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2016 MLB Playoff and Yearly Award Predictions

With only about a month left in the season, it’s time to take a look at playoff and yearly award predictions. These are obviously subject to change, but below are my predictions. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to reach out to me on Twitter @dynasty_digest.

Playoff Prediction

AL East: Boston Red Sox

AL Central: Cleveland Indians

AL West: Texas Rangers

Wild Card: Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers

 

 

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Nolan Arenado’s Bat Is Incredible, But His Glove Is Legend… Wait For It… DARY!

Sorry for the “How I Met Your Mother” quote in the title, but I couldn’t resist. At this moment in time, I believe we are witnessing one of the best defensive third baseman to play the game of baseball. At the age of 25, Nolan Arenado has received the National League Gold Glove Award in his first three seasons in the big leagues. He also won his first Fielding Bible in 2015, which means he was voted the best fielding third baseman in the entire Major Leagues, not just the National League. As you can see, he has been racking up the fielding accolades since he was promoted by the Rockies in 2013, but let’s take a look at his numbers.

 

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Red Sox + Padres Have Completed 2016 MLB Runs Scoring Survivor, 23 Teams Left

Waited 32 games to score 10 or more runs, then did the feat 2 times in 3 nights thanks to the heroics of Jackie Bradley JR. and a crazy good lineup.

Waited 32 games to score 10 or more runs, then did the feat 2 times in 3 nights thanks to the heroics of Jackie Bradley JR. and a crazy good lineup.

Chuck Booth (MLB Reports Majority Owner/Lead  Analyst)

We are starting to get down to the nitty gritty of this contest.  7 of the 23 clubs have now completed their 11 different run variations, now that the Red Sox and Padres have accomplished the feat over the last few days.

Boston finishes 6th, and unless the Indians knockout run scores of 8 and 9 runs in any order over the next 2 contests.

San Diego looked to end as one of the last to finish this category early in the year being shutout 3 straight games to start the campaign, and also 5 of their 1st 11 matches.  They have been better as an offense of late.

The Padres swept a twinbill versus the mighty Cubs on Wednesday, and are just 2.5 Games Behind the Giants and Dodgers for the NL West lead at 15 – 20.  Good rally for these guys to finish in the top 10.

The Red Sox waited until game 32 to score more than 10 runs, and then they did the maneuver 2 nights later versus the A’s yet again, with another 2 HR, 6 RBI game from Jackie Bradley JR.

Most of the teams now have 9 or 10 variations covered, with the trailing squad in the whole MLB being the Philadelphia Phillies with just different 7 totals.

The Phightins’ are at least one of 4 rosters still alive in the MLB Shutout Survivor (A’s. Rockies and Pirates). Read the rest of this entry

The AL Has Been Dominating The NL During Interleague For Over A Decade Now

After 7 years of Interleague, the AL trailed the season series 4 - 3, and the overall games mark 853 - 833 (.506).  Since 2004 it has been 10- years straight of AL beatdowns, winning each campaign for Won - Loss record - 1437 - 1206 (.544).

After the 1st 7 years of Interleague, the AL trailed the season series 4 – 3, and the overall games mark 853 – 833 (.506). Since 2004 it has been 10 years straight of AL beatdowns, winning each campaign for Won – Loss record, with a clip of  1437 – 1206 (.544).  Despite a promising start of 26 – 17 this season for the Senior Circuit, the AL has reeled off a 63 – 45 run, to hold an overall mark of 80 – 71 (.530) – which is slightly above the Lifetime mark of .524 baseball

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer): 

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The American League holds a decisive ALL – Time Record on the National League in Interleague play – and perhaps that is why a lot of traditional fans hate the concept even more.

Heading into play in 2014, the AL has won the last decade straight of seasonal play (10 years), and now possess an overall yearly record of 13 – 4 over the Senior Circuit.

It wasn’t always this dominant for the Junior Circuit. 4 of the 1st 7 campaigns were taken by the NL, however ever since the start of 2004, the American League has routinely speedbagged their opposition league.

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Howard And Utley: Healthy And Ready For A Huge 2013

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Friday, March. 1/2013

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard guest starring on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I love this show and this episode, but it is wildly inappropriate and I would not suggest it for children. Chase and Ryan were awesome in it.

Chase Utley and Ryan Howard guest starring on “It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia.” I love this show and this episode, but it is wildly inappropriate and I would not suggest it for children. Chase and Ryan were awesome in it.

By Ryan Dana (MLB Reports Writer): 

Ryan Howard and Chase Utley have played for the Philadelphia Phillies their entire careers to this point. They have been holding down the right side of the infield for the Phillies consistently since 2006 – and have been tearing apart pitching from the 3-4 slots in the lineup for equally as long. They each played in 100+ games every year since the 2006 season, until an injury plagued 2012 campaign for the duo.

Howard managed to play just 71 games, and Utley only 83. Maybe age is starting to catch up with the 33 year old Howard and 34 year old Utley, and if it is, that is a terrible sign for the Phillies playoff aspirations because their offense has been built around the two (plus standout Shortstop Jimmy Rollins). I think the Utley – Howard combo still has productive seasons left with in Philadelphia, and 2013 should prove that. I expect them to be bright spots in the lineup for a team that has become largely reliant on their starting pitching to achieve success.

Baseball Friends Utley and Howard:

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Kyle Lohse: NL Cy Young Candidate?

Thursday September 27th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Kyle Lohse could be the most underrated pitcher in the National League, if not all of baseball. Granted, he does not have stand-out stuff and is not an eccentric character. He plays for the Cardinals, so he could be overshadowed by true “aces” Adam Wainwright and Chris Carpenter. He blends in with the rest of the league. Over his 12-year career, Lohse has been mediocre, posting a cumulative 4.44 ERA. He started his career on the Minnesota Twins and bounced around between Cincinnati and Philadelphia over a three-year span. He finally settled in St. Louis in 2008 and found his stride (minus 2010).

In St. Louis excluding 2010, Lohse never had an ERA higher than 4.74, and beside this year, his lowest ERA was 3.39—last year. He has been reliable for the Cardinals, and has carried a good percentage of the workload. 2010 was a rough patch for Lohse—he only threw 92 innings and posted a 6.55 ERA. Last year was his best—leading up to this year—when he posted a 3.39 ERA over 188.1 innings of work. This year has been the best of his career by far. Up to now, Lohse has pitched over 200 innings—for just the third time in his career. His ERA sits at 2.77—the best of his career, and he has gone 16-3—his best record. He still will have a start or two left this season, so it will be interesting to see how he will build on these strong numbers. While everyone is talking Kris Medlen these days, plus Cain, Gio and Dickey, Lohse seems to have been lost in the shuffle. Read the rest of this entry

The Case for Bryce Harper as the 2012 National League ROY

Friday September 21st, 2012

Sam Evans: Bryce Harper is two years removed from high school and he is a young leader on a team leading the competitive N.L. East. Baseball has never seen a high school prospect draw as much attention that Harper got yet somehow, he has managed to live up to the hype at every level he’s faced. As with any rookie, Harper has had struggles. What has impressed me the most about him is how he responded to those slumps. Harper has a 181 wRC+ in the month of September and he is showing no signs of slowing up. For these reasons and others, I believe Bryce Harper deserves to be the National Rookie of the Year. Read the rest of this entry

Melky Cabrera out for the Season: Giants’ Outfielder Suspended 50 Games for PED

Wednesday August 15th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  Just a little while ago, Giants’ outfielder Melky Cabrera was announced suspended for 50 games due to testing positive for testosterone—a performance enhancer. This will put him out of action for the rest of the season.

For the Giants, this is catastrophic. They lost a .346 hitter in the middle of the lineup. They just acquired Hunter Pence and got Pablo Sandoval back from the DL, and the lineup was stacked. They got through one game with the best possible lineup, and then this. As a Giants fan, I can’t even think of the words to describe this situation. Apparently the testing was during the All Star Break. The Giants now have a tougher road to the playoffs, but I’m not sure their goose is cooked. Buster Posey has been on fire recently, and the return of Sandoval should provide a large boost. The major problem with Cabrera’s absence is the loss of a high-average hitter. Now the Giants will need to work harder in order to get runners on base for the power hitters. Cabrera was having his best season—even better than last. Now the Giants must hope to scrappily win enough games to snag a wild card. Gregor Blanco will be expected to fill in for Cabrera. The Giants recently signed Xavier Nady, so he might play a part too.

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Will the Arizona Diamondbacks Win the NL West?

Monday August 6th, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Diamondbacks fans spoke out about our last piece on the Dodgers and Giants, so here’s one devoted just to the Dbacks. After last year’s run when they dethroned the world champion Giants, Arizona was poised for something similar this season. In the offseason, they acquired Trevor Cahill from the A’s. He provided some extra depth in the already-strong pitching staff that included Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, and Joe Saunders. With Cahill, Justin Upton, Chris Young, Aaron Hill, and offseason signing Jason Kubel, the Diamondbacks were ready to defend their NL West title.

Arizona however, started off a bit slow. Daniel Hudson needed Tommy John Surgery and Stephen Drew wasn’t quite ready to come off the DL. Catcher Miguel Montero went into a slump and Chris Young—after a hot start—was headed to the DL. While all of this was happening, the Dodgers were absolutely on fire. Matt Kemp was already on the fast track to winning MVP, and the team was in first place by a nice margin. The Giants were doing well too. With no competition from the Padres, the D-Backs were in third place. As the season went along, Matt Kemp was sidelined by a hamstring injury and the Dodgers faltered. The Giants kept pace and ended up passing the Dodgers to take first place. Meanwhile, the D-Backs rebounded and stayed in contention. At the All Star Break, the Dodgers led the West by half a game over the Giants and by four games over Arizona. The standings haven’t changed drastically over time, as now the Giants lead by half a game over the Dodgers and by three over the Diamondbacks.

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Giants and Dodgers: Who Will Take the N.L. West Crown?

Thursday August 2nd, 2012

Bernie Olshansky: Now that each team is for the most part set going into the final stretch, the NL West is up for grabs. The Dodgers were the most prominent buyer this year and the Giants didn’t stand idly by. Los Angeles acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League, and the Giants got Hunter Pence. Before any deals were made, I would say the Giants had a better overall team. But after getting some of the best talent that was made available at the non-waiver trade deadline, the Dodgers might have grabbed a slight edge. Both teams may still make more moves before the year is done, but at this point the N.L. West race will be coming down to the wire.

The Giants

With arguably the best pitching staff in the whole National League, the Giants have a great advantage in pitcher-friendly AT&T Park. This year with Tim Lincecum in a bit of a funk, Matt Cain leads the strong staff including Ryan Vogelsong, Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Barry Zito. Heading into this season, Barry Zito was the weak link, going 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA in 2010, and 3-4 with a 5.87 ERA in 2011. Zito was left off the playoff roster in the Giants’ World Series-winning season in 2010. This year has been a good one for Zito—he’s 8-7 with a 3.89 ERA in 20 starts. The weak link in the pitching staff this year has been Tim Lincecum. He is 5-11 with a 5.62 ERA, but has shown some signs of coming out of his season-long slump. If he can replicate some of last season or his performance in the 2010 playoffs, the Giants will have no problem making the playoffs. Read the rest of this entry

2012 Trade Deadline Update #8 7/31: Final Deals: Victorino, Pence, and More

Tuesday July 31st, 2012

Bernie Olshansky:  What a busy day! Here are the last of the major deals that led up to the 4:00 p.m. eastern time deadline:

Hunter Pence to the Giants

The Giants and Dodgers are in a tie for first in the NL West as of today. Leading up to the deadline, the Dodgers have acquired Hanley Ramirez, Shane Victorino, and Brandon League. With the Dodgers making such big moves to add to their offensive lineup, the Giants needed to get a big bat. Hunter Pence is the solution the Giants were looking for, hitting .271with 17 homers and 59 RBI. For Pence and cash considerations, the Giants sent outfielder Nate Schierholtz, minor league catcher Tommy Joseph, and minor league pitcher Seth Rosin. This year, Schierholtz hit .257 in 196 plate appearances. Joseph hit .260 in 335 plate appearances in Double-A, and Rosin held a 4.31 ERA in 56.1 innings in Single-A. I love this move for the Giants. Already with Pablo Sandoval (on the DL now but expected back soon), Melky Cabrera, and Buster Posey in the lineup, the Giants look good. Now with Hunter Pence, they will put up some serious competition to the Dodgers for the NL West crown. The Phillies also get some good talent. Nate Schierholtz never really made it with the Giants, so hopefully he will get a fresh start in Philadephia. Tommy Joseph also was a highly regarded prospect in the Giants organization, and he looks like he will be the catcher of the future. Read the rest of this entry

Bob Gibson: Ranking the Cardinals Hurler Among the Greatest of All Time

Friday March 9th, 2012

Rob Bland:  Bob Gibson is, in Jonathan Hacohen’s mind, the best pitcher of all time.  To me, there is certainly in an argument for at least top-10, maybe top-5. But I have trouble actually justifying putting him ahead of Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Pedro Martinez and Walter Johnson.  Now, these pitchers played in different eras, so it is extremely difficult to compare them side-by-side.  

Bob Gibson pitched for the St. Louis Cardinals for parts of 17 seasons, racking up 251 wins against 174 losses.  He made his debut on April 15, 1959, and played his last game in September of 1975.  Six years later he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, receiving 337 of a total 401 votes (84%).  

Between 1961 and 1974, Gibson threw over 200 innings all but twice; 175.1 in 1967, and 195 in 1973.  He surpassed 250 innings pitched eight times, and 290 innings four times.  Needless to say, Gibby was a work horse.   (more…)

Having Long Term Managers Produces Results

Monday February 20, 2012

Douglas ‘Chuck’ Booth:  Let’s face it, we live in a right here, right now world.  With this motto, baseball manager have great expectations for instant results.  This rule even applies to managers who have a great track record.  The template from yesteryear was simple, hire a manager that had been coaching in your organization for years.  This way, it would be an easy transition into the Manager role.  When the managers were hired, they were given years to shape the team.  It wasn’t unheard of for managers to be with a Major League Team for 20-30 years, when you factored in coaching and Manager positions of elevation.  Today we take a look at four skippers who personify this philosophy: Tommy Lasorda, Tony La Russa, Cito Gaston and Sparky Anderson. Read the rest of this entry

Ask the Reports: Sunday November 27th

Sunday November 27, 2011

Jonathan Hacohen:  Posted every Weekend: Your top baseball questions from the past week are answered. E-mail all questions to mlbreports@gmail.com, message us on Twitter and post on our Facebook Wall!

Let’s get to your top questions of the week:

Q:  I know this is off topic but with the Houston Astros moving to the AL West and constant interleague play, what exactly is the point of an American League and a National League, besides of course the DH?


MLB reports:  The existence of the designated hitter is the key to separate the American League and National League.  Without the DH, there is no difference between the leagues.  Otherwise, having separate leagues would simply be a way to divide up the divisions and teams.  With daily interleague games coming, the mystique of having separate leagues is starting to fall by the wayside.  An idea that was thrown around was to have the DH in play in National League parks and no DH in American League parks during interleague play.  That would create strong interest in the different styles of play in the different parks and peak strong interest in interleague play.  But unfortunately, it appears that idea has been scrapped for now.  Long term, baseball needs to decide if it will have a designated hitter or not.  There are arguments on both sides.  Traditionalists like myself would like to scrap the DH all together and introduce National League style baseball throughout baseball.  With the in-game moves and decisions that must be included with the pitcher hitting, I prefer the NL game.  But others see pitchers hitting as hurting the game with “automatic outs” and risking the health and safety of pitchers by having them hit in the NL.  This argument will continue likely for decades until a resolution is agreed upon one way or the other.  Until then, we will continue to have two different leagues in place.  One has a designated hitter and one does not.  With the increase in interleague play, the line separating the leagues has become even blurrier.  Great question!

Q:  What’s the scouting report on Luis Valbuena?  Andrew
MLB reports:  The newest member of the Toronto Blue Jays will be turning 26 this week (November 30th birthday)- so be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday!  Born in Venezuela, Valbuena is a utility infielder at this point in his career, playing second, short and third.  Coming up originally with the Mariners originally in 2008, Valbuena was traded in December 2008 as part of the Franklin Gutierrez swap.  Since then, Valbuena has played parts of three seasons with the Indians.  In 229 career games, Valbuena has 13 home runs, 57 rbis, 84 runs, .226 avg, .286 obp and .344 slg.  Considering that he was designated for assignment, the Jays picked him up for cash considerations makes sense.  He has shown little at the major league level thus far, but is young and known for a strong glove.  Valbuena has shown steady improvement in the last three years in the minors, with a breakout season in AAA Columbus in 2011.  Valbuena popped a strong 17 home runs in 113 games, with 75 rbis, 64 runs, hitting .302 with a .307 OBP and .476 SLG.  If those numbers can be replicated to any degree at the major league level, the Jays may have a hidden gem uncovered.  At worst, we could be seeing another Ramon Santiago type player or the Venezuelan John McDonald.  The Jays need a backup infielder on the roster and Valbuena could be the answer.  Or possibly their next starting second baseman for the next five seasons.  Doubtful…but it could happen!
Q:  Would Yonder Alonso look good on our team?  Would Xavier Nady be a good fit with the Indians or does the Tribe want something more? Martin
MLB reports:  Wow, that is a mountain of questions!!!   Firstly, Yonder Alonso would look great on the Indians.  In fact, he would look great in 29 other lineups.  The kid is a future superstar, no doubt in my mind.  It is just a question of finding him a permanent home.  The Reds have tried him in left field, but do not see him as a long-term solution there.  The team will either have to move him, or open up first by trading franchise star Joey Votto.  At this point, it looks like Alonso will be the one to go.  I am a big Matt LaPorta supporter, but long-term he does not appear to be the solution for the Indians.  He can always move to the outfield or DH, but a change of scenery is likely the best option for him.  LaPorta never lived up to the expectations of being traded for C.C. Sabathia and both the team and player need to move on.  The Indians have prospects to move, although not as many after all their 2011 swaps including the Ubaldo Jimenez trade.  I can’t see the team wanting to trade more parts, as they cannot deplete their farm.  Given what other teams can offer for Alonso, mainly the Rays, I don’t see an Alonso move in the future of the Indians.  It would be a nice acquisition, but not likely to happen.  Nady on the other hand would be a nice low risk pickup.  If healthy, he could bring the leadership and experience the team needs.  Championship teams need strong extra parts and Xavier Nady would be a strong fit in that regard.  As long as comes cheap and doesn’t expect to start, I would say that is a done deal.  The team may look for one or two more strong bats for its lineups, but that would not stop a potential Nady signing.
Q:  Can’t help but think of Scott Kazmir (compared to Gio Gonzalez being looked at but several teams in a trade).  Brandon
MLB reports: Poor Gio Gonzalez.  Why the harsh words? In all seriousness, I see where you are going with the comparison.  High walk, high strikeout pitcher.  After a 3.23 ERA in 2010, Gio lowered it more to 3.12 in 2011.  He has enjoyed near identical 1.31 WHIPs the last two seasons.  He does not give up a ton of hits, but the walks are very high.  He led the league with 91 walks after allowing 92 the year before.  The home/road splits tell a big part of the story.  This season, Gio went 10-5 at home, with a 2.70 ERA and 1.227 WHIP.  On the road, Gio went 6-7 with a 3.62 ERA and 1.424 WHIP.  Pitching in the Oakland ballpark clearly has a strong effect on his numbers.  Similar splits are found in his 2010 numbers as well.  Thus the conclusion is likely that taking Gio Gonzalez out of Oakland and putting him in a hitter’s ballpark (say Wrigley, Fenway or the Rogers Centre) and his numbers will likely balloon.  Pitching in Oakland likely masks much of his warts.  He just turned 26 in September so he still has time to develop.  The next two seasons will tell the tale.  He could become a superstar or the next Scott Kazmir.  Until those walk totals start to drop, you could be on to something.  The kid has a ton of talent, don’t get me wrong.  But he is far from a sure thing.  Until then, your comparison could be close.  Thank you for the comment!
Q:  (Final question:)  Will Kurt Suzuki ever become a superstar?  Bill
MLB reports: Thanks for the question Bill.  I chose this question because I have pondered that question for many seasons.  Suzuki, a 2nd round pick of the A’s in 2004 is now 28-years of age.  They say catchers take longer to develop than other hitters.  Suzuki has been steady behind in the plate, seen as strong defensively and a good game-caller.  The question has been the offense.  The perception has been that Suzuki has pop in his bat and able to take walks in the “moneyball” mold.  Looking at the numbers, that has not transpired in reality.  Suzuki had a career high 15 home runs in 2009 and walked a career high 44 times in 2008.  Suzuki has essentially regressed to a hitter that walks 30+ times, hits a dozen or so home runs in a year, has a .300 or so OBP with a SLG under .400.  He will play in the majority of his team’s games though.  Welcome to Jason Kendall territory.  That is where Suzuki is headed.  My heart says that he will still become a Jason Varitek type hitter as a catcher.  But my brain sees Kendall.  There are a lot worse things in life than becoming the next Jason Kendall.  But for a catcher that had high expectations, more was expected of Suzuki.  I can’t see him ever becoming a superstar at this point.  But I can see a 15-year major league career in his future, built mostly on his catching abilities.

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Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)


Did Braun and Verlander Deserve Their MVP Awards?

Wednesday November 23, 2011

Sam Evans: Over the last two days, Major League Baseball announced their 2011 MVPs. Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers took home the award in the American League while Ryan Braun of the Milwaukee Brewers won the National League award. Now that the voting is over, we can look at who really deserved the awards.

American League MVP: In August, Buster Olney sparked discussion on the AL MVP, when he said on Twitter that if he had a vote it would go to Verlander. At the time, I thought that the award was Jose Bautista‘s to lose. However, after watching Verlander dominate team after team, it became clear to me that this was the most valuable player in the American League. He meant more to his team than any other player in the league. Verlander finished with a with a 2.40 ERA in 251 innings. Verlander threw more innings than any other pitcher in the majors, and to have that strong of numbers in those innings makes it even more impressive.

Verlander also threw his second career no-hitter this year, and led the majors in strikeouts. Jacoby Ellsbury and  Jose Bautista are not shabby candidates either, but they didn’t have the effect Verlander did on his team. The Tigers expected to win every single time that Verlander was on the mound. Overall, even if the BBWAA made this decision based on Verlander’s twenty-four wins, it was the right choice. Verlander became the first pitcher to win the MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

National League MVP:  In somewhat of a surprising decision, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun was awarded the NL MVP award, receiving 20 out of 32 first place votes, and a total of 388 points. Finishing a close second was Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp, who received 10 first place votes, and a total of 332 points.

First of all, these were obviously the top two candidates. They both had amazing years that should not go unnoticed despite who actually won the award. What I think it came down to was that Braun made the playoffs and Kemp didn’t. This is somewhat understandable because you can make the argument that if a certain player had such a big impact on their team then they should have made the playoffs. The real question is did Braun really make his team that much better, or did he just play on a much better team? Also, did the distractions surrounding the Dodgers and its ownership affect Kemp’s chances of winning the MVP? It definitely did not help his case.

To truly compare these players first you have to evaluate their defense. Kemp played a much harder position then Braun and he had to cover more ground. Kemp had a UZR (Ultimate Zone Rating, a stat used to show how much ground a player covers) of -4.6. Braun had a UZR of -3.8. Neither of these is very impressive, so I guess we can just call this comparison a draw.

As for offense, in my own opinion, Kemp had a stronger year. Both players were very similar in normal statistics. Braun hit .332 with 33 HR and 111 RBI. Kemp hit .324 with 39 HR and 126 RBI. What impresses me is that Kemp scored more runs than Braun despite not having Prince Fielder batting behind him. Also, Kemp had a harder ballpark to hit in, and plays in a stronger pitching division. Kemp was really the only dangerous hitter in the Dodgers lineup, so pitchers could avoid him more than Braun.

According to Baseball-Reference WAR, Kemp was by far the more valuable player. Kemp led the NL with 10.0 WAR, which make Braun’s 7.7 seem miniscule. Kemp also led the National League in total bases, with 353, and Adjusted OPS + with 171.

These two players had almost identical years. If I had a vote, it would have gone to Kemp. But I don’t think Braun winning is anything to get worked up about.  A strong case could have been made for him, as shown by Braun being the winner of the 2012 NL MVP award.

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Baseball Writer, Sam Evans.  We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers.  You can also follow Sam on Twitter.***

The End of the Astros: Bring Back the Houston Colt .45s

Saturday November 19, 2011

MLB reports – Jonathan Hacohen:  The big news of the day in Houston is the approval of the sale of the Houston Astros to Jim Crane.  Drayton McLane is out as owner.  The final price tag for the team was $615 million.  The catch?  Starting in 2013, the Astros are being realigned to the AL West.  “Houston” has played in the National League since 1962, the year the team was awarded the franchise.  But after 50 years playing NL baseball, the Astros are off to play in the American League.  Houston fans are somewhat dismayed…all the way to upset.  There are season ticket holders that are choosing not to renew their ticket packages.  Attendance is down.  The team has gutted to the point that it is almost a AAA team.  Now, the team is being moved to the American League.  For fans of National League baseball, this move is hard to swallow.  A big advantage of the move is the rivalry that will come into place with the neighboring Texas Rangers.  But with the Mariners, Angels and Athletics in the same division, time zones will be a big problem for Astros fans watching road games.  With all the minuses in the equation, something else needs to be done.  The move to the AL, may create somewhat of a buzz, but perhaps not enough to repair the damages that will result from the move.  The solution?  Re-brand the Astros.  Bring back the Colts .45s.

For you baseball history buffs, the Houston Colt .45s was the original name for the Houston MLB franchise.  The name was conceived by a “pick the name contest”- and what a name it was!  With the idea of the “old west”, the idea of the old colt .45 gun was very cool and classic.   It really fit the Texas mold.  The team even played at Colt Stadium.  But three years later, the team had its own indoor stadium.  The famous (or infamous) Astrodome.  For thirty-five years, the Astrodome was known as the first indoor MLB stadium with the first non-grass surface (appropriately named AstroTurf).  With the space program popularity in Houston, the team very much built itself on the “Astro” concept.  The Houston Astros.  AstroTurf.  The Astrodome.  But now, Houston:  We have a problem.  The team changed locations into a retractable roof stadium in 2000.  Originally named Enron Field and now Minute Maid Park.  No more Astrodome.  The field in the new park, was grass.  No more AstroTurf.  In fact, only the Rays and Blue Jays still play on turf.  So with the Astrodome and AstroTurf gone, why stick with the “Astros” name? The space program connection was probably very hip and trendy in its day.  But as long as I can remember (80’s – Present), the Astros name is not a beloved or dear brand.  It is time to end the final link to the Astros days.

Everything old is new again.  Retro is in.  People love nostalgia, especially baseball fans.  I can’t recall one baseball conversation that I have ever had that included the Colt .45s without the party getting excited.  There was something about that name and logo.  Part of it was the short life span (only three seasons).  It is a very “cool” name.  Original.  You just don’t see a sports team with a name like that.  Then you take into account the logo and Colt .45s envy begins.  I have been to Cooperstown.  I have been to many major league stadiums.  Bring up the Colt .45s name and you generate excitement.  So here is my proposal.  Starting in 2013, to coincide with their move to the AL West, the Houston Astros would become known as the Houston Colt .45s.  The result?  The team would carry excitement and interest everywhere they go.  Merchandise sales would be through the roof.  For a team with a sub-par talent level playing in a league that is largely opposed by its fan base, renaming the team would give the edge that is needed.

I know what many of you are going to say.  I can hear it now.  You cannot promote guns.  Guns means violence and killing.  It will send a bad message.  Etc…Etc…Etc… I get it.  Yes.  Many of you that are sensitive to these issues may be initially “gun-shy” about the idea.  But let’s be realistic.  There is violence and bad influences all over society, from televisions shows, movies, commercials, music, magazines, video games and much of pop culture.  To me, it is not like it is a picture of a bullet or open wound.  Much of the younger generation wouldn’t necessarily know that a colt .45 was a gun.  From there, with a classic and simple logo- the “gun” part of the colt .45s shouldn’t conjure up violence and negative images.  It is simply a a piece of history.  Almost a work of art.  A piece of Houston history and culture.  Like the old wild west.  When the Colt .45s come to play, it will be like an old-time showdown.  The name is chique.  The logo is very hip.  It will be a winner.

For you baseball fans that are about ready to jump out of your seat and order your Colt .45s jersey, I have some bad news.  The name change is not coming any time soon.  It still remains a figment of my imagination and passion.  But with enough of a vision and push, it could happen.  I have seen stranger things develop.  I can see only good things happening if the Houston Colt .45s return.  Even if the publicity is not all positive, the name change will get many fans talking.  A buzz will be created.  For a team that is on the decline and with little upside to look forward to, a name change is probably the biggest quick-fix scheme you will find.  Let’s bury the Astros name with the Astrodome and AstroTurf.  After erasing two mistakes, let’s finish off the third and final portion and bring back respectability to Houston.  Let’s give the team an old/new identity.  The Colt 45 will become the weapon that Houston uses to climb back to baseball respectability and eventually excellence.

Jonathan Hacohen is the Lead Baseball Columnist & Editor for MLB reports:  You can follow Jonathan on Twitter (@JHacohen)

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Kimbrel and Hellickson Named the 2011 AL and NL Rookie Of The Year

Tuesday November 15, 2011

Sam Evans:If you haven’t heard already, on Monday, Major League Baseball announced the rookie of the year winners. Craig Kimbrel won the NL ROY, and Jeremy Hellickson won the AL ROY. Let’s look at the winners and whether or not each deserved their respective awards.

Craig Kimbrel: National League Rookie of the Year:

Craig Kimbrel received a whopping 32 out of 32 first place votes, becoming the 17th player to receive all first place votes. In my opinion, the Atlanta Braves closer Kimbrel definitely deserved this award. He was not only extremely impressive to the eye, but the numbers backed it up. Kimbrel finished with 18 earned runs in 77 innings. He finished with 46 saves and struck out 14.84 K/9. Coming in second place was Kimbrel’s teammate Freddie Freeman with 70 votes, but no first place votes.

I would usually be hesitant to give a closer the award over a player who plays every day. However, Craig Kimbrel is just downright filthy. He might have the best curveball in baseball, and he is only 23 years old. It is impressive for a young flame throwing reliever to be consistent throughout the whole regular season. Not to mention, Braves Manager Fredi González, probably used Kimbrel more than he should have. This was evidenced when Kimbrel had a rough last month of the season with an ERA of 4.76.  It should be noted that Kimbrel threw more innings in 2011 then he threw in any one year throughout the minors. Overall, I think that the voters made the right decision here. Kimbrel was the best reliever in all of baseball and was a very valuable asset to his team.

Jeremy Hellickson: American League Rookie of the Year

Hellickson received 17 out of 28 first place votes. This award was a surprise to a lot of people, including Hellickson,””I guess I was a little surprised, there was a handful of guys I think all had the same amount of chance to win.” If you remember back to September, I wrote that I thought Mark Trumbo should win the AL ROY. Well, I admit that I changed my mind since then. I came to the conclusion that either Michael Pineda or Eric Hosmer were more deserving of the award. Trumbo came in second place with 63 votes (5 1st place votes), thirty-nine behind Hellickson.

I can’t say that I was surprised when I heard that Hellickson won the award. After all, he pitches in by far, the strongest division in the league, he almost threw 200 innings, and he had an ERA under 3.00. Unfortunately, when you take a closer look at his peripherals, Hellickson really didn’t have the year that his standard numbers suggest. He had a SIERA (Skill Interactive ERA) of 4.63 and a FIP (Fielding Independent Pitching) of 4.44. Who knows what Hellickson’s numbers would have looked like without an outstanding defense behind him! He only struck out 5.57 batters per nine innings, and an 82 LOB %. What these numbers tell us is that Hellickson really had luck on his side and he likely wasn’t even the best rookie pitcher in his division.

I’m not so sure that Hellickson deserved this award. I’m not saying he didn’t have an amazing year helping lead the Rays to the playoffs. I just think that their were stronger candidates to win the ROY award in the AL.

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