It’s May Day! Meaning the first month of the MLB season is in the books, also meaning it’s time for the monthly awards rankings. Last year, I finished by picking four of six awards correctly, missing out on NL Rookie of the Year (I still think Wade Miley should’ve won) and AL MVP (ditto Mike Trout). Here’s who I think is in line for some hardware after April.
American League Rookie of the Year
Silver Medal: Nick Tepesch, Texas Rangers
Normally, we do a top three with a bronze medal, but the American League rookie crop is so poor right now that you’re only getting two. Jackie Bradley, Jr. and Aaron Hicks both had promise coming into the year and underwhelmed. Wil Myers or Dan Straily should hurry up and get called up and take the award you’re supposed to win. Tepesch has been solid for the Rangers going 2-1 with a 2.53 ERA and an inpressive 14:3 K:BB ratio.
Gold Medal: Justin Grimm, Texas Rangers
Unfortuately for Tepesch, his teammate has been slightly better for now. Grimm is 2-0 with a 1.59 ERA and a 15:4 K:BB ratio that’s been impressive in place of Matt Harrison. There’s still plenty of time for someone to step up and become the frontrunner for this award.
In the Running: Stephen Pryor, Seattle Mariners
National League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Jim Henderson, Milwaukee Brewers
Unlike the American League, there is a plethora of rookie candidates in the NL that had a great start to the season. Jim Henderson has wrestled away the closer’s role in Milwaukee from John Axford and isn’t giving it back. He’s six for six in save chances, with a sparkling 0.75 ERA and 15 strikeouts in 12 innings.
Silver Medal: Evan Gattis, Atlanta Braves
It’s clear that Gattis has been the best rookie hitter in the Majors leading all MLB rookies with six home runs and 16 RBI. He’s journey back to baseball has been nothing short of remarkable. Can he keep it up though is the main question. Especially with Brian McCann returning from injury, there might not be a daily spot in the Braves lineup for El Oso Blanco.
Gold Medal: Shelby Miller, St. Louis Cardinals
If Tony Cingrani of the Reds had been called up for one more start this month, he might be in the top spot. For now, I’m giving the edge to Shelby Miller who’s been everything Cardinals fans hoped he would be in place of Chris Carpenter. Miller is 3-2 with a 2.05 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 30.2 IP this season.
In the Running: Tony Cingrani, Cincinnati Reds, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Los Angeles Dodgers, and A.J. Pollock, Arizona Diamondbacks
American League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Hisashi Iwakuma, Seattle Mariners
My love for Hisashi Iwakuma has been strong from the preseason. Iwakuma is only 2-1, but has 1.67 ERA and leads MLB in WHIP at 0.69. He’s also become more in command of his pitches with a fantastic 7.4 K:BB ratio. The Mariners have a formidable 1-2 punch now with Iwakuma and Felix Hernandez. All due respect to Yu Darvish, who leads the American League in strikeouts, I have a feeling he’ll crack the top three at some point this season.
Silver Medal: Matt Moore, Tampa Bay Rays
It’s a close call for the top spot and Matt Moore gets the short end of it for now. He’s given the Rays rotation a great boost as defending Cy Young winner David Price has been a little bit of a disappointment thus far. Moore leads the American League in wins, ERA, and hits/9 innings, but his inability to work deep into games keeps him in the silver spot.
Gold Medal: Clay Buchholz, Boston Red Sox
It’s really splitting hairs between Buchholz and Moore, but I’m going to give the razor-thin edge to the Red Sox starter. Both pitchers are 5-0, Buchholz has slightly worse ERA and WHIP, but has gone deeper into games for Boston. Buchholz also has the advantage over Matt Moore in WAR and is tops in the AL in that stat.
In the Running: Justin Verlander and Anibal Sanchez, Detroit Tigers, Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers, Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners, and Hiroki Kuroda, New York Yankees
National League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Kershaw or Verlander? Who’s the best pitcher in all of MLB? That’s a debate for another day, but right now based on the stats, Kershaw has been 3rd best in the National League. The Dodgers ace finished the opening month with a 1.71 ERA, 0.91 WHIP and is tied for 2nd in the National League in strikeouts.
Silver Medal: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals
Wainwright looks fully back from Tommy John surgery and better than ever. His streak of not walking a batter to start the season reached epic proportions and leads the league in K:BB, wins, and innings pitched. He sports a beautiful 2.03 ERA and 0.99 WHIP and hasn’t given up a home run yet this season. Let me repeat, HE LEADS THE LEAGUE IN BATTERS FACED AND HASN’T GIVEN UP A HOME RUN TO ANY OF THEM. Amazing.
Gold Medal: Matt Harvey, New York Mets
Who would’ve thought that when the Mets traded 2012 NL Cy Young winner R.A. Dickey, they would have another Cy Young contender this year? Harvey has been a revelation for the Metropolitans going 4-0 with a 1.56 ERA and a league-leading 0.81 WHIP. It’s a shame that he’s not eligible for Rookie of the Year, because he’d be leading that race as well.
In the Running: Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants, Jordan Zimmermann and Ross Detwiler, Washington Nationals, Mat Latos, Cincinnati Reds, Jake Westbrook, St. Louis Cardinals, and Paul Maholm, Atlanta Braves
American League MVP
Bronze Medal: Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
The defending AL MVP picked right up where he left off in 2012. The Triple Crown winner is hitting .363 and is tied for the lead in runs batted in with a player we’ll get to soon. Could there be back-to-back Triple Crowns in the works?
Silver Medal: Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Probably the best player this season you haven’t heard anything about. Santana leads the American League in batting average, on-base percentage, OPS, and offensive WAR. He’s blossomed into the AL’s Buster Posey so far this season, we’ll see if he can keep it up. If the Indians can make the playoffs with Santana performing at this level, he’ll be the MVP.
Gold Medal: Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles
He’s cooled slightly since his blistering start to the season, but “Crush” Davis leads the AL in home runs, runs batted in, total bases, and slugging. He’s even hitting .348 with a great .448 OBP. He’s one of the reasons the Orioles are proving 2012 wasn’t just a fluke. Let’s not forget his clutchness too!
In the Running: Robinson Cano, New York Yankees, Coco Crisp, Oakland Athletics, Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers, Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox, and Prince Fielder, Detroit Tigers
National League MVP
Bronze Medal: Shin-Soo Choo, Cincinnati Reds
I may have made a mistake having Carlos Gonzalez over Choo on my preliminary All-Star Game ballot last week. Choo has been a fantastic pick-up for the Reds. He’s hitting .337 with a league-leading .477 OBP, that has paced the Cincinnati lineup. He’s also 4th in the NL in runs scored, OPS, and total bases. That was a great trade for the Reds so far.
Silver Medal: Bryce Harper, Washington Nationals
It’s entirely possible that Harper is about to repeat Mike Trout’s twenty year-old season (minus the stolen bases). He’s 3rd in the NL in offensive WAR and leads the league in OPS and OPS+. Harper also is hitting .344 and getting on base at a .430 clip, both top five in the league. It’s going to be beat into the ground that he’s doing this before he can legally drink, so get used to it.
Gold Medal: Justin Upton, Atlanta Braves
It’s pretty safe to say that Justin Upton enjoys playing with his brother B.J. The younger Upton has almost carried the Braves lineup leading the National League in home runs, slugging, runs scored, total bases, and offensive WAR, while hitting .298. If Upton can start to hit better with runners in scoring position, he could have one of the greatest seasons in Atlanta Braves history.
Who would win your awards after April? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
Ah, baseball season. We move along to the N.L Central to try and organize what most people call “the worst division in baseball.” As of the last four or five years, the N.L. Central breaks down to a three horse race, with two of the horses being a bit stronger. I’m of course referring to the Reds, Cardinals, and Brewers. The Pirates and Cubs would like to join the party, but it’s going to take quite the miracle for that to happen. Let’s get to looking at the teams.
Projected Order of Finish: Cincinnati Reds, St. Louis Cardinals, Milwaukee Brewers, Pittsburgh Pirates, Chicago Cubs
Why the Reds could win the N.L. Central: The Cincinnati Reds have quietly turned into a National League powerhouse. Behind their two All Stars Jay Bruce and Joey Votto, it’s hard to count them out at any point in the season. If they can stay healthy and get a boost from 2012 rookie standout Todd Frazier and their off-season acquisitions of Shin-Soo Choo and Jonathan Broxton, it could be a long season for the rest of the N.L. Central. They also manage to shorten every game to 8 innings as Aroldis Chapman throws fire and leaves batters shaking in their shoes as triple digits consistently hit the radar gun.
Why the Reds wouldn’t win the N.L. Central: If Frazier collapses, Choo doesn’t pan out and Chapman isn’t as effective this year, things could derail quickly in Cincinnati. Not to mention the fact that Bruce and Votto are only getting older. It’s hard to see all of that happening, but hey, you never know. Their starters are also not all perfect. Mike Leake and Homer Bailey are spotty at best. Really though, worst case scenario for the Reds is probably taking 3rd in the Central.
Why the Cardinals could win the N.L. Central: I’ll be honest, every time I look up and down the Cardinals lineup it scares the bejeezus out of me. Each and every one of them can change a game with a single swing of a bat. That alone makes them scary. Not to mention they’re only two years removed from a World Series Championship. Pitching staff? Solid. Relievers? Battle tested, but can be shaky at times. It’s as simple as that.
Why the Cardinals wouldn’t win the N.L. Central: If they get off to a slow start while missing Furcal, Freese, Motte, and Carpenter, the Reds may be too far ahead to catch them. They’re defensively worse off without Furcal and Freese. No doubt. Things can get shaky down in St. Louis, but I don’t think that Matheny or the Cardinals’ front office would let that happen for too long before making changes.
Why the Brewers could win the N.L. Central: As a Brewers fan, I always think they could win the N.L. Central. Is 2013 their year? They’d most likely need a lot of things to go their way, but certainly aren’t far off from making a good run. In fact, they’re about a good bullpen and decent pitching staff away. Blowing an incredible amount of leads in the 7th, 8th, and 9th innings, the Brewers could have easily made the playoffs last year if that didn’t happen. Braun, Weeks, Hart, and Ramirez will be the main driving forces for the offense while Gallardo and recent acquisition Kyle Lohse will have to maintain their composure on the hill. Anything can happen, they could play like they did in September last season, or they could play like they did in April last year. Time will tell.
Why the Brewers wouldn’t win the N.L. Central: The other side of things is clearly the Brewers first half of the season for them last year. The bullpen and pitching staff hardly got much of an overhaul by only adding Lohse and Gorzelanny. It’s their biggest weak spot and the biggest difference between the Brewers finishing above .500 or falling into the depths of the Central. Another huge factor will be if MLB finds Braun guilty of something that earns him a 50 game suspension. But he hasn’t done anything wrong, so that’s probably a long shot.
Why the Pirates could win the N.L. Central: The Pirates won’t win the Central. Plain and simple. Then again, McCutchen is certainly going to try and carry this team to victory. A.J. Burnett got comfortable last season, and N.L Central veteran Wandy Rodriguez will bolster their rotation a bit, but that’s about where it stops. Gaby Sanchez will provide some pop, Garrett Jones will try to play like he’s still young, and Russell Martin will load the back end of the lineup. It could happen.
Why the Pirates wouldn’t win the N.L. Central: The Pirates won’t win the Central. Plain and simple. A team that hasn’t finished over .500 since 1992 and things probably won’t be changing this season. They lack a lot of fire power on both sides of the ball. Their bullpen is weak, they don’t have another big bat to help McCutchen, and just don’t have the overall makings of a winning team. I’d love to see 81 wins happen for them…it’s just not going to be 2013.
Why the Cubs could win the N.L. Central: Whaddya know. Another team that won’t win the Central. The Pirates have been bad, but the Cubs have been worse the last few years. They’ll try to hone their young talent this year led by 2012 standout Anthony Rizzo. Starlin Castro also provides some excitement at shortstop and certainly helps make watching a Cubs’ game bearable. I don’t want to say it can’t happen, but Theo Epstein will have to keep on chugging to turn this team into the next Red Sox.
Why the Cubs wouldn’t win the N.L. Central: Because they’re the Cubs. History gives you every reason why they wouldn’t win the Central. They have an unproven lineup, an unproven and extremely shaky rotation, not to mention Carlos Marmol is known for putting runners on base late in games. Hopefully they can get some AAA guys up and let them get a taste of the big leagues and maybe see what their future will hold. Until then, the rest of the Central thanks them for the wins.
Jay Bruce, Joey Votto – Reds
Matt Holliday – Cardinals
Ryan Braun – Brewers
Andrew McCutchen – Pirates
Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro – Cubs
Johnny Cueto – Reds
Adam Wainwright – Cardinals
Yovani Gallardo, Kyle Lohse – Brewers
A.J. Burnett – Pirates
Rookie of the Year
Wily Peralta – Brewers
Shelby Miller – Cardinals
Gerrit Cole – Pirates
Who do you think wins the N.L. Central? Can the Cubs or Pirates salvage a winning season? Let us know in the comments!
-Kurt Peter (@FalconKP)
Last season, the AL Central was not only the weakest top to bottom in the American League, but you could also argue it was the weakest in all of baseball. While no team last surpassed 88 wins, the AL representative in the World Series came from the Central. Will Detroit win the division for a 3rd straight year? Or will the White Sox be able to fend off a Tigers push? Will Cleveland’s new manager Terry Francona bring back playoff baseball for the Indians? Are the Royals finally ‘there’?
Chicago White Sox: Chicago looks to be primed to make a run at an AL Central title this year and it starts with their rotation. The 1-2 punch of Chris Sale and Jake Peavy will provide solid outings all year but the injury to John Danks might prove to be too costly. It’ll be up to Dylan Axelrod to step up in Danks’ absence. The two biggest question marks for the lineup are will Adam Dunn mash all season long again and can Paul Konerko stay healthy and lead the way in what may be his last season?
Cleveland Indians: The Indians have a lot to be excited about heading into this season and it starts with accomplished manager, Terry Francona. The sheer experience Francona brings to the clubhouse will propel Cleveland past last season’s 68 wins. New additions Nick Swisher, Michael Bourn, Drew Stubbs, and Mark Reynolds provide the ability to score runs with Asdrubal Cabrera and Carlos Santana. The real concern with the Indians will be the starting rotation. Justin Masterson, Ubaldo Jimenez, Brett Myers are going to have to carry the load if this team is going to be successful in 2013.
Detroit Tigers: The defending AL Champs have everyone back from last year with a key addition in Torii Hunter and a healthy Victor Martinez. This team is built to win now and should run away with the division. But there is one giant hole; the role of closer. The Tigers will start the season with a closer by committee strategy that will rotate Phil Coke, Joaquin Benoit, and Octavio Dotel. The rotation is the best in the league with a perennial Cy Young candidate Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Anibal Sanchez., and Rick Porcello. Expect to see this team deep in October.
Kansas City Royals: Every year for the past 5 years, the talk about the Royals has been “they are 1 or 2 years away”. This organization has plenty of young talent but its put up or shut up time. James Shields and Ervin Santana join 2012 mid-season acquisition Jeremy Guthrie to form the 2nd best pitching staff in the Central. If Butler, Moustakas, and co. can stay healthy, the KC Royals will be playing meaningful games through September and might see some post-season action.
Minnesota Twins: When you’re Opening Day starter is Vance Worley, you have seen better days. To make this season a success, the Twins need to break up the M&M boys. It makes more sense for Morneau to be dealt purely based on contract size, unless the Twinkies want to absorb some of Joe Mauer’s $23M/year deal. Josh Willingham provided much of the offense last year while having a career year. The only way I can see this team avoiding a 100-loss season is if Willingham duplicates his 2012 stats AND they do not trade Mauer or Morneau. It might be more beneficial to bite the bullet this year and start stocking up for 2014.
Adam Dunn – Chicago White Sox
Michael Bourn – Cleveland Indians
Miguel Cabrera, Prince Fielder, and Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals
Joe Mauer and Josh Willingham – Minnesota Twins
Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers
Max Scherzer – Detroit Tigers
James Shields – Kansas City Royals
Rookie of the Year
Aaron Hicks – Minnesota Twins
Will the Tigers run away with this division? Is this the last time you can see the M&M boys in Twins uniforms? Comment below!
– Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R)
Three Up Three Down is back to break down all the postseason action! We discuss our favorite Division Series and who we think will take the Championship Series all the way to the World Series. Not only that, Mapes turns the tables in our “Defend Yo Self” segment where the guys back up their Rookie of the Year and Cy Young picks. Let us know what you think!
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Rookie of the Year, in the American League it’s the easiest call on the board. However, in the National League there are a few players that have a chance at taking home the hardware. Here’s who 3U3D picked for the best rookie in each league.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): If I could list Trout as first, second and third for this category, I would. No disrespect to Cespedes, Chen, or guys like Jarrod Parker, Will Middlebrooks, and Brett Lawrie…but this is going to be a unanimous decision. The only real question is whether Trout receives a nice, shiny, MVP trophy to go along with his Rookie of the Year.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Not much needs to be said about why Trout is the AL ROY considering he’s close to an MVP. Yu had a stellar year and probably would have won ROY if it wasn’t for Mike Trout.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Is there anyone else that can win this award or will even get first place votes other than Mike Trout? There is no way he doesn’t win this award. Led the AL in steals, he is the youngest member of the 30/30 club and hit well above .300 doing this while being 20 for much of the season and missing the first month before being called up. Yoenis Cespedes had a very good rookie season and would win this award in most seasons but he was second in almost every offensive category only behind Trout. Had Yu Darvish not faded for much of the middle months of the season there could actually be a debate as to who should win. He started the season very strong faded in the hottest months of the season and finished strong his team winning his last 6 regular season starts.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): There’s not much to be said for AL ROY. Mike Trout is a destroyer. As for the other two spots on my ballot, it’s hard to argue against Yu Darvish and Yoenis Cespedes. Darvish led all rookies in Ks and tied Wade Miley for wins. Did I mention the 2nd closest guy in Ks had almost 50 less? It was a no brainer. Yoenis Cespedes also turned heads with his performance all season. Posting a .292 average with all of the hype and money being thrown at him wasn’t easy. Not only that, he led them to the late playoff surge behind Billy Beane’s magic that is ‘Moneyball’. A truly memorable season for the A’s and Cespedes.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): My thoughts are Mike Trout is the clear one. Yoenis Cespedes is the clear #2. That leaves my 3rd place vote and it comes down to the best rookie pitcher in the American League. I’m basing this partly on ERA+ which factors in ballpark and opponents and partly on my own observations. Hisashi Iwakuma 118, Yu Darvish 116, Scott Diamond 115, Jarrod Parker 114, Tommy Milone, 106, Wei-Yin Chen 105, and Matt Moore 100. I’m giving the edge to Parker who helped the A’s to the AL West title. Iwakuma didn’t throw enough innings, Darvish was a little too wild, and Diamond was so close, but couldn’t pull the trigger.
Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes): I’m proud of 3U3D for not giving into the hype and just handing Bryce Harper the N.L. Rookie of the Year. It’s hard comparing apples and oranges in the hitter (Harper) vs. pitcher (Miley), but I truly believe that Miley was the best rookie this season. Miley led National League rookies in wins, ERA, WHIP, innings pitched, and strikeouts. He was heads and shoulders above any N.L. rookie pitcher. I can’t make the same case for Harper, where other hitters like Frazier, Aoki, Rosario, Zack Cozart, Yonder Alonso, and even Anthony Rizzo had comparable numbers.
Kurt Peter (@FalconKP): The NL ROY race is all about what you prefer. Are you a fan of phenoms? Pitching? Consistency? For me, I only had a little bit of Harper fever in me, that’s why he landed 2nd in my ballot. When looking at consistency and value added for the team, no one did it better all season than Norichika Aoki. He never slumped below a monthly BA of .260 and ended the season T-20th in the NL in BA. Not only that, he stole 30 bases, fielded his position with only 2 errors, and ignited the Brewers comeback late in the season by slugging .536 in September. Miley no doubt put up a great season for the Diamondbacks, but as a whole, his stats don’t speak to me as much. Pitching is valuable, but he certainly wasn’t dominant in Ks and lost a few too many games to get me to put him up a little higher.
Brian Boynton (@GingaBeard_Man): Wade Miley led the NL rookies in wins, ERA, WHIP, and strikeouts. I know he played for Diamondbacks, but after a dismal season they need something to look forward to next season. Plus as a pitcher he directly resulted in the outcome of more games than a positional player which is why he gets my vote. Wilin Rosario put up video game like numbers leading NL rookies in home runs, 28, and RBI, 71. His power numbers will be slightly skewed playing in hitter friendly Coors Field. He will be hitting in the middle of that lineup for a long time coming. The other rookie to make his debut the same day that Trout did is Bryce Harper and his numbers were very good. He hit .270 with 22 home runs and 59 RBI. When he was called up he was my choice to win this award because he has been a household name for the last three or four years.
Angelo Fileccia (@GODF_TH_R): Bryce Harper had a September to remember hitting .330/.398/.651 and overtaking the NL ROY lead. Wade Miley was efficient for a rookie, but had a mediocre September which allowed Harper to sneak into the top spot.
Jeremy Dorn (@Jamblinman): I have a bad feeling that Harper is going to take this award because of name recognition. That would be an absolute travesty, because Miley has been not only the best rookie pitcher in baseball this season, but one of the best regardless of experience. He has been the one rock solid constant on the Diamondbacks staff this year, and deserves the award, hands down. All apologies to Frazier, Michael Fiers, Norichika Aoki and Wilin Rosario, but you picked a bad year to burst onto the scene.
Congrats to Mike Trout and Wade Miley on winning the 3U3D Rookie of the Year awards!
You’ve seen our ballots? Hate them? Love them? Let us know in the comments or yell at us on Twitter, all of our handles are right there. Don’t forget to vote in the polls below! And if you like what you see, follow @3u3d on Twitter or LIKE Three Up, Three Down on Facebook!
“Trouble with the Curve” comes out this Friday, September 21st. It joins a long list a movies that are focused around America’s pastime, baseball. It got me to thinking what’s the best baseball movie of all-time? We’ll be breaking down all of our favorite’s on this week’s podcast, but here’s my complete top ten.
10) “Pride of the Yankees”-1942
I love that this movie actually has Babe Ruth in it. It chronicles Lou Gehrig’s career, leading up to the culmination of his “Luckiest Man on the Face of the Earth” speech. It may be the saddest of the movies on this list, watching the crippling disease ALS take over the body of one of the greatest players of all-time. It was nominated for 11 Academy Awards, including Best Picture, and won one. Gets some bonus chuckles for Gary Cooper batting right-handed in the movie, even though Gehrig was a lefty.
9) “Bull Durham”-1988
This is where I’m going to get in trouble. A lot of trouble. I don’t really like “Bull Durham” as much as everyone else. Which is surprising because 90% of the time when I have the choice I’ll choose the comedy over the dramatic film. Kevin Costner is great as minor league player Crash Davis, but they movie just doesn’t do it for me. The movie in general is well received and was named the #5 Best Sports (not just baseball movie) by the American Film Institute.
I have enjoyed this movie that times I watched it, but it didn’t win any of the Academy Awards it was nominated for. It was even cooler when I got to watch “Moneyball” from the outfield of o.Co Coliseum when I was in California last month. I think have twenty more times watching this movie it might move up the list. I already do the Jonah Hill/Peter Brand fist pump when I’m excited.
7) “Rookie of the Year”-1993
Please humor me. I’m not saying that “Rookie of the Year” is the 7th best baseball movie of all-time, it’s probably far from it. However, it’s the movie that hardly ever left 10 year-old Bryan’s VCR. Thomas Ian Nicholas plays Henry Rowengartner, a middle school afterthought who by a freak injury becomes the flamethrowing pitcher for the Chicago Cubs. Super bonus points for the only time the Cubs have won the World Series since 1908. Plus, if you’re a baseball fan from ages 21-35 and you have uttered the words “funky butt-loving” or “pitcher’s got a big butt” you haven’t lived. Don’t worry this one wasn’t nominated for anything.
The perfect movie for any baseball history lover. Ken Burns documentary that chronicles the evolution of baseball through 18.5! wonderful hours. Each film goes over a different era in baseball history from the origins of the game through 1993 and was sadly released during the 1994 baseball strike. The film gave baseball fans a much needed baseball fix during the absent 1994 playoffs. A new film was released in 2010 called “The Tenth Inning” which chronicled the game from 1994-2010. Plus the 9-part VHS tapes, looked so awesome sitting on the bookshelf in the family room growing up. “Baseball” won an Emmy for Best Informational Series.
5) “A League of Their Own”-1992
A movie that I don’t think gets enough respect over the years. Tom Hanks entering his acting prime, this movie came out right before “Philadelphia” and “Forrest Gump”. This movie had entertaining performances from Geena Davis, Madonna, and Rosie O’ Donnell. The film tells the story of the short-lived All-American Girls Professional Baseball League through the team the Rockford Peaches, while MLB is shut down for World War II. The slew of storylines from player-manager, to husband-wife, to sister-sister weaves together wonderfully. The final scene is one of the few where you didn’t see it coming. Jimmy Dugan’s famous line “There’s no crying in baseball” is still uttered 20 years later.
4) “The Natural”-1984
When I first visited the Baseball Hall of Fame when I was an early teen, what the most exciting piece of baseball history for me? Not the plaques chronicling baseball greats, not the exhibits on the 500 HR club, 3000 hits, etc. it was the baseball movies exhibit. The piece that I still remember seeing this day? The Wonderboy bat and Robert Redford’s New York Knights jersey. I even debated buying a Knights jersey in Cooperstown before I left, before settling on a Brooklyn Dodgers one. The Roy Hobbs character was just so fun from striking out The Whammer to appearing as a 35 year-old rookie for the Knights completely knocking the cover off the ball. The climax is still one of the most memorable for not just a baseball film, but any movie. Imagine if a player like Hobbs came around today in the world of around the clock sports news and social media, it’d be Tebow and Lebron wrapped into one. The movie was nominated for four Oscars, sadly none of them for Redford’s role as Roy Hobbs.
3) “The Sandlot”-1993
From this list you can pretty much guess my baseball movie peak was from 1992-1994 (there’s even another one on the list coming). “The Sandlot” was what I was when I was nine, a kid who went out every day and wanted to play some baseball. I was very much like Smalls, not the best player, but a kid that grew to love the game. The only difference is I actually knew who The Great Bambino was. The characters were all fun from Benny, to Ham, to Squints (and Wendy Peffercorn), to Yeah-Yeah. The story with the beast was great and was the quintessential baseball family movie.
2) “Major League” AND “Major League 2″-1989 and 1994
Please don’t throw things at me for what I’m about to say. I like “Major League 2″ more than the original. “Major League” is a great movie in its own right, but the young teenage silliness in me enjoyed the more ridiculous “Major League 2″. The movie shows the lovable loser Cleveland Indians as they turn from a ragtag group of nobodies into a bonafide contenders. Find another baseball movie that has fans of the team actually wearing the jerseys from the movie rather that the teams own players. You know you own a Ricky “Wild Thing” Vaughn #99 jersey Indians fans, don’t try to deny it. But why do I prefer #2? Except for the slight downgrade from Wesley Snipes to Omar Epps as Willie “Mays” Hayes, the entire cast is back, plus the hilarious editions of Rube Baker and Isuro Tanaka, just make the rare preference for the sequel. I still ask people if they “have no marbles”, but I don’t quote anything from the original.
1) “Field of Dreams”-1989
1989 was a great year for baseball cinema, with arguably the best baseball drama and comedy being released in the same year. “Field of Dreams” is based on the book “Shoeless Joe” by W.P. Kinsella. Kevin Costner plays Ray Kinsella, an Iowa farmer who hears a mysterious voice telling him “if you build it, he will come” Kinsella turns his crops into a homegrown baseball field in the middle of nowhere, while the ghosts of baseball greats like Shoeless Joe Jackson appear to play the game they loved while they were alive. The fantasy story continues as Kinsella travels to find Terence Mann (the always entertaining James Earl Jones) and “Moonlight” Graham. The ending where people will always come for the game of baseball, helps show why it is America’s pasttime. It’s one of the few movies that any time it is on TV, the channel doesn’t get changed.
61*, The Bad News Bears, Eight Men Out, Cobb, The Rookie, Catching Hell, Bang the Drum Slowly, For Love of the Game, Angels in the Outfield and Little Big League
Does “Trouble with the Curve” have what it takes to crack the top ten? I might know when I walk out of the theater, but I’ll probably need to watch it ten times on TV first. With my favorite team, the Braves, involved it might have a chance.
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)
The 1st of September. The day baseball fans realize surprise teams are for real. (Looking at you Athletics, Orioles, and Pirates) There’s only one baseball holiday left to celebrate. (Happy Labor Day everyone!) However, it gives us a great chance to really figure out who could be going home with some hardware at the end of season. Going to stick with the Olympics theme and give a top three and “just off the podium” for each award.
National League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Michael Fiers, Brewers
True story on the podcast, we basically panned Fiers when he got called up. Since then, he’s been probably the best starter in the Brewers rotation. He’s tied for the best ERA among any rookie with 100+ innings pitched at 2.85 (we’ll get to the other player in just a little bit) and has had a great K/9 and K/BB. Fiers will be a solid piece in the Milwaukee rotation in the coming years.
Silver Medal: Todd Frazier, Reds
Has there been a rookie who’s stock has risen as much this season as Todd Frazier? The once top prospect came into the 2011 season as the 9th ranked prospect, in the Reds system, not even in all of the minor leagues. Frazier though has been fantastic, especially since filling in the lineup in the absence of Joey Votto. He leads National League rookies in OPS, slugging, and RBI. He’s second in home runs to only Wilin Rosario. Frazier is one of the key cogs why Cincinnati was the first team to 80 wins this season.
Gold Medal: Wade Miley, Diamondbacks
Frazier has one more month to try and track down Miley, who sits a top my Rookie of the Year rankings once again. Miley has the same ERA as Fiers, but has thrown 57 more innings than his Brewers counterpart. Miley also leads all MLB rookies in wins with 14. Even more impressive is Miley is 6th in the entire N.L. in WHIP and is tied for 3rd in WAR among pitchers. The gap between Miley and Frazier is small enough that September will decide who will be Rookie of the Year.
Just off the Podium: Bryce Harper, Nationals (though he’s heated up again this week), Wilin Rosario, Rockies, Norichika Aoki, Brewers, Anthony Rizzo, Cubs, and Yonder Alonso, Padres
American League Rookie of the Year
Bronze Medal: Scott Diamond, Twins
Despite the best efforts of Matt Moore (3-1, 2.19 ERA, 1.19 WHIP in August), Diamond has the better overall numbers (10-8, 3.21 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) to maintain his 3rd position for the 3rd straight month. Every other A.L. rookie is in a completely different tier from these next two who are both in a tier of their own.
Silver Medal: Yoenis Cespedes, Athletics
In most years, Cespedes would be the clear favorite for Rookie of the Year. He’s 2nd among A.L. rookies in batting average, OBP, slugging, home runs, runs batted in, hits, and runs. All while helping lead the surprising Athletics into playoff contention on Labor Day weekend. Sadly for Cespedes, he’s second in all those statistics and is getting blown out by this next player.
Gold Medal: Mike Trout, Angels
See all the stuff I said Cespedes was second in? He trails Trout in all of those categories. It’s not a question of if Trout is the Rookie of the Year anymore, it’s if he’s still the A.L. MVP.
Just off the Podium: Matt Moore, Rays, Yu Darvish, Rangers, Jose Quintana, White Sox, Ryan Cook, Athletics, Jarrod Parker, Athletics, Tommy Milone, Athletics, Addison Reed, White Sox, Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles, Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox, and Quintin Berry, Tigers
National League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: Johnny Cueto, Reds
This is the most wide open awards race in all of Major League Baseball. There are 10+ players who have a good to great case on why they should win the trophy. Here is Cueto’s case. He leads the senior circuit in wins, ERA, and pitcher WAR. Cueto has been the best starter on the team with the best record in the league. He’s still underrated if that’s possible.
Silver Medal: Aroldis Chapman, Reds
It took me all month to decide that with all of these starters with similar numbers, why not give it to a player that has been utterly dominant in a relief role? Then on the last day of the month I got swayed back to one of the starters that we’ll get to next. Chapman’s numbers have been video game-esque. He is 2nd in the N.L. in saves with 33, impressive considering he lost nine saves at the start of the season to Sean Marshall. Even more impressive though is his 1.27 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, and an astonishing 113 K in 64 IP, good for an eye-popping 15.9 K/9.
Gold Medal: R.A. Dickey, Mets
I’m back on the R.A. Dickey bandwagon! I’m sorry about that month where he wasn’t great and I dropped him out of the top 3 in my rankings. Let me apologize by putting him back in the top spot. I watched Dickey’s start against the Marlins on 8/31 and it was just awesome. Dickey posted his N.L. leading 3rd shutout of the season, 5th complete game, and tied Cueto with 17 wins. The shutout also lowered his ERA down to 2.63, good enough for a tied for 2nd with Jordan Zimmermann. Dickey is also top 3 in WHIP, strikeouts, innings pitched, and pitcher WAR. He’s been one of the best stories in MLB this season.
Just off the Podium: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers, Matt Cain, Giants, Madison Bumgarner, Giants, Jordan Zimmermann, Nationals, Gio Gonzalez, Nationals, Stephen Strasburg, Nationals, Wade Miley, Diamondbacks, Cole Hamels, Phillies, Kyle Lohse, Cardinals, Craig Kimbrel, Braves
American League Cy Young
Bronze Medal: David Price, Rays
Oh no! The Sale spot is gone! It was fun while it lasted, but Sale and Jered Weaver’s sub-par August’s knock them out of my top 3. Enter David Price who leads the best rotation in the American League this season. Price is second in ERA (2.53), tied for 1st in wins (16), 5th in pitcher WAR (4.9), 6th in strikeouts (170), and 7th in WHIP (1.10).
Silver Medal: Justin Verlander, Tigers
Verlander has still been his usual great self this season leading the A.L. in pitcher WAR, strikeouts, complete games, and innings pitched. He’s provided solid peripherals while keeping the Tigers in the playoff hunt. Verlander having his worst month of the season though in August opened up the door for another pitcher to take his #1 position. Then again, Verlander’s worst month is still a pretty good month for most pitchers.
Gold Medal: Felix Hernandez, Mariners
This is not a “oh Felix Hernandez threw a perfect game, he should win the Cy Young” pick. King Felix has the goods to win his 2nd Cy Young award. He leads the American League in ERA (2.43), innings pitched, HR allowed/9 (0.2!) and shutouts (5). Hernandez has more shutouts than any pitcher in the American League, except Verlander, has complete games. Plus, that perfect game was pretty awesome.
Just off the Podium: Jered Weaver, Angels, Chris Sale, White Sox, Hiroki Kuroda, Yankees, Matt Harrison, Rangers, Jim Johnson, Orioles, Fernando Rodney, Rays
National League MVP
Bronze Medal: Ryan Braun, Brewers
If the award was “Most Outstanding Player” Braun’s case would be that much better. He leads the National League in home runs (36), runs batted in (92), slugging, and OPS. Braun is doing all of this without the protection he had from Prince Fielder in his MVP season just a year ago. If Fielder was still around and the Brewers were in the playoff hunt, it might be Braun in the pole position for back-to-back MVP’s. Instead, he’s merely in the hunt.
Silver Medal: Buster Posey, Giants
Posey has been a man on a mission in the 2nd half of season hitting .388 with a 1.131 OPS. Posey is top 6 in batting average, slugging, OBP, OPS, and offensive WAR. He also has handled one of the top pitching staffs in the league at catcher, while leading them to the top of the N.L. West at the start of September. Posey will need to stay hot as San Francisco continues to look for offense with Melky Cabrera suspended for the rest of the season.
Gold Medal: Andrew McCutchen, Pirates
McCutchen tailed off considerably in the month of August, but his overall numbers and his team’s standing is still enough to warrant the top spot again. He leads the National League in offensive WAR, hits and runs scored, 2nd in batting average, OBP and OPS, 3rd in slugging, plus throws in 24 homers and 15 stolen bases because he’s nice like that. Don’t forget his Gold Glove-caliber fielding as well.
Just off the Podium: Matt Holliday, Cardinals, David Wright, Mets, Michael Bourn, Braves, Jason Heyward, Braves, Yadier Molina, Cardinals, R.A. Dickey, Mets, Aroldis Chapman, Reds
American League MVP
Bronze Medal: Robinson Cano, Yankees
The “Sale Spot” might now be the “Cano Spot” as the Yankees 2nd baseman finds himself in 3rd place for the 3rd straight month. Cano is top four in offensive WAR, total bases, doubles, and hits. He’s been carrying along with Derek Jeter a Yankees offense that has been without A-Rod and Mark Teixeira lately. Cano is also the favorite at second base for a Gold Glove award.
Silver Medal: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
The gap between Cabrera and his first MVP award is closing. Cabrera stayed hot in August hitting .340 while the Tigers continue to try and get into the playoffs. Cabrera is top 3 in offensive WAR, batting average, slugging, OPS, total bases, RBI, and extra-base hits. If the Tigers get to the playoffs, while the leader’s team falters. This award could end up a toss-up by the end of the season.
Gold Medal: Mike Trout, Angels
Trout is doing things never seen before in baseball. He’s the youngest player to have 25 home runs and 40 stolen bases in a season. He’s on pace to become the first rookie and youngest player to go 30-30. He leads the American League in offensive WAR, batting average, stolen bases, and runs scored. The only mark against Trout, his team is floundering right now among their lofty expectations. If the Angels make the playoffs, Trout is a lock to win MVP.
Just off the Podium: Josh Hamilton, Rangers, Adrian Beltre, Rangers, Adam Jones, Orioles, Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, Josh Reddick, Athletics, Austin Jackson, Tigers, Josh Willingham, Twins, Paul Konerko, White Sox, and Adam Dunn, White Sox
My quick Manager of the Year picks: Bob Melvin just over Buck Showalter and Joe Maddon in the A.L. and Clint Hurdle just over Davey Johnson in the N.L. Who are your picks for the awards right now? Let us know in the comments!
-Bryan Mapes (@IAmMapes)