Top 100 Baseball Blog

Thursday, August 9, 2018

Projecting the 2018 MLB MVP and Cy Young Award Winners


Each Major League Baseball team still has over 40 games left to play in the regular season, as the playoff race is starting to truly take shape. Even though a lot can happen during that roughly quarter of the season, let’s take a look at my picks (at this point in the season) for some of the major end of the season awards.
American League MVP- Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox: With apologies to the amazing Mike Trout, the forever king of WAR (and Cleveland Indians third baseman Jose Ramirez), this award should go to the best player on the best team. If the difference in play between Betts and Trout was wider, this wouldn’t be my pick, but the Sox outfielder has nearly matched his Angels counterpart, hitting a league-leading .340 with 26 home runs, 58 RBI and 22 stolen bases. He has also scored 93 runs in 95 games and is possibly the best defensive right fielder in the game.
Betts’ bWAR currently stands at 7.1, which is a notch behind Trout’s 7.8. However, he has appeared in 14 fewer games and his team is on pace for 114 wins while the Angels currently languish in fourth place in the American League West with a .500 record. Barring anything drastic changing, Betts seems like a safe bet to get some new hardware for his mantel this autumn.
National League MVP- Javy Baez, Chicago Cubs: Things get a little tougher to pick when moving over to the Senior Circuit. While a number of players have legitimate cases, nobody is running away with it. My pick is Baez, the engine of the Chicago Cubs, which is the best team in the league. The 25-year-old is a transcendent defender who has played all over the infield this year, hitting .298 with 25 home runs, a league-leading 88 RBIs and 19 stolen bases.
Lorenzo Cain of the Milwaukee Brewers (5.3) and Matt Carpenter of the St. Louis Cardinals (5.2) both have a higher WAR than Baez (4.9), but those numbers don’t tell the whole story. A significant portion of Cain’s value has come from excellent defense, meanwhile Carpenter’s season has been buoyed by red-hot surge that came after he was hitting .140 as late as May 15th.  Baez is perhaps the most exciting player to watch in baseball, and appears to be taking the leap to superstar status while possibly earning his first MVP.
American League Cy Young- Chris Sale, Boston Red Sox: Assuming he is not significantly hampered by a recent minor injury that has shelved him for a short period, this award should be Sale’s to lose. He is 11-4 in 22 starts and leads the American League with a 2.04 ERA, 207 strikeouts, a 216 ERA+ and 2.07 FIP. His primary competition are two guys in Cleveland—right handers Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer; and two guys in Houston—right handers Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole. All four have been terrific this year and pitch for likely division winners, but they have been a notch below Sale.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle for Sale will be himself and avoiding a second half fade that has plagued him during his career. The slender lefty has lit it up in the first half of seasons to the tune of a combined 69-26 record and 2.66 ERA. However, he has found the going tougher in second halves as evidenced by his 33-36 mark and 3.21 ERA.
National League Cy Young- Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals: Before getting into Scherzer, a special shout out to New York Mets starter Jacob deGrom, who has a league-leading 1.77 ERA and 2.20 FIP. However, his team is so putrid, he will struggle to get to 10 wins (he currently has six). Despite his utter dominance, New York is just 9-14 in games he has started. He has been great, but with Scherzer being at a similar level, the tie has to be broken for the pitcher performing at for a team still playing meaningful games (barely in Washington’s case).
Scherzer is 15-5 with a 2.28 ERA in 24 starts, leading the league in wins, innings pitched (161.2) and strikeouts (216). For good measure he also leads in WHIP (0.897). If he wins the Cy Young would be his third in a row and fourth of his career, cementing his eventual enshrinement in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. His one likely opponent is young Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Aaron Nola, who is having a great season, but would have to have a 1988 Orel Hershiser-type run to end this season in order to have any realistic chance to take down Scherzer at this point.

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Monday, August 6, 2018

Minor League Baseball Announces its July Players of the Month

Six players picked in the 17 th round or later and four first round picks claim awards 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball today announced the Player of the Month Award winners for each of the 16 leagues for the month of July. Each winner will receive an award from Minor League Baseball in recognition of the honor. 

Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs (Phillies) infielder Mitch Walding batted .326 in July and led the International League in home runs (10), runs scored (21) and total bases (63). Walding recorded 10 multi-hit games, and three multi-homer games in July, highlighted by a July 28 doubleheader in which he was 5-for-7 with a double, three home runs, four runs scored and 10 RBI with three three-run homers on the day. Walding, 25, was selected by Philadelphia in the fifth round of the 2011 First-Year Player Draft out of St. Mary’s University in Stockton, California. 

Memphis Redbirds (Cardinals) outfielder Adolis Garcia batted .354 in July and led the Pacific Coast League in extra-base hits (19), total bases (74), home runs (10), slugging (.771) and OPS (1.145), while finishing second in RBI (25). Garcia, 25, was signed by St. Louis out of Ciego de Avila, Cuba, on Feb. 24, 2017. 

Bowie Baysox (Orioles) catcher Martin Cervenka batted .364 in July and led the Eastern League in slugging (.758) and OPS (1.193). He finished second in home runs (seven) and RBI (25). Cervenka, 26, was originally signed by the Cleveland Indians out of Prague, Czech Republic, on June 19, 2011. 

Biloxi Shuckers (Brewers) outfielder Corey Ray led the Southern League in home runs (11), extra-base hits (20), total bases (76), slugging percentage (.628), runs (25) and RBI (27). Ray’s 20 extra-base hits led professional baseball, while he finished second in stolen bases (13) and fourth in OPS (.961). Ray, 23, was selected by Milwaukee in the first round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Louisville. 

Tulsa Drillers (Dodgers) outfielder Jacob Scavuzzo led the Texas League in extra-base hits (18), total bases (75), home runs (10), RBI (30), slugging (.708) and OPS (1.090). He finished third in average (.349) and hits (37). Scavuzzo, 24, was selected by the Dodgers in the 21st round of the 2012 First-Year Player Draft out of Villa Park High School in Villa Park, California. 

Rancho Cucamonga Quakes (Dodgers) shortstop Gavin Lux batted .360 in July and led the California League in hits (41), runs (23) and total bases (64). Lux hit safely in 24 of his 26 games, posting 15 multi-hit games and hitting in 16 straight games from July 1–19. Lux, 20, was selected by the Dodgers in the first round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Indian Trail High School in Kenosha, Wisconsin. 

Carolina Mudcats (Brewers) outfielder Weston Wilson led the Carolina League in batting average (.436), hits (41), on-base percentage (.481) and OPS (1.162). He was second in runs (22), total bases (64) and slugging (681) and third in RBI (23). Weston had 12 multi-hit games and a 12-game hitting streak from July 1–13. Wilson, 23, was selected by Milwaukee in the 17th round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Clemson University. 

Fort Myers Miracle (Twins) outfielder Alex Kirilloff led the Florida State League in average (.396), hits (40), total bases (62), extra-base hits (16), slugging (.614) and OPS (1.036). He finished second in runs (20) and third in RBI (20). Kirilloff had 13 multi-hit games in July, including six straight, and had a 13-game hitting streak from July 13–29. He also won the Midwest League Player of the Month Award in May with Cedar Rapids. Kirilloff, 20, was selected by Minnesota in the first round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Plum High School in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. 

Peoria Chiefs (Cardinals) third baseman Elehuris Montero batted .359 in 25 games in July and led the Midwest League in doubles (10) and OPS (1.056), while finishing second in runs (20), extra-base hits (15), total bases (58) and slugging (.630). He was third in homers (five), RBI (20) and average (.359). Montero had nine multi-hit games in July. Montero, 19, was signed by St. Louis out of Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, on Aug. 29, 2014. 

Greenville Drive (Red Sox) right-hander Denyi Reyes went 4-0 with a 1.85 ERA (34.0 IP, 7 ER) in five starts to claim South Atlantic League Player of the Month honors. Reyes struck out 30 and did not walk a batter in July while holding opponents to a .177 batting average. He allowed only 10 hits over his last three starts (20.0 IP) and threw a seven-inning complete game July 25. Reyes, 21, was signed by Boston out of San Cristobal, Dominican Republic, in 2014. 

 Mahoning Valley Scrappers (Indians) outfielder Hosea Nelson batted .340 in July and led the New York-Penn League in RBI (22) and slugging (.553) while finishing second in hits (35), home runs (five), extra-base hits (12) and total bases (57). He recorded 10 multi-hit games in July. Nelson, 21, was selected by Cleveland in the ninth round of the 2016 First-Year Player Draft out of Clarendon College in Clarendon, Texas. 

Salem-Keizer Volcanoes (Giants) catcher Joey Bart batted .333 in July and led the Northwest League in home runs (nine), RBI (24), extrabase hits (18), total bases (65), slugging (.747) and OPS (1.126). His nine doubles were fourth best in the league and Bart posted a 10-game hitting streak from July 8–19. Bart, 21, was selected by San Francisco in the first round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Georgia Tech University. 

Greeneville Reds first baseman Rylan Thomas batted .316 for the month and led the Appalachian League in home runs (nine), extra-base hits (15), slugging percentage (.734) and OPS (1.230). He was second in total bases (58) and walks (27), while finishing third in on-base percentage (.495). His 1.230 OPS in July led all of professional baseball (Major Leagues and Minor Leagues). Thomas, 21, was selected by Cincinnati in the 26th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of the University of Central Florida. 

Idaho Falls Chukars (Royals) first baseman Reed Rohlman led the Pioneer Baseball League in average (.426), hits (43), total bases (71), extra-base hits (17), RBI (37), on-base percentage (.508), slugging (.703) and OPS (1.211). He finished second in runs (29), third in doubles (10) and fourth in triples (three). Rohlman posted separate hitting streaks of eight and nine games in July and recorded 15 multi-hit games. Rohlman, 23, was selected by Kansas City in the 35th round of the 2017 First-Year Player Draft out of Clemson University. 

Gulf Coast Cardinals outfielder Andrew Warner batted .373 in 21 games in July and led the Gulf Coast League in doubles (12), extra-base hits (17), total bases (54), slugging percentage (.720) and OPS (1.187). He finished second in runs (17) and on-base percentage (.467). He finished third in home runs (three) and RBI (21). Warner, 22, was selected by St. Louis in the 40th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Columbia College in Columbia, Missouri. 

Arizona Mariners second baseman Beau Branton led the Arizona League in average (.469), on-base percentage (.587) and OPS (1.220) prior to a July 20 promotion to Class-A Advanced Modesto. Branton walked 10 times while striking out just three times and was second in the league in stolen bases (10). Branton, 22, was selected by Seattle in the 28th round of the 2018 First-Year Player Draft out of Stanford University.

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

All Hail Max Scherzer, the Clear-Cut Best Pitcher in Baseball

Although star baseball players are covered endlessly in social media and the press, it is possible that the greatest of the great are occasionally not given their full due. Pitcher Max Scherzer seems to be in that category. Recognized as one of the best pitchers in baseball, the truth at this time is that he IS the best pitcher in baseball and is well on his way to a Hall of Fame career.
Los Angeles Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw is most often anointed the best hurler in the game. The southpaw is a worthy choice, but while he has pitched brilliantly around lingering injuries over the past several years, Scherzer has been a dominant workhorse since the 2013 season.
In his last five full seasons (Detroit Tigers 2013-14 and Washington Nationals 2015-present), Scherzer has gone 89-33 with a 2.87 ERA and 1,320 strikeouts. He has finished in the top-five in Cy Young voting each year and has taken home three trophies. Overall, he is at 155-80 with a 3.22 ERA in his 11-year major league career.
A first-round draft choice of the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2006, it was originally thought he might have his future in the bullpen because of an arm motion that worried some about potential injury over long-term use. However, he is as durable as they come and the right hander has long since proven any detractors wrong. With an arsenal that includes a hearty fastball, a slider and changeup he is currently leading the National league in strikeouts for a third consecutive year.
What makes this all the more impressive is that Scherzer seems better than ever this year at the age of 33. He currently leads the league in wins (14), strikeouts (200) and has a 2.30 ERA. He has his lowest home run rate in four years (0.9) and is striking out more than a third of the batters he has faced (34.4%).
Barring injury or a drastically unforeseen change in performance, Scherzer seems like a good bet to win his third consecutive Cy Young award this year, and at worst finish in the top-5 for a sixth straight year. Only Kershaw with seven straight top-five finishes (and looking unlikely for an eighth in 2018) has had a better run in history when it comes to the award voting.
Scherzer seems to continuously stack up accomplishments like cordwood. In addition to his stellar production this season, he has also recently thrown the second immaculate inning of his career; just the fifth pitcher in history to accomplish the feat. A fair hitter for a pitcher, he even stroked a game-winning extra innings pinch hit to beat the Atlanta Braves earlier this season.
In the baseball of today pitchers at the dominant level of a Scherzer are few and far between. Injuries and high-octane offenses make them a dying breed. With cursory apologies to the small number of aces currently in the game, he is the clear leader of the pack, who instead of slowing down, is actually showing he may have other gears he has not yet reached. Give the man his due and sit back and see what else he can do before he eventually retires from the game that he is making such a huge impact on.

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Minor League Baseball Continues to Promote Acceptance and Inclusion Through ‘MiLB CommUNITY’ Initiative

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Minor League Baseball™ (MiLB™) and MiLB Charities, together with Allegiant, today announced that August will be designated ‘CommUNITY Month,’ presented by Allegiant, across the entire league. For the third consecutive year, the program will promote unity, understanding, acceptance and inclusion in MiLB ballparks and extend into its communities.  

Minor League Baseball created the MiLB CommUNITY initiative in 2016 in response to a collection of tragedies and tension that developed in communities across the country. Minor League Baseball parks are a place for fans to come together in a safe and enjoyable environment, providing a break from the stresses of today’s society. The MiLB CommUNITY initiative aims to go beyond activations in its ballparks and urges fans to take positive action and promote a sense of unity within their communities.  

“For the past three years, we have chosen August as ‘MiLB CommUNITY’ Month, but it is important that our teams, fans and partners extend these efforts in their communities throughout the year,” said Courtney Nehls, Assistant Director of Community Engagement for Minor League Baseball. “We hope that as fans come into our ballparks to experience a game, they always feel welcome and accepted, and leave wanting to spread those feelings to their friends, family and neighbors for the betterment of the cities and towns where they live.”    

As part of this year’s initiative, staff from participating MiLB teams will volunteer with local organizations that make a difference in their respective communities, and players will also be encouraged to make appearances in their communities and participate in local volunteer events. The Lexington Legends, winner of the 2017 John Henry Moss Community Service Award, engage their community and the entire Central Kentucky region through community service, their charitable foundation and outreach programs. The award recognizes a club that demonstrates an outstanding, on-going commitment to charitable service, support and leadership within their local community and within the baseball industry.    

“The Legends are thrilled to be a part of the CommUNITY initiative again this season,” said Andy Shea, team President & CEO. “Community involvement is an integral part of the Legends’ core values, and teaming up with Minor League Baseball through this important program enables us to impact even more members of the Bluegrass.” 

In addition to volunteer efforts in MiLB communities, at home games in August, teams will feature public address announcements, in-game promotions and photo opportunities for fans to show what CommUNITY means to them. Allegiant will also provide all participating teams with flight vouchers to use in support of the initiative’s mission. Fans can take part in the MiLB CommUNITY Month initiative on social media by using #MiLBCommUNITY. 

Minor League Baseball announced an institutional partnership with Allegiant on July 26, making it the “The Official Airline of Minor League Baseball.”     

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You can check me out on Facebook or follow me on Twitter @historianandrew