Tagged: Paul Konerko

The 3U3D Awards: American League MVP Edition

We gave you taste of our MVP ballots on this week’s podcast, with the great debate between Mike Trout and Miguel Cabrera for the honors in the American League. Here are our full ballots and winners of our 3U3D MVP awards.

American League

 

Here are everyone’s thoughts on MVP:

Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): I am a huge Miguel Cabrera fan, but even though he pulled off the Triple Crown, Mike Trout has to be the MVP. His WAR is off the charts, and a 30/49 season is even more impressive than a Triple Crown. Let’s not forget that Trout is doing all of this as a barely legal rookie. When you add the whole package (average, power, speed, defense), Trout is far and away the best player in the league and the Majors. Cabrera joined the ranks of few by snatching the Triple Crown – Trout joined the ranks of…well, one. He is the only player in Major League history to hit 30 home runs, steal 45 bases and score 125 runs. And don’t forget the .325 average, gold glove defense and that he’s only been caught stealing FIVE times. The future for this kid is terrifying. In the year of the underdog, I tip my cap to guys like Adam Jones and Josh Reddick for bringing their teams to a playoff appearance, but the talent across the league is just too strong this year.

Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Miguel Cabrera wins the first Triple Crown in 45 years. Mike Trout becomes the first player in history to hit 30 HRs, steal 40 bases, and score 120 runs. Both players are completely different from each other. Miguel can’t beat out an infield hit like Trout can, but no-one is as clutch as Miguel is. Trout’s numbers started off hot when he started the year but the last two months have been far from great. Could it have been the fact that pitchers know him better now? Possibly. But Miguel Cabrera got stronger as the season wore on. 25 HRs, .327 BA, .401 OBP, and 65 RBIs since the All-Star break. How about his 17 HRs, .330 BA, .405 OBP, and 45 RBIs in the 7 th inning or later this year? That’s what Miggy did. You can say Trout’s WAR is almost 4 points higher than Cabrera’s and his defense is far superior. Miguel will be playing in the playoffs, Trout will not. Cabrera will win MVP, Trout ROY and quite possibly a gold glove (didn’t have a top 3 AL fielding % at CF).

Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Cabrera gets my vote because of what he has been able to do when his team needed it the most. In the month of September he hit a slash line of .308/.378/.654 with 10 home runs, and 27 RBI. Winning the Triple Crown while leading his team to the playoffs puts him just over Trout. While Trout has put together one of the best seasons ever, and not just for a rookie. What he has been able to do this season at such a young age is phenomenal. He is a tremendous outfielder providing a highlight full of home run stealing catches and getting under fly balls most other outfielders wouldn’t dream of getting to. However he was not able to do enough to lead his team to the playoffs. (I swear I’m not biased) While most of the Rangers team was struggling during the months of July and August Beltre was just starting to heat up leading the team in almost every offensive statistic. Also arguably being the best third baseman in the game making tough plays look routine. (Okay maybe I’m a little biased)

Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): Starting with the AL MVP, there’s not a valid reason why Miguel Cabrera shouldn’t win the AL MVP. The man plays in one of the toughest stadiums to hit home runs and won the Triple Crown. Mike Trout has undoubtedly brought a lot of fire power to the Angels, but not leading them to the playoffs hurts his resume. (Don’t worry, he’ll get his shot at MVP, I’m sure of it)

Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): Everything else is a sideshow in the AL MVP ballot compared to the main event that is Trout vs. Cabrera. Now I love Cabrera, but Trout is the no-doubt MVP to me. The goal is to help your team win games. Trout did that better than any player in the American League. The Angels called up Mike Trout when they were 6-14 and since then he sparked them to the best record in the American League. There have been seven American League Triple Crown’s, but there has never been an American League season in which a player had 30 homers and 49 stolen bases. When you add in leading the league in runs and stolen bases, while hitting a near .325 with amazing defense (he robbed FIVE home runs) Trout wasn’t just the most exciting player, but the most valuable one in the league. Josh Hamilton dropped to 7th in my rankings as the Rangers collapsed like the fly ball he dropped in game 162. Rodney will be behind David Price in my Cy Young rankings, but I believe closers are more everyday players and have him in my MVP ballot. Rodney was even named the Rays MVP by teammates. Josh Willingham gets some love from me for having a great season that went largely unseen in Minnesota. There was no bigger breakout player than Edwin Encarnacion in Toronto. Adam Jones led the surprising Orioles to the playoffs and was the heart of the team. Curtis Granderson, Jim Johnson, Derek Jeter, Josh Reddick, Austin Jackson, and Ben Zobrist just miss my list.

Congrats to Tigers Miguel Cabrera on winning the 3U3D AL MVP!

You’ve seen our ballots!  Who would be on yours?  Let us know in the comments!  Feel free to tweet at any of us individually to debate our points as well. Don’t forget to vote in the poll:

Making a Case for the HOF: Konerko, Beltre, Pierre (yep, that Pierre), Sabathia and Dunn

I know it’s strange to think about – but the reality is that some of your favorite players are going to be in the Hall of Fame. No, not Albert Pujols or Chipper Jones. Those are no-brainers.

What about the guys you don’t think about as being consistently great throughout their careers, who still might have half a decade or more left in them?

Did you know CC Sabathia, health pending, could reach 300 wins? Or that Adrian Beltre and Juan Pierre both have a shot at cracking 3,000 hits?

Those numbers typically lock a player into Cooperstown. But in a day and age when even Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa will find it difficult to cross that threshold, the following players’ cases become very debatable, regardless of the numbers:

The case for Paul Konerko:

Paulie has become one of the most beloved players in Chicago based on his big, consistent offensive numbers over 14 seasons with the White Sox. At age 36, you have to imagine Father Time is catching up with him and his production will eventually diminish. As it stands now, Konerko is a career .283 hitter with 417 homers.

Konerko doesn’t have any individual awards (yet) to add to his resume, but he does have the 2005 World Series ring, and a legitimate chance at 500 home runs. In a full season, he’s good for at least 25 dingers. If Konerko maintains that average through the next three seasons, you’re talking about a guy who is going to be just single digits away from 500.

Much like Jim Thome, Konerko could play into his 40’s as  DH and accumulate 500 and beyond by the time he hangs up the cleats. Do 500 home runs, a pretty good average, and a glaring lack of individual accolades put Konerko in the Hall of Fame?

Verdict: Yes. If Konerko gets to 500 home runs, he should be in. On honor alone (Konerko was never linked to PED’s), Konerko is more worthy than home run hitters such as Mark McGwire. Not to mention his all-around game was better.

The case for Adrian Beltre:

It’s all about health for Beltre. It still blows my mind that this guy has almost 2,100 career hits. So many years of anonymity in Los Angeles and disappointment in Seattle made Beltre forgotten until his 2010 resurgence with Boston. And Beltre has been in the bigs since he was 19, so despite being just 33 years old today, he’s in his 15th season.

If Beltre’s (who has been fairly lucky health-wise over his career) body doesn’t start breaking down with age, he has a very legitimate shot to reach not just the 3,000 hit milestone; but 500 home runs as well. Reaching either number makes you a very strong candidate – both means you’re definitely in.

Assuming Beltre will play at least six more seasons (he would be 39 then), whether it be at the hot corner or as a 1B/DH, seasonal averages would have to be fairly mild to reach both milestones. It would require about 150 hits and 25 home runs per season from now on. I think that is very attainable.

Verdict: He’s in. I don’t think he’ll quite get to 500 home runs. But the 3,000 hit club will welcome Beltre around age 40 in his final season. That, plus solid power numbers, a good average and multiple Gold Glove awards will get him in.

The case for Juan Pierre:

I know, I know. I sincerely hope you weren’t drinking something that may have the ability to destroy your laptop, because chances are you just dropped said drink all over the keyboard. Now pick your jaw off the floor at my suggestion and examine the facts.

Despite being immensely underrated, kicked to the curb by multiple fan bases and underutilized by multiple managers, Pierre has quietly made a borderline Hall of Fame case for himself. In 13 seasons with six different teams, Pierre is hitting  .296. He will be a hot two-week stretch away from 2,200 career hits at the end of 2012, and he’s only 34.

Not to mention that Pierre has stolen 588 bases and has a .989 fielding percentage, those hits speak for themselves. He has been mostly healthy his whole career, and could legitimately have 2,500 hits by age 36. At that point he knows it takes five full seasons at the most to reach the coveted 3,000.

Verdict: He doesn’t quite make the cut, and the dream title of “most anonymous Hall of Famer” dies with it. I think Pierre will stop getting small contracts from teams in need of a stolen base threatas he ages, and that will keep him around 2,800 hits.

The case for C.C. Sabathia:

The discussion starts and ends with “health” for the big boy, Sabathia. Arm troubles this season, at age 32, are very worrisome for the next great hope of a 300-game winner. He has 192 wins thus far in a career that has seen him ridden by various managers like a horse in the Kentucky Derby.

All that piggy backing has to catch up to Sabathia at some point, which is a damn shame. He’s one of my favorite pitches to watch and hails from the same region as I do, so I have a soft spot for C.C. But even with 250 or more wins, at least one Cy Young and at least one World Series ring, I don’t think his resume will cut it.

The halls of Cooperstown are decorated with the greatest hurlers to ever play the game. Even if Sabathia manages to stay healthy enough to be a regular starter until age 40, it would take an average of 13-14 wins to reach the milestone of 300 that guarantees you the Hall of Fame. I just don’t see it happening, especially as he gets older.

Verdict: I think I made it pretty clear – so close, yet so far for C.C. However, if Sabathia stays healthy for the majority of the next six or so seasons, he could rack up over 250 wins and over 3,000 strikeouts, which gives him an outside shot.

The case for Adam Dunn:

This one disgusts me. That being said, Dunn has put up gargantuan power numbers for most of his Major League career, and home runs are King in baseball, so we must discuss. As a 32-year-old, Dunn has already racked up 402 home runs. He is a DH most days, first baseman occasionally. Either way, that means no wear and tear on his body.

That also means he could pull a Jim Thome and play until his great grand children are in the minors. If Dunn is going to average 30 or more home runs for the next decade, as he very well could, then people won’t care how paltry the batting average or how many times he swings and misses.

There it is – the reason this case disgusts me. We are basing it solely on the amount of times a tight end (what? Might as well be – 6’6″ and 285 lbs) can swing really hard and hit a ball really far. Dunn will likely approach 600 career home runs. He will likely hit about .220 for his career. He will definitely strike out over 3,000 times. That’s all.

Verdict: Sigh…he’ll be in. Unless Dunn suffers a career-ending injury, there will be a plaque dedicated to the gigantic man who slugged mammoth homers sometimes, struck out most of the time.

Comment below – who else should we make a Hall of Fame case for? Did we swing and miss on any of these guys? And don’t forget to VOTE in the poll:

Don’t forget to follow @3u3d on Twitter and LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!

– Jeremy Dorn @Jamblinman

The “Perfect” American League All-Star Ballot

Major League Baseball announced the 2nd round of voting for the All-Star game over the past two days. The American League voting is still being dominated by the legions of Texas Rangers fans voting at will and having their players hold down five starting spots. With just over two weeks left before the starters are announced, I think it’s time to announce what my ballot will be for my 125 votes. (Like you don’t have more than one e-mail account to use too.) My National League ballot will be coming out tomorrow, but for now here’s who I think should start for 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: A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox

American League catcher is a mess right now. Mike Napoli, Matt Wieters, and Joe Mauer have been slight disappointments so far. It’d be a nice final All-Star appearance (probably) for Pierzynski who last made the Midseason Classic in 2006. Pierzynski leads AL catchers in OPS and RBI currently, while being 2nd behind Mauer in batting average (.288), and 3rd in home runs, just one behind Napoli and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. (Author’s Note: As I was writing the blog, Pierzynski tied Napoli and Saltalamacchia with his 11th HR of the year.)

Acceptable to Vote For: Joe Mauer, Twins, Mike Napoli, Rangers, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Red Sox

Please Stop Voting For: Russell Martin, Yankees

First Base

Mapes Pick: Paul Konerko, White Sox

I’d like to think my first All-Star injustices column helped propel Konerko past Mark Teixiera into the #2 spot at first base. Konerko leads the American League still in batting average and OBP. Plus, he leads A.L. 1st baseman in OPS and has more home runs than current leader Prince Fielder. Fielder does have the advantage in runs scored and batted in.

Acceptable to Vote For: Prince Fielder, Tigers

Please Stop Voting For: Mark Teixiera, Yankees, Mitch Moreland, Rangers, and Albert Pujols, Angels

Second Base

Mapes Pick: Robinson Cano, Yankees

Ian Kinsler has six more runs scored than Cano. Cano just has four more home runs, the same RBI, a better batting average and OPS and is playing Gold Glove 2nd base compared to his Texas counterpart. Kinsler is having his typically solid year and I think should be picked by his skipper Ron Washington to head to Kansas City, but Cano should be getting the starting nod.

Why Jason Kipnis is in 5th is beyond me, he’s the only 2nd baseman with double digit steals and home runs. Kipnis is hitting .285, is tied for 2nd in the A.L. in runs scored (behind Kinsler), and is tied for the A.L. lead in stolen bases with someone we’ll get to later.

Acceptable to Vote For: Ian Kinsler, Rangers and Jason Kipnis, Indians

Please Stop Voting For: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox and Robert Andino, Orioles

Shortstop

Mapes Pick: Derek Jeter, Yankees

It’s closer than the near million votes that Jeter is leading the pack by. It’s Derek Jeter though, if he’s having a good season, then he should start the All-Star Game. Fans are getting this one right.

Acceptable to Vote For: Elvis Andrus, Rangers and Asdrubal Cabrera, Indians

Please Stop Voting For: Alcides Escobar, Royals

Third Base

Mapes Pick: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Like his fellow teammate on the left side of the infield Elvis Andrus, Adrian Beltre should be coming off the bench for the All-Star team not starting it. Cabrera is one of is the not the most feared hitter in the American League. Cabrera is better than Beltre in every statistical category this season. If I was to choose one player currently not starting to track down his positions leader, it’s Cabrera first, then Konerko.

Please stop voting for Evan Longoria, I beg of you. You’re making all of us look bad. You’re better off trying to swing the vote for hometown player and underrated this season Mike Moustakas. It’s also pretty embarrassing that Angels Mark Trumbo isn’t in the top five at this position. I mean he’s only 4th in AVG, 2nd in OBP, 3rd in OPS, and 7th in HR’s in the entire league.

Acceptable to Vote For: Mark Trumbo, Angels, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, Alex Rodriguez, Yankees, and Mike Moustakas, Royals

Please Stop Voting For: Evan Longoria, Rays

Designated Hitter

Mapes Pick: David Ortiz, Red Sox

Hard to go against Adam Dunn who has bounced back from a horrific 2011 to have over 20 home runs already. The difference between Ortiz and Dunn is seven home runs, but I value Ortiz’s lead in average (massive), OBP, SLG, and OPS more. Fun Adam Dunn stat: he currently leads the American League in both walks AND strikeouts.

The underrated player in this position is Edwin Encarncacion who has been fantastic for the Blue Jays this year, but doesn’t make the top 5. Michael Young is one of my favorite players of the past decade, but doesn’t belong 2nd based on what he’s done. He’s just getting the Ranger fan bump.

Acceptable to Vote For: Adam Dunn, White Sox and Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays

Please Stop Voting For: Michael Young, Rangers and Raul Ibanez, Yankees

Outfield

Mapes Picks: Josh Hamilton, Rangers, Adam Jones, Orioles, and Mike Trout, Angels

I’ve spent enough time this season talking about Hamilton, he’s the clear-cut A.L. MVP right now and should be the top vote-getter.

Adam Jones has done everything in his power to carry the Orioles. He’s the top reason that Baltimore is in contention right now in the A.L. East. In addition to Gold Glove defense he’s top five in the league in home runs, total bases, hits, and offensive WAR. Plus, Jones is adding a .300 batting average and nine stolen bases to the mix. The closest battle for a starting spot right now is for the 3rd A.L. outfielder. Nelson Cruz, Jose Bautista, and Jones are separated by a shade over 80,000 votes. Jones is the clear-cut choice of those three to me.

Curtis Granderson is 2nd in the voting and will be included in my “acceptable to vote for”, but who wouldn’t want to see Mike Trout in the outfield. Trout has turned the Angels fortunes around since getting called up. If Trout currently qualified, he would be 2nd in batting average, 4th in OBP, 9th in SLG, and 6th in OPS. For good measure he’s tied for the American League lead in stolen bases and he didn’t even play the first month! Trout has earned a spot. Only problem is you have to vote for him as a write-in candidate.

The true atrocity at this position is Josh Reddick and Josh Willingham not cracking the top 15 at the position. They are both having breakout seasons and will more than likely be their respective teams solo representatives (unless the A’s Ryan Cook is picked over Reddick). Willingham is 2nd in the league in on-base. How can you not be #WildForWillingham after watching this either?

http://mlbfancave.mlb.com/shared/video/embed/embed.html?content_id=22031457&topic_id=19224580&click=fancave_video&width=400&height=254&property=mlb

Acceptable to Vote For: Curtis Granderson, Yankees, Josh Reddick, Athletics, and Josh Willingham, Twins

Please Stop Voting For: David Murphy, Rangers, Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox, Brett Gardner, Yankees, Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners, and Nick Markakis, Orioles

Anything you think I’m completely crazy on? Want to defend a player that currently has a starting spot? Let me know in the comments or hit me up on Twitter.

-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)

How Does Paul Konerko Get to the Hall of Fame?

Chicago White Sox slugger Paul Konerko notched his 400th career home run today against the Athletics. He joins fellow White Sox first baseman Frank Thomas as the only two in franchise history with more than 300+ home runs. Thomas is considered by many a sure Hall of Famer, while Konerko isn’t even in the discussion. There are accolades that Konerko can’t match “The Big Hurt” in, such as the two MVP awards or the career .300 batting average. However, what would it take for Konerko to match Thomas in career numbers and even numbers that would “lock” him into the Hall of Fame? I’m going to use Konerko’s averages of the last three seasons to figure this out.

All-Star Appearances:

Thomas: 5

Konerko: 5

Konerko is off to a solid start as he’s matched Thomas already in Midseason Classics. He is off to another hot start this season and with making an appearance each of the last two years, Konerko should pass Thomas in Kansas City this season.

Hits:

Thomas: 2468

Konerko: 2049

Konerko’s 2009-2011 average hits per season is 161. This would mean Konerko would pass Thomas on the all-time hits list in about late 2014. Very likely. To get to the golden number of 3000 hits, Konerko would have to player another six healthy seasons or until he is 42 years old. Not likely.

Home Runs:

Thomas: 521

Konerko 400

This is where Konerko has made up some serious ground by continuing to churn out 30-homer seasons in his mid-30’s. His 3-year average is 32 home runs. Thomas only hit 448 of his in a White Sox uniform, this gives Konerko a real chance at becoming the franchise record holder by the end of next season. Konerko could pass Thomas some time in early 2016 overall BUT the magical number of 500 home runs would be in range at the end of the 2015 season. This could be the number that gets Konerko a Hall pass.

Runs Batted In:

Thomas: 1704

Konerko: 1274

430 more ribbies for Konerko here, at his 2009-2011 average of 101 a year, would take him just over four years to surpass Thomas’ total. Like the home run number though, Konerko needs just 220 more for the franchise record. That would be projected to happen in early 2015. There is no magic RBI number to get in the Hall of Fame.

I am not saying that Konerko will ever be the greatest White Sox player of all-time. Thomas led the league in OBP and OPS four times to Konerko’s none. Thomas has three Silver Sluggers on his mantle to Konerko’s none. The counting stats though portray a real chance that Konerko can put himself into the Hall of Fame discussion when all is said and done.

-Bryan Mapes