’t come through, who knew if the next guy could get the job done. (As Prince Fielder does the majority of the time.)

In Cabrera’s case–and Ryan Braun’s, last season–he had Fielder behind him in the order to take some of the pressure off, which could be argued allowed Cabrera to come through more often than he normally would have in big spots. That’s something I personally take into consideration.

Something that really bothers me when it comes to MVP voting is the voter’s tendency to use whether or not a candidate’s team made it to the playoffs when making their decision of who to vote for. You can be an extremely valuable asset to your team and still end up falling short as a whole.

Take last year’s National League MVP voting for example.

Matt Kemp had arguably better stats than Ryan Braun, yet Braun ended up taking home the MVP award, greatly due to the fact that Braun’s Brewers made it to the post season, and Kemp’s Dodgers did not. That’s just not the right thing to base your decision on. It wasn’t right in 2011, it’s not right now, and it won’t be right in 2013 and beyond, either.

Mike Trout posted stats that no rookie has ever been able to in MLB history–the only rookie to ever have a 30/40 season. Trout came in and completely turned the Angels around; and while this is purely speculative, could’ve very well led his team to the playoffs had he of been called up sooner. (But that’s another debate, for another time.)

Trout put up insane numbers for a team that had an embarrassing record of 6-14 (worse than the Houston Astros at the time) before his callup on April 28th. A mere month after Trout’s addition to the roster, the Angels’ had a .500 record, and were on a seven game winning streak; greatly due to Mike Trout and his ability to impact the ball club.

If that doesn’t make for an MVP, I don’t know what does.

Now, if you’re one of those people that love sabermetrics–and purely rely on statistics alone when looking at MVP–then it’s clear that Miguel Cabrera beat out Mike Trout by a landslide. While the batting average was fairly close, Cabrera posted 14 more home runs than Trout, as well as 56 more RBI’s.

But looking at stats–and stats alone–only tells part of the story.

Trout came up in late April and went on a tear, and as a result was able to reenergize a struggling Angels team. He got them back on track enabling them to make an incredible run, which unfortunately ended with the Angels coming up just short of a Wild Card spot.

Without Trout, who knows whether or not the Angels’ would’ve finished with a record anywhere near theirs of 89-73. (A better record, mind you, than that of the Tigers, who finished 88-74 on the year.)

That’s what makes a player worthy of a Most Valuable Player award. It’s not always the best player in a given league, but instead, the player that had the biggest impact on their team, and therefore was most valuable.

And that would undoubtedly be Mike Trout.

Miguel Cabrera’s Triple Crown Chances

Miguel Cabrera is currently leading the American League in RBI’s (133) and batting average (.329), while sitting just one back of Josh Hamilton in the home run category. (Hamilton has 43 dingers on the year.)

Obviously, for Cabrera to win the Triple Crown he’ll have to be leading the A.L. in home runs at the end of the season. In order to do so he’ll need to muscle together some power in the coming days to pass Hamilton in the home run category, and I just don’t see that happening. Sure, Cabrera is a power hitter and could certainly pull it off, but going against Hamilton I’d say it’s an uphill battle at best.

It seems like Hamilton hits a homer every other night, and it doesn’t help that Cabrera has been struggling somewhat at the plate lately. Home runs asside, if he doesn’t start hitting better, Cabrera’s at risk of falling into second place on the batting average list behind Joe Mauer, who (as I’m writing this) has a current batting average of .324.

While there’s a good chance that Cabrera will lead the league in RBI’s and batting average at the end of the season, the odds that he’ll crank out enough homers to pass Hamilton–who’ll more that likely hit a few more in the final stretch of the regular season–aren’t good, in my opinion.

So in conclusion, while I’m rooting for Miguel Cabrera to pull it out and become the first player to win the Triple Crown since Carl Yastrzemski, in 1967, I feel he’ll fall just short. Which will be a real shame, as Cabrera has had one heck of a year.

As always, feel free to leave a comment below.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 94 other followers