Tagged: Carlos Ruiz

Predicting the Winners: 2012 Gold Gloves

Three (in some cases four) finalists at each position in each league for the Gold Glove awards were announced today. The award, which recognizes the best defensive player at each position in each league, is voted on by managers and up to six coaches on their staffs.

Managers and coaches can not vote for someone on their own team. We’ve seen over the years that some deserving players get recognized (Yadier Molina has won four straight at NL catcher), some get snubbed (Mark Ellis and his career .991 fielding percentage has never won), and some only win because of their name.

Yes, even managers and coaches get caught up in player celebrity for things like this. Anyway, the final results will be announced tomorrow night on ESPN2, but we’re here today to tell you who should win each Gold Glove.

A.L. Catcher:

Finalists – Alex Avila (Tigers), Russell Martin (Yankees), A.J. Pierzynski (White Sox), Matt Wieters (Orioles)

Winner: Avila

These were the only four A.L. catchers to start at least 100 games. Martin, Pierzynski and Avila all had a .994 fielding percentage, while Wieters sat at .991. While Wieters had the most errors of the group, he also had the best caught stealing percentage. For me, those nearly cancel out – I’m giving the award to Avila, who had the most consistent stats across the board.

N.L. Catcher:

Finalists – Yadier Molina (Cardinals), Miguel Montero (Diamondbacks), Carlos Ruiz (Phillies)

Winner: Molina

It’s not even close. Again, Molina has blown away the competition and perfected the art of catching. Ruiz and Montero both had good seasons behind the dish, but one could argue that there were more worthy candidates to lose to Molina. In 133 games started, Molina made 3 errors (.997 fielding percentage) and threw out nearly 50 percent of attempted base stealers (35 out of 73). Need I say more?

A.L. First Base:

Finalists – Adrian Gonzalez (Red Sox/Dodgers), Eric Hosmer (Royals), Mark Teixeira (Yankees)

Winner: Teixeira

I’m not sure what Hosmer is doing as a finalist, since he had the second lowest fielding percentage for qualifying first basemen in the American League. Gonzalez and Teixeira both have a reputation for being smooth fielders, and proved so again this season. I give the edge to the Yankee first baseman because he made one less error in many more chances. And now we’ve avoided the awkwardness of giving a Dodger an American League Gold Glove.

N.L. First Base:

Finalists – Freddie Freeman (Braves), Adam LaRoche (Nationals), Joey Votto (Reds)

Winner: LaRoche

The Nationals most consistent player isn’t just a home run hitter. The guy can play a mean first base, and proved it this year. You’d never guess who the best defensive statistics among first base qualifiers belonged to in 2012 (Spoiler: It’s Carlos Lee…WHAT?), but LaRoche was right there with him. He edges Votto because LaRoche played in more games and had a slightly better fielding percentage.

A.L. Second Base:

Finalists – Dustin Ackley (Mariners), Robinson Cano (Yankees), Dustin Pedroia (Red Sox)

Winner: Cano

I’m not sure why Ackley got the nod over the likes of Gordon Beckham or Jason Kipnis, but none of them would compete with Cano and Pedroia here anyway. They tied for the best fielding percentage in the league at .992, and though Pedroia turned more double plays, Cano has the better range. Both are good for one highlight play a night, but I think the vote will go to the Yankees star.

N.L. Second Base:

Finalists – Darwin Barney (Cubs), Aaron Hill (Diamondbacks), Brandon Phillips (Reds)

Winner: Barney

All three of these guys certainly deserve to be here, but even if Mark Ellis had played a full, healthy season for the Dodgers he would have been snubbed. Sigh. Though Hill and Phillips and their .992 fielding percentages are very impressive, you can’t discount Barney’s ridiculous errorless streak in Chicago. Any other year, Phillips defends his title.

A.L. Third Base:

Finalists – Adrian Beltre (Rangers), Brandon Inge (Tigers/A’s), Mike Moustakas (Royals)

Winner: Beltre

Brandon Inge didn’t even qualify at third base, technically. While that doesn’t mean he can’t be voted for, it’s a strange selection. How about the third best fielding percentage in the league for Miguel Cabrera? Give him the spot as a finalist. Alas, it wouldn’t matter. Moustakas has a lot of Gold Gloves in his future, but he might have to wait for Beltre and his league-leading 8 errors to retire.

N.L. Third Base:

Finalists – Chase Headley (Padres), Aramis Ramirez (Brewers), David Wright (Mets)

Winner: Headley

This is the closest race so far, as all three of these guys are grouped tightly way ahead of the rest of the pack at their position. Ramirez had a .977 fielding percentage, Headley had a .976, and Wright had a .974 this year…so how do you choose? Even though Ramirez had the best percentage, Headley had 125 more chances and only made 3 more errors, plus his range factor was the best in the league.

A.L. Shortstop:

Finalists – Elvis Andrus (Rangers), J.J. Hardy (Orioles), Brendan Ryan (Mariners)

Winner: Hardy

Look, all three of these guys are good shortstops, but it’s inexplicable that Jhonny Peralta was left off this. He only made 7 errors all season! Andrus had a worse fielding percentage than Derek Jeter, so he’s out right off the bat. Ryan is one of the most exciting shortstops in baseball and can grow a great mustache. Sorry Seattle fans, that’s not enough – Hardy and his league-leading 6 errors take the cake here.

N.L. Shortstop:

Finalists – Zack Cozart (Reds), Ian Desmond (Nationals), Jose Reyes (Marlins), Jimmy Rollins (Phillies)

Winner: Rollins

It’s really a three-horse race between Cozart, Reyes and Rollins (the Mets’ Ruben Tejada should have had Desmond’s spot), and I’m giving it to the wily vet in Philadelphia for having the most impressive all-around defensive numbers at the position. Cozart is definitely a future winner though. As for anyone calling for Brandon Crawford? Yes, he had a great postseason defensively, but also had the second-most errors and third-worst fielding percentage in the league.

A.L. Left Field:

Finalists – Alex Gordon (Royals), Desmond Jennings (Rays), David Murphy (Rangers)

Winner: Gordon

Let me explain myself – major props to Jennings (0 errors this year) and Murphy (1 error), but Gordon and his 2 errors are going to win his second consecutive Gold Glove. Yes, you have to be able to catch the ball and all three players do that supremely well. But you need to have an arm too, and Gordon blew away the competition with 17 outfield assists in 2012.

N.L. Left Field:

Finalists – Ryan Braun (Brewers), Carlos Gonzalez (Rockies), Martin Prado (Braves)

Winner: Prado

This is definitely the most messed up voting by the managers and coaches so far, as these three were the bottom three performers among qualifiers at their position. Surprisingly enough, the two strongest candidates were Jason Kubel and Alfonso Soriano. Prado gets the edge for making half as many errors as Braun and having the most outfield assists of the three.

A.L. Center Field:

Finalists – Austin Jackson (Tigers), Adam Jones (Orioles), Mike Trout (Angels)

Winner: Trout

It should be Jackson, but will be Trout. Jackson had better numbers across the board defensively, though not by much. Trout only had 2 outfield assists, but made just 2 errors (Jackson had 1) and robbed at least four home runs. Surprisingly, Jones was one of the worst statistical center fielders, even though he’s extremely athletic out there. Again, it should be Jackson’s Gold Glove, but no way Trout won’t add this to his trophy case.

N.L. Center Field:

Finalists – Michael Bourn (Braves), Andrew McCutchen (Pirates), Drew Stubbs (Reds)

Winner: McCutchen

Angel Pagan, Carlos Gomez and Cameron Maybin all have stronger cases for this award than Stubbs, but for some reason managers and coaches LOVE the Reds’ defense (MLB-best 6 finalists). Neither Bourn nor McCutchen had many outfield assists, but both were stellar defensively. Even though the award should probably go to Jon Jay of St. Louis, it’ll be McCutchen edging out Bourn because of one less error.

A.L. Right Field:

Finalists – Shin-Soo Choo (Indians), Jeff Francoeur (Royals), Josh Reddick (A’s)

Winner: Francoeur

Reddick was a revelation in all facets of the game, making some of the most eye-popping plays of the year for the A’s in 2012, but 5 errors will outweigh his high range factor and 14 assists. It’s especially difficult to compete with Francoeur, who had less errors and a league-leading 19 assists. Choo had a great fielding percentage, but didn’t throw enough guys out to compete. That means the Royals’ corner outfielders threw out 36 guys on the base paths combined this year. Wow.

N.L. Right Field:

Finalists – Jay Bruce (Reds), Andre Ethier (Dodgers), Jason Heyward (Braves)

Winner: Heyward

Etheir won his Gold Glove in 2011 because he didn’t make an error all season and had a lot of outfield assists. His numbers declined a bit in 2012, but he was still worthy of a final spot. Bruce on the other hand? That spot should have definitely gone to Justin Upton or Carlos Beltran. Even tho Ethier had less errors and a slightly better fielding percentage than Heyward, you have to give J-Hey the Gold Glove for his 11 outfield assists this year, which was tops in the league.

A.L. Pitcher:

Finalists – Jeremy Hellickson (Rays), Jake Peavy (White Sox), C.J. Wilson (Angels)

Winner: Peavy

Ah, the most random and pointless Gold Glove award. Don’t get me wrong, it’s important for pitchers to field their positions cleanly, but if we are talking about numbers, there is about a 37-way tie in each league. Technically, the most impressive line goes to Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees, but his name doesn’t appear. Among the three finalists, Peavy had the least errors and most double  plays turned.

N.L. Pitcher:

Finalists – Bronson Arroyo (Reds), Mark Buehrle (Marlins), Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)

Winner: Buehrle

All three of these guys are widely known for fielding their positions well, and while I’d love to give my boy Kershaw some love, I’ll let him keep his 2011 Cy Young Award and 2012 Roberto Clemente Award to themselves. All 3 guys made 0 errors this year, but Buehrle dominated in range factor and turned the most double plays. And making this play in 2010 earned him free Gold Gloves for the rest of his life. Geez, still the coolest play ever!

Let us know in the comments if you think these picks are correct. Did we goof on any? Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman)

Projecting the NL All-Star Roster

Yesterday, I gave you my projected A.L. All-Star roster that can be found down below this post. Today with the final voting update being released for the National League, let’s see if I can figure out what the N.L. roster will look like. I’m really glad that Tony LaRussa retired and has a ton of time on his hands to figure out the roster, because this thing is pretty tough. Especially trying to put a Padres representative on the team.

Catcher

Starter: Buster Posey, Giants

Reserves: Yadier Molina, Cardinals and Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

This will be a close battle all the way to the end as Molina may still end up starting the game. Posey could be in danger of not making the game if not named the starter as Molina and Ruiz are the two clear-cut top catchers this season. LaRussa could decide that two catchers are enough and go with an extra back-up somewhere else.

First Base

Starter: Joey Votto, Reds

Reserve: Martin Prado, Braves

This is where I had to get creative. No offensive position has gone without a backup since Derrek Lee in 2005 for the N.L. In that game, Morgan Ensberg who was designated as a 3B moved over to replace Lee in the game. In 2002, Alfonso Soriano was the only 2B for the American League and Omar Vizquel switched over from SS to play 2B. There is precedent to not have a backup 1B and I don’t think there should be. The only one I can make a case for is the Diamondbacks Paul Goldschmidt, but it would be bad if he becomes Arizona’s lone representative over a deserving Wade Miley. Prado is a versatile player that plays outfield, third base, and first base for the Braves. He’s a deserving All-Star, but N.L. outfield is so deep (we’ll get to that soon) that this is a way to get Prado on the team. I’m still figuring out why there are 873,526 wasted votes on Ryan Howard who hasn’t played this season.

Second Base

Starter: Dan Uggla, Braves

Reserve: Jose Altuve, Astros

Uggla has fallen off hitting just .179 in the month of June, but Braves fans have continued to vote for him. He has a healthy lead on Brandon Phillips going into the final stage of voting. Altuve has been a find for the Astros hitting over .300 and being 5th in the league in hits. Phillips gets bumped to the Final Vote as the only infielder represented.

Shortstop

Starter: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals

Reserve: Starlin Castro, Cubs

The injury woes of Troy Tulowitzki will allow Furcal to make his 3rd All-Star team in 13 seasons and it’s deserved. Furcal looked done after last season, but has bounced back to hit .287 and be solid atop the Cardinals lineup. Castro is the Cubs lone representative for the 2nd straight year. Pretty impressive for a 22 year-old.

Third Base

Starter: David Wright, Mets

Reserves: Chipper Jones, Braves and David Freese, Cardinals

I’ve made it clear previously that I think that Chipper Jones should be starting the All-Star Game in his final season. Here’s my solution. The National League will need a designated hitter, so who better than Chipper Jones? He could have his moment like Cal Ripken did in 2001 and David Wright still gets to start at 3B like he deserves. I’m sure Chipper’s knees would also appreciate not having to play the field. Freese has been solid for the Cardinals as he’s top 10 in the league in HR’s and RBI. I’m sure LaRussa will bring him along after his postseason heroics in 2011.

Outfield

Starters: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, and Ryan Braun, Brewers

Reserves: Melky Cabrera, Giants, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

This is by far the deepest position in all of the Majors. Not making the team includes Michael Bourn, Matt Holliday and Hunter Pence who have all been fantastic. Mike Trout was able to make my A.L. squad, but the deepness at the position here blocks Bryce Harper from making the initial squad at 19 years old. There is still a tight battle for the final starting spot between Braun and Cabrera, but both will make the team. Gonzalez and Stanton are being snubbed by voters, but will be the solo representatives for the Rockies and Marlins respectively. Ethier sneaks in the final outfield spot as he’s helped keep the Dodgers afloat in Matt Kemp’s absence. Kemp’s injury will hopefully open up an extra spot for Bourn, Holliday, or Pence.

Starting Pitcher

Starter: R.A. Dickey, Mets

Reserves: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Johnny Cueto, Reds, James McDonald, Pirates, Lance Lynn, Cardinals, Chris Capuano, Dodgers, and Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers

The battle to be the starting pitcher couldn’t be any closer between Dickey, Strasburg, and Cain. I just think that Dickey is such a wonderful story that it would be amazing to have him start the game, so I gave him the edge. My American League roster had eight starters, but there are so many options in the N.L. that I upped it to ten. Even that wasn’t enough as Cole Hamels and Zack Greinke get snubbed. I believe that LaRussa will err on the side of the Cardinals and take Lance Lynn for the last pitching spot. Wade Miley is rightfully Arizona’s only representative.

Relief Pitcher

Reserves: Craig Kimbrel, Braves, Aroldis Chapman, Reds, and Huston Street, Padres

Kimbrel has been lights out all season. Chapman had been perfect up until recently, but they are the two fireballers that the senior circuit needs to close out the game. Street goes to the game because I couldn’t figure out another way to get a Padre on the roster. I couldn’t have Carlos Quentin take a spot from one of the outfielders, Chase Headley over David Freese, or have Yonder Alonso be the back-up 1B. Street missed time with an injury, but has a 1.50 ERA and 0.78 ERA when healthy this season.

Final Vote

Michael Bourn, Braves, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Brandon Phillips, Reds, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Bryce Harper, Nationals

When I originally wrote out my roster Harper making the Final Vote didn’t even cross my mind. Then I had an epiphany, there is no way MLB doesn’t put Harper in, just to stir up some excitement for it. There are great voting fan bases represented in this final vote and I sadly couldn’t put in Zack Greinke. Greinke and Hamels will hopefully make the team on the “pitcher pitching Sunday” rule. Bourn has been wonderful leading off the Braves lineup and is among the league leaders in WAR. Brandon Phillips might make the All-Star game as a starter still, but him being in the Final Vote let’s him use his social media skills to the fullest.

Team Breakdown

Cardinals-5

Dodgers and Braves-4

Giants and Reds-3

Mets, Nationals, and Pirates-2

Diamondbacks, Padres, Rockies, Cubs, Brewers, Astros, Phillies, and Marlins-1

Unlike the American League, I feel like there are a ton of snubs on my National League team. Joel Hanrahan, Tyler Clippard, Kenley Jansen, Zack Greinke, Hunter Pence, Ryan Vogelsong, and Jed Lowrie just to name a few. Who would make your National League roster? Let me know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The “Perfect” National League All-Star Ballot

Unlike the American League ballot, the National League isn’t being dominated by any one team. Giants fans have rallied together though as the 2nd ballot release had Buster Posey pass Yadier Molina at catcher and Pablo Sandoval go from 4th to 2nd at third base. I even saw a #VoteBelt hashtag on Twitter last night. I get voting for your favorite team, but if you vote for Brandon Belt for the All-Star team, you don’t deserve to vote for the President of the United States in November. Can we make that happen?

As I did with the American League, I will break this up into my pick, who’s acceptable to vote for, and players that are currently placing that you probably shouldn’t be throwing support to.

Catcher

Mapes Pick: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

Bold statement alert: My top five catchers in the NL, Ruiz, Buster Posey, Yadier Molina, A.J. Ellis, and Jonathan Lucroy (before he got hurt) deserve to start the All-Star Game over any catcher in the American League. I can’t discourage you to not vote for any of them, but I’m giving my edge to Chooch. The counting numbers between Posey, Molina, and Ruiz are all tight. Ruiz has the advantage in average and OPS on the other two and has been the Phillies offense with Chase Utley and Ryan Howard out.

I love Brian McCann, he’s one of my favorite players and he’s a consistent All-Star caliber player, but in 2012 his numbers don’t stack up. I can’t argue against voting for anyone else. Unfortunately, I have to add Lucroy to the don’t vote list due to his injury, but he’s been great this year.

Enjoy this video from Gordon Mack of the MLB Fan Cave is support of Chooch for the All-Star Game.

Acceptable to Vote For: Buster Posey, Giants, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, and A.J. Ellis, Dodgers

Please Stop Voting For: Brian McCann, Braves and Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers

First Base

Mapes Pick: Joey Votto, Reds

He was my N.L. MVP pick at the start of June and there is no doubt he is the best first baseman in the National League. Fans are easily getting this one right as Votto has 1.25 million more votes than 2nd place Lance Berkman.

Acceptable to Vote For: No one else

Please Stop Voting For: Everyone else

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Dan Uggla, Braves

This pick is BARELY over Jose Altuve of the Astros. They’re two different players so they’re hard to compare, but I think Uggla’s numbers are slightly better and he’s been more important to a better team. Altuve deserves to make the team as a reserve over well known names like Brandon Phillips and Rickie Weeks and will more than likely be Houston’s lone representative in K.C. I can’t go as far as saying don’t vote for Phillips and Omar Infante, but they haven’t been nearly as good as the first two. Rickie Weeks is hitting .166 this season and is 5th in the voting. What a waste of 642,184 votes.

Acceptable to Vote For: Jose Altuve, Astros

Please Stop Voting For: Rickie Weeks, Brewers

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Starlin Castro, Cubs

I might be penalizing Troy Tulowitzki too much for missing the last two weeks with an injury, but it’s not as if Castro hasn’t earned the starting spot. Castro is currently the only National League SS hitting over .300 and is 4th in the NL in hits and 5th in stolen bases. Tulowitzki has actually upped his voting lead on Cardinals Rafael Furcal since the last update. If he can come back this week and do what Tulo does, he’ll end up the starter.

Jimmy Rollins actually jumped into the top 5 since the first update. If someone can explain to me why that happened, I would be most appreciative. Phillies fans should be rallying around Carlos Ruiz, not Rollins. However, I guess Rollins is better than Alex Gonzalez who was 5th in the original release.

Acceptable to Vote For: Rafael Furcal, Cardinals and Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

Please Stop Voting For: Jimmy Rollins, Philles, Jose Reyes, Marlins, and Alex Gonzalez, Brewers

6/14 Update: Troy Tulowitzki re-injured his groin on rehab and needs to be re-evaluated.  I’m moving him out of the “Acceptable to Vote For” area for now.  As pointed out in the comments where’s Jed Lowrie?  I had him and Ian Desmond just under that same area, but I have no problem with voting for either of them over Rollins, Reyes, and Gonzalez.  They’re both distantly behind Castro and Furcal though to me.

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Chipper Jones, Braves

No doubt my most controversial pick. I akin this to Cal Ripken’s final season where he was voted to start the All-Star Game. I believe that Jones deserves the same honor. David Wright is having a fantastic season as he is top 3 in average, OBP and OPS. Pablo Sandoval is a solid player, but missing that time with a broken hamate bone should knock him out of contention. He somehow made up enough ground to go from 4th to 2nd in the All-Star voting. David Freese has been on a tear all season and deserves to be there, I’m sure Tony LaRussa will make room for him. Third base is a deep position this year, but the Chip should get one last trip out of respect.

Acceptable to Vote For: David Wright, Mets and David Freese, Cardinals

Please Stop Voting For: Pablo Sandoval, Giants and Placido Polanco, Phillies

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, and Melky Cabrera, Giants

This is the toughest choice. I can make a great case for ten players to be in the top 3. Instead of telling you why not the other seven, I’ll tell you why these three. Beltran has been one of the best if not the best free agent pickup this season. Beltran leads the NL in home runs, 3rd in RBI, 3rd in slugging, 5th in total bases, and 6th in OPS. Hard to not have the best home run hitter in the league so far make the team.

Cabrera leads the NL in batting average, hits and triples, while being 3rd in runs scored and total bases. The Melk Man has delivered for the Giants as a spark plug for the offense.

Which brings me to Carlos Gonzalez. Who is egregiously 10th in the NL OF voting. I’m not sure what else CarGo needs to do to prove he belongs in Kansas City. He leads the NL in runs scored and total bases. He’s 2nd in the league in RBI, slugging, and home runs. Plus, is 3rd in OPS. I can’t figure out how there are nine players let alone nine outfielders that you can put ahead of him.

Andrew McCutchen (11th) and Giancarlo Stanton (not in the top 15?!?!) deserve some more love too. The Pirates are in first place and McCutchen has been fantastic, it’s not like Pirates fans have a lot of other guys they should be voting for too.

Ryan Braun was the toughest omission as he’s been great for the Brew Crew, this is the deepest position in either league. It will be interesting to see who LaRussa has to “snub” in this. I haven’t even gotten Michael Bourn who leads all NL outfielders in WAR or Andre Ethier who leads the league in RBI. Just incredible.

There’s also some guy name Bryce Harper you might have heard of. Unlike Mike Trout, who I had starting in the outfield for the AL, Harper gets blocked in the NL from the depth at the position. I could see him making a splash at the Home Run Derby though.

Should Matt Kemp be starting the game? Probably not. It’s hard to have a player that is going to have played half the games of some of the other players. It appears as if the fans will vote him in, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kemp takes the break off for his hamstring and focuses on his Home Run Derby captainship. That hurts to say as Kemp had one of the greatest months in MLB history.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ryan Braun, Brewers, Michael Bourn, Braves, Andrew McCutchen, Pirates, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins, Andre Ethier, Dodgers, Matt Holliday, Cardinals, and Hunter Pence, Phillies

Please Stop Voting For: Matt Kemp, Dodgers, Jason Heyward, Braves, Jay Bruce, Reds, Shane Victorino, Phillies, and Jon Jay, Cardinals

Who would crack your NL All-Star ballot? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

All-Star Voting Injustices

The initial balloting for the 2012 All-Star Game was announced today and as usual the fans haven’t gotten it completely right.  Luckily, there’s still time to fix this.  Let’s band together and get some votes in for these players.  I will heap some praise on the fans for having Albert Pujols 5th at American League 1st base.

Mark Teixiera over Paul Konerko

I can see the case for voting Prince Fielder into the #1 spot even though I think Paul Konerko should be in the top spot.  Konerko isn’t even #2 though as Yankees 1st baseman Mark Teixeira has 26,000 more votes.  It’s not like Konerko is playing in a small-market here.  Konerko demolishes Teixeira in every single statistical category.  Don’t let the Yankee fan base win this one.

Carlos Ruiz 4th at National League Catcher

I nearly spit out my drink when I saw this.  Yadier Molina, Buster Posey, and Brian McCann are bigger names for sure, but Carlos Ruiz has been the best catcher in the game this season.  Philadelphia fans need to band together and get Chooch some votes, it’s pretty embarassing.  Ruiz would need to double his current votes to be in contention with Yadier Molina.

Adam Jones 5th at American League Outfield

I had Jones 3rd in the entire league in my “Too Early MLB Awards” at this point in the season.  Jones is currently being hurt by the flood of Texas votes as he sits behind Nelson Cruz who has the last starter role and just ahead of David Murphy.  ADAM JONES IS ONLY ONE SPOT AHEAD OF DAVID MURPHY, get on this Baltimore fans.

Carlos Gonzalez 13th and Giancarlo Stanton not in top 15 at National League Outfield

I don’t think either of these players will start or should start in the outfield, but where they’re currently placed is terrible.  CarGo leads the NL in slugging percentage and has been on a tear.  Stanton was the May Player of the Month for the Marlins, breaks scoreboards on grand slams and has continued to developed as a stud.  Stanton isn’t even on the voting list.  Jon Jay made the top 15!  Jason Heyward is 7th!  It doesn’t make sense.  Braves fans if you’re going to vote, throw the support to Michael Bourn and Chipper Jones, not to Jason Heyward!  Rockies and Marlins fans need to get out the vote for their outfield studs.

What’s your biggest All-Star vote transgression so far?  I’m sure my fellow podcast host Jeremy Dorn is still searching the list for A.J. Ellis.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

The Too Early MLB Awards

At the beginning of May I unveiled my Way Too Early MLB Awards” to show who’s in the pole position for each award at this juncture of the season. Another month is in the books so let’s knock off an adjective and dub this the “Too Early MLB Awards”. Going to mix up the format with the Summer Olympics coming this summer and have a top three for each award in medal order. Sadly, there is no baseball at the London Olympics, so I have to make a connection to bring it back for 2020. Please note this is not a “player of the month” post. This is cumulative from the start of the season until now. The May Player of the Month awards have already been handed out by MLB. Josh Hamilton and Giancarlo Stanton were the top hitters, Chris Sale and Gio Gonzalez were the top pitchers, and Bryce Harper and Mike Trout were the top rookies. Where do they land in my awards?

National League Rookie of the Year

Bronze Medal: Bryce Harper, Nationals

No better place to start than the May NL Rookie of the Month. The 19 year-old phenom has been everything Nationals fans hoped he would be since getting called up. Harper is hitting .288 thus far and has provided some consistency in the middle of the Washington lineup. His .922 OPS leads all MLB rookies. He still has time to track down the two rookies I have ahead of him for the award.

Silver Medal: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks

Miley took home top NL rookie honors in April and didn’t slow down very much in May. Miley leads Arizona with six wins and has the best ERA in the rotation at 2.72. Unfortunately for Miley, one player has even better statistics.

Gold Medal: Lance Lynn, Cardinals

Lynnsanity has hit St. Louis with full force. Lynn leads not just rookies, but is tied for the MLB lead with eight winsalong with Cole Hamels and R.A. Dickey. Lynn’s 2.63 ERA is the best among eligible starting rookie pitchers, while holding batters to a paltry .213 batting average over 68.1 innings. Lynn has been the anchor on a pitching staff still missing Chris Carpenter and waiting for Adam Wainwright to be 100%.

Just off the Podium: Yonder Alonso, Padres, Steve Lombardozzi, Nationals, and Kirk Nieuwenheis, Mets

American League Rookie of the Year

Bronze Medal: Ryan Cook, Athletics

Yoenis Cespedes was the big name rookie for Oakland coming into this season. Jarrod Parker was the big get in the Trevor Cahill trade with Arizona in the offseason. But who has outperformed both so far this season in the Bay Area? Ryan Cook. Cook has appeared in 23 games for Oakland and has only given up a run in one appearance for an exquisite 0.75 ERA. He’s the Athletics closer of the future if they decide to deal Brian Fuentes and Grant Balfour at the trade deadline.

Silver Medal: Mike Trout, Angels

I think when we reach the end of this season Mike Trout will end up as you 2012 AL Rookie of the Year. For now though, he’ll have to settle for the silver. Trout has been even better than Bryce Harper since they got called up on the same day. Trout leads all rookies in batting average at .315 and stolen bases with nine. He’s second among all rookies in OPS and OBP (behind Harper) and in slugging (behind Will Middlebrooks). More importantly he’s been the spark plug for a languishing Angels team that has surged since his call-up.

Gold Medal: Yu Darvish, Rangers

Darvish keeps his top spot in my rankings, for now. Darvish leads American League rookies in wins (7) and strikeouts (71) while keeping together a solid 3.21 ERA. Darvish’s .230 batting average against has been great, but when you add in his wildness thus far, his WHIP is at a 1.44. With the way Trout has come out of the gate, Darvish’s days on the top of the rookie heap may be numbered.

Just off the Podium: Jesus Montero, Mariners, Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox, and Drew Smyly, Tigers

National League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Brandon Beachy, Braves

There is a ton of great pitching in the National League right now as evidenced by the NL leader in ERA being just 3rd in my Cy Young rankings right now. Beachy also leads in adjusted ERA and adjusted pitching wins, plus is 3rd in WHIP and tied for 2nd in WAR among NL pitchers. The pitcher that never pitched a game before getting drafted has adjusted tremendously to the mound.

Silver Medal: Aroldis Chapman, Reds

This will be a controversial pick I’m sure, but how can I not include a player who hasn’t given up a run in 28 innings and has 50 strikeouts this season. Let me repeat that AROLDIS CHAPMAN HAS NOT GIVEN UP A RUN IN 28 INNINGS AND HAS 50 STRIKEOUTS. I didn’t even pitch that well in video games when I was little. He’s done it in a set-up role and now as the closer for Cincinnati. He leads the NL in K/9 ratio, base-out runs saved, and win probability added. Chapman just has jaw-dropping numbers right now.

Gold Medal: Gio Gonzalez, Nationals

Another month, another Nationals pitcher atop my rankings. Gonzalez has been arguably the best offseason acquisition in the Majors as he’s adjusted beautifully to the NL. Gonzalez sports a nifty 2.04 ERA and 0.94 WHIP, both numbers 2nd best in the senior circuit. He also his tied for 2nd with teammate Stephen Strasburg in strikeouts, but leads the NL in K/9 ratio. The best case for Gonzalez as NL Cy Young right now is that he leads NL pitchers in WAR at 2.4. Four pitchers are behind him a 2.0 including the aforementioned Beachy who Gonzalez beat head to head on the road on Memorial Day eve. Gonzalez and Strasburg have formed the best current 1-2 pitching punch in MLB.

Just off the Podium: Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Matt Cain, Giants, Johan Santana, Mets, R.A. Dickey, Mets, James McDonald, Pirates, Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, Anibal Sanchez, Marlins and Cole Hamels, Phillies (told you NL pitching was deep)

American League Cy Young

Bronze Medal: Chris Sale, White Sox

Is Sale a reliever? Is Sale a starter? I think after his 15-strikeout performance that the White Sox have figured out Sale belongs at the top of the rotation for a long time. Sale currently leads the American League in ERA and adjusted ERA. He’s gotten better it seems with each start since rejoining the rotation going from 5 IP and 3 ER to 5.1 IP and 1 ER to 7 shutout innings to the amazing 15 strikeouts in 7.1 IP against the Rays. He’s even started June off on the right foot with his first career complete game against the Mariners.

Silver Medal: Jake Peavy, White Sox

As good as Chris Sale has been, he hasn’t eclipsed his teammate Jake Peavy. Peavy was in the number one spot after April but slips back to #2 this month. Peavy’s numbers are still great with a 3.05 ERA and 2nd in the AL 0.93 WHIP. He’s also 2nd in WAR and situational wins saved. Peavy is 2nd of course to the guy in the #1 spot right now.

Gold Medal: Justin Verlander, Tigers

What’s weird is before I started digging into the numbers I didn’t think Verlander had been all that great. Before his 6/2 start against the Yankees, he led the American League in WHIP, strikeouts, WAR, and complete games. He had his first career one-hitter against the Pirates after losing a no-no in the top of the 9th. Even more impressive he’s gone 6 innings or more in 54 consecutive starts. The man is a workhorse, the best pitcher in the game right now, and my “too early” pick for AL Cy Young.

Just off the Podium: Jered Weaver, Angels, David Price, Rays, CC Sabathia, Yankees, Jim Johnson, Orioles, CJ Wilson, Angels and Fernando Rodney, Rays

National League MVP

Bronze Medal: Melky Cabrera, Giants

Please don’t spit your drink out at your computer upon reading this. I decided pretty quickly who my #1 is for this award and then there was a cluster of about five to seven players than had a case for second and third. I went with Cabrera for now just because he’s leading the league in batting average, hits, and triples. Plus, he has helped tremendously with an anemic Giants offense scoring 40 runs atop that lineup, good for 2nd best in the NL. It was really tough to not give David Wright this spot or even the next one.

Silver Medal: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies

I can’t get blamed for being a biased Braves fan and anti-David Wright if I put Carlos Ruiz second and leave off Michael Bourn right? Chooch has been everything for the Phillies in 2012. He’s had his normal brilliance behind the plate with the pitching staff, but it’s at the plate where Ruiz has shined this season. He’s just behind Cabrera in batting average at .371, while being 4th in OBP, SLG, and OPS. He is the only player in either league to be in the top 6 in both offensive AND defensive WAR. He deserves to start the All-Star Game.

Gold Medal: Joey Votto, Reds

When the season started with Votto’s long, expensive extension people thought it might have been the wrong move. I was ridiculed when I made him the first pick in my jersey draft early this season. Votto has been nothing short of brilliant thus far for the 1st place Reds. Votto is tops in the NL in WAR, OBP, OPS, walks, doubles, and extra-base hits. Matt Kemp’s injuries assured Votto the top spot, but Votto might have taken it anyway.

Just off the Podium: David Wright, Mets, Michael Bourn, Braves, Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies, Ryan Braun, Brewers, Carlos Beltran, Cardinals, Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins and Andre Ethier, Dodgers

American League MVP

Bronze Medal: Adam Jones, Orioles

This was probably the simplest of the awards for me. There are three clear-cut guys for AL MVP right now to me and they sort out nicely. Jones definitely earned his 85.5 million extension from Baltimore and it’s clear that this is his team. Jones has been a dual threat as he has 16 home runs (tied for 5th) and has nine stolen bases (tied for 6th) and should soon become the 1st player in the ALto double digits in both categories. Jones is 2nd in offensive WAR, plus adding his usual Gold Glove defense. Jones has evolved into a complete five-tool player. He’s one of the major reasons the Orioles are the biggest surprise in the AL.

Silver Medal:Paul Konerko, White Sox

If it wasn’t for the guy at #1, Konerko would have a legit chance at his first MVP award. You know what? He still might. Konerko currently is in the lead in batting average and OBP, while runner-up in slugging, OPS, and offensive WAR. He even finished 2nd on this week “MLB Player Poll” in which the question was “Who is the most underrated player in MLB?” One of these days he’ll be on top, probably when he sneaks across 500 home runs without anyone noticing.

Gold Medal: Josh Hamilton, Rangers

Was there any doubt who would still be number one? Just when you thought he couldn’t get any better he adds a FOUR HOMER GAME to his resume in May in taking home his 2nd Player of the Month award this season. Let’s just knock out all the categories he leads the American League in for the first-place Rangers and call it a blog post. Ready? Hamilton is 1st in WAR, slugging, OPS, home runs, total bases, runs batted in, extra-base hits, and even sacrifice flies. He’s the best player by far on a first place team, it’s his award to lose.

Just off the Podium: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, Jason Kipnis, Indians, Derek Jeter, Yankees, Adam Dunn, White Sox, Mark Trumbo, Angels, David Ortiz, Red Sox and Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

What do you think I missed on? Should I really have had Melky Cabrera top 3 for NL MVP? Or Aroldis Chapman who spent most of the year in middle relief 2nd for a Cy Young? Let us know in the comments!

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)

Weekend Watch!

Hope everyone enjoyed their first taste of interleague play last weekend.  I know I did with the Braves taking two out of three from the AL East leading Rays.  Now that we’re back in traditional league play let’s see what this week has in store.  I’ll try to not put the Braves match-up with the Nationals in the top spot, but before I look at everything else, it’s a fair warning it’s going to end up there.

5) Padres at Mets

This match-up would never crack the top five usually, but it makes it for one reason, Banner Day.  What is Banner Day, you ask?  It used to be a Mets tradition that fans would make giant banners and after the game would walk in a parade around the stadium.  Living in Connecticut, I get SNY which airs Mets games.  They’ll occasionally show “Mets Yearbook” chronicling a past season and my favorite part to randomly watch is Banner Day footage.  The puns are always hilarious.  I’m setting the over/under at “We Like Ike” or “He’s got the Wright stuff” at 24.5.  Might go under with the way Ike Davis and played this year. Watch this and enjoy!

4) Giants at Marlins

Might have to make the four spot the “Marlins” spot as they’ve now been here each of the last two weeks.  The series started Thursday night with a Giants 14-7 victory.  Two struggling starters take the hill on Friday in Tim Lincecum and Josh Johnson.  The other two pitching battles are solid though as well with Madison Bumgarner and Mark Buehrle on Saturday and Matt Cain taking on Ricky Nolasco on Sunday.  I really would like to take this time to make sure you endorse Giancarlo Stanton for the 2012 Home Run Derby.  First, he breaks the scoreboard on a grand slam off of Jamie Moyer.

Then follows it up Thursday night with a bomb over the Clevelander nightclub into the Budweiser Balcony in left field.

I’ve said it from the start of the new Marlins Park. Stanton will put one off the glass in left field at some point.

3) Phillies at Cardinals

Another series that started Thursday with a high-scoring affair 10-9 in favor of the Phillies.  This series also features two solid pitching duels with Cliff Lee and Kyle Lohse on Friday and Roy Halladay/Adam Wainwright on Sunday.  As we discussed on Kelsey’s Kardinals Injury Korner the Cardinals offense is in shambles and add Matt Carpenter to the disabled list.  Halladay and Lee should be able to pick apart the depleted Redbirds lineup.  This series also features two of the best catchers in the National League in Carlos Ruiz and Yadier Molina.  National League catcher might not the deepest, but also the most difficult position to choose for the 2012 All-Star Game.  Who do you send home from Molina, Ruiz, Brian McCann, Buster Posey, and I’m being serious with these last two, Jonathan Lucroy and A.J. Ellis.  There are going to be a lot of disappointed backstops.

2) Blue Jays at Rangers

Here’s a chance for the Jays to make a statement and show the rest of the American League that they are for real and can contend for the playoffs.  Brandon Morrow goes in game one for Toronto after becoming the 1st pitcher in MLB to have two shutouts this season.  Yu Darvish should be in line for a good start on Sunday for Texas, seeing as he’s dominated every team not named the Mariners in his short career.  No home runs in the past 11 games for Josh Hamilton, ugh what’s wrong with that guy.  Please note sarcasm.

1) Nationals at Braves

The battle for NL East lead.  I tried to promise not making it number one, but it’s the only series that will decide who is leading a division come Monday.  I’ll keep it short, but the Sunday match-up of Gio Gonzalez and Brandon Beachy may decide the winner of the NL Cy Young in my “Too Early MLB Awards” coming at the start of June.  This is my favorite game of the weekend, no bias I promise.

Mapes Fantasy Special

I hit a rough patch going 1-2 last week with Henderson Alvarez and Jarrod Parker getting crushed at home, while John Danks through 6 shutout, go figure.  Naturally, Parker’s next start was fantastic.  Here’s what I have for this weekend, remember they must be 50% owned or less.  12-5 record on the season.

5/25 Ivan Nova (48% owned) at Athletics, 2-0 in his career against Oakland, the ERA isn’t great, but Nova is coming off the best strikeout performance of his career.  He should be solid in that ballpark.

5/26 Mark Buehrle (47% owned) vs. Giants, Going back to the well with Buehrle who performed admirably for me at home in a Mapes Fantasy Special two weeks ago.  Hard to expect a win against Madison Bumgarner or a ton of K’s, but good peripherals will carry the day.

5/27 R.A. Dickey (49% owned) vs. Padres, I might be copping out a little bit taking three guys really close to the 50% threshold, but I didn’t think Dickey would be available.  He never gets enough credit and is a quality start machine.  Plus, it’s Banner Day!  Kudos to any Mets fans to can sneak in a Dickey pun on the field.

What would your Mets banner say?  Let me know in the comments.  Have a happy and safe Memorial Day weekend and take some time to thank a soldier for their service to our country.

-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)