Thoughts following the series opening loss to the Jays

Mailbag: Haren, Dickerson, Rangers, Trout
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This is my twelfth “thoughts following” post, and eight of the first eleven have come after losses. I swear that is just a coincidence, I usually decide to do these things a day or two ahead of time. Maybe I should stop? Is it all my fault? I dunno. Two of the other three came after wins, including the doubleheader sweep of the Blue Jays last week. The other one came after a rain out.

1. What a miserable second half for Ivan Nova. It’s easy to forget that he carried a 3.92 ERA (4.20 FIP) into the All-Star break, but since the Midseason Classic he’s pitched to a 7.05 ERA (4.97 FIP). He’s allowed one fewer earned run in the second half than he did in the first half in 50.1 (!) fewer innings. It’s awesome that his strikeout rate (8.08 K/9 and 20.5 K%) jumped so much from last year (5.33 K/9 and 13.9 K%) while his walk rate (2.96 BB/9 and 7.5 BB%) dropped a smidge, but holy crap man, he’s getting pounded when he’s not striking guys out. Opponents have hit .288/.348/.511 with 28 homers off Nova this season, which is basically Adam Jones (.292/.340/.517 with 32 homers). I wanted to believe that he was going to exceed expectations after last year, but right now he’s the guy he was projected to be coming up through the minors: a back-end starter who gets hit harder than his stuff says he should because he lacks deception.

2. If the Yankees were going to lose one game in this series against the Blue Jays, it was going to be last night’s. New York was starting their worst pitcher while Toronto was throwing their best. It would have been nice to steal that one heading into the weekend, but at least the pitching matchups for the next three games strongly favor the Yankees. It’s too bad that doesn’t guarantee anything, but I sure feel better knowing that than I would if the matchups were lopsided in the other direction. The magic number to clinch a postseason berth is just three, and I will be sorely disappointed if the Yankees return home on Monday without at least a playoff spot in the bag.

3. I’ve gone back and forth on this in my head over the last few weeks, but which would you rather be heading into the LDS: the one-seed or the two-seed? The one-seed gets to play the wildcard play-in winner, who will have theoretically burned their ace pitcher. The two-seed gets to know who they’re playing ahead of time, allowing more time for scouting and preparation. At one point I thought being the one-seed was the way to go, at another I thought the two-seed was where it’s at. Now I’m leaning back towards the one-seed. As I mentioned in the mailbag this morning, the Yankees are two back of the Rangers for the best record in the league and they hold the tiebreaker.

4. Going to step away from the Yankees for just one bullet so I can talk about the league MVP awards. Miguel Cabrera has had an amazing season, but I think Mike Trout should win the AL award rather easily. The NL is much more up for grabs. Ryan Braun is having a huge year (.319/.392/.602 with 41 homers) but I bet the voters hold last year’s PED stuff against him. Andrew McCutchen is a worthy candidate (.332/.403/.558 with 30 homers) and Buster Posey is also having a big year (.333/.405/.539 with 23 homers). He’ll generate a lot of buzz because the Giants ran away with the division, but I actually think Yadier Molina may be the NL MVP. He’s having a big year with the bat (.320/.377/.507 with 21 homers) and he’s the best defensive catcher in the game. Catcher defense is a tough thing to quantify, but just compare him to Posey — Posey has started 107 games behind the plate (28 at first and three at DH), allowed two passed balls, and thrown out 36 of 121 base-stealers (29.8%). Molina has started 128 games behind the plate, allowed four passed balls, and thrown out 34 of 72 base-stealers (47.2%). Yadi has played 168.1 more innings at catcher and opponents have attempted 49 (!) fewer steals. I doubt he wins, but I think the Cardinals’ backstop has a very strong case for being the most valuable player in the so-called senior circuit.

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Mailbag: Haren, Dickerson, Rangers, Trout
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  • http://www.twitter.com/_swarlesbarkely Drew

    How exactly does Miguel Cabrera not win the MVP again?

    • DERP

      Because Mike Trout has been better.

      • key2life

        I am kinda of old school (being 60 yrs old) rookies should never win the league MVP unless they carry their team to the playoffs. It does not appear the Angles will make it … He is also hitting under 250 for Sept. when a truly MVP should shine … The Tigers are now in first place why? Partly due to their pitching but more due to MC … He has step up to the plate when his team needed him …. Definition MVP

    • Pat D

      Because Mike Trout has been a better all around player.

    • DERP

      To expand, while Miguel Cabrera might be the better hitter (which is debatable), Trout is an elite baserunner and fielder (while playing a more premium position). Those things more than compensate for whatever advantage Cabrera has in hitting.

      • Pat D

        Cabrera’s advantage as a hitter is purely in hitting home runs. They’re more or less equal in BA and OBP.

        • jjyank

          Yep. And I don’t think that’s enough to overcome the position advantage, defensive advantage, and base running advantage Trout has.

          • Now Batting

            If the man wins the triple crown he deserves to win MVP

            • jjyank

              I see the logic there, but I disagree. A couple extra homers to get him in triple crown position doesn’t over come all the other things Trout does better. I think of it as the “most valuable player</strong", rather than the "most valuable hitter“.

              • jjyank

                Bah I screwed up the html there, but you get the point.

                • Nick

                  I’m conflicted but I’m tempted to overlook Miguel’s speed/defense shortcomings because of the way he has dealt with moving to 3rd base. He took it with good grace and we didn’t hear any negativity. Also, to be fair, he really has done a job for the Tigers, starting 148 games at 3B and having a better fielding percentage than 06 and 07, the only other two seasons he’s played the position full-time.

                  I know we often get into a debate about the definition of ‘valuable’ when we get to this point in a season but it’s also hard to overlook the fact that Trout has declined in the second half when his time needed him the most whereas Miggy has been almost single-handedly dragging the Tigers to the line.

                  Because of these two factors, I have to go for Miggy with Trout a very close second. He’ll get his MVPs in years to come I’m sure.

                  If Miggy wins the TC or if the Tigers make the play-offs and LA doesn’t then I don’t think it should even be all that close.

                  • Nick

                    sorry, *team* not time.

                  • jjyank

                    Fair enough, I definitely understand that line of reasoning. I won’t make a fuss if either one wins it.

                  • Pat D

                    So he gets bonus points for playing out of position and playing it badly? Fielding percentage isn’t the whole story on defense.

                    Trout hasn’t declined as much as you think during the second half. I also don’t think how the teams finish should matter. I’ve also made my thoughts on the Triple Crown known.

                    But you’re right that this is shaping up to be one of those years where the definition of “valuable” seems to be different in the minds of a lot of people.

                    • Nick

                      He gets bonus points for uncomplainingly (is that a word?!) doing a job that no-one thought he could do and for doing it at least competently.

                      On the decline issue, granted we’re holding these guys to their own very high standards here. Since the ASB, Miggy has hit .312/.383/.667 with a 1.050 OPS. Trout has put up only a .247/.368/.382 with a .750 OPS.

                      I think it’s clear that Miggy has been the most valuable player at the most important time for his team. You talk about giving Miggy ‘bonus boints’ – I think some people might be giving Trout a bit of a free pass on his late-season performance because of his age and previous performance and that is surely worse.

                      I can’t think of any other player who would win the MVP having been so cold when it mattered whilst his strongest competitor stayed hot, maybe won the TC and guided his team to the play-offs.

                    • Pat D

                      You’re wrong on your stats. The line you gave for Trout is his September numbers. His post-ASB numbers are .301/.391/.533.

                      This is also an award for the entire year, not just the home stretch.

                  • DERP

                    A few points:

                    WAR gives credit to Cabrera for playing a harder position.

                    Fielding percentage isn’t a great stat for measuring how good of a fielder someone is. The issue with Cabrera is that he doesn’t get to many balls compared to other third baseman. He may do a good job when he gets to the ball, but the problem is that he doesn’t get there often enough.

                    Each game is worth the same. You could say that if Cabrera played better earlier in the season, the Tigers wouldn’t be in this position of fighting for a playoff birth.

                    Other players have played well for the Tigers. For example, their pitching staff has been great as of late.

                    • Nick

                      Sorry again, won’t let me amend above now. The figures I gave are for September not since the ASB

            • Pat D

              Why? Because no one has won the Triple Crown since 1967 (and that one deserves a bit of an asterisk anyway)?

              The Triple Crown doesn’t mean anything. It was something invented by some writer decades ago who chose to include those three stats. Well, we’re supposed to be smarter than that now, aren’t we? We know OBP is more important than BA and we know that RBI’s aren’t extremely useful. It’s just that we grew up with those stats on baseball cards that we think they’re important.

              • RBC

                If it doesn’t mean anything, why have so few baseball players been able to achieve it?

                • Pat D

                  That makes no sense.

                • WhittakerWalt

                  Because it’s an arbitrary set of statistics. Triple crown numbers are still valuable, of course, but they don’t tell nearly enough of the story. Don’t you think Ken Griffey’s year in 1997 was more valuable than Yaz’s in ’67?

                • Slugger27

                  few players achieve hitting 4 homers in game…. josh hamilton should win the MVP!!!

                  • WhittakerWalt

                    Mike Cameron and Shawn Green both won MVPs the year they did it!

            • Rooting for U.S. Steel

              If he earns the triple crown, he deserves to win the Silver Slugger hands down. MVP? I’m going with the more well-rounded player at the more valuable position, with the team’s place in the standings as a strong consideration.

    • vin

      How exactly does Juan Gonzalez not win the MVP again?

      -1996

      • Pat D

        1998, too.

  • Pat D

    Maybe I’m wrong on this, but I thought I heard that the #1 seed would have to play the first two games of the ALDS at the Wild Card winner. Is that true? Would it also be true for the #2 seed?

    • Bartolo’s Colon

      pretty certain it is true for all ds games. it is a 2-3 format this year

    • jesse

      Yeah, that’s how it goes. So let’s say the Yankees win the AL East and get the 1 seed. Meanwhile, Oakland or the Angels play Baltimore in the wild card game and one of those first teams wins. That means the Yanks would have to travel all the way out to Oakland or LA for the first two games of the ALDS, which would suck, especially if it’s against the Angels. Not to mention, you don’t know who you’re playing until late Friday 10/5.

      IMO the 2 seed is the better option because you know who you’re playing ahead of time (Tigers or White Sox, though it’s looking more and more like it’s going to be the Tigers) and that gives you more time to prepare, plus it’s potentially less travel.

  • jj loves to yank

    Cue the obligatory “I’m smarter than you” jj and Tilapia posts.

    • Pat D

      You mad, bro?

    • jjyank

      Nothing like a good laugh to pass time at work.

      • Pat D

        Reminds me of a Monty Python quote from the “Psychiatrist Dairy” sketch.

        Now I’m not saying a trip to our dairy will cure you, but it will give hundreds of lower paid workers a good laugh!

      • Robinson Tilapia

        I think I’m probably smarter than that guy. How about you?

        • jjyank

          That goes without saying.

        • jjyank

          Also, why do we get lumped in together every time? Because we talk about beer during game threads?

          • Robinson Tilapia

            Because Plouffy’s out dusting.

          • Pat D

            Because you two obviously share a hive mind and engage in Groupthink.

            • jjyank

              Well true. R-Tils does not, in fact, have his own opinions.

          • Tim Smith

            No. Because of your obvious bromance.

    • CM PUNK

      STRAIGHT EDGE MEANS I’M SMARTER THAN YOU.

      • Pat D

        Why’d you attack Mick Foley, man? You so cold and evil.

        • CM PUNK

          Yet they still cheer me over Cena.

          • Pat D

            Seems like it’s waning though.

            Funny, since my handle on ESPN is cena4life2181. I think I created that during a time when I was really mad people booed Cena just because. So…that was in…2005, I think?

  • not that mike

    wondering if Jeter will sneak into top 5 MVP to kick up his salary next year….gotta figure Cabrera, Trout, Hamilton, and Jones – maybe even Price – will end up in front of him.

    • Pat D

      Depends. He might get into the top 5 just because there aren’t a lot of other Yankees who will get MVP votes. Cano will, but I don’t think any other hitters will. The only pitchers who might are CC (who I really don’t think will), Kuroda and Soriano. So that might have a factor.

      Of course, there are all those other guys you mentioned. I think Jeter should finish ahead of Jones, but that’s just part of my “The Orioles really aren’t that good” stance.

  • Better off Eddard

    1. Sophmore slump. Awful season. Was our #2 last year in the postseason and now won’t even be in the rotation. I guess that might be a good thing that we upgraded our #2-#4 pitchers but you would have figured Nova would be the #4.

    2. They’ve gotta win this next 3. We cannot depend on Baltimore losing. Hopefully the Rays can keep winning and stay within 2 of the Os. That’s gonna be tough for Baltimore going down to Tampa IF Tampa has something to play for.

    3. I’d rather be #1 and have HFA throughout the AL playoffs as well as getting to face a WC winner minus their ace. It will likely be Oakland or Baltimore. If it’s Tampa they’ll have to use Price just to get there. It’s either one of those 3 teams or Verlander, Fister and Scherzer who beat us last year.

    4. AL MVP – Trout, Runner Up – Jeter
    AL Cy Young – Dave Price
    NL MVP – Buster Posey
    NL Cy Young – RA Dickey

    • Kosmo

      AL MVP- Cabrera or Trout but I think Adrian Beltre should get some consideration.
      NL MVP- Buster Posey
      AL CYA- David Price
      NL CYA- Gio

      Nova has a 7.05 ERA since the Al-Star break. WOOF!

      • Kosmo

        or possibly Craig Kimbrel might win the NL CYA.

        • Bo Knows

          That would just be a flat out crime, there hasn’t been a pitcher pitcher better in the NL than him

          • Bo Knows

            Triple Post, never had that happen to me before….cool

        • Bo Knows

          That would just be a flat out crime, there hasn’t been a pitcher pitcher better in the NL than Dickey

        • Bo Knows

          That would just be a flat out crime, there hasn’t been a pitcher pitcher better in the NL than Dickey

          • Kosmo

            You´re probably right. Gio-Dickey-Kimbrel take your pick!

    • Bo Knows

      I’m actually a little scared that I agree with almost every single thing Eddard has said in this post (except except Jeter being runner up for MVP, he shouldn’t finish any higher than 3rd)

      Also to add more to the Nova situation, he’s not getting hit hard because he’s not decieving anyone, he’s getting hit hard because he’s leaving everything over the fat part of the plate. If you don’t command your pitches your going to get hurt; we’ve seen it more than just a few times with CC (this year), we’ve seen it with Kuroda, and lord knows we’ve seen it with Phil and his meatball-itis over the years. Nova’s command took a huge step back from last year, but this kind of thing happens with young pitchers.

  • Bavarian Yankee

    AL MVP: Trout or Miggy, both deserve it. Trout only has one weak spot: he strikes out a lot, almost A-Jax territory, but he’s state of the art when it comes to fielding and baserunning/-stealing.

    NL MVP: Braun (runner up: McCutchen). Braun probably doesn’t get the votes because of the PED incident, otherwise it would probably be a no doubter. He had another monster season.

    AL Cy Young: that’s a tough one. I’d go with Verlander over Price.

    NL Cy Young: Kershaw over Dickey. Cliff Lee had a great season too but I doubt he’ll get a lot of votes because he only got 6 wins. I hope Dickey wins, that would be awesome. He’s a great person.

  • pat

    Can we please just put a moratorium on mentioning other commentators for shit that has absolutely nothing to do with the articles posted? Every f*cking thread gets over run with little personal attacks and conversations about other commentators from other threads. Waaaahh so and so said this wahhh he’s so dumb. Just get it through your f*cking heads that people say dumb sh*t on a blog to sit back and watch the minions tear it apart and bicker like idiots. The comments sections here are turning positively awful with the same handful of people picking on the same handful of people every thread. Just give it a rest, please.

    • Eddard reboot v.1.0

      Couldn’t agree more, which is why I’m rebooting myself like Mitt Romney and will now be more rational and level headed. But I still reserve the right to stretch the truth in instances involving Derek Jeter and Ichiro Suzuki.

    • jjyank

      There was what, one idiot attack, and then a few comments making light of it?

    • Pat D

      *thinks about it*

      Nah.

      /TSJC’d

  • bill

    1 seed all the way. 2 seed means verlander and the tigers again. No thanks.

  • mt

    I thought before that I wanted no part of #1 seed with possibility of going out to LA or Oakland to start playoffs (Baltimore or Tampa is a possibility too but biggest travel issue are 2 West Coast teams).

    The burning of ace thing may be overrated for Yanks as #1 seed playing the wild card winner – for example, Jeff Weaver is supposed to pitch today and would line up with starting Wednesday (supposedly that Wednesday game will still be important since they are the furthest behind in getting into playoffs and don’t play any teams ahead of them as far as wild card is concerned.) So Weaver might line up for game 2 of ALDS anyway. Also Tampa “burning the ace” would be David Price but we actually sometimes have more trouble hitting Hellickson. Not sure who the ace that Oakland or Baltimore is concerned about burning – Miguel Gonzalez absolutely baffles us even though, I guess, Chen is supposedly their ace given Tillman is out. Is Parker or Griffin the ace for As?

    So I have always wanted Yanks to be #2 (no West Coast travel as an older team and “burning Wild card winner ace” overrated for #1 seed).

    However, now that AL Central is clearer, on other hand, if we do take AL East and #2 slot, we definitely face Tgers and Verlander as #3 seed(given White Sox collapse and Tiger remaining schedule I am counting White Sox out for division.). That clearly is an ace – he starts Saturday so he will be lined up for game 1 perfectly.

    We never hit Brandon Morrow in Toronto so maybe last night’s game was hardest of last 7 but we will also face Romero (who we have made look pretty good the last 3 times), Bucholtz and Lester so there is always possibility that those 3 put in an ace-like performance for a game. Also I believe Red Sox are throwing Cook, Doubront and Zach Stewart (!!!) against O’s so O’s will have better pitching matchup than we will.