National League Mid-Season Report

We’ve saved the worst….for last.

Yesterday, we broke down the good half (American League). Today, we’ll get to the half that still (inexplicably) lets pitchers hit (National League)….

National League

Best Team – Arizona Diamondbacks

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This was harder than it looks. Figuring out the best team in the National League is like ranking your favorite diseases. At 47-34, the Diamondbacks have the 2nd best record in the National League (Milwaukee Brewers: 47-33). While the Diamondbacks, and Paul Goldschmidt, had a May to forget (Goldschmidt hit .144 in May, and the team went 8-19), they’ve bounced back to the tune of 19-7 in June.

Robbie Ray is back. Zack Godley is pitching to his abilities (again). And the other Zack (Greinke) is 5-1 since May. While the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants are nipping at their heels, expect the Diamondbacks to win their 1st NL West Division Title since 2011.

Biggest Surprise – Milwaukee Brewers

Cardinals Brewers Baseball

I knew the Milwaukee Brewers were a good baseball team. I just didn’t know they’d be THIS good. To have the best record in the National League, with THIS pitching staff, is no small feat. If you can name the entire starting rotation for the Brewers, I’ll make your next car payment. I’m serious. GO ahead. I’ll wait….

Even ‘The Google’ doesn’t know.

The Brewers’ roster is filled with a long list of good players. No superstars. No CY Young Award candidates. Just good, do a little bit of everything, players. Only time will tell if they can hold off the Chicago Cubs and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central Division.

MVP – Freddie Freeman

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Until May 14th (my birthday), A.J. Pollock was running away with the NL MVP Award. And then he got hurt. Now, your guess is as good as mine….

While the aforementioned Paul Goldschmidt has turned his life around, he’s not the MVP. Freddie is. Freddie Freeman is having the best season of his career. He’s on pace for 31 home runs, 111 rbi, and 12 sbs with a .318 batting average.

Oh, and the Atlanta Braves are in 1st place in the NL East (45-34).

CY Young – Max Scherzer

max

As deserving as Jacob deGrom is of a CY Young Award, Max Scherzer is THAT much better than deGrom. If this was the ‘I Feel Really Badly For You Award’, deGrom would be the unanimous victor. However, Max Scherzer is the best pitcher in MLB.

Now, OPEN YOUR EARS AND LISTEN:

Max Scherzer has been the best pitcher in MLB for the past seven years.

Yes, I’m aware Clayton Kershaw has been in MLB for the past seven years as well. But I’m also aware that you can’t win baseball games from the trainer’s room. While Clayton Kershaw’s stuff is unparalleled, Max Scherzer’s durability makes him the best, most consistent pitcher in MLB.

 

Do you think I’m crazy?!?! Explain yourself in the comment section below….

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American League Mid-Season Report

“Are we there yet?!”

No, but we’re about half way there….

As MLB teams approach the midway point of the season (no, the All-Star Game is not the midway point of the season), it’s time to get judgmental:

American League

Best Team – Houston Astros

astros

While I wanted to write the Yankees in , they simply aren’t the best team in the American League. When push comes to shove, especially in the postseason, great pitching beats great hitting. While Dallas Keuchel has regressed BIG TIME, he’s still light years better than every other #5 starter on the planet. If, and when, the Yankees acquire a good starting pitcher, they’ll assuredly leap frog the Astros.

Biggest Surprise – Seattle Mariners

mariners

This is the biggest surprise in MLB this season. It’s not even close. The Mariners, despite losing arguably their best player, Robinson Cano (suspension), have the 4th best record in baseball (50-31). If you can name five players on the Mariners, I’ll give you a cookie. Go ahead….

I didn’t think so.

Behind the performances of Nelson Cruz (20 home runs), Dee Gordon (21 steals), Ryon Healy (15 home runs), Edwin Diaz (30 saves), and Mike Leake (8 wins), the Mariners are quietly having one of the more impressive seasons in MLB.

MVP – Mike Trout

mike trout

While there are other worthy candidates for AL MVP (Mookie Betts and JD Martinez), Mike Trout is the best baseball player in the world. He has been for six years. Having played exactly half of the season, Trout is on pace for his most home runs in a season (46), to go along with 26 steals, while hitting .323. The man is not a man at all. He is a machine. An MVP machine.

CY Young – Luis Severino 

severino

Luis Severino is the best pitcher in the American League. I’m aware of Justin Verlander, Gerrit Cole, and Chris Sale’s accomplishments, but Severino is outperforming them all. With the most pitches of 99 m.p.h. or more in all of baseball, Severino’s stuff is electric. He’s also singlehandedly holding the Yankees’ pitching staff up with one hand, while throwing absolute, unhittable gas with the other.

Check back with DaveTalksSports tomorrow for your National League mid-season report!!

 

 

And The Winner Is….

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Drumroll please!

 

And the winner, of the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, is….

 

Nobody yet. But stay tuned. The answer to everyone’s question is coming soon. At some point in the next 15 days to be exact. Ohtani’s window to negotiate with Major League teams closes at 11:59 P.M. EST, on December 22nd. Christmas will come early for 1 lucky MLB franchise. As of now, Ohtani has narrowed his choice to 7 teams:

  • Los Angeles Dodgers
  • Los Angeles Angels
  • San Diego Padres
  • San Francisco Giants
  • Chicago Cubs
  • Texas Rangers
  • Seattle Mariners

This list speaks volumes about Ohtani’s thought process:

Proximity To Home

Yes, Shohei Ohtani will be relocating to the United States of America to play MLB. However, it appears he would like to reside as close to his homeland of Japan as possible. Outside of the Cubs and Rangers, his prospective teams are located on the West coast.

Who’s Missing?

In skimming this list, you’ll also notice something glaring: The New York Yankees are missing!! I’m not saying this because I’m a Yankees’ fan, but I thought the Yankees would’ve been a great fit for Japan’s Babe Ruth. Last time I checked, Babe Ruth played for the Yankees. What better way to follow in the footsteps of the greatest baseball player in MLB history than to play for the same team??

Lack of Companionship

As you dig a little deeper into these teams, you’ll realize they lack something. None of these teams have a notable, Japanese star. Yu Darvish is a free agent, so he doesn’t play for the Dodgers. My educated guess is he doesn’t want to play in the shadow of another Japanese star.

That’s A Surprise

I’m surprised the majority of this list is comprised of 4 National League teams. We all know Ohtani is a 2-way player. He’s a starting pitcher, an outfielder, and a designated hitter. I’m not inside the head of the 7 general managers/owners of Ohtani’s potential landing spots, but I figured he would pitch and strictly play DH. To allow Ohtani to pitch, hit, and play the field is extremely risky, and is something a National League team would be forced to do.

Show Me What You’re Made Of!!

I have to be honest. For a player to forego a potentially 9-figure contract (in just 2 years) by coming to MLB “early”, it would be nice if he’d land in a big market. Because nothing says ‘show me what you’re made of’ quite like the spotlight of Yankee Stadium, or Fenway Park, or CitiField. That’s why if he goes to any team not named the Dodgers, I’ll be slightly disappointed in the young man.

Prediction

I don’t think he’ll wind up in the National League, so cross the Dodgers, Cubs, Padres, and Giants off the list. I think he wants to be the best player on a bad team, so cross the Angels off too. This leaves the Rangers and Mariners. On Wednesday, the Mariners acquired an additional $1 million in International Bonus money, so they look more enticing. However, the Rangers are still the leaders in the clubhouse in terms of International Bonus money.

Ultimately, I believe Shohei Ohtani will end up playing for the Seattle Mariners next season. They’re a mediocre team, that plays on the West coast, in the American League. As long as they allow him to pitch once every 6 days, and play DH 4 times per week, the Mariners have this thing locked up.

 

What do you think?? Where will Shohei Ohtani play baseball next season?? Post your prediction in the comment section below.

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Hugs All Around

MLB: All Star Game

 

Now a days it is hard to find a player as well liked and respected as Derek Jeter.  Last night’s All-Star Game festivities was a prime example of that.  This was Derek Jeter’s 14th and final All-Star Game appearance, and it was only proper to pay homage to a living legend such as himself.  Personally I believe Major League Baseball, the people of Minnesota, and his fellow competitors did a great job in honoring Derek Jeter last night.  To start the night off, Derek gave his team a pregame speech, and in typical Derek Jeter fashion he decided to thank his American League teammates rather than make it about himself.  The entire night seemed too good to be true, as if it were scripted for a play, but that is exactly how it should have felt. 

 

To start off the game, Derek was tested in the field.  Derek made a diving stop on a sharply hit ball up the middle and nearly threw out the speedy Andrew McCutchen at first base.  It was funny to hear Derek Jeter say, during his 4th inning interview with Tim Kurkjian, that he wishes he could have thrown the replay flag on that play.  Side Note: What is the umpire thinking not calling McCutchen out on sheer principal????  What transpired in the bottom of the 1st inning was priceless and yet again perfect.  Derek Jeter was called to the plate by the late great Bob Shepard, something that has happened since the dawn of time in Yankee Stadium.  As Derek approached the plate, he was ready to dig in and get this show on the road, however, Adam Wainwright and the fans had other plans.  Wainwright, being the class act that he is, set his glove down on the mound and stood halfway between the mound and second base.  Wainwright had no intentions of interfering with the 63-second standing ovation that the fans in Minnesota gave Derek.  When Derek’s first at-bat finally got under way, on the second pitch, Derek drove the ball the opposite way (in typical Derek Jeter fashion), for a stand-up double.  We have watched that inside out swing of his for 20 years now, a swing that has produced 3,408 regular season hits (9th on the all-time list).  After Derek’s double, he was promptly driven in by the living, breathing version of He-Man; Mike Trout.  As we fast forward to the 3rd inning, Derek notched another All-Star Game hit on his belt, where else but to right field (this one of the bloop variety).  This final hit brought his all time All-Star Game batting average up to .481 (13 for 27), which is 2nd all time. 

 

The start of the 4th inning seemed like any other.  The players for the American League took the field and went through their warm-up routines, but boy were they in for a surprise.  Just as warm-ups concluded and the inning was about to start, American League Manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez out to shortstop to replace Derek Jeter.  This move allowed Derek to receive an individual standing ovation, which lasted about 2 and a half minutes.  In the dugout, Derek went to every person on the roster and gave them their own personalized hug.  I think he even gave the grounds crew members a hug on his way out of the stadium too.  And as expected, the fans continued cheering until Derek came out for a well deserved curtain call.  Last night was nearly perfect for Major League Baseball, for the fans, and for Derek Jeter.  The only part that they missed (besides not calling McCutchen out on the play at first) was not giving Derek the All-Star Game MVP Award.  All the baseball writers of the world can talk about how last night was the passing of the torch from Derek Jeter to Mike Trout (who won the MVP Award) all they want, but that is incorrect.  Last night was about Derek Jeter and Derek Jeter alone.  Last night’s game was not about, and should never be, about home field advantage in the World Series.  It was about one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game.  It was about paying tribute to one of the most decorated careers in baseball history.  No one handles themselves better in these situations than The Captain.  Over his career he has always remained gracious and most importantly he is never selfish.  Last night was another testament to that and the greatness that is Derek Jeter.   

 

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!         

Yanks Get On The Board

No, you didn’t travel back in time, that was Andy Pettite handing the ball to Mariano Rivera. Andy Pettite showed signs of his former self and pitched a phenomenal game against the rival Boston Red Sox. Pettite pitched 8 solid innings in just 94 pitches, earning the Yankees their first win of the season. He gave up just one run, and then handed the ball to Big Mo, who earned his first save of the season. This was Mariano Rivera’s first appearance in almost a year, and while he did give up a run, he still got the job done. I guess all you “experts” can stop hitting the panic button after TWO GAMES!! This is baseball. Baseball is a marathon and a half. If you are someone who thinks the first month of the baseball season means anything, you are sadly mistaken. Yes, the Yankees obviously have some major injuries that aren’t going to go away over night, but they still have a solid team. People also need to remember that Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson will be returning in the near future. Are the Yankees going to hit a million home runs like they’ve grown accustom to over the past couple of years? Nope, but that doesn’t mean they can’t win baseball games. This will depend on the biggest wild card of the season that no one is talking about, and that is the manager. Everyone wants to focus on the injuries and the lack of power in the line-up, but who is it that needs to overcome those issues? That’s right, it’s the manager, Joe Girardi. I think we are all going to learn a lot about Joe Girardi this season. Personally, I have always thought Girardi was a sub par manager, and I believe his ineptitude as a big league manager will be on display this year. It is difficult to deal with major injuries from your star players, but in baseball every team deals with significant injuries all the time. It is the job of the manager to adapt to the situation and get the most out the players he does have. I just don’t see Girardi utilize the combination of his farm system and his veteran players properly. I also think Girardi’s in game situational moves are usually questionable, especially his pitching changes. You would think as a former catcher, he would understand pitchers a little bit better (silly me). Anyway, it was nice to see Andy Pettite pitch as well as he did, and that is something the Yankees will need consistently if they want to play baseball in October.

As I’ve been saying since before spring training got under way, the Yankees will survive this season. They will fight through all the injuries and adversity and they will find new ways to win. I believe that the Yankees will finish third in the division and will be fighting for the final American League playoff spot all year. If their pitching rotation holds up they will make the playoffs, however, if Andy Pettite and Hiroki Kuroda pitch like old men then they’re going to be watching the playoffs from the couch like the rest of us. They also have to deal with the giant question marks that are Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and David Phelps. Phelps has been solid, Nova has tremendous upside (but we better see it this season), and Hughes, well who the hell knows what he’s going to be. All in all this season is no slam dunk, but everyone needs to hop off the panic button. Let’s take a step back from reacting to everything in 3.5 seconds and see where they are when their roster is healthy. If the Yankees get Jeter and Granderson back (and everyone else stays healthy), and they are 10 games out of a playoff spot, then I give everyone permission to Panic with a capital P. Until that day comes, let’s just sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.

If you enjoy my writing, follow me over to intheneutralzone.com where I am a contributing author there as well. Also you can follow me on twitter @DaveEttinger2 or like me on Facebook at http://www.Facebook.com/DaveTalksSports. Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!