Category Archives: MLB

Opening Day Matchups To Watch

If there is one thing guys will always be romantic about, it is baseball. I’ll be the first to admit it’s difficult to really express emotions about real life stuff, like those you care about and your deepest passions. But when it comes to a bat, a ball, and some expensive hot dogs on a summer day, I’ll scream my thoughts from the nosebleeds to whoever is listening.

There’s a few particular days where those emotions run high. Any Game 7, Yankees vs Red Sox/Mets (or any rivalry game for other fans), certain player’s final game, and of course, Opening Day.

And in case you live under a rock, today is Opening Day. I know this Sandlot scene is about July 4th and baseball, but I still feel it captures the beauty of baseball and the awe we absorb when the game comes around.

With that said, there are a few matchups that I think fans should be looking at today if they want to watch some good baseball:

Mets vs Nationals—Jacob deGrom vs Max Scherzer

  •  You can argue this is the best pitching matchup we’ll see all year. I expect Mad Max to be absolutely insane today with an abundance of talking to himself on the mound. It’s Opening Day (in case you didn’t hear me the first 12 times I said it) and the Nationals are being overlooked this year. He will not like that.

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  • With deGrom just getting his extension and the “pitching to preserve his arm” situation totally gone, we will see the best of deGoat too. The two best pitchers in baseball face off, be sure to at least watch a few moments of this one.

Giants vs Padres—Madison Bumgarner vs Eric Lauer

  • I am infatuated by the San Diego Padres. I love that Machado went there because there is nothing better than turnover in sports. Four or five years from now, I can finally see the Padres overtaking the NL West and the Dodgers finally coming down from their World Series runner-up marathon.
  • Eric Lauer is a great 23 year old prospect in his first Game 1 start. He is going up against a living legend in MadBum. That’s a tall task, and how he lives up to it will be telling not only of his future, but potentially the Padres too.
  • Seeing Bumgarner back on the mound fully healthy is great, and I really want to see him pitch well this year. But…not too well because I think he’s a great fit for the Yankees. The worse he pitches, the smaller the price gets at the deadline. Today is the first day we can evaluate where he, and the Giants, might be in July.

Cardinals vs Brewers—Miles Mikolas vs Jhoulys Chacin

  • There is really nothing exciting about Jhoulys Chacin, a career .500 pitcher with a near-4 ERA, but that is not the point. The Cardinals and Brewers, along with the Cubs, are going to be the key players in the best division in baseball this season. Today is the first today we’ll see these division rivals square off, and expect to see them battle it out game-by-game the rest of the way.
  • Miles Mikolas is a low-key stud. He started his career in San Diego and Texas before leaving to play in Japan for multiple years. Now back in the MLB with the Cardinals, he has legit ace potential. Coming off a year where he went 18-4 with a 2.83 ERA, he is somebody to keep an eye on to see if he can repeat his surprising 2018.
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Image via bnd.com

Rays vs Astros—Blake Snell vs Justin Verlander

  • Similar to the Mets and Nationals, this is the best pitching matchup you’re going to get in the AL (replace either of these guys with Chris Sale and you’ll hear the same thing).
  • The Astros aren’t going to surprise anybody, we know they’re really good. But the Rays were a dark horse last year, and they opened the eyes of the baseball world to the “Opener”. How they come back this year when people can plan for their strategy will be interesting.

Braves vs Phillies—Julio Teheran vs Aaron Nola

  • AL East division predictions go back and forth between these two teams. The sexy pick is the Phillies after an incredible offseason, but people forget how much talent the Braves have on the field. Their infield alone consists of Freddie Freeman, Ozzie Albies, Dansby Swanson, and Josh Donaldson. Like the Brewers and Cardinals, the madness starts today.
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Image via ESPN.com

Happy Opening Day everyone, baseball is finally back.

If You Aren’t Excited For Baseball Season You Can Kick Rocks

Tomorrow marks one of the most glorious days of the year: MLB Opening Day. Yeah, the Mariners already beat the A’s twice in Japan last week, which concluded Ichiro’s absolutely legendary career. But Thursday is the first time all 30 teams will be in action. Opening Day is always exciting because not only is the season starting, but you get to see every team’s aces go against each other. We’re talking matchups like Scherzer vs. deGrom and Verlander vs. Snell, in addition to seeing guys like Sale, Kluber, and Bumgarner throw. If that doesn’t make it move at least a little bit, then you’re not a baseball person, and I couldn’t feel more sorry for you.

Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of other great sports. I love March Madness, nothing compares to it. I just hope I don’t have to see Coach K’s smug face after yet another national championship, even though I would be happy for future Knick Zion (hopefully). The NFL is great, but we just saw Tom Brady win his sixth Super Bowl as he continues to absolutely dominate Father Time. And don’t get me started on the NBA, I won’t believe the Warriors aren’t gonna breeze through the Finals again until I see it with my own eyes.

Baseball gives you a game nearly every single day. There’s so much young talent, so many promising teams. The AL East has pro sports’ greatest rivalry, with the 100-win Yankees looking for revenge on the 108-win, defending-champ Red Sox for knocking them out of the playoffs last season. While those are two of baseball’s best teams on paper, don’t discount the Rays, who won 90 games in 2018.

The AL Central figures to still belong to the Indians and their forceful starting rotation, but they left major holes in their roster with the departures of Yan Gomes, Andrew Miller, and Michael Brantley. Don’t count out the Twins to give them a run for their money, as this division could be much more competitive than most anticipate.

The AL West is headlined by the 2017 champion Astros, with last year’s surprise team, the A’s, looking to make some noise once again. Perhaps Mike Trout and his record-breaking contract could propel the Angels to a wild-card spot? Lots of talent in this division, but it is still the Astros’ to lose.

Over in the National League, the NL East is going to be one of the most competitive and fun divisions in baseball. The Phillies had the best offseason in baseball, adding the likes of Jean Segura, Andrew McCutchen, David Robertson, J.T. Realmuto, and of course Bryce Harper. The Braves bring back the core of last year’s division championship team, as well as having added Josh Donaldson to the mix. The Nationals improved even with the loss of Harper, adding Patrick Corbin, Yan Gomes, Brian Dozier, and others to the mix as promising young prospect Victor Robles assumes Harper’s role in the outfield. Last but not least, the Mets made a plethora of moves to build around what could be baseball’s best rotation, including trading for Robinson Cano and Edwin Diaz, as well as signing Wilson Ramos, Jed Lowrie, and bringing back Jeurys Familia.

The NL Central will also prove to be one of baseball’s most entertaining divisions. In addition to the Brewers, who came within a game of the World Series last season, and the 2016 champion Cubs, the Cardinals added perennial MVP candidate Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller to a team that won 88 games a year ago. This should prove to be one of the best division races in baseball.

Finally, the NL West looks like it still belongs to the Dodgers. Despite Clayton Kershaw starting the season injured, they’re still probably the deepest team on paper in the National League. Walker Buehler had an extremely promising rookie year, Corey Seager returns to play shortstop after missing 2018 with an injury, and the team signed AJ Pollock to replace Yasiel Puig in the outfield. Despite the Dodgers’ prowess, don’t count out the Rockies, led by superstars Nolan Arenado and Charlie Blackmon.

There’s nothing better than coming home to a baseball game on every single night. Summer nights spent at the stadium are an experience like no other. I get that it’s a long season, the games take hours to finish, and there can be a lot of time in between real action. But baseball is a beautiful game. I think Hall of Fame manager Earl Weaver said it best: “You can’t sit on a lead and run a few plays into the line and just kill the clock. You’ve got to throw the ball over the damn plate and five the other man his chance. That’s why baseball is the greatest game of them all.” Game 1 of 162 is finally here tomorrow. Lemme drive the damn boat!

Mariano Rivera and the Rest of My Fictional 2019 Baseball Hall of Fame Ballot

Loyal BTB readers, I know that you have a burning question.  “Have the BTB editors been given official Hall of Fame ballots for 2019?”  Somehow, the answer to this question is “No”.  I would like to think that my ballot was lost in the mail.  I did move in August, so maybe the Hall of Fame has not been able to track me down at my new address.  Nevertheless, you readers all deserve to see my 2019 fictional ballot.

Last year, I wrote a post explaining how I view the “steroid guys”.  As a result, you probably know that I am voting again this year for Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Sammy Sosa, and Manny Ramirez.  Last year, I also wrote a post detailing the rest of my Hall of Fame vote .  Because I do not believe in dropping people off my ballot from one year to the next, you know that I am also voting this year for Larry Walker, Fred McGriff, Edgar Martinez, and Mike Mussina – all of whom were on my fictional 2018 ballot and are eligible for election this year as well.  Thus, you already know eight of the ten people for whom I am voting this year.

Fortunately, the voters did much good last year in electing Vladimir Guerrero, Jim Thome, and Larry Wayne Jones to the Hall.  You know that I did not agree with Trevor Hoffman receiving the nod, but, given that he had earned 74% of the vote (75% is needed for election) two years ago, I knew that it was a foregone conclusion that “Hell’s Bells” would ring in Cooperstown in 2018.

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Image via Sports Illustrated

Last year, I lamented the fact that, because all of the “steroid” guys have been clogging up the ballot for so long, there have been many years in which more than 10 deserving players have appeared on the general ballot.  Given that voters may vote for no more than 10 players per year, voters have been forced to leave off people for whom they would actually like to vote.  In that vein; last year, I wanted to put 12 people on my ballot, so I had to keep two of them off the list.  Thus, I decided to leave Curt Schilling’s and Jim Thome’s boxes unchecked.  My logic with Thome was that; while he is a definite Hall of Famer; 1) I did not feel that he needed to be a first-ballot HOFer, and 2) Since it was his first year on the ballot, I would have many more opportunities to vote for him.  (To the contrary, I did vote for first-year Larry Wayne, as I felt he was a true first-ballot guy.)  As for Schilling, I simply felt that he was the least qualified of the non-first-ballot guys.

As a result of the Jones, Guerrero, and Thome elections; we traveled through 2018 with 9 remaining guys on the ballot whom I have thought deserve to enter the Hall.  Therefore, if 2019 were to have brought no more than one deserving candidate, my logjam would have disappeared.  Unfortunately, I missed this mark by one.

The 2019 ballot has brought us two people – Mariano Rivera and the late Roy Halladay – whom I consider clear Hall of Famers.  In last year’s anti-Hoffman explanation, I did note that Rivera is the only modern closer for whom I would ever vote.  Had Rivera had a ho-hum postseason career; I would not have voted for him, but his postseason career is legendary.  The guy had 42 postseason saves, many of which were of more than one inning (141 innings pitched in 96 appearances), and an 0.70 postseason ERA.  I repeat, “an 0.70 postseason ERA”….over 141 innings…..in the postseason.  You know, against the best teams in baseball on the biggest stages.  141 innings equates to 2/3 of a regular-season load for a reliable starting pitcher.  Can you imagine a starting pitcher posting an 0.70 ERA up through the trade deadline?  Think of how excited we were about Jacob deGrom’s 1.6 – 1.8 ERA at various times last year.  Rivera’s numbers are incredible.

Additionally, do these three names ring a bell?  “Sandy Alomar”, “Luis Gonzalez”, and “Roberts Steal”?  They represent three of Rivera’s four blown postseason saves, and they are so well-known because it was such a rarity for Mo to blow postseason saves.  (Note: Mo’s fourth postseason blown save was in Game 5 of the 2004 ALCS, where he entered with 1st and 3rd and nobody out and allowed only the inherited runner on third to score.  As I mentioned in my “Jeurys Familia” article, why this blown save is given to Rivera and not the guy who put the runner on base is beyond me.)  Additionally, Luis Gonzalez handed Rivera his only postseason loss.  Therefore, among all the times Rivera entered tie games, he did not lose any for the Yankees.  (Note: the Yanks did ultimately lose the other three games in which Rivera blew saves, but the Yanks lost each of those games after the book was closed on Rivera.)

For the Yankees’ run of dominance from 1995 through 2012, there was no psychological edge in baseball greater than the Yankees knowing they had Mariano for the 9th and maybe 8th innings of postseason games (actually Mo was working the 8th innings in 1995 and 1996, but this is not the best time to be bringing up the guy who was working those 9th innings).  The Hall of Fame is about more than just numbers.  It is about dominance, especially on the big stage; and it is also a home of legends.  Mariano Rivera fits those criteria to a “T”.

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Image via CBS Sports

Anyway, with Mo earning the 9th spot on my ballot, I find myself in a tough position for the final vote.  Do I check Curt Schilling’s name or Roy Halladay’s?  For that answer, I will use the same logic I used last year.  While Roy Halladay is a Hall of Famer to me, he does not need to be a first-ballot guy.  Therefore, I am going to vote for Schilling, whose ballot days are closer to expiration.  I explained Schilling’s candidacy last year, and I will save my Halladay explanation for next year, when I can hopefully make room for him on my ballot.

Additionally, this year’s ballot has four other new guys whom I do not consider definite “No”s: Todd Helton (More than likely a future “yes” for me), Andy Pettitte (Likely a “no” as per my “Tier III” steroid rules), Lance Berkman (Leaning toward “no” but need to examine more closely), and Roy Oswalt (Almost certainly “no” but also need to examine more closely).  Similarly, there are two viable holdovers from previous ballots whom I have never truly considered due to lack of available spots.  Because I did not previously vote for these guys, I likely still will not, but I do not want to rule out these two individuals, Scott Rolen and Andruw Jones.  I will go into deeper analyses on these players next year, when hopefully I am writing about my REAL ballot!

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Image via Talking Chop

Lastly, as a Yankees hater, it is fun for me to see Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and Vernon Wells as first-timers on this year’s ballot.  First-timers on this year’s ballot are guys who last played in 2013, and would you look at who employed all three of those guys when they realized it was time to hang up their spikes?  The New York Yankees.  Too bad Lyle Overbay wasn’t even good enough to make it on the ballot.

That said, a much more prominent member of the 2013 Yankees did make it onto this year’s ballot, and he was the last player to wear #42 outside of April 15.  Mariano Rivera absolutely needs to be inducted into the Hall, and let’s hope that the voters elect several other guys on my list so that I can clear up this year’s logjam and avoid any in the future.

 

 

 

 

Why Barry Bonds Did Not Need Steroids To Get Into the Hall of Fame

In wake of Barry Bonds missing out on the Hall of Fame for yet another season, I decided to put this piece together that I’ve been thinking about for a while.

Barry Bonds is arguably the most polarizing figure in the history of professional sports. His historic stats paired with his shameful steroid allegations make for heated arguments between baseball purists and analytical feens. With the exception of Brady/Belichick multiple cheating scandals and Pete Rose’s gambling problem, Bonds is the most notable disgrace to sports due to the magnitude of his records.

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Image via barrybonds.com

First let’s go over what Bonds HAS done, in case anyone forgot. The iconic numbers we are all familiar with are:

2,935 hits, 601 2B, 762 HR, 1996 RBI, 514 SB, 2558 BB, .298 BA, .444 OBP, .607 SLG, 1.051 OPS, and 688 intentional walks. If you want to really dive into all these stats and see where they all rank, head here:

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Bonds played his final game in 2007 at the age of 42. That year he was an All-Star and also broke Hank Aaron’s all-time home run record. Milestones and accomplishments aside he was relatively productive that year, playing in 126 games while batting .276, hitting 28 home runs and bringing in 66 RBI. He also led the MLB in OBP at .480 as well in walks with 132.

He finished with crazy numbers, but if it wasn’t for a little backroom drama, he would have finished with even better ones. Bonds, and many others, believe there was heavy collusion after that 2007 season to not sign him to any team because he was such a toxic distraction anywhere he went. Not only was he a bad teammate (he needed four lockers to himself and didn’t talk to anyone), but his perjury and steroid investigation was becoming too much for any team to handle or be associated with. With his play slowly declining, his worth no longer outweighed the risk.

But, let’s say somebody had taken a chance on him, thrown him in a comfortable DH role in the American League, and he rode out 1 year contracts until he couldn’t do it anymore. We would probably have seen the first, and only, 800 home run career. He would continue to Gretzky his intentional walk record (second is Pujols and it is not even a little close). He is behind Aaron in RBI by 301, and while I’m not sure he would’ve caught up to that I think it would’ve been close.

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Image via New York Times

My point is that like Tom Brady, there was really no end in sight for Bonds. He is already statistically one of the greatest player of all-time, but if baseball hadn’t turned a cold shoulder to him in 2007 then it would not even be a question.

Yet, he remains in the likes of players like Tony Womack, Eric Gagne, Jorge Posado, Fred McGriff, and the other 99% of professional players that never made it to the Hall of Fame. That’s the way it should be, in my opinion, for anyone who used steroids. You cheated, therefore your stats are simply not what they would be were you playing at everybody else’s level. It’s like when the 12 year old in Little League hit a growth spurt and was 6 ft 4 batting against little Timmy who didn’t reach puberty until sophomore year of high school. Like the 12 year old giant, Bonds and all the other players had an incredible STRENGTH advantage. Yes I get hitting a baseball is hard, but everybody else is playing the same exact game so don’t give me that argument.

I would like to raise the question of what if Barry Bonds never took steroids? Would he have been enshrined already in Cooperstown? Would he be locked into baseball immortality? I think yes.

I am basing that statement off this ESPN article which gives an in-depth timeline of Bonds’ steroid usage. In it, it suggests nothing started being fishy with him until 1998. Ironically, that is also the exact year you saw his stolen base numbers start to dip dramatically. People forget Bonds was a 40/40 player at one point, and even stole 52 bases one year. In 1997 he stole 37 bases, in 1998 he stole 28, and then in 1999 he stole 15. Every following year it went lower and lower. This drop off could certainly be attributed to old age, but I have a feeling that ESPN article and his decrease in speed is not a coincidence.

So, for the sake of argument, we are cutting Barry Bonds’ non-steroid career off after the 1997 season. That would put his statline after 12 seasons at the below:

374 HR, 1094 RBI, .288 BA, 417 SB, .406 OBP, and THREE MVP awards.

For reference, here are Hank Aaron’s numbers after 12 years:

398 HR, 1305 RBI, .319 BA, 149 SB, .375 OBP, and ONE MVP (He only won once)

Following the 1997 season, Bonds was 32. As stated above, he finished when he was 42. Let’s say the steroids not only let him hit the ball farther, but also gave him an extra year or two down the line in terms of career longevity. We will halt his steroid-less career at 40 then.

In order to predict his stats, I’ll take his annual career averages and add them onto 8 more seasons. Therefore:

HR: 31, RBI: 91, AVG: .288, OBP: .406, SB: I will not be counting because this is something that would decrease with age regardless of steroids, so I don’t think there’s a fair way for me to measure it.

Taking those averages and making 8 extra seasons out of those numbers, Bonds would finish with:

595 HR, 1822 RBI, .288 BA, .406 OBP and we’ll say one more MVP award, considering A-Rod was nasty and Griffey was dominating.

That would place Bonds in the TOP 10 in home runs. THE TOP 10! He would also be 21st on the RBI list, only 14 simple RBI behind Ken Griffey, Jr, who by the way received 99.32% of the Hall of Fame vote his first time around.

Bonds was a Hall of Fame caliber player his entire career, well before the steroids (again, presumably). He was headed to a first-ballot Hall of Fame ending, a member of Cooperstown forever. But, he got caught up with the wrong people, and probably got greedy.

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Image via Juice Heads

Would he be considered the greatest home run hitter of all-time? No, Hank Aaron and Babe Ruth would hold that honor still, the way it should be. Would our jaws be dropping at the sight of his 2001 stats? No, I doubt it. But would we be talking about how Barry Bonds, the man with the video game numbers, might be a forgotten member of the Mt. Rushmore of baseball? Nope.

Barry Bonds was going to be a Hall of Famer without steroids. 

Bonds went big when he chose to do steroids. It was a time when nobody thought anything would happen. Everybody was doing it, so what’s one more. But a lot of other players did not have the incredible gifts Bonds was given, that he was already putting on display on a daily basis. Look at his numbers with Pittsburgh and you’ll see. So when Bonds decided to start juicing, it almost made him TOO good that it became suspicious. He was already miles ahead of the rest of the MLB, and this put him well out of reach. That’s why he hit 73 HR, knocked in 137 RBI, batted .328, and got on base over half the time. That is not supposed to happen.

That is also why I firmly believe Bonds should never touch the Hall of Fame. He had a talent level people can only dream about, but he tainted it. He got too hungry. He went too big. People could know his name now like they know somebody like Jim Thome or Albert Pujols. Respectable legends of the game. But instead they look at his name and they instantly think cheater.

I personally think what a shame it is that a Hall of Fame career was blown because his ego got in the way. Even though he is the “Home Run King”, he’ll be chasing Hank Aaron’s legacy for the rest of his life.

 

Jacob deGrom Provides Yet Another Example of a Professional Athlete Having No Idea What “Humbled” Means

A few weeks ago, Jacob deGrom captured the National League Cy Young Award.  As a Mets fan, I was very excited to have him win this well-deserved honor.  However, deGrom ruined a perfect moment with the following statement.

“I want to thank the Baseball Writers for this honor. I’m extremely humbled to win this award along with some other great former Mets such as Tom SeaverDwight Gooden and R.A. Dickey. I’d especially like to thank my teammates, coaching staff and my family.”

This statement shows that deGrom is just another in a long line of athletes who do not know the meaning of the word “humbled”, and frankly I am sick of it.  Tom Seaver is one of the greatest pitchers of all time; Dwight Gooden won a Cy Young Award in one of the greatest single seasons by any pitcher; and R.A. Dickey was beloved by Mets fans.  Thus, there are many words to describe how I would feel if I joined that esteemed list:

“Flattered”, “honored”, “amazing”, “The Man”, The Sh!t” are the first five things that come to mind.  “Humbled” falls at Spot #1,948,345 in the list of ways I would feel if I won the Cy Young Award and were put on that list of great pitchers.  The top synonyms for “humbled” are “defeated”, “beaten”, “crushed”, “humiliated”, “degraded”, and “shamed”.  If you win the Cy Young Award and feel any of those six emotions, please seek a mental-health professional help immediately because you should be feeling your best at a time of such high honor.

Unfortunately, deGrom is just one of many athletes who misuse the word “humbled”.  We hear it all the time.  NBA players are humbled when they are compared to Larry Bird or Magic Johnson, and quarterback are humbled when they are compared to Joe Montana and Tom Brady.  Stop it.  Some people absolutely need to be able to used the word “humbled”, and the word does not work if others are using the word inappropriately.  Here are two athletes who reserve the right to say “humbled”:

  • Matt Harvey: The guy was “The Dark Knight” and was being discussed along the lines of Tom Seaver and Dwight Gooden. He was sleeping with supermodels and was the big man about town in New York City.  Then, a few minutes later; the guy was pitching to an ERA near 7, then pitching out of the bullpen; and then pitching in Cincinnati.  Three years ago, he thought he would someday earn the biggest contract in history for an MLB pitcher.  Now, he is hoping to earn a contract of any kind.  Now, that is humbling.
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Image via The Boston Globe
  • Aaron Williams (7 Days in Hell): The guy was the top tennis player in the world. An announcer stated during Williams’s prime, “There is no one in the world who does not want to have sex with Aaron Williams.”  The guy was unbeatable on the court until an unfortunate day at Wimbledon.  On that day, he accidentally killed a spectator with a serve before shoving a member of the English royal family.  This started a downward spiral that ultimately ended up with Williams serving time in a Swedish prison.  Again, that is humbling.  (Bonus points: Andy Samberg’s character in Popstar debuted a song called “Humble” in which he appropriately yet ironically uses the word “humble”.)

Thus, Jacob deGrom, you have not been humbled.  If you go out there next year and pitch to an ERA of 5.00, you may say that you are humbled.  If you get knocked out of a game after allowing 10 runs in the first inning, you may say that you are humbled.  If your agent-turned-GM refuses you a long-term extension and compares you to 2017 Tyler Clippard, 2005 Carl Pavano, and 1998 Mel Rojas; you may say that you are humbled.  Lastly, if your wife leaves you for the bass player from Nickelback on the same day that your dog sets your house on fire, you may say that you are humbled.

However, 2018 National League Cy Young Award Winner, Jacob deGrom, as we stand here today, you have not been humbled.  Congratulations though.  It was an absolute delight to watch one of the most incredible pitching seasons I have ever seen.

They Might Not Win, But Let’s Appreciate the Yankees’ ROY Candidates

Major League Baseball will announce both their American and National League Rookie of the Year award winners tonight. In the National League, the finalists are the Braves’ Ronald Acuna Jr., the Nationals’ Juan Soto, and the Dodgers’ Walker Buehler. That is believed by many to be a two-man race between Soto and Acuna Jr. I have Acuna Jr. winning, but you can easily make a case for either of the two.

The American League finalists include two Yankees in Miguel Andujar and Gleyber Torres, as well as the Angels’ two-way star Shohei Ohtani. As much as I love the two Yanks, and think they’re both deserving (Andujar especially), I really believe Ohtani will win this award. I don’t like the guy, and I think it’s somewhat silly to go crazy over his pitching stats when he made only ten starts. But, there are a few reasons I think he’ll edge out both Miggy and Gleyber to win.

  1. His sample sizes are smaller, but when he did play he was exceptional, especially for the first pitcher/hitter since Babe Ruth
  2. There is a lot of anti-Yankee bias in the media when it comes to award voting, and they’ve had ROY candidates get snubbed before (Gary Sanchez in 2016, Robbie Cano in 2005.)
  3. Andujar and Torres will take votes away from each other

So yeah, I think Ohtani will be the Rookie of the Year. But this post isn’t about him, it’s for the two Baby Bombers. I’ll start with Torres.

As the main return in the Aroldis Chapman deal, there was a lot of hype surrounding Gleyber before he came up. There were talks that he could be an All-Star caliber player for years to come. He has certainly lived up to the hype thus far, earning his first All-Star nod in his rookie season. To me, the most impressive thing about him is that no moment seemed too big. Gleyber played with the confidence of a seasoned veteran, not a 21-year old rookie. He immediately made an impact, coming up clutch numerous times.

Just two weeks after being called up, he delivered a game-tying two-run single in the 9th inning at the defending-champion Astros in a game the Yankees would ultimately win.

 

He had a walk-off single against the Astros at home later that month

And who could forget his three-run walk-off homer to sweep the Indians at home?

Not only did Torres provide a flair for the dramatic, his power numbers were better than anticipated too. He blasted 24 homers this year after never hitting more than 14 in a season in the minors. He even launched five in four games at one point.

I love Gleyber, and everything he did. Red Sox series aside, you couldn’t have asked for a better rookie season from the kid. That being said, Miguel Andujar deserves the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year award.

Andujar was not only one of baseball’s best rookies, he was one of its best hitters down the stretch. He was the Yankees’ most consistent hitter all year long, and arguably their MVP. His .297 average led the team, his 27 homers put him in a three-way tie with Judge, Hicks, and Didi for second on the team, and his 92 RBI trailed only Stanton. The Yankees won 100 games this year; I don’t think that’s remotely possible without the production they got from Miguel Andujar.

Andujar was a consistent, doubles machine, and just seems like a guy who plays the game hard and has fun doing it. How could you not love him? I know his defense at third was bad, and even horrible at times. But hopefully he can work on that, because his bat is too valuable to have to take out of the lineup for defense late in close games.

Andujar’s name has also come up a lot in trade rumors, especially in potential deals for Indians’ ace Corey Kluber. The rationale behind that would be to trade Andujar, and then sign Manny Machado to take his place at third. While Kluber and Machado are two franchise-altering players, it would be tough to part ways with Andujar. His rookie season was so promising, and you have to think that as he continues to grow stronger, some more of those doubles will turn into homers. We’ll see what happens, but regardless I’m ecstatic that Andujar is part of this baseball team.

Ohtani will probably win it, but boy am I glad we have these two Baby Bombers. Hopefully Gleyber and Miggy are wearing Pinstripes for a long time. (It would be such a Stanzo thing for one of them to get traded like a day after I post this.)

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Watching the Red Sox Win the World Series Is Not What You Want

I know Game 1 is tonight. The series hasn’t even started yet. But if you don’t think there is a more than solid chance the Red Sox are going to win this series, you haven’t been watching. As a Yankee fan, after we won ALDS Game 2 at Fenway, I thought the series was ours. Coming home to Yankee Stadium with the series tied, Luis Severino on the mound? Sounded great. What happened after that? The Sox dropped a bomb on us, winning 16-1 before pulling out a 4-3 victory the next night to eliminate us on our own home turf. For those keeping score at home, that’s 20-4 in two games. On the road. At Yankee Stadium.

I was obviously (and still am) extremely upset with that result, but I remained hopeful that the defending-champion Astros would take the Red Sox down. After the Astros won Game 1, the Sox went on to win the next four (including three on the road) to dethrone the defending champs. All year, the Astros honestly scared me more than the Red Sox did. Maybe I was biased by my hate for the Sox, and fear of the Astros after the Yankees were eliminated by them in last year’s ALCS. I can admit that. But the fact of the matter is the Astros are a really good baseball team, and this Red Sox team disposed of them in 5 games.

Does every fiber in my body want to believe that the Dodgers can win this series, and prevent the Red Sox from winning another World Series? Of course I do. And the narrative doesn’t sound too bad when you start to put it together. Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher of our generation, Manny Machado is a bona-fide stud whose bad history with the Sox could propel him to greatness, the Dodgers’ bullpen is better. On paper, this could be a great series. But I think I’m regrettably coming to the most horrifying realization a Yankee fan can: It’s just the Red Sox year.

I know what you’re thinking. “Stanzo, they won 108 games and just steamrolled the Yankees and Astros, no shit it’s their year.” That’s not what I’m saying. Regular season wins don’t necessarily mean shit; in 2001, the 116-win Seattle Mariners failed to even reach the World Series. This is the Red Sox year because all the unlikely, even somewhat “magical” things are happening for them to win games. Not trying to discount this team or their talent, because believe me, I’ve watched them enough times this year to know that they are legit. But it takes a little bit of magic to win a championship.

Christian Vazquez hit .207 with 3 home runs this year. The guy had a negative WAR. What’d he do in the deciding ALDS Game 4 against the Yankees? He hit a two-run home run.

Jackie Bradley, jr. is the Red Sox’ 9 hitter, a .238 career batter in the lineup for his defense. He was the ALCS MVP, blasting two huge home runs (including a grand slam) and driving in 9 in the series.

Nathan Eovaldi has gotten Tommy John surgery twice, missed all of 2017, and has a career ERA over 4. He’s been nothing short of brilliant in the playoffs, tossing 7 innings of one-run ball against the Yankees in ALDS Game 3 and 6 innings giving up two against the Astros in ALCS Game 3.

And on top of those guys’ performances, don’t even get me started on this catch.

My reasoning behind pointing out these facts isn’t to discount the efforts of the Red Sox’ stars. It’s just to show that this is their year. Everything is going right for them. They’re the superior team. It absolutely pains me to say it, but they’re going to win this series and it’s not going to be close. I think they win it in five games, clinching the championship in Los Angeles.

It’s going to be awful for us Yankee fans to watch, and will only make this offseason harder. But I have to make peace with it at some point, it might as well be now. At least I have the Giants and Knicks to watch…

 

shit.