Justin Verlander Wins AL Cy Young

Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young on Tuesday with a unanimous 28 votes.

It’s not surprising that the 28 year-old won the Cy Young, nor is it surprising that he won it unanimously.

In a 28 vote romp, Verlander became the first pitcher to win both the AL Cy Young and the Rookie of the Year award in his career. The honor has been bestowed numerous times in the senior circuit, but this is the first time it has happened in the AL.

Not only did Verlander win the pitching Triple Crown, he also led the league in opposing batting average at around .190. To give you an idea, that’s around 2 hits per 10 hitters, a phenomenal rate.

Also, according to sabermetric pitching stats Verlander had no cheap wins, meaning he earned all of them. Then there is the fact that of his 5 losses on the year, four were ‘tough’ losses. That’s right four. All in all he kept Detroit in games and won a good portion of them, which is what you want your ace to do.

The voters filled out their numerous ballots with the likes of Jered Weaver. James Shields, CC Sabathia, Jose Valverde, CJ Wilson, Dan Haren, Mariano Rivera, Josh Beckett, Ricky Romero, and David Robertson, in that order.

While it’s not surprising to see shutdown closers such as Valverde and Rivera on the ballot it is odd to see a guy like Robertson, who on some days pitched the 7th inning for the Bronx Bombers. None the less, Robertson did have an outstanding year. I’m not discrediting that, but he was a 7th inning reliever.

There aren’t many other surprises on the ballot. It’s nice to see Valverde credited for his outstanding season, seeing as some people or publications had Mariano Rivera as the best closer. Outside of the fact that Rivera blew 5 more saves the Valverde, Papa Grande had an ERA of  0.52 in 52 innings when it was a save opportunity. When you can count the number of runs you allow in a single season of save opportunities on one hand, you know it’s a good year closer wise.

 

Will We Have Version 2.0 of the 2011 Tampa Bay Rays Next Year?

That is one of many questions on the brain for some people going into the off-season.
By 2011 Tampa Bay Rays I don’t mean an almost insane-like run that pushed them into the postseason, but a team that lost a good portion of its team going into the season after a year (2010) in which they contended.

 
Just as a refresher here are last year’s “contenders”. I thought hard about putting Cleveland on this list, but the dismal collapse of the Indians pushed their record to manilla folderville.

 
• St. Louis
• Detroit
• Milwaukee
• New York
• Philadelphia
• Tampa Bay
• Arizona
• Atlanta
• San Francisco
• Anaheim
• Boston
• Texas

 
This is not going to be the offseason for major, dark-horse type trades. Justin Verlander is not getting dealt to Oakland on a whim, and Justin Upton is not going to be a Met. That being said, we probably won’t be looking at the same “contenders” next year.
For one, Milwaukee and St. Louis could experience severe setbacks with the prospective losses of their first baseman. Arizona might have been a fluke. Texas could be detrimental without CJ Wilson, and Tampa might go through another full scale meet and greet on Day 1 of spring training.

 

 

But most of this probably won’t occur, and in all essence we could be looking at this same group plus some other squads. Cleveland could be better with the Derek Lowe addition, and the Marlins have some money to spend, as do the Cubs.

 

 

All in all these are the teams who probably drop off the most next year.
• San Francisco. The Giants have apparently already dealt Jonathan Sanchez, and might move Tim Lincecum. Offensive changes are probably in order as well seeing as Carlos Beltran could be at a new address come Opening Day. And there is the log jams that the Giants have in the infield with Jeff Keppinger, Mike Fontenot, Mark DeRosa, Emanuel Burris, Brandon Crawford and Freddy Sanchez fighting for two spots. If you thought that was messy wait till you see their outfield log jam, worthy of an episode on the History Channel show Ax Men. The Giants used Beltran, Cody Ross, Andres Torres, Brandon Belt, Aubrey Huff, Pat Burrell and DeRosa in the outfield. Not to mention the fact that they just acquired Melky Cabrera in the Jonathan Sanchez trade. If the Giants make the right decisions on which players to keep, then they will contend, but if not, well let’s just say you won’t be seeing another championship.

 
• Milwaukee. The Brewers have less of a chance of bringing Prince Fielder back than the Cardinals resigning Albert Pujols. That being said, the Brewers probably lose the Prince via free agency. While a compensation of a Jose Reyes or someone like that is nice, it just seems like a lost cause. Even with Reyes on their team I think the Brewers sorely miss Fielder, and with Matt Gamel or someone like that at first base, you’re looking at 85-87 wins tops. These guys will contend for the wild card no doubt, but I just don’t see them playing at the same high level they did last season.

 
• Anaheim. I don’t see their offense doing much, and the left side of the infield doesn’t have a lot of power at all. Plus, Torii Hunter and Vernon Wells are only getting older. On top of that they don’t have much room for Mike Trout whenever he gets to the big leagues because of Hunter, Wells and Peter Bourjos occupying the outfield and Bobby Abreu at DH. There’s also the Mark Trumbo/ Kendrys Morales situation at first base. If one isn’t traded,  then they probably take the DH role from Abreu. Making it increasingly harder for them to find everyday room for the super prospect Trout. Their pitching will put them ahead of Seattle and Oakland but not much further.

Free Agent Predictions, the New Teams and the Whole Deal Part 2

27. Clint Barmes – New York Mets. Good, reasonably priced, second baseman with pop. Can provide 10-15 homeruns, New York could use some power on second base, also can play shortstop.
28. Kerry Wood – Chicago Cubs. At this point it’s Cubs or bust for Wood, and who wouldn’t want a relief pitcher with his experience on their team?
29. Frank Francisco – Oakland A’s nobody likes hoarding quality bullpen arms more than the A’s. Oakland’s vast stadium could help solve Francisco’s homer issue.
30. Jason Marquis – Los Angeles Angels. The Halos need an innings eater who can get double digit wins if the next name on this list leaves.
31. Joel Pinero – New York Mets. The Mets need good starting pitching and Pinero would be a good fit for their staff at a-not-too-expensive rate.
32. Jonathan Broxton – Toronto Blue Jays. Broxton not what he once was, but could still be an effective relief arm. The Blue Jays, like the A’s, have a tendency to have hoards of quality relief pitchers. Broxton could be the next.
33. Bruce Chen – Seattle Mariners. The M’s need rotation and bullpen help. Chen helps them in both categories.
34. Brad Penny – Cincinnati Reds. The Reds might be a smidgen desperate for pitching help. If they are that needy then this has desperation move written all over it.
35. Rafael Furcal – St. Louis Cardinals. The former Dodger great makes a whole lot of sense for the defending world champs.
36. Aaron Harang –Baltimore Orioles. The O’s need another pitcher because of obvious reasons in their rotation. There’s also the off chance they deal Jeremy Guithre, so they could be lacking a dependable arm.
37. David DeJesus –Cincinnati Reds. Outfielder with some pop seems like a good fit on Dusty Baker’s squad.
38. Jeff Francis – Kansas City Royals. Not all of Kansas City’s super-duper farm system is ready yet, so they might need a stop-gap player or two.
39. Jamie Moyer –Seattle Mariners. Where else would Jamie Moyer go? Moyer could be the M’s version of Darren Oliver in Texas.
40. Casey Kotchman –Tampa Bay Rays. After a horrendous stint in Seattle it seems as if Kotchman is finally living up to his potential.
41. Josh Willingham – Colorado Rockies. If Willingham can reach career highs in homers and runs batted in playing in Oakland then who knows what he can accomplish at Coors Field.
42. Bartolo Colon –Florida Marlins. Fish need to get more out of their pitching, could overspend to get a player like Colon.
43. Ryan Madson –Philadelphia Phillies.  Philly should probably hang on to their closer in Madson thanks to the weak closer market.
44. Fransisco Rodriguez –Florida Marlins. Could go for the big draw here in K-Rod to fill some seats. Not only that, but they could use a closer and would have some money if they decide to part ways with the reliever formerly known as Leo Nunez.

(Noted, these are not in order of who is the best player, it’s just a random order)

 

Free Agent Predictions, the New Teams and the Whole Deal

1. Albert Pujols- St. Louis Cardinals. St. Louis is the best fit for Pujols, and the fact that they just won a ring WITHOUT Adam Wainwright makes it all the more enticing for him to re-up his contract with the Red Birds.

2. Prince Fielder- Chicago Cubs. This is an interesting situation because Fielder is a fit with not only Chicago but also Seattle, the Nationals and his more recent employer the Milwaukee Brewers.

3. CJ Wilson- Washington Nationals. Go where the money is and as of now that place is the nation’s capitol. Wilson could be dynamite with wunderkind Stephen Strasburg and promising talent Jordan Zimmerman.

4. Jose Reyes- New York Mets. Reyes is going to ask for a lot, and the Mets will probably overpay to keep him. New York could have to choose between Reyes and David Wright, which is a tough call no matter how you slice it. But at the end of the day it’s probably harder to find a top-tier shortstop than third baseman.

5. Jimmy Rollins- Philadelphia Phillies. Phillies need to retain Rollins not just because of his value, but if Reyes skips town the division rival Mets could offer the long-time Phillie more money than the City of Brotherly Love.

6. Michael Cuddyer- Minnesota Twins. Minnesota letting one of their longest tenured players and All-Star Rep walk via free agency. Fat Chance.

7. Aramis Ramirez- Florida Marlins. The Marlins need a third baseman and something tells me with the new stadium and Ozzie Guillen they might overspend a tad to get good players. This is exhibit A. No disrespect to Ramirez — he’ll get his money, but the Marlins might overpay to outbid the other contenders for A-Ram’s services.

8. Mark Buehrle- Chicago White Sox. Like Cuddyer are the Chi Sox really going to let Buehrle go?

9. Edwin Jackson- New York Yankees. One of Yankees many pitfalls was lack of starters. Don’t think for a second that Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon are going to re-sign for the money they got last year. It’s a long shot, but New York could certainly use the help. A 1-2-3 of Sabathia, Nova and Jackson isn’t bad either.

10. Jonathan Paplebon- Boston Red Sox. See Cuddyer and Buehrle. That, plus the lack of premier closers makes this a no brainer.

11. Carlos Beltran- Boston Red Sox. Boston needs a new right fielder. Plus they tend to be OK with making big money risks. And that’s exactly what Beltran is, not exactly JD Drew 2.0 but somewhere in the neighborhood. Not a great defender but still can swing it.
12. David Ortiz- Oakland A’s. I know it’s weird, but the Red Sox need to make way for their top prospects and Big Papi is a road block. Baltimore, Toronto and Seattle are other possibilities, but I think Oakland is the only club who might offer him a contract.

13. Hiroki Kuroda- Los Angeles Dodgers. He doesn’t want to play anywhere else and wants to re-sign with the team. Even vetoed trades to contenders at the deadline. With the numbers he put up I’m sure the Dodgers will oblige.

14. Heath Bell- San Diego Padres. See numbers 6, 9 and 10. He’s not going anywhere.

15. Carlos Pena- Seattle Mariners. Pena can hit 35-40 homers in a season. That number probably goes down to 25-30 in the Great Northwest’s cavernous Safeco Field, but the Mariners will take that production one way or another. Here’s hoping it’s not Jack Cust 2.0.

16. Roy Oswalt- Texas Rangers. Another former top-tier arm settling for a one-year contract for around 4-11 million dollars in Texas. Do the names Rich Harden and Brandon Webb sound familiar?

17. Coco Crisp- Cleveland Indians. Cleveland needs an outfield bat that can hit at the top of the order and be a leadoff-esque type hitter since they will presumably let Grady Sizemore walk.

18. Kelly Johnson- Florida Marlins. Again the fish could over pay here but on a one year deal for 2-5 million. Johnson is a good value at second base and would give the Marlins a nice power-laden infield of Hanley and Aramis Ramirez on the left and Johnson and Gaby Sanchez on the right.

19. Grady Sizemore-Seattle Mariners. Sizemore is from the state of Washington and spent the bulk of his career playing under Seattle skipper Eric Wedge in Cleveland. Natural fit.

20. Erik Bedard-Seattle Mariners. Bedard could easily land up back in Seattle to fill the rotation spot left by former teammate Doug Fister. The Blue Jays are another option.

21. Paul Maholm-Toronto Blue Jays. If Toronto can get the potential Maholm has out of him this could be a bargain.

22. Chris Capuano- Pittsburgh Pirates. Somebody has to replace Maholm and Capuano can do that while eating innings and pitching quality baseball.

23. Ramon Hernandez- Cleveland Indians. Gives the tribe a much needed offensive boost at catcher.

24. Jason Kubel- Chicago Cubs. Nice offensive bat to hit around Prince Fielder if they both sign. Epstein is going to draw some big name guys in.
25. Ramon Santiago-Detroit Tigers. Durable utility player hit well in the playoffs and provides the Tigers with infield depth. Mets could be a possibility if they offer him the starting role.

26. Jamey Carroll- Minnesota Twins. Carroll fits in well with the Twins style of ball and wouldn’t be obnoxiously expensive.

AL Silver Slugger Predictions-

Catcher- Alex Avila:  led all catchers with 82 runs batted in, slugging and on base percentage, OPS and a .295 batting average. The next highest batting average for a catcher was .262.

First Base- Miguel Cabrera:   1st in almost every major offensive category for first baseman with the exception of hits, where he is 2nd,and home runs and RBIs, where he is 3rd. And oh yeah, he led the entire league in batting average with a torrid .344 clip.

Second Base- Robinson Cano:  home run derby champ was 1st in runs batted in, slugging and OPS. Also top 2 in batting average and home runs, as well as 3rd in OBP.

Shortstop- Jhonny Peralta:  this one was a tight call, Asdrubal Cabrera and JJ Hardy both had fine offensive seasons, but Peralta’s was a tad bit better. He was first in batting average and OPS as well as being top four in OBP, homers, RBI and slugging percentage.

Third Base- Adrian Beltre:  in only 124 games he led a group of third baseman that includes Evan Longoria and Mark Reynolds in RBI, batting average, slugging percentage, OPS and hits. Being second in dingers and runs doesn’t hurt either.

Left Field- Josh Hamilton:  positional leader in slugging and on base percentage as well as OBP and second in homers, RBIs and batting average.

Center Field- Jacoby Ellsbury: another tight call, Curtis Granderson had better power numbers, but Ellsbury was much better hitting for average as he had a .321 line with the next best centrally located outfielder being .280. Also led position in OBP and OPS, second to Granderson in most other offensive categories.

Right Field- Jose Bautista:  Joey Bats ripped up pitchers with the lumber, with more home runs, runs batted in and walks than any other player in right field. He also had a .608 slugging percentage and an OPS of 1.056 with the next closest being .509 and .879 respectively.

Designated Hitter- Victor Martinez:  this is a tricky one because not a lot of teams have a defined DH, some rotate players while others use one sometimes at DH and sometimes at another position(s) (see Micheal Young, Victor Martinez and Mike Napoli). V-Mart only had 12 home runs, but led the league in batting average with runners in scoring position, which becomes the most important stat in the world when the guy in the box ahead of you is Mr. Intentional Walk himself, Miguel Cabrera.