Tuesday, October 03, 2006

PLAYOFF PREVIEW PREVIEW

Even though I'm a baseball geek of the highest order, well versed in both the history and analysis of my favorite professional sport, I've dedicated the baseball writings on this here blog to the Mets. Exclusively. And after 162 games of kick-ass, NL-demolishing demonstrations of skill by those very same Mets, I'm loath to do anything to reverse that karmic flow, invite jinxes, mess with the chi of the baseball gods.

No sir.

That said, I'm not quite ready to launch into my preview of the Mets-Dodgers series. Plus, I predicted that after returning from my vacation, the Mets would rediscover their bats and go 4-1 down the stretch.

What happened? The Mets rediscovered their bats and went 4-1 down the stretch. So I get a freebie. And, therefore, I'll quickly address other issues, some of which touch on the general state of the majors as the second season beckons.

Got it? Me neither. But let's get to it, shall we:

NL MVP: Basically, this came down to a 5 man race. Pujols, Howard, & Berkman with the best offensive stats. Howard, Berkman & Cabrera with the advantages of full seasons-worth of playing time. Beltran the only one to play the field with real leather (Corinthian or otherwise) on his hand, as opposed to the actual gold gloves the others use. Beltran & Cabrera without the boost from playing in a bandbox.

Howard, who runs the bases as well as David Ortiz, and plays first base with the facility & aplomb of Mike Piazza, is the media favorite, and will probably win based on his gaudy HR & RBI stats. Hey, Larry Walker stole the award in '97 from Piazza & Gwynn with the same deadly combo of sexy triple crown numbers + a world-class hitters park. But in my opinion, Howard's late-season power slump combined with the Phils failure to clinch a playoff berth undermines his already bogus MVP candidacy. I think he's the 4th best hitter among the 5 candidates, as well as the least complete ballplayer.

Cabrera's a dick. So that eliminates him.

Berkman also plays in a notorious hitter's park. And he's on the same team as Roger Clemens, making him a dick by association. No go, Lancerooni.

So that leaves Pujols and the Beltranator. Carlos missed 22 games and didn't have the greatest September in history. He made 370 batting outs while Pujols made 378. And for the cost of those 8 outs? Phat Albert hit 34 more singles, 8 additional HRs and drove in 21 more runs, on a lower scoring team. Beltran had 5 more doubles, 3 extra BBs, and scored 8 more times. Even combined with Beltran's fielding and baserunning, I think Pujols brought a little more to the game.

But it's not as big a difference as the baseball writers are gonna say. My MVP standings for the NL:

Pujols
Beltran
Cabrera
Berkman
Howard

AL MVP: There seeem to be 8 legitimate candidates as far as I see it: Hafner & Manny have the best offensive numbers (by far), but both missed too many games to consider. Ortiz & Thome both hit amazingly, but each is a DH, so no dice, at least not with catchers & shortstops in the mix. Morneau had a fine season, but I'm not on that bandwagon (see my comments above about overrating triple crown numbers).

That leaves Dye, Mauer & Jeter. Dye plays RF, and plays in the best hitter's park among the three. I never thought of him as an exceptional glove man, so I'm assuming he hasn't improved as he's aged, especially following that weird leg injury a few years ago. Ok, so we're down to Jeter & Mauer.

Jeter has the edge in playing time, speed, and Page Six sightings. Mauer has the edge in everything else, including the fact that he's not Derek Jeter. My AL MVP standings:

Mauer
Jeter
Dye
Ortiz
Morneau

NL Cy Young: Let me begin by saying there's no freaking way a reliever who pitches 75 innings should win this over a starter with 200+. Just ridiculous. So adios Wags & Hoffman. You don't get to play.

That leaves 7 candidates, as far as I see it. I add Aaron Harang to the usual suspects, due to the triple factors of a high IP total, a horrendous pitchers park, and excellent K/BB & K/9 ratios which lead me to believe his defense probably hamstrung him a bit this year. That said, his 3.76 ERA won't cut it. Nor will Smoltz' 3.49. And Carlos "No Relation To Victor (Obviously)" Zambrano didn't pitch enough innings. Plus, he's a Cub, and I'm still mad Sutcliffe won over Gooden in '84. So he's out.

So we're down to Oswalt, Webb, Carpenter, & Arroyo. Now, in my opinion, Arroyo doesn't get enough credit. He led the majors in innings pitched, compiled an excellent 3.29 ERA in that ridiculous ballpark, and had Ken Griffey Jr. playing CF behind him. (Please re-read that last clause. Thanks.) All that said, his ERA is superficially low due to giving up 10 unearned runs, and somehow he managed only a 14-11 record.

Which brings us to Carpenter, Webb, & Oswalt. There's really no way I can declare a winner among them without delving into the kind of sabermetric analysis I really don't feel like getting into here. So I'm gonna give it to Webb based on the additional 15 innings he pitched, combined with the facts that Carpenter won last year and Oswalt is Clemens' teammate. My NL Cy Young standings:

Webb
Oswalt
Carpenter
Arroyo
Harang

AL Cy Young: You're kidding, right?

My AL Cy Young standings:

Johan Santana
Johan Sebastian Bach
Lefty Gomez
Eddie Lee Whitson
Eddie Lee Wilkins

And as for Rookie of the Year, Manager of the Year, Comeback player of the year, and all the other dumb awards that I ignore, let me say: I dunno.

Tomorrow, back with the playoff preview. It should go without saying that I'm picking the Mets to win at every stage, so this should be both incredibly biased, and nearly useless, for the purposes of analysis. That said, I plan to take it as seriously as I can without being too serious. If that makes any sense. Oh, whatever. Come back tomorrow & check it out. Let's Go Mets!

6 Comments:

Blogger Dwilkers said...

I've dedicated the baseball writings on this here blog to the Mets. Exclusively.

Does that make me a troll if I comment about my Astros? Sometimes I wonder about that over at Crank's site too.

8:48 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Does that make me a troll if I comment about my Astros?

Hell, no. Please, comment away. I also know for a fact, that at least one regular here is a huge Astro fan.

8:53 AM  
Blogger Dwilkers said...

OK, then, thanks Mike.

Since I'm looking at the ever present "next year" right now, and I know you guys are also needing to make a move pitching-wise this winter, what they're saying here locally is that the Astros are going to make a run at Dontrel Willis and Woody Williams *both*.

What we're being told down here is Willis is going to be on the block because the owner down there doesn't want to face him going free agent.

Back on the topic, why do you hate Clemens so much? I didn't realize folks in NY had such a hard-on for him. Is it because of his bat tossing proclivities?

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Danny said...

Here, I added something to your NL MVP Voting list:

6. Reyes

As for the AL MVP, having been an admirer of Mauer's game for a long time, he really put it together this year. He won't win it, but I also think he should. Catchers that hit should get extra credit because of all of the extra work they put in to manage a pitching staff (especially in the NL, where DHing on your "off days" is not even an option).

Which makes Piazza never winning an MVP all the more ludicrous and disappointing.

For some reason, I get way too worked up over who wins these things.

9:29 AM  
Anonymous Mike said...

Honestly, Dwilk, I don't really hate Clemens that much. But it's so much damn fun to rag on him, especially as the Mets return to the post-season for the first time since a certain, bizarre bat-tossing incident I'm sure you recall.

Nonetheless, on the personality level, he seems to be an A-1 jerk.

Danny-

1997's result was a crime against nature at a level that only a GOP congressman can achieve. If not Piazza that year, then it surely should've been Gwynn.

Nonetheless, we all knopw Howard's taking the hardware. And likely it'll be Jeter in the AL. I bet Morneau finishes ahead of Mauer.

10:08 AM  
Anonymous John Royal said...

Hey, Mike. Here are some more good reasons that Joe Mauer should be the AL MVP. Except for Johan Santana, the Twins starting staff changed on a daily basis. He had to deal with Brad Radke's arm falling off. With a rookie named Boof, and then he had to catch Liarano's slider. It takes almost a miracle for a catcher to win the batting title, and he did.

But the most important reason that Joe Mauer should be MVP is that he's dating a Miss USA. That scores a lot of MVP in my book.

And for anybody wondering why they should hate Roger Clemens, how about he nearly killed Mike Piazza because Piazza dared to hit some home runs off of him. Or how about Clemens quitting on the Red Sox in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series. Or how about that Clemens meltdown in the 1990 playoffs. Or Clemens throwing a bat at Piazza. Or Clemens quitting on the Astros in Game 1 of the 2005 Series.

I could go on, but instead, I'll refer you to Keith Olbermann's "The Worst Person in the World," where he's made the Rocket an Honorary Worst Person.

11:20 AM  

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