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Tag:Troy Tulowitzki
Posted on: November 1, 2011 11:28 pm
 

Baseball reveals Gold Glove winners

Molina

By Evan Brunell


For the first time, the Gold Gloves were unveiled in a televised presentation on Tuesday night. Below, you can find the results of the awards. Winners are chosen by managers and coaches who vote for players in their leagues and can't pick players on their own teams.

Catcher
AL: Matt Wieters, Orioles -- Wieters became the first Orioles catcher to win the award. I predicted Wieters would win the award in late September saying that "Runners fear Wieters' arm -- he's only allowed 56 stolen bases all season, while the next-lowest total among catchers who qualify for the batting title is J.P. Arencibia's 77, achieved in 10 less starts. Oh, and Wieters has nabbed 32 runners for a caught-stealing rate of 36 percent, a high percentage for a catcher.

NL: Yadier Molina, Cardinals (pictured) -- Obviously. He wins the award for the fourth straight year, the first time since Charles Johnson from 1995-98.

First base
AL: Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Gonzalez wins his third Gold Glove and pairs with second baseman Dustin Pedroia to keep the right side of the infield to one team in the AL. The same goes for the NL.

NL: Joey Votto, Reds -- Votto takes home his first Gold Glove award to put on the mantel along with his MVP trophy from 2010.

Second base
AL: Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox -- This is Pedroia's second Gold Glove and first since 2008. As one of the best second basemen in the league, this was a no-brainer. "It's fun playing alongside him," Gonzalez said of Pedroia on ESPN2, saying the communication is top-notch between the two players.

NL: Brandon Phillips, Reds -- The color red really dominated first and second, as the Reds in the NL take home the awards at each respective position. Same with the AL and Red Sox. Phillips wins his third Gold Glove.

Third base
AL: Adrian Beltre, Rangers -- What I said back in September: "Beltre somehow only has two Gold Gloves despite a career of success. That success continues in 2011 in Texas, as Beltre has tremendous range compared with soft hands. Evan Longoria is a fantastic defender as well, but in the AL there simply is no comparison to Beltre."

NL: Placido Polanco, Phillies -- Back in September, C. Trent Rosecrans picked Pablo Sandoval of the Giants. "There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year," he wrote. Gold Glove voters disagreed, and Polanco gets his third Gold Glove -- first at third base. He becomes the second major leaguer to win a Gold Glove at two separate positions, following Darin Erstad nabbing one for first base and outfield.

Shortstop
AL: Erick Aybar, Angels -- It's Aybar's first Gold Glove, and he's as good a pick as any to dethrone Derek Jeter's undeserved Gold Glove last season.

NL: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies -- Trent may not have gotten Sandoval right, but he nailed Tulo. "The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken," he wrote.

Left field
AL: Alex Gordon, Royals -- Gordon racked up the assists this year, but how do you not give this to Brett Gardner?

NL: Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks -- Parra grabs his first Gold Glove. I haven't heard Parra as a name among the elite defenders, but there you go. He appears worthy.

Center field
AL: Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox -- Ellsbury's victory gives the Red Sox three Gold Glovers. It must be sweet music for the center fielder too, after being moved to left field to start 2010 amid reports of poor defense. Frankly, this is a stretch -- Ellsbury still takes poor routes to the ball. But he's fast, so that helps. It's the first time since 1979 Boston has three winners.

NL: Matt Kemp, Dodgers -- Really? Kemp is a poor center fielder, and it's really difficult to imagine Kemp as a Gold Glove finalist, never mind a victor. But we all know that Gold Glove awards usually aren't worth much, and in this case...

Right field
AL: Nick Markakis, Orioles -- Markakis is not a very good defender. In fact, he made my list as the AL's worst defensive right fielder. I wouldn't go so far as to say that anymore, but a Gold Glove? Frankly, though, I have a hard time getting worked up about who wins the Gold Glove because it's such an irrelevant and inefficient award. For true honoring of defensive prowess, check out the Fielding Bible winners.

NL: Andre Ethier, Dodgers -- It's just the second time in the 21st centery that outfield teammates have won a Gold Glove award. Ethier wins his first. Not quite deserved.

Pitcher
AL: Mark Buerhle, White Sox -- It's his third straight Gold Glove.

NL: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers -- It's the first award for Kershaw, who said on ESPN2 during the unveiling that he did not expect to win the award. Kershaw spoke about how pitchers fielding practice in spring training can get old, but it provides the basis for good defense. "Once you get out on the field, repetition helps it sink in," he said.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Posted on: October 31, 2011 7:11 pm
Edited on: October 31, 2011 7:12 pm
 

Gold Glove finalists, Fielding Bible champs

Utley

By Evan Brunell


Fielding is taking center stage in baseball, as Rawlings released their Gold Glove finalists on Monday, while The Fielding Bible came out with their winners.

ESPN2 will air the winners of the Gold Glove balloting in the first-ever televised Gold Glove results, which used to be sent out as morning press releases. The show will begin at 10 p.m. ET and last for an hour. There are three finalists per position, and the most notable omission is Derek Jeter from shortstop, and rightfully so. Jeter has long won Gold Gloves based more on the merits of popularity and offense, but that's nothing new across all of Gold Glove voting, as Gold Glove award voting has been that way for some time. Jeter has won five awards, including taking each of the last two seasons.

Now, it will be either the Angels' Erick Aybar, J.J. Hardy of the Orioles, or the Indians' Asdrubal Cabrera who wins the AL Gold Glove. The full list of finalists can be found below, but first: The Fielding Bible.

“Quite simply,” said John Dewan, the founder of The Fielding Bible, “our intention is to stand up and say, ‘This is the best fielder at this position in the major leagues last season. Period.’”

Dewan uses a star-studded panel of voters that includes people such as Peter Gammons, former major-leaguer Doug Glanville and noted sabermetrician Bill James to determine the winners of each award, which more accurately reflect the best defenders in the league. The Bible differed from Gold Glove voting up until this season in that the Bible differentiated between left, center and right field while the Gold Glove used three generic "outfield" spots. That's changing this year, but another difference remains: if a player switches leagues during a season he is not considered for a Gold Glove. That's not the case for the Bible, which only makes one selection per position.

Below, you can find the winners of The Fielding Bible's defensive awards, plus Dewan's thoughts on each, as supplied in a news release. Only Albert Pujols, who won at first base, and Justin Upton in right field, were not finalists for a Gold Glove award.

C: Matt Wieters, Baltimore Orioles (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“After Yadier Molina of the Cardinals won the previous four Fielding Bible Awards, Matt Wieters wins his first. And it wasn’t even close in the voting -- Wieters' 97 points to Molina's 74. When you look at the numbers, it wasn’t close there either. Prior to 2011, Molina has thrown out 42 percent of baserunners. On top of that, he has picked off an average of six baserunners per year. In 2011, Yadier dropped to 25 percent caught stealing and only picked two runners off. Wieters threw out 36 percent of basestealers in 2011. But it was the pitcher handling department where Wieters really excelled. Nine of his 14 runs saved are estimated for his pitcher handling, while Molina also had a down year in this area, costing the Cardinals six runs.”

1B: Albert Pujols, St. Louis Cardinals (five-time winner)

“It was no fluke,” Dewan says about a play in the NLDS, when Pujols gunned Chase Utley down at third base (pictured). “Since Baseball Info Solutions started tracking good fielding plays (GFP) in 2004, Albert Pujols has 37 GFPs on throws. The next best first basemen are Todd Helton of the Rockies with 16 and three others with 15 -- Mark Teixeira of the Yankees, Prince Fielder of the Brewers, and Lyle Overbay of the [Diamondbacks].”

2B: Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

"Dustin wins his first Fielding Bible Award with 97 of a possible 100 points. He took seven first-place votes (out of 10) and was voted second by the other three panelists. Pedroia has done well in voting in each of the last four years. He lost in a tie-breaker to Aaron Hill, then of the Blue Jays, in 2009 (each had 76 points), placed fourth in 2008, and seventh in 2010." Also, Pedroia had 44 GFP, best in baseball.

3B: Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Adrian Beltre received eight first place votes beating last year’s winner, Evan Longoria of the Rays, 98 to 90. It doesn’t matter where he plays: Los Angeles, Seattle, Boston, and now Texas. Beltre excels year after year. He has saved an estimated 156 runs defensively for his teams since 2003, an average of 17 runs prevented per year. That was his exact total for the Rangers in 2011, which translates into about two extra wins per year for his clubs, just on defense.”

SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Colorado Rockies (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Tulowitzki goes back-to-back, two Fielding Bible Awards in two years, and his third award of his five-year MLB career. Tulo is especially adept at making plays to his right. The Plus/Minus System credits him with 45 more plays in the shortstop hole compared to an average MLB shortstop over his five seasons. Tulowitzki also excels in another area. He had 67 GFP in 2011 compared to only 29 defensive misplays or errors. That +38 figure was tops in baseball.”

LF: Brett Gardner, New York Yankees (second-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“Brett Gardner is the new Carl Crawford. Gardner repeats as the Fielding Bible Award winner in left field after Crawford won three of the four previous years. It was nearly unanimous as Gardner took nine first-place votes and one second. Gardner’s 22 defensive runs saved tied him with center field winner Austin Jackson of the Tigers for the most runs saved by an outfielder in 2011. That’s an extraordinary total for a left fielder. Normally the best center fielders save significantly more runs defensively than the best left fielders. For Gardner, having a center fielder’s range gives him a tremendous advantage, but he has an excellent throwing arm as well. He has saved the Yankees 13 runs (out of his 35 total) with his arm over the last two years.”

CF: Austin Jackson, Detroit Tigers (first-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“He topped all center fielders with 21 runs saved in 2010, but Austin Jackson had to do it even better (with 22 Runs Saved) in 2011 to earn his first Fielding Bible award. Jackson has made 63 more plays than an average center fielder over the last two years. That’s an incredible total. It’s on the plays over his head that AJ really excels (43 of the 63). Making 43 more catches than an average center fielder on balls hit deep is where those lofty runs saved totals come in, as he is saving doubles and triples when he makes these catches.”
 
RF: Justin Upton, Arizona Diamondbacks (first-time winner)

“Justin Upton wins his first Fielding Bible award in 2011, unseating three-time winner Ichiro Suzuki of the Mariners. With Ichiro’s down year defensively (he finished 10th in the voting), panelists were divided in their balloting with seven different right fielders receiving first place votes. Upton received three first-place votes, Jason Heyward of the Braves two, with one apiece for Mike Stanton of the Marlins, Torii Hunter of the Angels, Andre Ethier of the Dodgers, Jay Bruce of the Reds, and Nate Schierholtz of the Giants. Like Austin Jackson of the Tigers in center field, Upton excels on deeply hit balls, where he fielded 18 more balls in 2011 than the average right fielder would have, based on the depth, angle and velocity of those hit to him.”

P: Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox (three-time winner) -- also a Gold Glove finalist

“It’s a third consecutive Fielding Bible Award for Mark Buehrle. It is remarkable how Buehrle puts up excellent defensive runs saved numbers year after year. He saved an estimated nine runs defensively for the White Sox in 2011, tops among all pitchers in baseball. He had eight saved runs in 2010, 11 in 2009, and has averaged about eight per year going back to 2004. His control of the running game is uncanny. Only three baserunners were successful stealing bases in 2011 with Buehrle on the mound, while nine of them were caught stealing or picked off by Buehrle. He covers his position as well, with 15 of his Runs Saved guarding the territory around the mound over the last three years.”

And now, your Gold Glove finalists:

Gold Glove Finalists
Pos. American League National League
C Matt Wieters, BAL
A.J. Pierzynski, CWS
Alex Avila, DET
Yadier Molina, STL
Brian McCann, ATL
Carlos Ruiz, PHI
1B Adrian Gonzalez, BOS
Casey Kotchman, TB
Mark Teixeira, NYY
Joey Votto, CIN
Gaby Sanchez, FLA
James Loney, LAD
2B Dustin Pedroia , BOS
Robinson Cano, NYY
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Brandon Phillips, CIN
Neil Walker, PIT
Omar Infante, FLA
SS Erick Aybar, LAA
J.J. Hardy, BAL
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Troy Tulowitzki, COL
Ronny Cedeno, PIT
Alex Gonzalez, ATL
3B Adrian Beltre, TEX
Kevin Youkilis, BOS
Evan Longoria, TB
Placido Polanco, PHI
Daniel Descalso, STL
Pablo Sandoval, SF
LF Alex Gordon, KC
Brett Gardner, NYY
Sam Fuld, TB
Gerardo Parra, ARI
Ryan Braun, MIL
Matt Holliday, STL
CF Jacoby Ellsbury, BOS
Austin Jackson, DET
Peter Bourjos, LAA
Matt Kemp, LAD
Shane Victorino, PHI
Chris Young, ARI
RF Nick Markakis, BAL
Torii Hunter, LAA
Jeff Francoeur, KC
Andre Ethier, LAD
Carlos Beltran, NYM/SF
Jay Bruce, CIN
C Mark Buerhle, CHW
Dan Haren, LAA
Fausto Carmona, CLE
Clayton Kershaw, LAD
Hiroki Kuroda, LAD
Kyle Lohse, STL

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:16 pm
Edited on: October 4, 2011 1:19 pm
 

R.I.P.: 2011 Colorado Rockies

By Evan Brunell

RockiesAnother season gone, another disappointment for 29 teams as one is immortalized forever. Let’s take a look back at 2011 and forward in Eye on Baseball’s R.I.P. series...

Team name: Colorado Rockies
Record: 73-89, 4th place, 21 games back
Manager: Jim Tracy
Best hitter: Troy Tulowitzki -- .302/.372/.544 with 30 HR, 105 RBI
Best pitcher: Jhoulys Chacin -- 11-14, 31 GS, 194 IP, 3.62 ERA, 150 K, 87 BB

The Rockies season didn't go as intended. Instead of competing for the division title, the club barely avoided the cellar and saw their rotation ripped up. Jorge De La Rosa dealt the big blow, suffering an injury that required Tommy John surgery while Ubaldo Jimenez found himself packed off to Cleveland. With a disappointing season in the books, Colorado is ready to plunge ahead and change their fortunes next season.

2011 SEASON RECAP

The Rockies got the season off to a nice start, finishing April with a 17-8 record, enough to pace the division by four games. The wheels fell off in May, though, with two separate four-game losing streaks in the month. There were also two separate instances of a three-game losing streak, including one to end the month at 8-21, slipping out to 4 1/2 back. The first game of a double-header on May 24 was an especially big blow, with De La Rosa exiting the game after 2 1/3 innings and later undergoing Tommy John surgery. The left-hander had signed a two-year, $21.25 million deal in the offseason.

The rest of the season basically played out the string, as the team hovered around .500 the next three months, dealing Ubaldo Jimenez at the trade deadline. September saw a collapse, suffering a nine-game losing streak that perfectly capped the year for Colorado. The silver lining is that the team will get a high draft pick in next year's draft and restocked its pitching depth, but the year was still a big letdown.

2012 AUDIT

Despite nearly finishing in the cellar, the Rockies are poised to contend. The offense isn't an issue, anchored by Tulowitzki and Carlos Gonzalez. Even the pitching figures to rebound now that the club will get a full year of Chacin and a projected second-half return of De La Rosa. The rest of the rotation is a question mark, although the club will look for Alex White and Drew Pomeranz, part of the return in the Jimenez trade, to fill out the rotation. If Juan Nicasio can return from breaking his neck to round out a solid front five, the bullpen will be able to end games.

FREE AGENTS

Aaron Cook, SP (mutual option that will be declined by the team)
Jason Giambi, 1B (mutual option)
Mark Ellis, 2B
Kevin Millwood, SP
J.C. Romero, RP

OFFSEASON FOCUS
  • The Rockies have been linked to Michael Cuddyer hot and heavy over the last few months. Cuddyer would be a great fit for most teams, but the Rockies need to pass. There are more pressing concerns, and the outfield is set with a Seth Smith - Dexter Fowler - Carlos Gonzalez setup, although Smith will platoon. The Rox are rumored to want to shop Ty Wigginton, but he is a great option to platoon with Smith, plus Wiggy can play multiple positions off the bench.
  • The priority the Rockies have to go after here is a starting pitcher. There's just too many question marks beyond Chacin, who is hardly capable of anchoring the rotation. There needs to be at least one other pitcher the team can count on. Edwin Jackson would be an intriguing sign, but there isn't much room to maneuver in the payroll. Better for Colorado to take the plunge and sign some high-risk, high-reward pitchers like Rich Harden and Erik Bedard. The rest of the rotation is also high-risk for various reasons, but the more pitchers you add, the better chances you have of hitting on a couple. The Rockies could also go the trade market here and could revisit Wandy Rodriguez from the Astros if Houston capitulates on eating a larger percentage of his contract.
  • Hang onto Huston Street. The market will be flooded with elite and solid closers, plus a good amount of quality relievers. It will be difficult to get a good return for Street, so the team would be better off hanging onto him to create a lockdown bullpen that can take the slack off the rotation and be used as a trade chip in July.
  • Resign Mark Ellis. Ellis was a sparkplug upon being dealt to the Rockies and provides fantastic defense up the middle. The offense has plenty of thump, so Colorado should focus on shoring up middle-infield defense.
  • Sign Omar Vizquel or acquire another middle infielder capable of playing short and third. Vizquel may not be interested in Colorado, but there are plenty of middle infielders the Rockies can sign or trade for. The team needs a backup infielder primarily, but most importantly, needs a viable option behind Ian Stewart at third base should Stewart crash and burn yet again. Jerry Hairston, Jr., with his oodles of versatility, might also be a nice fit.
  • Don't trade Chris Iannetta. Having quality catchers is a rarity and while the team is high on Wilin Rosario, the hot prospect needs more time in the minors. If Rosario is ready by mid-July, that's a great problem to have, but Colorado shouldn't handicap itself by entering Opening Day with a question mark in Rosario's ability to sustain a full season in the bigs.
For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 19, 2011 11:56 pm
Edited on: September 20, 2011 12:26 am
 

Picking the National League's best defenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

The Gold Gloves are one of baseball's toughest awards to decide -- and sometimes toughest to understand. Unlike many of the game's other awards, the Gold Gloves are voted on by managers and coaches, and every year it seems there's a winner or two that seems to win the award more with their bat than their glove.

Not only do some players seem to win it with something other than their glove, sometimes the award can be a lot like the Supreme Court, once you get elected, you're not going to lose your seat.

That said, it's a difficult award to vote for. There are better fielding statistics coming out every year, yet most are still in their infancy and can tell you only so much. Good defense, sometimes can be a lot like the definition Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart gave for pornograpy in Jacobelis v. Ohio in 1964: "I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embrued within that shorthand description; and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it." 

With that in mind, perhaps the voters for the Gold Gloves should be the scouts, but instead I'll try my hand at picking out the best defensive players in the National League.

Catcher: Yadier Molina, Cardinals

As tough as it is to use numbers to evaluate fielders, it's even tougher with catchers. At least the numbers with other fielders have some meaning, with catchers there's so much more to what they do defensively that it's hard not to go on reputation -- and nobody has a better reputation than Molina.

Others considered: Carlos Ruiz, Phillies; Brian McCann, Braves.

First base: Joey Votto, Reds

When Votto was coming up, people knew he could hit -- that was hard to ignore -- but his reputation at first base was nowhere near as good. Even as a rookie, he often struggled, especially on throws to a pitcher covering first. Since then, he's improved every year and this year he has proven himself to be the best defensive first baseman in the league. Votto, last year's MVP, covers more ground at first than any other first baseman in the league, which means it can be tough to get a hit if you hit it on the ground to the right side of the Reds infield, beacuse of the next guy on the list.

Others considered: Albert Pujols, Cardinals. Todd Helton, Rockies.

Brandon PhillipsSecond base: Brandon Phillips, Reds

A two-time Gold Glover, Phillips should be in line for his third. There may be no other player in baseball with as long of a highlight-reel as Phillips, who seemingly makes another amazing play every night.

Others considered: Chase Utley, Phillies, Omar Infante, Marlins, Neil Walker, Pirates

Third base: Pablo Sandoval, Giants

There are players with better defensive reputations than the Kung Fu Panda, but nobody's had a better year. The advanced stats don't tell you everything yet, but they're still pretty good. Sandoval leads qualified National League third basemen in UZR (12.3), UZR/150 (21.2) and plus-minus (20). 

Others considered: Placido Polanco, Phillies; Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies

The Rockies may know a little something about drafting defensive shortstops -- they picked two of the best in the league, Tulowitzki and the Astros' Clint Barmes. Finally healthy, Barmes was outstanding defensively for the Astros, while Tulowitzki seems like the second coming of Cal Ripken. 

Others considered: Alex Gonzalez, Braves; Jose Reyes, Mets; Clint Barmes, Astros.

Left field: Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies

The voting has changed this year to award Gold Gloves to each of the three outfield positions instead of three generic outfielder awards that usually went to center fielders. Carlos Gonzalez is tough to categorize, but considering he's played more games in left than any other spot, he's the easy choice here. He's started 60 games in left, 34 in right and 28 in center. He's played all three well, which isn't easy at spacious Coors Field, committing only one error on the season.

Others considered: Matt Holliday, Cardinals. Gerardo Parra, Diamondbacks. Tony Gwynn, Dodgers.

Shane VictorinoCenter field: Shane Victorino, Phillies

This is one stacked category, with several deserving players. Under the old rules it would be easy, you'd have three center fielders and give them the three Gold Gloves. Under the new rules, it's a tougher choice. Victorino has had an MVP-type year, and no small part of that has been patrolling center field for the Phillies. The Flyin' Hawaiian is as good as anyone out there and his error-less season gives him the edge.

Others considered: Chris Young, Diamondbacks; Carlos Gomez, Brewers; Cameron Maybin, Padres; Rick Ankiel, Nationals; Andrew McCutchen, Pirates.

Right field: Mike Stanton, Marlins

He may be known best for the moon shots off his bat, but Stanton is a surprisingly good defensive outfielder. Stanton has the combination of athleticism and arm strength to be the best defensive right fielder in the game.

Others considered: Jay Bruce, Reds; Carlos Beltran, Giants; Jason Heyward, Braves.

Pitcher: R.A. Dickey, Mets

A knuckleball pitcher needs to field his position well -- there are plenty of bad hits coming back to the mound off poor contact. Dickey has been very good fielding his position and helped his team with his glove.

Others considered: Jake Westbrook, Cardinals; Bronson Arroyo, Reds; Hiroki Kuroda, Dodgers; Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers; Derek Lowe, Braves.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:36 pm
 

MLB 'Man of the Year' finalists released

By Matt Snyder

The six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in Major League Baseball were revealed Wednesday. The award is given to a player "whose on-field and off-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond."

Here are the six finalists (via DenverPost.com):
Paul Konerko, White Sox
David Robertson, Yankees
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
David Wright, Mets
Michael Young, Rangers

The award is named after Marvin Miller, who was the executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982. Under his watch, it grew into one of the strongest unions in the country. The award is a "player's choice" award, which means what it says: The players vote on it.

The award started in 1997. Young won the award in 2008, so he could join John Smoltz and Jim Thome as the only two-time winners. Brandon Inge of the Tigers won last season -- the second consecutive Tigers' player to win it, as Curtis Granderson won in 2009, his last season in Detroit. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols are the other active players who have won the award before.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:34 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Wilson records first shutout

C.J. Wilson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

C.J. Wilson, Rangers: There's no question that the Rangers can put runs on the board with anyone, but the question is if they have that Game 1 starter in a series to go opposite the likes of CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett or Justin Verlander. Last season the Game 1 starter was an easy decision for Ron Washington, that's what they got Cliff Lee to do. This season it's going to be Wilson, who notched his first career shutout on Tuesday, blanking the Rays 8-0 on five hits, all singles. It was the Rangers' 18th shutout of the season, the most by an American League team since Oakland had 19 in 2002. Wilson is now 15-6 with a 3.13 ERA.

Bryan LaHair, Cubs: Reds starter Mike Leake cruised all game -- going 8 2/3 innings and allowing just one batter above the minimum and one hit. But on a 2-2 count, Starlin Castro hit a nubber down the third-base line for an infield single, bringing up LaHair as a pinch hitter for Darwin Barney. With a 2-0 count, Leake gave the rookie something to hit -- and he did, onto Sheffield Ave. It was LaHair's first homer as a Cub (he hit three in 2008 with the Mariners) after clubbing 38 in the Pacific Coast League this season. LaHair gave the fans at Wrigley Field some free baseball, but in the end, it wasn't enough as the Reds won 4-2 in 13 innings.

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: Going into Monday's game, Troy Tulowitzki was hitting just .113 (6 for 35) against the Diamondbacks this season. After a three-run homer in Monday's loss to the Rockies, he hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 8-3 victory at Coors Field. It was Tulowitzki's 30th homer of the season and gave him 103 RBI, a career-high.


Fausto Carmona, Indians: Any hope the Indians had of representing the American League Central in the playoffs were seemingly dashed in Carmona's 1 1/3 innings -- the Indians' opening-day starter allowed eight hits and seven runs in his brief starts as Cleveland lost 10-1 to Detroit at Progressive Field and fell 8.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Carmona is now 6-14 with a 5.18 ERA on the season.

Angels defense: After Texas had already won their game, the Angels committed four errors -- three of which led to two unearned runs and an Angels loss to the Mariners. Seattle's Felix Hernandez didn't need more than two runs, as he allowed just one run (unearned as well) on four hits in eight innings for a 2-1 Mariners victory. After a Justin Smoak single to lead off the Mariners' half of the second, Los Angeles third baseman Alberto Callaspo fielded a soft grounder by Miguel Olivo, and instead of taking the sure out at first, he tried to force it to second, throwing the ball in right. Kyle Seager then reached first to load the bases on an error by pitcher Ervin Santana. Trayvon Washington hit a sacrifice fly for the game's first run. Seattle's second run came in the fourth after Seager reached first on an error by Erick Aybar and then scored on a groundout later in the inning. Hank Conger added another error for the team's fourth of the game. With the loss, the Angels fell to 3.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Minnesota Twins: Minnesota was officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-0 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday as they were shutout for the 12th time this season. The Twins tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts, including two from Joe Mauer. Minnesota now trails Detroit by 22 games and are 1.5 games behind the Royals in the fight for last place in the AL Central.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @cbssportsmlb on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 7, 2011 2:33 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Wilson records first shutout

C.J. Wilson

By C. Trent Rosecrans

C.J. Wilson, Rangers: There's no question that the Rangers can put runs on the board with anyone, but the question is if they have that Game 1 starter in a series to go opposite the likes of CC Sabathia, Josh Beckett or Justin Verlander. Last season the Game 1 starter was an easy decision for Ron Washington, that's what they got Cliff Lee to do. This season it's going to be Wilson, who notched his first career shutout on Tuesday, blanking the Rays 8-0 on five hits, all singles. It was the Rangers' 18th shutout of the season, the most by an American League team since Oakland had 19 in 2002. Wilson is now 15-6 with a 3.13 ERA.

Bryan LaHair, Cubs: Reds starter Mike Leake cruised all game -- going 8 2/3 innings and allowing just one batter above the minimum and one hit. But on a 2-2 count, Starlin Castro hit a nubber down the third-base line for an infield single, bringing up LaHair as a pinch hitter for Darwin Barney. With a 2-0 count, Leake gave the rookie something to hit -- and he did, onto Sheffield Ave. It was LaHair's first homer as a Cub (he hit three in 2008 with the Mariners) after clubbing 38 in the Pacific Coast League this season. LaHair gave the fans at Wrigley Field some free baseball, but in the end, it wasn't enough as the Reds won 4-2 in 13 innings.

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: Going into Monday's game, Troy Tulowitzki was hitting just .113 (6 for 35) against the Diamondbacks this season. After a three-run homer in Monday's loss to the Rockies, he hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning of Tuesday's 8-3 victory at Coors Field. It was Tulowitzki's 30th homer of the season and gave him 103 RBI, a career-high.


Fausto Carmona, Indians: Any hope the Indians had of representing the American League Central in the playoffs were seemingly dashed in Carmona's 1 1/3 innings -- the Indians' opening-day starter allowed eight hits and seven runs in his brief starts as Cleveland lost 10-1 to Detroit at Progressive Field and fell 8.5 games behind the Tigers in the AL Central. Carmona is now 6-14 with a 5.18 ERA on the season.

Angels defense: After Texas had already won their game, the Angels committed four errors -- three of which led to two unearned runs and an Angels loss to the Mariners. Seattle's Felix Hernandez didn't need more than two runs, as he allowed just one run (unearned as well) on four hits in eight innings for a 2-1 Mariners victory. After a Justin Smoak single to lead off the Mariners' half of the second, Los Angeles third baseman Alberto Callaspo fielded a soft grounder by Miguel Olivo, and instead of taking the sure out at first, he tried to force it to second, throwing the ball in right. Kyle Seager then reached first to load the bases on an error by pitcher Ervin Santana. Trayvon Washington hit a sacrifice fly for the game's first run. Seattle's second run came in the fourth after Seager reached first on an error by Erick Aybar and then scored on a groundout later in the inning. Hank Conger added another error for the team's fourth of the game. With the loss, the Angels fell to 3.5 games behind the Rangers in the AL West.

Minnesota Twins: Minnesota was officially eliminated from playoff contention with a 3-0 loss to the White Sox on Tuesday as they were shutout for the 12th time this season. The Twins tied a season-high with 12 strikeouts, including two from Joe Mauer. Minnesota now trails Detroit by 22 games and are 1.5 games behind the Royals in the fight for last place in the AL Central.

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Posted on: September 7, 2011 12:01 am
Edited on: September 7, 2011 1:06 am
 

Sizing up the NL MVP contenders



By C. Trent Rosecrans

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Tonight: the NL MVP.

Lacking perhaps the sizzle or controversy of the American League MVP race, the National League MVP race could be just as interesting. While there's plenty of buzz in the AL about whether a pitcher should win the MVP, the NL question of the MVP status quo may be about a member of a losing team taking the game's top honor. While the contending teams have some worthy candidates, the Dodgers' Matt Kemp, the Rockies' Troy Tulowitzki, the Reds' Joey Votto and the Pirates' Andrew McCutchen all have compelling arguments to be included even if their teams are well out of the race.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on many of ballots:

Ryan Braun, Brewers: Braun leads the league in batting average (.335), slugging percentage (.595), OPS (.999) and runs scored (96), he's also in the top five in RBI (95) and top ten in homers (27) -- and he's doing it for a team that will be headed to the playoffs. Last season Joey Votto beat Albert Pujols convincingly on the MVP ballots (31 first-place votes out of 32), if not so convincingly on the stat sheet. The two were close to even in their offensive stats, with Votto's team winning the division title perhaps giving him the edge in the very vague category of "value." The Brewers' record could be Braun's trump card on many ballots.

Roy Halladay, Phillies: Widely considered the best pitcher in the National League, if not baseball, Halladay is having another stellar season with a 16-5 record and a 2.49 ERA. However, the pitcher for MVP argument is being made with Justin Verlander, not Halladay. While Halladay may be the best pitcher in the National League and could appear near the bottom of several ballots (he does lead the NL in pitcher WAR, 6.2 according to Baseball-Reference.com), but it will take a clear-cut best pitcher in the league to win the MVP. The Dodgers' Clayton Kershaw is making a late push for Cy Young with a 17-5 record and 2.45 ERA) and Cliff Lee may be having the best season of any Phillies' starter.

Matt Kemp, Dodgers: Going into Tuesday night's game, Kemp was third in batting average (.320), tied for second in home runs (32) and third in RBI (106), giving him a shot at becoming the National League's first triple crown winner since Joe Medwick did it in 1937. The knock on Kemp will certainly be his team's 68-72 record and a season in Los Angeles much better remembered for the drama off the field than anything done on it.

Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: At the All-Star break, this would have been a popular pick, but since then, the Pirates have faded and the star around Pittsburgh's center fielder has dimmed. But McCutchen is still having a fabulous year, cementing himself as one of the game's emerging stars. His stats have taken a dip, hitting .269/.372/.464 with 20 homers and 81 RBI to go along with 20 stolen bases. According to FanGraphs.com, he's seventh among position players in WAR, but much of his value comes from his defense. McCutchen won't win the MVP and won't finish in the top five, but he may get some votes based on his all-around game and the Pirates' impressive start.

Albert Pujols, Cardinals: You can't talk National League MVP and not bring up Albert Pujols, can you? Not even this year -- when so many counted him out at the beginning of the year and others thought he'd miss a good chunk of time with a broken bone -- can you leave out the three-time winner. He's bounced back from an awful start to hit .295/.367/.553 and lead the league in homers (34). Pujols won't win, not just because he failed to live up to the expectations he's set for himself, but also because the Cardinals have faded in the seasons last months once again.

Jose Reyes, Mets: Reyes' reward will likely come after the November announcement of the MVP and be in the form of a huge contract. A front-runner for the award for much of the season, hamstring injuries have hampered the Mets' shortstop, limiting him to 105 games. He's fallen behind Braun in the batting title race, but is still putting up a very good .332/.371/.493 line with five homers, 37 RBI and 35 stolen bases. 

Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies: The Rockies have seriously underachieved, but not Tulowitzki, who is hitting .304/.376/.550 with 29 homers and 100 RBI while playing Gold Glove-caliber defense. It seems like a matter of time before Tulowitzki wins an MVP (or two), but it won't be this year. Colorado's collapse was too great and while his offensive numbers are great, they aren't so much better than any other category that he's going to vault to the top of many ballots. He may be the best all-around player in the game (especially considering his position), but won't be the MVP.

Justin Upton, Diamondbacks: It looks like the Diamondbacks are going to run away with the NL West and their best (and perhaps only recognizable player) is Upton, the 24-year-old center fielder. Upton is hitting .296/.378/.540 with 27 homers, 82 RBI and 20 stolen bases. He's having a fantastic season and has a very bright future. That said, in what was the most important month of the season and one that saw Arizona take control of the NL West, Upton maybe his worst month of the season, hitting .260/.342/.481.

Shane Victorino, Phillies: Overshadowed by Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and even Jayson Werth in previous years, Victorino has been outstanding in 2011. He's hitting .303/.380/.529 with 15 homers and 56 RBI, while scoring 84 runs. He's won three straight Gold Gloves in center field and has been a constant for the Phillies over the years. However, on a team built around its stud pitchers, a position player may get overlooked for MVP. He finished 18th in 2009, but look for a top 10 finish this season as respect grows for one of the game's most unsung stars.

Joey Votto, Reds: Last year's winner won't repeat, but he's again having another great season, hitting .316/.428/.536, leading the National League in on-base percentage and third in OPS. He's also doing it without Scott Rolen's protection behind him. Rolen has been injured much of the season, missing 76 of the team's 141 games and his play suffering in the 65 games he has played. That's allowed pitchers to pitch around Votto, who leads the National League in walks (100) and the majors in Win Probability Added (6.9). His numbers may not quite be where they were a year ago, but he's done nothing to suggest he's not the best first baseman in the league -- and that's some pretty heady competition.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but you can have your say in the comments. 

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