A.L. MVP Race

The A.L. MVP Race has been narrowed down to three candidates, in my opinion, and neither of them are pitchers. I would like to give Chris Archer and Sonny Gray a big nod towards the MVP race, but they will be fighting it out for A.L. Cy Young this year, and honestly, it’s down to just those two. I can’t think of a third candidate that will compare this year.

A lot of people have different views on “MVP”, is it someone that is putting up numbers and performing at a level that no one else is? Is it someone that is the reason the team is where they are? In other words, is it someone who is the best in baseball, or is it the most valuable player to this players team? I go back and forth myself, but in the end, I think it’s someone who is in both conversations. My MVP is a player who could be plugged into any team and instantly makes them a contending team, Miguel Cabrera could be the MVP every year if he never gets injured, he could play for the Phillies and somehow people will have a sense of hope that the team is a contender every year he is on the roster. So who had the MVP year in 2015?

Nelson Cruz: The best thing to happen to the Mariners this year, Nelson Cruz has always been able to crush the ball, and draw his walks because of the fear of what he might do at the plate. This year though, that’s not the case. He is having a career year, on path to hit more then 40 home runs, gather around 100 RBI’s, 170+ hits, 20+ go ahead hits, 300+ total bases, .750+ offensive winning percentage. The list of his accomplishments go on and on. The only month that Cruz was slumping was in June, and everyone in the MVP race has had a slumping month, but June was a bit ugly for Cruz, posting a slash line of .239/.323/.307. It was the only month where he didn’t post an OPS over 1. What has me saying Cruz is my 2015 AL MVP is that his fielding has been about average, which no one would have predicted when he came to Seattle, everyone assumed he was going to be a full time DH and play just a little in right field. When his manager Lloyd McClendon said that he would be playing a lot in the outfield, everyone scratched their head asking themselves, “why would you risk your best hitter getting injured at something that isn’t his strongest skill?”. Well, Cruz certainly proved those critics wrong this year, playing 71 games in the outfield, with a fielding percentage of .979, committing only 3 errors out of the 141 defensive chances.

The downside to his career year is his team, they didn’t perform nearly half as well as he did all season. If the Mariners were contending for a playoff spot, then he would be the front runner for MVP, hands down. Every talking head would speak of how Cruz was the best thing to happen to Seattle since Griffey. So it’s sad that the team Cruz is playing for is the reason his MVP season might not be labeled as a “MVP Season”. Take a look at his offensive ranking this year and see if that doesn’t change your mind to give the nod to Cruz this year.

Offensive WAR: 6.1 (2nd)
Batting Average: .320 (4th)
Slugging: .604 (1st)
OPS: .993 (2nd)
Hits: 150 (2nd)
Total Bases: 276 (1st)
Home Runs: 36 (1st)
RBI: 75 (7th)
Adj. Batting Wins: 4.7 (1st)
Extra Base Hits: 57 (4th)
Times on Base: 196 (3rd)
Runs Created: 109 (1st)
Offensive Winning Percentage: .794 (1st)
Intentional BB’s: 7 (4th)
AB per HR: 12.7 (3rd)
WPA: 4.9 (1st)

Josh Donaldson: The front runner for the trophy, Josh has been producing both, offensively and defensively all season, a little bit of a June hiccup, but not as bad as Cruz’s June or Trout’s August.  Even in his worst month, it would be anybody else’s good month, hitting .269 with 3 HR, 10 RBI, 8 walks and 8 extra base hits. He is making right or left hand match ups look like a joke, hitting .291 against right handed pitching, .347 against left handers, and 26 of his 34 home runs have come against right handed pitching.

Losing out to Kyle Seager last year for the Gold Glove, this year it looks like Donaldson will be a lock. Manny Machado would probably be the runner up if that helps anyone sleep at night. Donaldson also has a harder job given his stadium, Rodgers Stadium still using Astro Turf/GameDay Grass 3D and only Tropicana Field uses the same playing surface, so the ball doesn’t get to slow down if hit to any of the infielders, and Donaldson still ranks 1st in putouts at 3B with 104, and 3rd place in errors with only 16.

He is the first to 100 RBI’s and is still raking, and has plenty of time left to keep adding to the daunting numbers, take a look at where he ranks offensively:

On Base %: .370 (8th)
Slugging: .585 (4th)
OBPS: .956 (4th)
Runs Scored: 95 (1st)
Hits: 145 (7th)
Total Bases: 281 (2nd)
Doubles: 34 (2nd)
Home Runs: 34 (2nd)
RBI: 100 (1st)
Runs Created: 104 (2nd)
Adjusted Batting Wins: 4.0 (6th)
Extra Base Hits: 68 (1st)
Time On Base: 201 (3rd)
Offensive Win %: .739 (3rd)
Sac Flies: 7 (4th)
AB per HR: 14.1 (7th)
RE24: 46.63 (1st)
WPA: 4.7 (2nd)

Mike Trout: Last years MVP and the front runner for most of the summer, until August, Trout has been playing like he isn’t from this planet. He is going to garnish a lot of votes again this year, I expect him getting 2nd place for a 3rd time in his four year tenure in the MLB. Mostly because of where his team sits, and where his WAR has been since he stepped onto Angel Stadium of Anaheim, he has lead the MLB in WAR since his rookie tour, posting a 10.8 WAR in 2012, 9.3 in 2013 and 7.9 in 2014.  A lot of people will argue that this is the most important statistic when it comes to overall evaluation of a ball player, how much does he help your team, and for Mike Trout, he helps, he helps out A LOT. Yet, he still strikes out a lot, and has been slumping really bad this August. It’s going to be a month he will use to fuel him for the future, he can always look back at his .205/.333/.321 slash lines and remember what it was like to play at that low of a level, and knowing Mike, he will be humbled, knowing that he has the talent he does and is able to come out of a slump of this proportion.

But prior to this slide, he was definitely making it a hard decision to discount Donaldson and Cruz for MVP. Especially when you think about his defense, before the baseball world had trout, we were watching the spectacular plays in center field by the likes of Adam Jones, and Carlos Gomez, but now we seem to not think of those guys when someone brings up the Center Field position, and instantly all of our heads will go to Mike Trout. He’s this era’s Ken Griffey Jr without the HR numbers and hits from the right side. I don’t think we need to post the fancy defensive numbers to know that no one on the ball field plays their position better than Mike Trout… Well, maybe the platinum glove winner Andrelton Simmons could make that argument. But look at Trouts offensive numbers and where he ranks across the MLB:

Offensive WAR: 6.8 (1st)
On Base %: .394 (3rd)
Slugging: .586 (3rd)
OBPS: .979 (3rd)
Runs Scored: 80 (5th)
Total Bases: 260 (3rd)
Home Runs: 33 (4th)
Walks: 64 (4th)
Runs Created: 103 (3rd)
Adjusted Batting Wins: 4.6 (2nd)
Extra Base Hits: 59 (3rd)
Time on Base: 204 (1st)
Offensive Winning %: .762 (2nd)
WPA: 3.9 (4th)

Dodgers News And Stats As Of 8/11/14

As it stands right now, the Dodgers are a season high 4.5 games up in the NL West! They are 67-52.

There are currently 8 Dodgers players on the DL.

Josh Beckett is on the 15-day DL with a left hip impingement and a groin strain. His hip problems are what landed him on the DL back in July. Don Mattingly said that he thinks that Josh will be able to pitch again this year.

Chris Perez is on the 15-day DL with bone spurs in his right ankle. He was placed on the DL on August 4th and the date he will return to the active roster is unknown.

Paco Rodriguez is on the 15-day DL with a Teres Major strain. It’s the same lower shoulder strain that Clayton Kershaw had earlier in the season. Paco hopes to be back before September 1st.

Hanley Ramirez is on the 15-day DL with a right oblique strain. It is hopeful that Hanley will be ready to be activated as soon as he is eligible.

Onelki Garcia is on the 60-day DL, recovering from a left elbow surgery he had last year in November. He has been on the DL since mid March. The date of his return is unknown.

Paul Maholm is on the 60-day DL with a torn ACL in his right knee. He is scheduled to have surgery on August 15th.

Paco Rodriguez (Photo credit: USATSI)

Paco Rodriguez (Photo credit: USATSI)

Chad Billingsley had season ending surgery on June 24th to repair a partially torn flexor tendon in his right elbow. He had Tommy John surgery last year and suffered two setbacks during his rehab from Tommy John. CBills is out for the season.

Chris Withrow is out for the season after having Tommy John surgery on June 3rd.

The Dodgers have acquired two pitchers recently.

Roberto Hernandez was acquired from the Phillies. In his seven starts before he became a Dodger, he went 3-3 with a 2.85 ERA. He made his first start with the Dodgers on August 8th against the Brewers. Hernandez pitched 6 innings, allowed 3 hits and 2 runs with a 3.83 ERA. The Dodgers lost 9-3.

Kevin Correia was acquired from the Twins. He is 5-13 with a 4.94 ERA so far this season. He makes his first start with the Dodgers tonight against the Braves.

The Dodgers begin a four game series in Atlanta tonight, then head back to LA to play the Brewers, Padres and Mets for three games each.

By the way, just a random thought.. let’s hear it for the bubble parties! They make me happy.


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