Well, I did not get my wish; there were ties atop two of the NL divisions but there were no ties involving the wild-card teams. We were treated to two “extra regular season games” yesterday and the two losing teams will square off today in the NL wild-card elimination playoff game. Baseball was front and center in the US sports world yesterday and now the ramp to the World Series is open.
Normally, as the MLB playoffs begin, I have a World Series pairing that I prefer over all the other possibilities; sometimes, there are two match-ups that are equally appealing but usually there is only one I would like to see. This year is different; there are four possible World Series opponents that I would like to see – and I have difficulty figuring out which one is the one I like best.
- A’s/Brewers: If one of the “small-market” teams makes the Series, I would like to see both make the Series. Lots of casual baseball fans have read about players like the A’s Khris Davis and Matt Chapman but have not seen much of them; the same goes for the Brewers’ Christian Yelich and Jesus Aguilar. These guys are really good, and it would be fun to see a whole new cast of characters vie for stardom in an A’s/Brewers World Series.
- Yankees/Dodgers: This match-up is the polar opposite of the A’s/Brewers. This is a historical rivalry; these are the deep-pocket clubs; these are the players who are already household names. It has been a while since the Yankees and the Dodgers have met in the World Series but there was a time when it was almost de rigueur at the end of an MLB season.
- Astros/Dodgers: Last year’s World Series was plenty interesting; other than for Dodgers’ fans who did not like the outcome, I do not think I would have to have the persuasive skills of Clarence Darrow to win such an argument. So, I would surely not mind watching an encore performance this year.
- Red Sox/Cubs: More than any other sport, baseball is the sport steeped in and tied to its history. If this were the World Series pairing, there could be as many as seven games played in the two oldest baseball parks. Oh, and at the same time, the Series would showcase a whole bunch of excellent players on both teams.
As the baseball season progressed, I tried to track the teams on place to lose 100 games or more toward the end of each month. At one point, there were six teams that projected to lose that many games this year. In the end, only three teams lost 100 games and all of them were in the AL.
- White Sox lost 100 games
- Royals lost 104 games
- Orioles lost 115 games.
Here are my baseball end-of-season awards. There is a debate that goes on at the end of every season about whether pitches should be eligible for the MVP Award or if pitchers have their own version of that in the Cy Young Award. My position is simple.
- I do not think a starting pitcher can be the MVP simply because he does nothing in 80% of the games in a season except stand in the dugout and spit sunflower seed shells on the dugout floor.
- I have a different view of relief pitchers given the way MLB is played these days. Back when Mariano Rivera was closing out just about every opposing team three nights a week, I could consider his worthiness for MVP stature. There were no Mariano Riveras this year, so I need not be concerned with the possibility.
With that as prelude, here are my end-of-season awards and honorable mention candidates:
- NL MVP: Christian Yelich (Brewers) He hit .326 for the season and had an OPS of 1.000. He drove in 110 runs and scored 118 runs. My honorable mention awards go to Freddie Freeman (Braves) and Javier Baez (Cubs).
- NL Cy Young: Max Scherzer (Nats) He is the only player in MLB history to strike out 300 batters in a season while only giving up 150 hits for the season. MLB has been keeping stats for a long time; no other pitcher has ever done this. My honorable mention candidate is Jacob deGrom (Mets).
- NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna (Braves) He is a player that does everything better than well. He hit .293 with an OPS of .917 in 111 games this year. My honorable mention award goes to Juan Soto (Nats) who – frighteningly – is only 19 years old.
- NL Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker (Braves) The Braves only won 72 games in 2017 and they won the NL East comfortably this year. Honorable mention awards go to bud Black (Rockies) and Gabe Kapler (Phillies).
- AL MVP: Mookie Betts (Red Sox) He hit .346 with an OPS of 1.078. He led the AL with 129 runs scored and drove in 80 more. Honorable mention goes to Mike Trout (Angels) and Francisco Lindor (Indians).
- AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander (Astros) When the Astros got him from the Tigers late last season, did they leave the trade meetings wearing a mask and carrying a gun? Honorable mention awards go to Chris Sale (Red Sox) and Blake Treinan (A’s).
- AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar (Yankees) He hit .297 and produced an OPS of .855 in 149 games this year. Honorable mention goes to Shohei Ohtani (Angels).
- AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin (A’s) Last year, the A’s won 75 games; this year the A’s won 97 games. Period. Honorable mention awards to Kevin Cash (Rays) and Alex Cora (Red Sox).
Finally, here is a side issue related to baseball as reported by Dwight Perry of the Seattle Times:
“The Milwaukee Brewers have secured new sponsorship with Johnsonville, ensuring that their famous racing sausages will continue beyond this season.
“To appease the kid demographic, how about adding a couple of little brats.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………