Over the past decade it was pretty easy to say either Albert Pujols or Alex Rodriguez were the best players in baseball. But, as we approach another era in baseball history there is a change in the elitists of the game. Pujols put up a 9.0 and 7.5 WAR in 2010 and 2011, respectively. However, he dropped off to 5.1 last season. Which is still great production, but there’s a regression pattern in his numbers. Do the math, he’s basically dropped 4.0 WAR in two seasons. Now that he’s on the Angels, Pujols hasn’t helped out the team very much. In fact, he’s hurt them. He has a -0.2 WAR in 35 plate appearances (8 games.) It’s small sample size, and I wouldn’t expect him to stay around there all year. He’s Albert Pujols. He’s going to produce big numbers, but it’s his time to pass the baton to the young guys.
*All stats are from the 2010-Present Continue reading
First time since 1992 (Dennis Eckersley) that a pitcher had won the MVP, and the first time since 1986 (Roger Clemens) that a starter won the MVP. It’s quite a rarity that a pitcher wins the Most Valuable player award. Especially since there were other candidates who could have won the MVP with equally good numbers just in the hitting department of things.
Jose Bautista and Jacoby Ellsbury both had amazing years. They finished 1-2 in the American League for batters fWAR. Ellsbury finished with a 9.4 while Bautista trailed him with an 8.3. They both finished a full win over Verlander who had a 7.0 fWAR. One win is a bigger difference than you think though. Especially since hitters WAR holds more value than a pitchers WAR. Many people don’t realize how dominant Bautista was this year. It seemed people jumped off the wagon when he cooled off a bit. He still finished with the top SLG, OPS, wOBA, and wRC+ in the league, and finished .001 off of the OBP leader. Bautista deserved the MVP for his contributions this season. He provided the most value to his team by leading and being close to leading a lot of major stat categories. Baseball is a stats game after all.
I really never understood why a pitcher had to win the MVP. They have their own award. It’s called the Cy Young award. I’m pretty sure you have heard of it. The best pitcher in each league gets one. You’re the MVP of pitchers. Now BBWAA why don’t you let the hitters get some praise for their amazing seasons and not let one pitcher get all the love. If you point out to me that you have to be on a playoff team to win the award then I can show you Miguel Cabrera’s stats if you would like. Even though it’s absurd that some people actually believe you have to make the playoffs to win the MVP. Players provide great value on all teams. Not just good ones.
I consider Pedro’s 99′ season as the greatest season ever by a pitcher. He did not win the American League MVP that season. Here is his stat line between the two pitchers.
1999 Pedro : Win/Loss 23-4, ERA 2.07, 1.39 FIP, 12.1 WAR, WHIP .92
2011 Verlander : Win/Loss 24-5, ERA 2.40, 2.99 FIP, 7.0 WAR, WHIP .92
Those are just some of his magnificent stats for 1999. As I said above Verlander had a 7.0 WAR. Pedro Martinez had a WAR 5 wins higher. That’s incredible. The wins and losses are basically the same as are the WHIP totals, but the ERA and FIP are off. Pedro shows that he was unlucky by having an FIP way under his 2.07 ERA. Even while being unlucky Martinez still managed to have a better ERA than 2011 Verlander. Who was actually lucky and should of had an ERA just under 3.00 according to his FIP.
Some then want to bring Verlander’s strikeouts into the conversation. Okay, we’ll do so. Verlander had 250 strikeouts this past season. His K/9 rate was just under 9.00 at 8.96. Strikeouts were 25% of his outs. That’s all very impressive, but look what 1999 Pedro did. He had 313 strikeouts and a K/9 rate of 13.20. Strikeouts were 37.5% of his outs. You can already see how impressive this one season was by Pedro. If you add in the next year you might have the best two year stretch of pitching in Major League Baseball history.
Add in the fact that Pedro pitched majority of his games in Fenway Park, a hitters park. And Verlander pitched in perhaps the number one pitchers park in baseball at Comerica.
I’m not trying to take anything away from Justin Verlander. He had an outstanding year, and was very deserving of the American League Cy Young award. The MVP though? I just can’t give him the award. I will actually not be able to give or agree with any pitcher getting the award ever again if they can’t match or do better than Pedro Martinez’s stats.
PHOENIX, AZ - Even with recent inductee into the 3,000 hit club Derek Jeter opting to not attend or play in the game, his absence did not take away from the star power and magic that comes with having the best baseball players in the world gracing one diamond. Adding to the greatness of the game is that the winner claims home-field advantage in the World Series, making it more of a competitive game than a show, a la the NBA All-Star Game. The Americans had won 12 of the last 15 All-Star games, but the Nationals had different ideas on Tuesday night, as they were able to claim a 5-1 victory.
The Phillies’ Roy Halladay started the game for the National League, and recorded six straight outs in his two innings of work before calling it a night. Jered Weaver also had an easy first three outs as he started for the AL, but in a turn of events the Yankees’ David Robertson replaced Boston’s Josh Beckett in the second inning after Beckett felt something wrong in his knee. Jose Bautista made a sliding highlight reel grab on a foul ball to the right field corner off the bat of the first guy Robertson faced, Atlanta’s Brian McCann, garnering an appreciative applause from the the audience in Phoenix.Pitching continued to dominate through the third, with only one hit between the two teams and the Mariners’ Michael Pineda striking out the final two batters of the inning.
Fireworks started in the top of the 4th frame. After Cliff Lee retired the first two batters he faced, Adrian Gonzalez sent a cutter over the right field fence, giving the AL a 1-0 lead and arousing a thunderous ovation. Following the homerun, back-to-back base hits by Jose Bautista and Josh Hamilton ended Lee’s night, as he gave way to Tyler Clippard of the Nationals. The ensuing batter, Adrian Beltre, ripped a base-hit line drive to left field, but any ideas of scoring were erased by Hunter Pence, as he gunned down Bautista at the plate for the final out.
The NL got things rolling in the bottom half with back-to-back singles by Carlos Beltran and Matt Kemp. That set the stage for the tattooed Prince Fielder to stroll to the plate and cream one to left-center, giving his team a 3-1 cushion.
The top of the 5th marked a few changes in the lineup for both teams, and Dodgers ace Clayton Kershaw took the mound for the National squad and immediately sat David Ortiz down on strikes. Jordan Walden took the circle for the Americans in the bottom of the frame and gave up a single to Colorado’s Troy Tulowitzki. Cubs shortstop Starlin Castro was inserted as a pinch-runner, quickly stole second, then claimed third on a wild pitch. This was all for not, as Walden threw Castro out at the plate on a dribbler back to the mound. Andre Ethier drove in Rickie Weeks on a base-hit to extend the NL lead to 4-1, but Ethier was caught in a rundown for the final out of the inning.
A comedic moment came during an interview with superstar singer/actor Justin Timberlake, where he said beer is his favorite ball-park food and repeatedly told Joe Buck and Tim McCarver they’re classy guys and call a great game. Just another element of a game of this stature, as the stars aren’t only on the field. A touching scene occured before the start of the 7th, with a tribute to MLB legend Harmon Killebrew and the fight against cancer, reminding us all of the importance of little things in life we should not take for granted, regardless of social status.
The NL poured it on in the bottom of the 7th, as first-time all-star catcher, the Orioles’ Matt Wieters, let a pitch get away from him, and Hunter Pence was able to get all the way to third base after singling. He was driven in on a ground-rule double by Pablo Sandoval, increasing the lead to 5-1 and putting the game out of reach. The most exciting part of the top of the 8th had nothing to do with the American League’s at-bats, but rather Padres reliever Heath Bell sprinting to the mound and then sliding as he reached it.
The AL squad went down fighting in the top of the 9th, as expected. The Pirates’ Joel Hanrahan retired the first batter he faced, followed by an error on a routine grounder by Castro. Matt Joyce singled to right, followed by a wild throw that put runners on second and third with one out. Enter the Giants’ Brian Wilson and his 364 day-old beard, who came in and retired two straight batters to close it out as usual.
Prince Fielder was named the game MVP.
The absence of hurlers CC Sabathia and Jon Lester was apparent for the American team, as the National League performed top-notch on the offensive end while their pitching staff consistently retired batter after batter, rarely even letting up a scary inning.
Regarldess of the outcome, every player that took the field should be proud to call themselves All-Stars, as the Midsummer Classic epitomizes why baseball is America’s pastime and grandest sport. 16 teams in the MLB are within 5 games of a playoff spot, so fans should gear up for what should be a thrilling second-half of an already historical season.