In this week’s edition of the Triple Play, I take a look back at how well (poorly?) I fared with my second-half predictions, plus I make some postseason predictions (because why not?), and more, including our weekly Wainwright Walk Watch. Without further ado:
Second-half predictions, revisited
AL MVP – Who I predicted: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit. At the All-Star break, he was having an even better season than his Triple Crown MVP 2012 season. He still is, although he has fallen off drastically this month. Two months ago, I wrote that Chris Davis was Cabrera’s primary competition. Davis still leads the American League in home runs and total bases, but he, too, has slowed down his unbelievable production as the season winds down. The third player I noted has not only ramped up his play, but he has carried his team all season as the big-money free agents and pitching staff crumbles around him. That player is Mike Trout. In my mind, he is the front-runner to win the AL MVP. But, just as last year, it will not be an injustice of Cabrera wins again.
NL MVP – Who I predicted: Yadier Molina, St. Louis. Buster Posey is an outstanding player, but I stand by my statement earlier this season that Molina is the best catcher in baseball. His balky knee (and the usual wear and tear of an everyday catcher’s workload) has led to a slowdown at the plate, but Molina’s value to the Cardinals remains undeniable. However, as Andrew McCutchen leads Pittsburgh almost certainly to its first postseason appearance in 21 years, I believe he will win the MVP award over Molina and Paul Goldschmidt.
AL Cy Young – Who I predicted: Yu Darvish, Texas. I still think he is the best starter in the AL this season, but there’s one number that will likely work against him in the voting. The number 20 – as in the number of wins for Detroit’s Max Scherzer. While Crazy Brian Kenny will stamp his feet and yammer incessantly about the win statistic, the fact remains that Scherzer has been consistently great this season. The award will go to him. Deal with it, Brian.
NL Cy Young – Who I predicted: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles. Didn’t exactly go out on a limb here, but why would I? This was spot on. The best pitcher in baseball.
AL Rookie of the Year – Who I predicted: Jose Iglesias, Boston. I’m calling this one a win, even if Iglesias was traded to Detroit eight days after I made this prediction. If anything, it’s a slam-dunk case now. Iglesias was acquired to replace Jhonny Peralta, who was suspended as part of the Biogenesis matter. He did far more than that; he made Peralta obsolete. Wil Myers should get some votes too, but Iglesias was thrown into a tough situation and flourished.
NL Rookie of the Year – Who I predicted: Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles. Puig might have been the one who really kick-started the Dodgers’ turnaround, but Hanley Ramirez, Adrian Gonzalez, Zack Greinke and Kershaw have been the true anchors of the team. That said, Puig deserves serious consideration for the award. I’m not one of the cranks who thinks Puig should be banished to the bench because of the occasional baserunning blunder or overthrow. However, Miami’s Jose Fernandez should win this award in a landslide. He is the most electric 20-year-old to take a major-league mound since Dwight Gooden.
American League division winners – Who I predicted: Boston, Detroit, Texas. Two out of three ain’t bad.
AL Wild Cards – Who I predicted: Tampa Bay, Oakland. This one is still too close to call. I think the Rays will hold on, but the Rangers are clearly running out of gas down the stretch here. Cleveland is going to hang on and grab the second wild-card spot. And if the Indians win that game, they could give Boston some trouble in the division series.
National League division winners – Who I predicted: Atlanta, St. Louis, Los Angeles. Again, two out of three, with potential for a clean sweep. The Cardinals just have to hang on while the Reds and Pirates beat each other up over the season’s final week.
NL Wild Cards – Who I predicted: Pittsburgh, Cincinnati. Lookin’ pretty good here too.
Wild Card games – Pittsburgh over Cincinnati, Cleveland over Tampa Bay.
ALDS – Boston over Cleveland in four, Detroit over Oakland in five
NLDS – Los Angeles over Pittsburgh in five, St. Louis over Atlanta in four
ALCS – Detroit over Boston in seven (MVP – Miguel Cabrera), Los Angeles over St. Louis in seven (MVP – Hanley Ramirez)
World Series – Los Angeles over Detroit in seven (MVP – Clayton Kershaw)
- Not that it did the Texas Rangers any good, but I was correct in predicting that they would acquire Matt Garza.
- Turns out they would have been better off with Jake Peavy.
- Predictions on which I completely whiffed: Francisco Rodriguez-to-the-Tigers and Alex Rios/Alexei Ramirez-to-the-Pirates.
- The Orioles have been satisfied with K-Rod in their bullpen though.
- Pittsburgh went two different directions, acquiring Marlon Byrd and Justin Morneau. You could quibble that they need a shortstop, but you can’t argue with the results of what the Pirates have done this season.
- Wainwright Walk Watch: Once Adam Wainwright started the 2013 season by pitching 37 innings before allowing his first walk of the season, we started a weekly tracker to keep track of how few free passes the Cardinals’ ace hands out this season. Last Wednesday, in Denver, Wainwright was a regular one-man gang. In addition to tossing 7 2/3 innings of three-hit ball, he went 3-for-3 at the plate with a double and two RBI. For the season, Wainwright is 17-9 with a 2.98 ERA, 1.081 WHIP, 209 strikeouts and just 34 walks. His strikeout-to-walk ratio is 6.15, good for 2nd in the National League (Matt Harvey is juuuuust ahead of Wainwright at 6.16). Wainwright will next start against the Washington Nationals, where he will have perhaps his last chance to pass Harvey’s mark.
- Not only have the Athletics blown past Texas, but they are only two games behind Boston for best record in the AL. It’s time to stop thinking of Oakland as baseball’s Island of Misfit Toys.
- Their stadium (and the plumbing), on the other hand…..YIKES.
- Something for future Indians opponents to consider: with their 9-2 steamrolling of the hapless Astros yesterday, Cleveland became the first team in 52 years to sweep a four-game series six times in the same season.
- The last team to do that? The New York Yankees, who won the World Series.
- Incidentally, the Indians are 16 games above .500 for the first time in six years (when they reached the ALCS).
- Where they blew a 3-1 lead to Boston, which was managed by their current manager, Terry Francona.
- Little coincidences like are part of what make baseball so much fun, if you ask me.
- I’d also love to see Cleveland get a little payback, but I digress.
- There’s always a worse-case scenario: after watching that bee delay in the Mariners-Angels game, I vow not to grumble the next time I get rained on at a baseball game.
- Sure was nice of former Royals closer Joakim Soria to groove that fastball that Justin Maxwell crushed for a game-winning grand slam to give Kansas City a 4-0 win over imploding Texas.
- Watching the Rangers this month, I wonder if their window is closing or if this is a nasty pothole in the road.
- Then I looked at the standings again and realized that Texas is only a game out of the wild-card race.
- Baltimore is about done, though. Just not enough pitching. Manny Machado can’t do EVERYTHING.
- Jeff Locke has had an unexpectedly good season for Pittsburgh, but he is absolutely killing them right now. The Pirates cannot afford to start him again this season if they want to win the NL Central or even host the wild-card game.
- Given the dearth of steals in fantasy baseball these days, Billy Hamilton might be worth a first or second round pick next year.
- Why did the Reds wait so long to call him up?
- News: Scott Boras wants the first two games of the World Series played at a neutral site. Views: Scott Boras is an idiot.
- How do you know it’s been a bad year for the Cubs? When a former player gets hired as manager of the Phillies.
- How do you know it’s been a bad year for Marlins baseball? When one of their wins clinches a postseason berth for two other teams.
- Watching Andy Pettitte pitch yesterday (seven innings, two hits, two runs, six strikeouts), I wonder how many general managers thought to themselves, “we sure could use a good lefty like that?”
- It’s truly unfortunate that the Yankees couldn’t muster more than one run against those tomato cans the Giants sent out there yesterday. Enter Sandman would have been much more enjoyable to hear if Mariano Rivera had been entering a save situation.
- Finally, farewell to the great Rivera. Of all the things that have been said or written about him in his career, I think this stands above all: he will be the final major leaguer to wear the number 42 and there is no one for whom that is more suitable.
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