Tag Archives: Mike Trout

2015 MLB Preview: AL West

(Author’s Note: Sorry about the delay in posts, I’m going to try to complete this preview within the next week or so). The AL West was one of the best divisions in baseball in 2014, despite the dreadful duo of the Texas Rangers and Houston Astros at its tail end. The Los Angeles Angels, the Oakland Athletics, and the Seattle Mariners were either in the playoffs or in the hunt until the very last day. The AL West should remain fairly vicious this year, with those same three teams winning plenty of games. I do think two playoff teams will again emerge from the division this season, but the A’s will not be one of them.

Divisional Breakdown

  1. Los Angeles Angels
  2. Seattle Mariners
  3. Oakland Athletics
  4. Houston Astros
  5. Texas Rangers

Team Breakdown

  1. Los Angeles Angels

On the strength of unexpectedly solid starting pitching and Mike Trout’s first MVP season, the Angels won the most games in the league and took home the AL West title before falling to the spunky Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. The Angels’ roster didn’t change much over the offseason, which is a good thing when talking about a 98 win team. The Angels had the top-run producing offense last year, and the lineup should remain potent. Mike Trout is an outstanding talent and a perennial MVP candidate, Kole Calhoun is very good in right field, and Albert Pujols’ remaining efficacy has often been underrated in recent years. While the loss of Howie Kendrick to the crosstown Dodgers hurts, the upgrade from C.J. Cron to Matt Joyce at DH should make up for lost production. The rotation has the potential to be very good. I’m not the biggest fan of Jered Weaver or C.J Wilson, but each had a decent 2014 and can contribute in a solid rotation. The key factors in this staff are Garrett Richards and 2014 Rookie of the Year runner up Matt Shoemaker. If Richards can return (in mid-April) pitching like he did last year, and if Shoemaker can replicate his rookie year performance, the Angels’ rotation will be in good shape. If new addition Andrew Heaney can come up and contribute to the staff at some point, even better. The bullpen is in better shape than it was at the beginning of last year, with Huston Street installed as closer. Street and setup man Joe Smith form one of the better one-two bullpen combinations in the big leagues.

Verdict

Best Case- Trout wins his second straight MVP, Richards and Shoemaker are dominant once again, and the Angels take the AL West on the way to the AL pennant.

Worst Case- Age takes its toll on Pujols, Wilson, and Weaver, Richards doesn’t look the same after the injury, and the Angels fall behind the Mariners in the division.

Trout and the Angels willl be fishing for a championship in 2015.

  1. Seattle Mariners

The Mariners had a pretty good 2014, winning their most games since 2007. Robinson Cano was a welcome addition into Seattle’s lineup, Kyle Seager showed himself to be one of the better third basemen in the leagues, and Felix Hernandez added yet another fantastic season onto his resumé. The Mariners enter the season poised to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, thanks to several key offseason acquisitions who should complement the incumbent stars well. Nelson Cruz should provide much-needed power in the heart of the lineup, and Seth Smith and Austin Jackson will make the Mariners’ once-weak outfield respectable. Meanwhile, the Mariners have one of the most fearsome rotations in baseball. King Felix and Hisashi Iwakuma are a dominant one-two punch, and hopefully 2015 will be the year that Taijuan Walker shows the hype surrounding him to be true. The bullpen arms will aim to repeat the standard they set in 2014, when Seattle had the lowest bullpen ERA of any major league team. Closer Fernando Rodney is among the best in baseball, and Tom Wilhelmsen and Danny Farquhar both had sub-3 ERAs last season. The Mariners should hold on to the lead in a lot of close games this year.

Verdict

Best Case- Hernandez is a Cy Young candidate, Cano and Seager are tops at their positions, and the Mariners win the AL West for the first time since 2001.

Worst Case- Walker cannot produce at the major league level, Cruz cannot replicate his powerful production of last year, and the Mariners just miss out on a wild card spot.

Hernandez and Cano must be on the top of their games for the Mariners to reach the postseason.

  1. Oakland Athletics

The A’s looked like the best team in baseball last season, until several ill-fated trades aimed to make Oakland even more formidable ended up backfiring. The midseason acquisitions of Jon Lester and Jeff Samardzija served only to rid the team of Yoenis Cespedes and prospect Addison Russell. Somewhat poetically, Lester was on the mound for the epic Wild Card Game loss to the Kansas City Royals. Perhaps in response, the 2015 offseason has been one of massive turnover for the A’s roster. Gone are Lester, Samardzija, Josh Donaldson, Derek Norris, Brandon Moss, John Jaso, and Jed Lowrie, key components of the successful A’s squads of the past few years. In their place are several promising pieces which, if everything pans out, could turn out to be extremely valuable. The lineup is interesting blend of speed and power, with Coco Crisp and Billy Butler serving as examples of each attribute. Brett Lawrie, Ben Zobrist, and Josh Reddick form a solid heart of the batting order, but it remains to be seen if Ike Davis can be a starting first-bagger at the big league level. Similarly, the rotation could be very good, but there are nagging question marks. Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir are a solid top two in the staff, but after that, things look a bit rough. Jesse Chavez appeared to revive his career, and the A’s will count on him to continue his success in 2015. The bullpen, 3rd in the league in reliever ERA last year, should be good, with former Nat Tyler Clippard assuming the closing role in place of the injured Sean Doolittle. Once the latter returns, the two should form an imposing end-of-game pair.

Verdict

Best Case- The rotation holds together, Billy Beane’s roster gambles pay off, and the new-look A’s take back the AL West title.

Worst Case- The new lineup doesn’t mesh, the rotation is a tire fire beyond Gray and Kazmir, and the Athletics fall behind– gulp– the Astros in the AL West.

Jesus- sorry, Josh Reddick and the new-look A’s hope to maintain the team’s recent success.

  1. Houston Astros

It’s difficult to imagine that a team that went 70-92 could be considered improved, but the 2014 Astros were Houston’s most successful squad since 2010. There were several brights spots for Houston– George Springer’s powerful debut, the breakout seasons of Dallas Keuchel and Collin McHugh — but the brightest of all was diminutive second baseman Jose Altuve, who took home the AL batting title. Although the Astros won’t quite be in playoff contention in 2015, there should be plenty of hope for the future in Houston. The lineup is improved, even with the departure of Dexter Fowler. New additions Jed Lowrie and Colby Rasmus should be solid replacements at short and in center, and Evan Gattis, Chris Carter, and Springer form a powerful middle of the lineup. The lineup will look even better if Jon Singleton can realize his potential at first, and if Carlos Correa and his impressive bat can reach the majors by September. The rotation is less impressive at the moment, but it has the potential to be fairly good. If Keuchel and McHugh continue their 2014 success, new acquisition Dan Straily produces at the level he did in his rookie season, and top prospect Mark Appel impresses enough to reach the Show this season, the Astros might begin to scare some teams around the league. The bullpen, statistically the worst in the league last year, should be much improved. Luke Gregerson and Pat Neshek are two of the better righty relievers in the league, so things should be a little less hopeless in the Houston ‘pen this year.

Verdict

Best Case- Houston’s pitchers realize their potential, the position player prospects impress, and the Astros are in the wild card race until late in the year.

Worst Case-  Correa and Appel suffer more setbacks, McHugh and Keuchel struggle, and the Astros finish in the AL West cellar.

Jose Altuve waves goodbye to the 60-win seasons of the past few years.

  1. Texas Rangers

The American League’s worst team in 2014, the injury-plagued Rangers looked nothing like their competitive teams of the last several years. Even though many of the Rangers’ struggles could be linked back to injuries to star players like Prince Fielder and Yu Darvish, I don’t believe that Texas will be much better this year. Darvish is hurt again, and Fielder and Shin-Soo Choo have yet to display why Texas invested $300 million in them as free agents last offseason. The lineup is ok, with perennial All-Star Adrian Beltre at third and Elvis Andrus at short, and should become better midway through the season, when minor league phenom Joey Gallo is projected to reach the majors. Still, Jurickson Profar has been set back yet again with injury issues, and the rest of the lineup just isn’t that eye-popping. Unless Fielder and Choo can return to their past levels of performance, Texas might have a difficult time scoring runs. The rotation is pretty unintimidating, especially without Darvish. Yovani Gallardo and Derek Holland are good starting pitchers, but not good enough to carry a rotation of Ross Detweiller, Colby Lewis, and Nick Martinez to the postseason. The bullpen was already going to be a weak spot on the team after the departures of Joakim Soria and Jason Frasor over the past year, but an injury-plagued spring has made the situation even worse. Closer Neftali Feliz will have to carry the load for Texas in the ‘pen.

Verdict

Best Case- Gallardo and Holland impress, Fielder, Choo, and Beltre form a solid core of the lineup, and the Rangers reinsert themselves into the wild card conversation.

Worst Case- The rotation and bullpen are disasters, Fielder and Choo look like shells of their former selves, and the Rangers are once again one of the worst teams in the league.

For the Rangers to have a shot at the postseason, Prince Fielder will have to stay on the field.

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2015 MLB Preview: AL Awards

Hello baseball fans, and welcome to the third annual College Sports Town MLB preview. It’s been quite some time since I last posted, but I’m excited to begin this new season! Let’s jump right into the preview with my preseason predictions for which players will take home the MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year awards for the American League in 2015. Last year, I correctly selected Mike Trout for AL MVP but missed on my picks for AL Cy Young (I picked Felix Hernandez, the runner-up, instead of Corey Kluber) and ROY (which was won by Jose Abreu, not my pick Xander Bogaerts). Let’s see if I can improve this year.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Listen, I know it’s a bit of a cop out, but it would be foolish to predict anyone else to outperform Trout and to win this award. He’s been arguably the best position player in baseball for the past three years, and he shows no signs of wanting to relinquish that title. The 23 year old finally got past Miguel Cabrera in his quest for MVP last year, winning his first after finishing second in 2013 and 2012. Trout’s slash line in 2014 was .287/.377/.561, outstanding despite being down from his 2013 numbers, and he led the AL in both runs and RBI. He even managed to lead the Angels to the best record in the MLB before the team faltered against the Royals in the divisional round of the playoffs. Barring injury, I see no reason why Trout would not be able to replicate his performance of the past few years, and that would be more than enough to bring him his second consecutive AL MVP.

Trout, pictured here destroying a baseball's hopes and dreams.

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

Sale is the most dominant lefty in the MLB today not named Clayton Kershaw. In 2014, he led the league in ERA+ and K/9 while finishing third in the AL Cy Young race to Corey Kluber and Felix Hernandez. The soon-to-be 26 year old figures to once again be one of the most entertaining pitchers in baseball, as soon as he returns from a fractured right foot, and the revamped White Sox lineup and rotation will only make his life easier. Sale and new addition Jeff Samardzija form one of the most dangerous 1-2 punches in baseball, and a lineup consisting of Jose Abreu, Melky Cabrera, and Adam Laroche will help him lock down a few more W’s. If Sale can come back and produce similar numbers to those of the past few years, he could certainly come away from 2015 with the Cy Young.

This image alone gives Sale's candidacy legitimacy.

AL ROY- Rusney Castillo, Boston Red Sox

In 2014, Castillo joined the list of young Cuban players with massive contracts after receiving a $72 million deal from Boston. However, it is yet to be seen whether Castillo can prove the investment wise as compatriots such as Yasiel Puig, Yoenis Cespedes, and Jose Abreu have done in recent years. He looked good in his 10 game stint with the Red Sox at the end of 2014 but has suffered through an injury-stricken spring and may lose the competition for starting CF to another youngster, Mookie Betts. Even if he does not start the year in the majors, Castillo’s intriguing blend of power and speed will be on display in Fenway sooner rather than later, and I expect him to impress enough to take home Cuba’s second straight Rookie of the Year award.

Castillo having a swell time with Big Papi.

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2014 MLB Preview: AL West

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the third edition of College Sports Town’s divisional previews for the 2014 MLB season. Today, I’ll be looking at the only remaining AL division, the AL West. As has been the case for the past couple years, I expect an intense race for the AL West crown. I also expect that the race will have the same result.

Divisional Breakdown

1. Oakland Athletics

2. Seattle Mariners

3. Texas Rangers

4. Los Angeles Angels

5. Houston Astros

Team Breakdown

1. Oakland Athletics

The A’s didn’t catch the league by surprise last season as they had in 2012, but that didn’t matter. They won their second straight AL West title, and I expect that trend to continue this year. Despite an off-season with some controversial moves such as trading prospect Michael Choice to the Rangers for 4th outfielder Craig Gentry, the A’s remain the team to beat. The lineup is underrated. Coco Crisp is a great leadoff hitter, even at this point in his career. Last year, Jed Lowrie batted .290, Yoenis Cespedes launched 26 HR and won the Home Run Derby, and Josh Donaldson finished 4th in the MVP vote after his breakout season. Brandon Moss and Josh Reddick have both had 30+ HR years in the past couple of seasons, and I see no reason why they can’t replicate that success. Former Dodger Nick Punto should be an effective, if not exciting, replacement for the jettisoned Jemile Weeks. The lineup should be about as productive as it was last year. The rotation, not so much. The 2013 A’s benefitted from a breakout season from Jarrod Parker and a career year from Bartolo Colon. Parker is soon going to undergo Tommy John surgery which will keep him out for the year, and Colon signed with the Mets. Still, the A’s rotation is relatively strong. Sonny Gray and Dan Straily each had strong rookie showings, and Tommy Milone is a solid left-hander. The A’s hope that Scott Kazmir can replicate the success he had last year as a revitalized member of the Indians rotation. At least the starters should be able to rely upon a strong bullpen. Despite losing All-Star Grant Balfour, the A’s pen figures to be one of the best in the AL due to the acquisition of closer Jim Johnson and setup man Luke Gregerson. Joined with former All-Star Ryan Cook and the solid Sean Doolittle, one can expect most of the A’s leads to be preserved.

Verdict

Best Case- Cespedes and Donaldson are All-Stars, Kazmir pitches well again, the bullpen is impenetrable, and the A’s win the West for the third consecutive year.

Worst Case- The rotation is weakened without Parker and Colon, Jim Johnson continues to decline, and the A’s miss the playoffs.

Coco Crisp might have both the coolest name and best hair in all of baseball.

Coco Crisp might have both the coolest name and best hair in all of baseball.

2. Seattle Mariners

Last season, the Mariners finished fourth in the West, missing the playoffs for the 12th straight year. Following yet another disappointing year, the Mariners made a huge splash in the off-season. The squad is much improved, and even though I don’t think they’ll earn a wild-card berth this year, they’ll certainly contend for a postseason spot. The lineup, notorious in past years for its low scoring, looks powerful. New acquisitions Logan Morrison and Corey Hart are both capable of hitting 30+ HR, if their knees hold up. Kyle Seager and Justin Smoak also pack some pop, and Mike Zunino should improve in his sophomore year. Oh yeah, and the Mariners happened to sign the best second baseman in the league, Robinson Cano. Cano will have huge expectations placed on him due to the ten-year contract, the 4th largest in league history, but I guarantee Cano plays better following his huge contract than Albert Pujols did (more on him later). Even with Cano, however, the Mariners’ rotation surpasses their lineup. Ace Felix Hernandez, a perennial Cy Young candidate (link to AL awards), is followed by Hisashi Iwakuma, who actually had a better 2013 than King Felix. Then come the young guns. 23 year old Erasmo Ramirez has looked great this spring, 25 year old James Paxton has been good as well, and everyone is talking about 21 year old Taijuan Walker, whose brilliant fastball makes scouts salivate. Assuming Iwakuma and Walker recover from their injuries and return to the majors quickly, opposing batters will dread facing the Mariners’ starting pitchers. They probably won’t look forward to the bullpen, either. The Mariners signed former All-Star Fernando Rodney, who, along with set up man Danny Farquhar, should do a fine job crushing comeback attempts. Although this is a dangerous Mariners squad, I don’t have enough confidence in their pitching (besides King Felix and Iwakuma) and tenuous lineup (besides Cano) to put them in my prospective postseason.

Verdict

Best Case- Hart and Morrison stay healthy and slug, Cano wins MVP, Hernandez wins Cy Young, Walker is a ROY candidate, and the Mariners break their postseason drought.

Worst case- Hart and Morrison face knee issues again, the young members of the pitching staff falter, and the Mariners miss the playoffs yet again.

This sight is going to remain strange for a while.

This sight is going to remain strange for a while.

3. Texas Rangers

The Rangers just missed out on the playoffs last year, losing to the Tampa Bay Rays in a one-game playoff for the final wild-card spot. The Rangers will remain one of the better teams in the AL, but I predict they will miss out on the playoffs again this season. The lineup is not the most pressing issue in Arlington. Shin-Soo Choo, signed this off-season to a 7 year deal worth $130 million, is one of the best leadoff hitters in the game, and Prince Fielder, acquired for Ian Kinsler in a blockbuster trade with the Tigers, brings with him monumental power (and a horrendous contract). Adrian Beltre has been building his Hall of Fame case during his Texas tenure, and his tremendous play should continue in 2014. The acquisition of Alex Rios was one of the best deadline deals of last summer, and, even though the playoff push fell through, Rios’ contributions will be appreciated this year. The difference between this lineup being top ten or top five in the league will be the performances of of Elvis Andrus and Jurickson Profar. If Andrus, signed to massive extension last year, returns to his former All-Star level of performance, and if Profar is as good as promised, the Rangers’ offense will be elite. The concern with the Rangers lies in the pitching staff. Outside of Yu Darvish (currently day-to-day with neck stiffness), who has been spectacular in his two MLB seasons, the rotation is a mystery. Their second-best starter, Derek Holland, will be out until the All-Star break. Sophomore Martin Perez will have to step up, along with Matt Harrison, who is recovering from three surgeries last year. The bullpen is no more secure. All-Star Joe Nathan left for the Tigers in the off-season, leaving the closing job to former All-Star Joakim Soria. Although Soria struggled a bit last year, he has looked strong in spring training. The Rangers are hoping Soria and Neftali Feliz can return to their former elite status.

Verdict

Best Case- Fielder hits 40+ HR, Choo leads the AL in OBP, Beltre is an MVP candidate, Darvish is a Cy Young candidate, and the rotation holds up long enough to give the Rangers a playoff spot.

Worst case- Andrus and Profar disappoint, the rotation outside of Darvish is injury-prone and leaky, and the Rangers miss the playoffs for the second straight year.

Rangers fans should be glad Prince can hit a ball farther than you can throw him.

As always, Prince will be portly but powerful.

4. Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Despite massive spending the past two off-seasons, the Angels missed the playoffs for the fourth straight year last season. It seems the Angels put their eggs in the wrong baskets, and that has and will continue to hurt them, both in their pockets and in their farm system. The Angels may have the best young player in the game in Mike Trout, but any player, even a player as good as Trout, would have difficulty leading this team to the postseason. What the Angels really need is a time machine to bring back the 2010 versions of their premier players (except Trout). It hasn’t been the largest sample size, but Josh Hamilton and Albert Pujols have been extremely disappointing in their Angels’ tenures. The Angels traded away their slugger Mark Trumbo, as well as the somewhat-promising Peter Bourjos, in exchange for pitching and 2011 World Series hero David Freese. The only people I trust in this lineup are Trout and Howie Kendrick. The rotation was the focus of the past off-season, so it should be improved from last season. Still, I don’t have much confidence in it, outside of former All-Stars C.J. Wilson and Jered Weaver. New additions Hector Santiago and Tyler Skaggs could be effective pieces, but each of the lefties had slightly rocky 2013 seasons, and Mark Trumbo (who I am a believer in AS A DH) is an hefty price to pay for them. In the bullpen, former Indian Joe Smith should slightly shore up a shaky staff which includes closer Ernesto Frieri but not much else.

Verdict

Best case- Trout wins MVP, Hamilton and Pujols are improved, along with Santiago and Skaggs, and the Angels chase a wild-card spot all season, falling just short of the postseason.

Worst case- Trout is mortal, Pujols continues to decline, Skaggs and Santiago regress, and the Angels fall in the worse half of the final AL standings.

Trout seems to lead the league in both WAR and smiles.

Trout will once again lead the league in WAR (for whatever that’s worth).

5. Houston Astros

Oh boy. Last year, I concluded my Astros preview by saying that their worst case scenario was reality, and I was right. The 2013 Astros lost 111 games, and this year’s edition won’t be much better. The off-season brought several welcome improvements, but Houston fans will suffer through another tough season. The lineup is probably the worst in the league. Dexter Fowler is a good leadoff man, and Jose Altuve, Chris Carter, and Jason Castro would probably have spots on other teams. The rest of the lineup, however, might not find a home anywhere else but Houston. Much of that same sentiment is reflected by the pitching staff. Outside of new additions Scott Feldman, Chad Qualls, and Jesse Crain, most of the Astros pitchers are mediocre. Astros fans looking to avoid killing themselves (especially after suffering through the Texans season) should keep their eyes on the minor leagues and September call ups. The Astros, due to their recent ineptitude, have four of Prospect361.com’s top 30 prospects scattered throughout the minors. Hopefully for Astros fans, their development will be rapid, and they will soon join promising pitcher Jarred Cosart in the big leagues. Right now, however, I’d advise the denizens of Houston to start paying attention to the NBA and the NFL draft. That way, they won’t have to watch the 2014 Astros.

Verdict

Best Case- The youth movement arrives as quickly as possible, inspiring hope for the 2015 season.

Worst case- Once again, reality.

This photo does a good job depicting last year for the Astros, as well as previewing the next (also, any chance I have to post it, I will).

This photo does a good job depicting last year for the Astros, as well as previewing the next (besides the fact that I must post it any time it’s relevant).

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2014 MLB Preview: AL Awards

Hello, baseball fans, and welcome to the second annual College Sports Town MLB preview! The birds are chirping, the bats are cracking, and the gloves are popping with electricity on practice fields spanning the Grapefruit and Cactus Leagues. That being said, there are certain players who swing the bat a bit sweeter and who hurl the ball a bit harder. Those are the MVP, Cy Young, and ROY candidates of the league, and there should be hard-fought competitions for those awards this year. As I did last year, let’s kick off the 2014 season by taking a look at the stars we predict will take home the hardware. Last year, I got both of the NL picks I made right (Clayton Kershaw and Andrew McCutchen), but didn’t do as well in the AL (Justin Verlander and Mike Trout). This year, the men listed below will likely be the ones at the podiums, accepting the awards denoting them as the cream of the crop. Here are my picks for the 2014 AL awards.

AL Cy Young- Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

King Felix has been in power for some time now. He’s been an All-Star for the past five years, winning the AL Cy Young in 2010. Entering his age 28 season, Hernandez looks to continue his phenomenal success. His heater has cooled off slightly since he entered the league (he averages 92 MPH now as opposed to 96 MPH earlier in his career), but his changeup is among the best in the game and keeps his strikeout totals consistently among the top in the game. Hernandez also should benefit from the revamped Mariners roster.

We might be seeing more celebrations like this from Felix this season

We might be seeing more celebrations like this from Felix this season.

King Felix’s win totals should finally reflect his dominance, as the new Mariners’ lineup features such additions as Logan Morrison, Corey Hart, and, of course, Robinson Cano. A few more W’s would certainly help his Cy Young candacy. In addition, the presence of talented pitchers Hisahi Iwakuma and rookie Taijuan Walker in the rotation should take some pressure off of the ace. If Hernandez maintains his level of success from previous years, he likely will come away with his second Cy Young award.

AL MVP- Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

Now, I know this isn’t a particularly shocking pick. In fact, I made the same pick last year, when Trout finished second (for the second consecutive year) to possible robot Miguel Cabrera. Still, how I could I pick anyone else (besides Cabrera)? Trout has posted two straight years of 9+ WAR, leading the AL in runs scored both years while piling up stolen bases, home runs, and highlight reel catches. His slash line last year was an impressive.323/.432/.988, and I see no reason to doubt that he’ll do that once more.

We've determined this man is fairly good at baseball.

We’ve determined this man is fairly good at baseball.

Trout is only 22(!), but he plays with the poise of someone much older. The only reason that he hasn’t won this award yet is Miguel Cabrera playing like the second coming of Babe Ruth for the past two years. While Cabrera should have another excellent year, his stats will take a slight hit due to the loss of Prince Fielder in the Tigers lineup, and a slight falter should be enough for Trout to claim his first (but almost definitely not last) MVP award.

AL ROY- Xander Bogaerts, Boston Red Sox

The Red Sox farm system is so deep that they were able to trade their slick fielding, .300-batting rookie shortstop Jose Iglesias for rotation help in the middle of their World Series winning campaign last year. The Red Sox front office felt comfortable doing so due to the fact that this man was waiting in the wings. Already a World Series champion, Bogaerts is being hailed Nomar Garciaparra 2.0. If his talent is really as monumental as scouts around the league say, he projects to be a Troy Tulowitzki type player. His skill alone might be enough to win this award, but playing in the Red Sox organization certainly doesn’t hurt. Under the watch of veterans Big Papi and Dustin Pedroia and manager John Farrell, Bogaerts will act like a professional. Subject to the winning culture that has been cultivated in Boston over the past decade, Bogaerts should grow quickly.

Bogaerts has unquestionable talent at the plate.

Bogaerts has unquestionable talent at the plate.

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2013 MLB Season Review: Awards

Hello, baseball fans. It’s been a while since my last post, and the baseball regular season is nearly over. It’s time to look over my award selections for the past season.

Justin Verlander- AL Cy Young

Justin Verlander had been one of the best pitchers in the majors over the past several seasons but it appeared he lost a step this year. Verlander lost some speed on his fastball and, apparently, his intimidation factor as well. He is by no means a bad pitcher now, but a 3.66 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP is a big step down from his domination in 2011 and 2012. It turns out my prediction was not too far off, however, as Max Scherzer emerged as the ace of a very good Tigers rotation (composed of Verlander obviously, Anibal Sanchez, and Doug Fister). With a 2.95 ERA, an AL best .96 WHIP, and a 19-3 record, Scherzer seems likely to emerge from a pack of very good AL pitchers including Chris Sale, Yu Darvish, and Felix Hernandez. So it appears I may have gotten the team, but not the pitcher.

That's called a baseball, Justin

That’s called a baseball, Justin…

Verdict= C-

Mike Trout- AL MVP

Is there anything else to say about Mike Trout? The guy is 22 and he has already accomplished unprecedented feats. He just became the first guy in AL history to have 25 home runs, 30 steals, and 100 walks in a season, and he leads the league in WAR-again. Perhaps the most mind-boggling thing about Trout’s season is that he is not a lock for the AL MVP.  Thanks to Miguel Cabrera being the second coming of Jesus and Chris Davis being the second coming of Barry Bonds- the cream of this crop is pretty unclear (PEDS are fun, aren’t they?). Thanks to Cabrera’s recent abdominal injury, however, I think Trout will get the award that some argue he deserved last year this year.

Score another one for the Meville Kid!

Score another one for the Melville Kid!

Verdict- A

Andrew McCutchen- NL MVP

McCutchen has been a very good player for a while now, finishing as good as 3rd in the NL MVP race last year. This year, however, Cutch has a good shot at winning the award. Despite having arguably worse stats than last year (11 less HR and 14 less RBI as of September 20, but a better WAR), McCutchen has less competition than last year. In addition, he has been the core piece of the surprise, feel-good team of the year. Yadier Molina might have posed a challenge had he remained healthy, and Paul Goldschmidt would have if the D-Backs won the West. Fortunately for McCutchen, he seems to have no real competition for this award.

Cutch will win the award due to concentration like this at the plate.

Cutch will win the award due to concentration like this at the plate.

Verdict- A+

Clayton Kershaw- NL Cy Young

At a certain point, it’s stupid to think that anyone other than this guy will win this award. Kershaw has again been otherworldly. Despite slowing down in his last couple starts, allowing several runs in both (unheard of for him), Kershaw still has a .93 WHIP, 214 K’s, and a 1.94 ERA. Right now, ESPN’s (frankly stupid) Cy Young Predictor says Kershaw will finish 2nd behind Atlanta’s Craig Kimbrel. While Kimbrel is by far the best closer in the NL today, anyone who makes the argument he should win over the young southpaw–who may turn out to be one of the best of all time–is kidding themselves and should be exiled to the Turner Field Chicken Waffle House immediately. Kershaw should win his 2nd Cy Young this fall.

A wonderfully derpy photo of the likely Cy Young winner

A wonderfully derpy photo of the likely Cy Young winner!

Verdict- A

I didn’t make any Rookie of the Year or Manager of the Year predictions at the beginning of the season. If I had to guess who will win now, I’d say Wil Myers and Terry Francona (if the Indians get into the playoffs) in the AL, and Jose Fernandez and Clint Hurdle in the NL.

Thanks for reading! I should be back soon with a review of my postseason picks.

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MLB Season 1/3 Season Review

Hello, baseball fans! It’s been a while, but summer and the baseball season is now in full swing- pun intended. Some of my predictions that I made way back here (http://collegesportstown.com/2013/03/18/mlb-2013-preview-overview/) and in other various previews are fairly good, while others… not so much (coughBlueJayscough). Here’s a look at some of the award predications that seem to be accurate so far, and some that are not.

Fairly Accurate Award Predictions!

Justin Verlander as AL Cy Young Winner

While pitchers such as Clay Buchholz (9-0, 1.71 ERA), Yu Darvish (118 K’s), and, somehow, Bartolo Colon (7-2 with 2 shutouts!) have been stellar, Justin Verlander has been neck and neck with them when it comes to the AL Cy Young race. Verlander is 8-4 with a sub 4.00 ERA and 93 K’s, and while those stats are not the most impressive when compared to Buchholz or Darvish, I expect Verlander to pitch better over the summer while the two young pitchers falter somewhat.

This man should rise above the competition to claim the AL Cy Young Award.

This man should rise above the competition to claim the AL Cy Young Award.

Clayton Kershaw as NL Cy Young Winner

Young arms have dominated the National League thus far, as Matt Harvey, Shelby Miller, and Patrick Corbin have all put up some amazing numbers and outstanding performances. Despite this influx of brand-new talent, Kershaw, who is only 25 himself yet it seems has been in the league for a long time, looks as though he may win the second NL Cy Young Award of his young career. Though he is just (as of June 5) 5-4, he has a 1.93 ERA, 8.8 K/9, and  a sub 1.00 WHIP. I believe that Kershaw should receive the Cy Young Award that some said he was deprived of last year.

Kershaw is on track to claim his second Cy Young Award in three years.

Kershaw is on track to claim his second Cy Young Award in three years.

Award Predictions That are Not so Accurate!

Mike Trout as AL MVP

While Trout certainly isn’t having a bad season by any means (he is leading the American League in triples and is 4th in both stolen bases and OPS), it appears he is once again going to lose the AL MVP Award to Miguel Cabrera. There is no better way to describe Cabrera’s 2013 performance thus far than this thought: He is, in my opinion, performing better this year than he did last year, when he won the AL Triple Crown. I disagreed with the decision to give Cabrera the award last year, but I do not this year. He is clearly the best player in the league at this point. Trout’s MVP will have to wait for at least another year.

Trout and Cabrera continue their excellent play into this year, but Cabrera again has the edge.

Trout and Cabrera continue their excellent play into this year, but Cabrera again has the edge.

Andrew McCutchen as NL MVP

Similarly to Trout, McCutchen is performing well, but he is likely to receive nothing to show for it. Although he is tied for fourth in the NL for stolen bases and is batting .280, McCutchen is simply not qualified to win the award this year with impressive performances by Jean Segura (.342 BA, 8 triples, and 17 SB), Joey Votto (.325 BA, .955 OPS, and 3.0 WAR), and Paul Goldschmidt (15 HR, 58 RBI, 3.7 WAR), not to mention others. Perhaps he will pick up the pace for the rest of the summer and draw in line with these top performers, but I expect both him and the Pirates to falter midseason, as they have for several years now.

Maybe next year, the NL MVP will finally be in the hands of McCutchen.

Maybe next year, the NL MVP will finally be in the hands of McCutchen.

That’s all for today! Expect to see a post reviewing my playoff predictions thus far in the upcoming week.

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MLB 2013 Preview: Overview

At long last, baseball season has arrived! As the players button their uniforms and hit in the batting cages, the fans awaken from their winter slumber to notice that the teams they know and love have changed in significant ways. In search of answers, they scour the internet for information and predictions for the following season. This, hopefully, will be their savior.

In the following posts, I am going to break down each division, from AL East to NL West, team by team, and try to foresee the outcomes of this 2013 season. Any feedback is much appreciated, and I apologize if your favorite team is crucified (my favorite team happens to be the Mets, which gives you an idea of the disappointments I am used to from them).

First, I’d like to breakdown my predictions of who will win the major awards of the season. Brief reasoning will follow each prediction.

AL Awards

Mike Trout (LAA)- AL MVP

Trout is a phenomenal talent who won 2012 Rookie of the Year honors and who led the league in runs (129) as well as in Wins Above Replacement (10.7). In my opinion, Trout should have beaten out Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera for 2012 MVP, but he did not. That is why he will come back with a chip on his shoulder, using 2013 to prove that the sportswriters chose the wrong man last year and guaranteeing they won’t make that mistake again.

Justin Verlander (DET)- AL Cy Young

Image

Seeing how he eliminated any of Jordany Valdespin’s possible children already this year, watch out, MLB!

Verlander of course won both this award and the MVP award in 2011, when he went 24-5 with 250 K’s. He followed that incredible year with a similarly stellar year in 2012, but was slighted of the Cy Young last year when young Rays ace David Price won. Having won both an AL pennant and Kate Upton (lucky jerk…) last year, Verlander likely isn’t that concerned with winning the award again, but I predict he will come roaring back, bringing the CY Young award back to Detroit.

Andrew McCutchen (PIT)- NL MVP

He's already gotten off to a good start this year...

He’s already gotten off to a good start this year…

Last year, McCutchen got off to a great first half, batting .362 with 18 home runs and 6o RBI, leading the Pirates to 16 games over .500 as late as August 8th. Unfortunately, as McCutchen declined, so did the Pirates- He finished batting .327, they finished 79-83. McCutchen still finished 3rd in the NL MVP voting, however, and this year, he will finish first. He will truly embrace the leadership role and, entering his prime, lead the Pirates to their first winning season in 22 years.

Clayton Kershaw (LAD)- NL Cy Young

Kershaw is a steller young pitcher who obtained the award in 2011 when he was 23 and won the pitching triple crown, leading or tying for the lead league in victories (21), strikeouts (248), and ERA (2.28). Last year, Kershaw led the league in ERA (2.53) and WHIP (1.02) yet lost the award to R.A Dickey, the knuckle-balling oddity now on the Blue Jays. With him gone, the southpaw Dodger will once again make his claim to a Cy Young in 2013. This time, he will win as the Dodgers secure a NL wild card spot utilizing him and his new rotation-mate, Zach Greinke.

That wraps it up for the 2013 MLB award predictions. I’ll be back to predict the 2013 playoff results tomorrow.

Who will lift the trophy this year?!?!?!

Who will lift the trophy this year?!?!?!

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