Wednesday, September 24, 2008

On the NY Giants and AL Postseason Awards

A few things for you...

1) Mark my words, the New York Giants are NOT as good as they are appearing right now. Their season is going to duplicate that of the 2002 Patriots which is to say, they start the season looking even better than the previous season's iteration which won the Super Bowl but then the team's flaws get slowly exposed as the season wears on. I haven't actually seen the Giants play yet to know their flaw but it is a very strong feeling I have. That Pats teams flaws were that Brady could not yet throw the deep ball and their aging defense could not stop the run. If you recall, they started out the year pummelling the Steelers at home and then the Jets on the road and followed those games by eeking out a home victory against the Chiefs where Priest Holmes amassed about 500 total yards if I recall correctly. Of course both the Steelers and Jets would go on to bench the quarterbacks that played against the Pats in those first two games and make the playoffs with the new QBs steering the ship. Meanwhile, the Pats did not beat an above .500 team for the rest of the year until the final game of the season, at home against Miami.

The parrallels between the 2001-2002 Patriots and 2007-2008 Giants do not stop with a Super Bowl upset, they'll continue with the disappointing season two. Mark my words. The Giants will not make the playoffs. I'm not sure who the sixth NFC playoff team will be, but I'd bet on the Panthers or the Redskins over the Giants.

Maybe my predictions seem worthless to you, but I'm normally pretty good at predicting how teams will do. Remember, I'm the same guy who made the Twins and Marlins my two surprise teams (good) in the baseball preseason and the Rockies and Tigers my (bad) surprise teams. That turned out pretty well no? I mean the Twins are fighting for the AL Central crown, the Marlins are going to finish above .500, and the Tigers and Rockies are both going to finish the season with a shade under 90 losses. I know my team predictions OK? So take my Giants call to the bank and be very wary of backing them too much moving forward. I mean they almost lost to the Bengals at home last week!

2) Cliff Lee is going to win the AL Cy Young Award. You know what? I'm cool with that, he deserves it. But do you know what else? If I had a say in things like that I'd throw my support behind Roy Halladay. Halladay has pitched 14 more innings, struck out 31 more batters, has a superior WHIP (1.06 to 1.11) and a far superior BAA (.239 to .251). Yes Lee has him in ERA 2.54 to 2.81 and has the gaudy 22-3 W-L record to Halladay's 19-11, but I still think that the numbers which Halladay leads in are more indicitive of pitching performance and value than wins and ERA. To further prove my point, I leave you with two more thoughts on this:

Who would you rather face in a one game playoff, Roy Halladay or Cliff Lee?

Shouldn't the fact that Halladay pitched in the most competitive division in baseball, the AL East count for somethinig too? Consider the fact that the Yankees are currently in third place in the AL East, but would be 1/2 game out of first in the AL Central. Or that Halladay's team, the Blue Jays, the AL East's fourth place team would find themselves just 3.5 games out of first place in the AL Central. That's gotta mean something right? I say so.

3) As for the AL MVP, from what I can gather there are four legitimate contenders for that trophy right now; two from the Twins and two from the Red Sox. Those four guys are Justin Mourneau, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, and Kevin Youkilis. If Carlos Quentin never got hurt, he probably could have coasted to the award, but that didn't happen.

So who do I have? I don't know. Let's figure it out though.


How I see them in order of importance:


Mourneau - 23/129/96/0/.308/.380/.515

Mauer - 9/72/97/1/.329/.416/.452

Youkilis - 27/111/88/3/.314/.390/.565

Pedroia - 17/82/117/19/.324/.375/.492

So what does this tell us? Well for starters we should automatically give Pedroia and Mauer bonus points for playing outstanding offense AND defense from positions that tend to be light on offensive production. We'll also give Youkilis some bonus points to for being able to play both first and third incredibly well. So, before even diving into the stats Mourneau is already a step behind just because he has the "curse" of being a great offensive first baseman.

In regards to the stats I see Mauer as relatively light hitting catcher with exceptional on base-skills. A lot can be made for a catcher with an OBP of .400+, but it's not doing it for me, I'd like at least a little more pop from my MVP.

Justin Mourneau is your typical "slugging" first baseman whose candidacy is based on the RBI stat more than anything else as he lags behind the other power hitter in the group, Kevin Youkilis in the other traditional power/MVP categories of HR, AVG, OBP, and SLG. If you need a tie-break, then just look at OPS where Youkilis has Mourneau .955 to .895. RBI's are nice but Youkilis has been the more productive hitter on the whole.

And that leaves Pedroia. Pedroia is pretty much your jack of all trades here as he has put up great 5 tool numbers, but has not dominated in any of the major categories. He was the hot name for MVP a few weeks ago but since then his momentum has cooled and unfortunately that may end up hurting him in the end. That is not fair.

Now, after looking at all the numbers and thinking this over some, I think my ballot looks like the below - and I promise you I did this totally unbiased, I even came in here wanting to talk myself into Joe Mauer for MVP.

1) Kevin Youkilis
2) Dustin Pedroia
3) Justin Mourneau
4) Joe Mauer

So why that order?

Youkilis had the best across the board numbers of the group, played great defense at two positions on the year, and was the most consistent and steady run producer in the AL's second best offense who also happens to be a 90+ win playoff team. That sounds like an MVP to me.

As for the other three, I loved Pedroia's well rounded game combined with great defense from the second base position. I liked it just a bit more than Justin Mourneau's great run producing year out of the first base spot. What brought Mourneau down a few notches was the fact that the RBI stat drove his candidacy too much. The difference between Youkilis and Mourneau's OPS was actually greater than the difference between Mourneau's and Pedroia's (.895 to .867). When you are looking at similar OPS production from a second place hitter playing second base and a middle of the lineup hitter playing first, I'll give the nod to second hitting second baseman any day of the week.

Oh, and Mauer. Well I am really not wild about my AL MVP only having 42 extra-base-hits. I guess I am biased. Sorry.

That's all for tonight.

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