Mike Trout vs Miguel Cabrera: The AL MVP?

mike-trout-miguel-cabreraAs the baseball season finally winds down, the last week and a half of the season should be quite exciting. There are teams battling for playoff spots and playoff positioning, and both MVP awards are still up in the air. The final 10 games or so will play a major part in deciding the 10 playoff teams and both MVPs, so despite the NFL being a lot more fun to watch, don’t forget about baseball. This is the time of the year it’s the best.

Anyway, the biggest debate seems to be about Mike Trout vs Miguel Cabrera for the AL MVP. First, I need to make a point. To me, how your team does over the course of the season should mean basically nothing in the MVP voting. Baseball is more of a team game than any sport there is. In basketball, a player like LeBron James could potentially turn the league’s worst team into a playoff team all by himself, or turn one of the league’s best teams into the league’s worst team simply by leaving. (Sorry Cleveland) Basketball is an individual sport at the NBA level; players work together at times but generally the best player on the team takes the majority of the shots, and therefore has the greatest outcome on the game. The only player in baseball that can possibly impact the game in that same way is a dominating starting pitcher; but even guys like Justin Verlander and King Felix only play, at best, about 20% of the team’s games.
If you were to place baseball’s best player in any given season onto the league’s worst team in the same season, not one of those teams would make the playoffs. Think about that for a moment: sports writers, the ones who vote for the MVP, have basically decided that the team you play for matters a great deal in post-season awards. That is ridiculous in a sport that relies so much on so many different teammates succeeding. Joe Mauer, Trevor Plouffe and Josh Willingham are all having great seasons this year. The Twins are one of the worst teams in baseball, because the team is full of junk in other places. Read more…

MLB Best Bets of the Day: August 21, 2012

David PriceKansas City at Tampa Bay 7:10 PM Hochevar vs Price

If I were to do an update to my AL Cy Young Candidates piece today I’m not sure exactly who I would put number one, but I can tell you David Price would be in the top two. The Rays’ ace has been absolutely dominant this season and if he does on the road what he does at home, he would be putting up historic numbers.

Unfortunately, the money line is at -260 today, but if you have a good bankroll that is essentially a ‘gimme pick’.

While Price has been historic at home, Luke Hochevar has been atrocious on the road. With a 5.43 ERA, .295 BAA (.340 BAA at night), and allowing 44 runs in 68.0 IP on the road, Hochevar and Royals are in trouble tonight. Top that off with the fact that the Rays are the hottest hitting team in baseball over the last week and this is just a gimme, it’s a put-all-of-your-money-on-this-game-and-nearly-double-your-bankroll pick.

Pick: Rays -1 ½ (-130)

Toronto at Detroit 7:05 PM Romero vs Scherzer

Similar to Hochevar, Ricky Romero has been pathetic this season. Oddly enough, Romero has been better on the road than at home, as far as his ERA is concerned – 5.42 to 5.65, respectively. Obviously, those numbers don’t give you much reason for caution, here.

The Tigers haven’t exactly been the hottest hitting team in baseball, but they still have some of the best sluggers in the game and they hit lefties better than half the teams in baseball. On the contrary, the Blue Jays are one of the worst hitting teams in baseball over the last seven days and while they do hit Scherzer well, their best hitter (Edwin Encarnacion) is currently in a funk. Read more…

Daily Fantasy Baseball Must Starts: Monday September 10th

Daily Fantasy Baseball Must StartsPlayoffs? We’re talkin’ about playoffs? Well, the public may be discussing the final slots to the postseason, but the fantasy community should be more focused on these three value plays that are currently on the outside looking in.

Value plays:

Detroit Tigers – Jose Quintana has never faced any member of the Tigers, especially not in the beginning of a monumental series in mid September. The 23 year old lefty has held his spot in the rotation with the occasional solid start, but the wheels have begun to fall off of late. In his last two starts (at Baltimore and home against the Twins) Quintana has surrendered 12 hits and 12 earned runs in only 5 innings of action. No disrespect to Adam Jones, but neither of those lineups compare to the talent that Detroit possess. The White Sox have held off the Tigers to this point, but I expect the big moment to get the better of Quintana, and the Tigers offense to flourish.

Aramis Ramirez – The Brewers rarely face Mike Minor, but ARam has made the most of those rare occasions. He is batting .500 against the Braves lefty with a sparkling .833 slugging percentage. Ryan Braun is an elite hitter and seems destined to figure out Minor (0/5 in his career) sooner rather than later, providing a dynamic one two punch in the middle of a solid lineup. Minor’s road ERA is 2.12 runs higher than his number at home, and opponents are batting 53 points higher against him away from Atlanta. If the Brewers are going to make a last second push for the wild card, now is the time, as the offense (led by Ramirez) figures to give them a good chance to win tonight. Read more…

Daily Fantasy Baseball must starts: Tuesday August 21st

Daily Fantasy Baseball Must StartsThe Blue Jays and Tigers face off in what should be the nights most entertaining (and prosperous for fantasy owners) game.

Value plays:

Detroit Tigers – The Tigers need every win they can get as they chase a playoff spot, and the offense figures to pack quite the punch tonight against Ricky Romero and the Blue Jays. In 107 at bats, the Tigers are batting .386 with a remarkable .551 slugging percentage. Only Austin Jackson (.222 batting average) is batting below .250, and half of the healthy Tigers have taken Romero deep. A lineup with a strong average and elite power, the Tigers should produce a minimum of 3 useful fantasy baseball players.

Yunel Escobar – Looking for a middle infielder with power potential? Escobar is slugging .739 against Max Scherzer in his career to go along with a video game like .478 batting average. Scherzer has been anything but consistent this year and was shelled in his last home start (10 hits and 4 earned runs in 5 innings). Toronto may still be without Joey Bats, but this lineup (batting .344 against Scherzer) can still swing for the fences with the best of them. Roster as many players as you can for this game, with Escobar being my pick to click and provide wonderful value for his low price. Read more…

MLB best bets of the day: July 30, 2012

MLB Best bets

It’s funny, I hear people say “leave the emotion out of it” all the time, and yet when I take their advice it’s always as if it comes back to haunt me. Yesterday, I kept my emotions out of it when selection the Miami Marlins to beat the Padres by 1 ½ runs. My emotions, were telling me “you must be f$%@king crazy to bet on Josh Johnson!” Well, at least a part of me was right.

Josh Johnson, who I warned could be traded, did nothing to increase his trade value on Sunday. Going 5.0 innings Johnson walked six, and while he did only give up one earned, he allowed far too many Padres to reach base. It just goes to show, always follow your instincts!

Detroit at Boston 7:10 PM Scherzer vs Buchholz

Today my instincts are telling me to take the Red Sox at home, and their .344 career team batting average (.313 without David Ortiz) when facing Max Scherzer. That said, Scherzer has been hot lately and if the kooky Red Sox manager decides to send out a lineup card without Ellsbury and Crawford, my instincts could have been misled.

As hot as Scherzer has been (four-straight wins without a loss) Clay Buchholz has been equally as hot. The Red Sox starter has put his team in a great position to win in six of his last seven outings as Boston has won six of those games and Buchholz has received four wins in that time.

Picks: Red Sox -112 and Under 9 ½ (-115)

Read more picks here…

What’s wrong with the Motor City Kitties?

 What Is Wrong With The Motor City Kitties?

It was January 24, 2012. On this fateful day, there was a signing that sent shockwaves across Major League Baseball. In a mega deal, the Detroit Tigers reached into their deep pockets and got the second biggest price of the free agent season. Of course, upon signing one of the best hitters in the league in Prince Fielder, the next logical step seemed obvious. Roll through the American League Central, and have everyone home on their couches watching them celebrate in October. But, it hasn’t quite happened that way. In one of the more bizarre storylines of this baseball season, the team that many called unbeatable at the beginning of the year has looked entirely mortal, tripping out of the gate at a mediocre 28-32, and they should consider themselves fortunate to be in the Central, where they are only 6 games back of the Indians and White Sox. But what happened?

Well, for one thing, this isn’t the Tigers lineup that was available last year. As much as people want to point to how well Prince Fielder and Miguel Cabrera are hitting, that still isn’t really comparing to what they had last year, especially down the stretch with Cabrera nearly achieving a triple crown, Jhonny Peralta having an All-Star season and Victor Martinez providing a lethal .330 batting average in the number 9 spot.

Also, you have to look at the fact that there is no way that Justin Verlander and Jose Valverde could have seasons quite like the ones they had last year. They were bound to cool off a little. However, while both of them have faltered a little bit, the Tigers set-up guys and the expected 2nd and 3rd starters in their rotation. Read more here…

Proof that it’s time for instant replay in Major League Baseball

Abner Doubleday

Abner Doubleday invented the game of baseball  in Cooperstown, New York in 1839. By today’s standards that game, their original equipment, and some of their rules seem archaic; there were no helmets, no inside chest protectors, no oversized gloves, and no replays of disputable home runs.

Over the past 173 years, the game has seen many changes. It has appropriately evolved with the times, it’s popularity, and it’s marketability. Changes have been made to make the baseball player more comfortable and quicker like the transformation of the old wool uniforms to mass-produced team brands made from space age fabrics.

Point is, because of changes in technology, the game and those responsible for running it, have made many necessary adjustments that have enhanced its enjoyment and popularity. But have they done enough?

Case in point, we have now come to yet another point in time where it is necessary to ‘update’ the game again in order to make its outcome fair to both sides. The cry for instant replay made its greatest plea almost 2 years ago to the day; June 2, 2010, when Detroit Tigers pitcher Armondo Galarraga was denied being credited with baseball’s 21st perfect game because of a blown call made by veteran umpire Jim Joyce involving the 27th batter to come to the plate.

Fast forward to June 1, 2012 and Mets pitcher Johan Santana who was vying for his team’s first no-hitter in their franchise’s history. A ball hit by former Met Carlos Beltran clearly was fair on replay but was determined to be foul by umpire Adrian Johnson.

If called correctly, Santana doesn’t have his no hitter and history would not have been made. Read more here…

MLB Predictions: AL Central Breakdown, playoff teams, more

prince-fielder

The 2012 version of the American League Central division should be a dogfight all season long…for 2nd-5th place that is. The Detroit Tigers appear to have the division on lockdown while the Indians, Royals, White Sox, and Twins will duke it out for the pipe dream of a wild card play-in game but with a more likely result of merely hoping to stay above .500.

The loss of Victor Martinez temporarily provided optimism to the chasers. And then the Tigers went out and signed Prince Fielder and order was restored. Detroit, coming off of a 95-win season, and their first ever AL Central crown, will look to repeat.

Regarding “the other 4”, it should be an exciting race. Scenarios certainly exist in which all 4 of these teams could end up between 75-82 wins. Don’t be surprised if it happens. The White Sox and Twins are capable of bounce back seasons while the Indians look to build on last year’s 2nd place finish. The x-factor will be the potent, yet young, Royals lineup. If their pitching can at least be respectable, they will make serious noise.

So here’s how I see it shaking out:

1st Place: Detroit Tigers (97-65) – Winning 95 games is no small trick, which is what the Tigers did last year. I think they’re slightly better than last year so I’ll say 97. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up in the low 90’s in wins, but either way, they win the division. Adding Drew Smyly to a rotation of Justin Verlander, Doug Fister, Max Scherzer, and Rick Porcello provides a more than serviceable rotation pitching in front of what will be one of the more destructive offenses in the game. The Tigers have 6 guys who could crack 20 homers this year. It should be a fun summer in Motown.

2nd Place: Minnesota Twins (82-80) – I never discount a Ron Gardenhire-coached team. I expect substantial bounce-back years from Joe Mauer, Justin Morneau, and Francisco Liriano. If they get even 2 of those 3 to play to their potential, they’ll take 2nd place in this division. Predicting a 19-win increase over 2011 is bold, but I think it’s entirely possible here. No way does this team bottom feed again in 2012.

3rd Place: Cleveland Indians (79-83) – The Tribe has added a lot of different arms to their rotation, but none of them excite me. I like Justin Masterson the most, but he struggles mightily against lefties and there are a lot of superb bats from that side of the plate in this division (Fielder, Mauer, Hosmer, etc.). If he’s the ace (sorry Ubaldo Jimenez, I don’t believe), then .500 is the ceiling for this team. Offensively, they will struggle to find runs at times. A healthy Shin Soo-Choo and the continued emergence of Carlos Santana could change that, but they will need some help. Manny Acta has opted for a defense first approach to his 25-man roster. That sounds good, but it’s hard to catch home runs.

4th Place: Kansas City Royals (78-84) – Let’s be honest, the KC starting rotation is highly suspect. Jonathan Sanchez is ultra-shaky and who knows what they’ll get from Luke Hochevar, Danny Duffy, and the 5th starter, which will likely be a revolving door all season. They will need to mash their way into victories, and I think they will. Eric Hosmer appears to be 100% legit. A big spring from Lorenzo Cain combined with the veteran presences of Alex Gordon and Jeff Francouer could be the best outfield in the division. If Mike Moustakas can rake at the dish, this offense will be special. Preseason injuries to Sal Perez and Joakim Soria took a little shine off of this roster, but it’s still going to be an intriguing summer in Kansas City.

5th Place: Chicago White Sox (77-85) – Before you Sox fans start freaking out, just look at the projected records, I’m only predicting you to be 5 games out of 2nd place. The bottom 4 teams could go any of a number of different directions. The key here will be the starting rotation. This could be a very good group but they seem to underachieve more than anything else. If they can get Jake Peavy and Gavin Floyd to pitch to their potential, look out. The Sox obviously need comeback seasons from Adam Dunn and Alex Rios. But even with that, will Paul Konerko have enough help or will the visiting teams take more advantage of the friendly confines than the Sox?

The rest of my predictions:

American League

AL East: 1) Boston, 2) Tampa bay, 3) New York, 4) Toronto, 5) Baltimore

AL West: 1) Los Angeles, 2) Texas, 3) Oakland, 4) Seattle

Wild Cards: Tampa Bay and Texas

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera – runner ups: Adrian Gonzalez and Albert Pujols

AL Cy Young: David Price – runner ups: Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander

National League

NL East: 1) Philadelphia, 2) Washington, 3) Miami, 4) Atlanta, 5) New York

NL Central: 1) Cincinnati, 2) Milwaukee, 3) St. Louis, 4) Chicago, 5) Pittsburgh, 6) Houston

NL West: 1) Arizona, 2) San Francisco, 3) Los Angeles, 4) Colorado, 5) San Diego

Wild Cards: Milwaukee and San Francisco

NL MVP: Matt Kemp – runner ups: Joey Votto and Jose Reyes

NL Cy Young: Zack Greinke – runner ups: Clayton Kershaw and Roy Halladay

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