29 September 2011

Back from the Dead


The 2011 season is over (and boy was it an amazing ending)... I'd say it's about time for a new post.

I've been largely absent because I moved to Washington and started graduate school. To be honest I should probably be doing my reading right now, but I find posting is an apt substitute for the moment.

As for Wild Card Wednesday yesterday, I feel this is really all I need to post to express how much I enjoyed last night:



Bwahahhaha.

As for my picks for the big awards, here are my ballots:

NL MVP

1. Matt Kemp, Dodgers
Unlike boneheads who actually get paid for their opinion, I consider "most valuable" to be synonymous with "best player." Think of it this way... MVP should go to the guy who, based on his performance in 2011, would be your first pick if you were drafting all the players in the league. Kemp barely missed on a 40/40 season and the Triple Crown, put up huge numbers across the board, and he played a serviceable CF. Bar none, Kemp was the best player in the National League in 2011 and deserves this award. Although I don't necessarily agree that pitchers should be excluded from MVP discussion, all my picks are hitters just for the sake of this exercise.

2. Ryan Braun, Brewers
3. Joey Votto, Reds
4. Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
5. Justin Upton, D'Backs
6. Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
7. Pablo Sandoval, Giants
8. Jose Reyes, Mets
9. Prince Fielder, Brewers
10. Albert Pujols, Cardinals


AL MVP

1. Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
Just like with Kemp in the NL, Bautista was the best player in the AL, though Ellsbury was a very close second. What puts Bautista over the top for me is a fantastic OBP just under .450 (with a BABIP of only .309!) and his versatility moving from 3b to RF to fit his team's needs. Bautista proved his amazing 2010 was no fluke and was the best player in the AL in 2011.

2. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
3. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
4. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
5. Evan Longoria, Rays
6. Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
7. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
8. Alex Gordon, Royals
9. Alex Avila, Tigers
10. Ian Kinsler, Rangers

NL Cy Young

1. Roy Halladay, Phillies
Yeah, this one was tough. I came in here thinking I was going to write about how Kershaw was the best choice. I actually did start writing that until I decided I couldn't honestly put my word by it. Kershaw was certainly the most dominant pitcher in the league, leading in strikeouts, WHIP, and ERA, but Halladay was simply the better pitcher. Kershaw benefited from pitching in good pitchers parks against the likes of the Giants and Padres. Halladay pitched half his games in Citizen's Bank Park. Doc Halladay gave up 5 fewer home runs, walked a ton fewer than Kershaw, and got one less start than the Dodger southpaw. As much as the Dodger fan in me wants to pick Kershaw here (and I actually think he WILL win the award), Halladay led in WAR, ERA+, and FIP, all with a much higher BABP, and it's my belief that he was 2011's best NL pitcher.

2. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
3. Cliff Lee, Phillies
4. Ian Kennedy, D'Backs
5. Madison Bumgarner, Giants
6. Cole Hamels, Phillies
7. Tim Lincecum, Giants
8. Zack Greinke, Brewers
9. Matt Cain, Giants
10. Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers

AL Cy Youg

1. Justin Verlander, Tigers
Although it's a lot closer than most would like to admit, 2011 was the year of Verlander. He led the league in almost all major pitching stats (though he did have the benefit of a very fortunate BABIP) and threw a no-hitter.

2. C.C. Sabathia, Yankees
3. Jered Weaver, Angels
4. Dan Haren, Angels
5. C.J. Wilson, Rangers
6. James Shields, Rays
7. Ricky Romero, Blue Jays
8. Josh Beckett, Red Sox
9. Felix Hernandez, Mariners
10. Justin Masterson, Indians

NL Rookie of the Year

1. Craig Kimbrel, Braves
As much as I hate giving a major award to a guy coming out of the bullpen, it's hard to argue any rookie was better than Kimbrel.

2. Freddie Freeman, Braves
3. Wilson Ramos, Nationals

AL Rookie of the Year

1. Dustin Ackley, Mariners
An all-around solid year for the former #2 pick, he played a good second base and looks poised to make the leap toward stardom in 2012.

2. Brett Lawrie, Blue Jays
3. Alexi Ogando, Rangers

Managers of the Year

Kirk Gibson, D'Backs and Joe Maddon, Rays
Since this award usually goes to the team that did better than we supposed they'd do (why the honor goes to the guy who fills out the lineup card, I don't know), these are the easiest awards to give out. Gibson's D'backs really turned things around and took advantage of lackadaisical performances by the other four teams in the division. Maddon's Rays pulled off the greatest September upset in the history of game. As for the runners-up, I think Yost deserves praise for how well the Royals' young players have progressed under his watch. The same can be said for Don Mattingly, as Kemp and Kershaw may not have taken their big steps if they had been still playing for Joe Torre.

2. Ron Roenicke, Brewers and Ned Yost, Royals
3. Don Mattingly, Dodgers and Manny Acta, Indians

As for how the playoffs will go, my predictions follow as so:

Tigers over the Yankees in 5
Rays over the Rangers in 4

Rays over the Tigers in 6

Phillies over the Cardinals in 3
Brewers over the D'Backs in 5

Brewers over the Phillies in 7

Brewers over Rays in 6

That's right. I'm taking the all-in Brewers to go all the way.

As for the Dodgers' offseason plans, my three bold predictions are:
1. Andre Ethier will be traded to Boston
2. Hiroki Kuroda will retire
3. Colletti will not sign Fielder or Pujols

Happy Playoffs!