by Dan Salem and Todd Salem (9-30-13)
So the MLB season is in the books and its been a fun and wild ride. I feel its appropriate to dredge up the past a bit and remind you of our World Series predictions we made way back during the first week of January. This will be fun, mostly for me!
You predicted, and I quote: "The Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim will be back in the series on the backs of their loaded lineup and sterling pitching to face the Cincinnati Reds."
The Reds are in the playoffs, but how do you feel about your picks? You had the Angels winning in six games. I'm sorry, well no I'm not, but that pick looks really really bad in hindsight. You also stuck by the Angles in May and picked them to make the playoffs instead of the Dodgers, when both teams were stinking it up.
Now for my own prediction. "I'd say the Braves face the Rays in the World Series. The team with the healthiest pitching wins... Atlanta."
Well, well, both teams are in the playoffs (as of today the Rays are in the playoff play-in game so close enough for now). Win for me! I also nailed the Dodgers bouncing back and the Indians being this season's Pirates. We were both way off on the Red Sox, but who cares. Enough of my gloating, let's lay down some season awards.
If I could take a team's record out of the equation, then I would give the AL MVP to Mike Trout, but I can't. Miguel Cabrera wins it, with Detroit winning their division yet again. As for the AL Cy Young award... its goes to Max Scherzer because someone has to win it.
The National League weaves a very different web. The NL MVP has no clear cut winner in my book, so I'm leaning towards Jay Bruce with the Reds in the playoffs. I'm also going Kershaw for Cy Young winner. That one's a pretty easy pick.
What do you got?
Well, I do still like the Reds. They have one of the strongest teams, top to bottom, in the league. As for the Angels selection, I can only assume that I was aiming for some sort of reverse jinx to remove one of the Yankees' top competitors...and it worked like a charm! You're welcome. The Angels pitching was horrid all year and their big bats flamed out masterfully, with the exception of your boy Mike Trout.
As for the Dodgers, I'm still not sure how they finished the year so well. I guess their two-man rotation got a huge lift from Hyun-Jin Ryu, who was amazing all year. Forget Yasiel Puig; Ryu was probably the Dodgers best rookie this season. And the bullpen was good even though Brandon League threw over 50 innings while sporting a 5.40 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. The lineup, on the other hand, is pretty inexplicable. Three, count em, three of the Dodgers four best hitters (according to offensive WAR) had comeback seasons for the ages. Hanley Ramirez was their best batter, by a lot, and the majority of fans thought his career was over. The same goes for Adrian Gonzalez. And Andre Either somehow brought himself from a future fourth or fifth outfielder to a three-win player who hit 30 doubles and was serviceable everyday.
Overall, this team's success still doesn't make sense. Matt Kemp had fewer than 300 at-bats; Hanley had barely over 300 ABs and still accumulated more than 5 wins above replacement. Hell, Zack Greinke was ninth on the team in offensive WAR. Yes, OFFENSIVE WAR, starting pitcher Zack Greinke, who had all of 56 at-bats this season. It's astonishing.
All that being said, I see the Dodgers as the most likely team to lose their first round series but we'll get to playoff predictions later in the week. As for regular season awards:
I think you have it backwards in the AL. I think Mike Trout should, and does, take home the MVP this season. He could have gotten it last year, and would have if Cabrera fell short in one of the triple crown categories. Well, this year Cabrera has been outstanding but he's been banged up much of the month of September. And really, the way these things work, how can the voters disregard Trout two years in a row with the seasons he's had? He is just as good of a hitter as Cabrera in nearly ever category, with the exception of the home run power, but blows Miggy away on the base paths and on defense. Everyone knows team success should not factor into MVP voting. I love Cabrera. Actually, this is funny how this worked out since Trout is your guy and Miggy is mine but I think Trout gets the award.
I actually agree with you on AL Cy Young; it's going to be Max Scherzer. Chris Sale had been the best pitcher in the American League all year, and he still does lead the league in WAR. But his peripheral stats are not that much better than Scherzer's. And Max hits all the number thresholds: 20+ wins, ERA under 3, WHIP under 1, well over 200 strikeouts. He gets it.
In the NL, you are right again with the Cy Young; it is Clayton Kershaw and it's not even close.
As for MVP, way to be wrong on both accounts. First, Jay Bruce is a ludicrous pick. He's not even the best hitter on his own team. That would be Joey Votto. But you are also wrong with there being no clear-cut winner because that man is Andrew McCutchen. He is near the top five of pretty much every offensive category in existence. His team had its best season in decades. He runs. He plays defense. He does it all. McCutchen may not be a brand name yet but that doesn't mean he's not the easy MVP pick.
Playoff predictions.... playoff predictions. Do I stick with my New Years' picks or clean slate and re-evaluate after a full season of games? Once the play-in game for the final American League wild card spot, along with the two single elimination wild card games are in the books, we can make some real playoff predictions. I still like my Braves.