You probably noticed this blog is out of date. The fact is, it became too much work to keep discussions going in the comments sections while also filtering out the spam. The spam was horrendous, advertising everything from little blue pills to offers to participate in lurid activities that aren’t even legal in Alabama. Apparently this is what Russians do in their free time.
I’ve also been posting on the Damox Sports Blog.
The BBWAA has released their vote totals for the 2010 Baseball Hall of Fame induction class, and Bert Blyleven has fallen short once again. With just 2 more years of eligibility, that’s bad news, but there is also some good news. Blyleven garnered 74.2% of the vote, which is just 5 votes shy of what he needs to be inducted. That means he’ll probably get in next year, as few writers remove a name from their ballot after voting for a player a previous year, while lots of writers add names to ballots that they’ve neglected to vote for in the past. Blyleven will likely be joined in the 2011 induction class by Roberto Alomar, who fell 7 votes short.
Here’s a rundown of why Blyleven should be in the Hall of Fame:
287 career wins
1.198 career WHIP (walks + hits per inning)
242 complete games
60 complete game shutouts
3700 career strikeouts
Top 3 similar pitchers: Don Sutton, Gaylord Perry, Fergie Jenkins (all are in the Hall of Fame)
Blyleven pitched well despite playing for poor teams. He often received little run support, which accounts for his low career winning percentage of .534 (Nolan Ryan’s career was similar in this way, as he finished with a career winning percentage of just .526).
Here’s a great video I found of Twins great Jim Kaat pitching. Kaat was the best fielding pitching of all time (Greg Maddux can bite me), and his fluttery left-handed motion baffled hitters for the better part of 2 decades. One interesting thing about his motion is how he turns the palm of his glove skyward during his delivery. I’m not sure why he did this, but I don’t know of any other pitching who I’ve seen make a similar motion. Also, why don’t the Twins bring back these old uniforms?
All is right in the world as Joe Mauer received 27 of 28 first place votes to grab his first MVP award. Mark Teixeira finished a distant second, with his teammate and inexplicable Hank Aaron Award winner Derek Jeter coming in third. Fourth place went to Miguel Cabrera, who received the only other first place vote. I think that writer may have been trying to boost Cabrera above Teixeira and Jeter, which makes some sense because Cabrera should be second (more power than Jeter with similar batting average, much higher average than Teixeira), but he did so at the expense of Mauer, who really deserved a unanimous MVP.
I’m glad now that the fan-voting debacle of the Hank Aaron Award is out of the way we’ve seen some smart choices for the other awards this season. Fan voting might be fine for the All Star Game, but when it comes time to decide who really was the best during the season the fans tend to be idiots and pick their favorite players no matter how they played. He might not get much exposure in Minnesota, but Joe Mauer was the best player in the American League this season by all statistical measurements, and he was the most valuable player to his team because he led them to the playoffs despite being the only All Star on the Twins for the entire last month of the season, during which he guided them to an improbable division championship by making up half a dozen games on the Tigers.
Baseball fans proved their stupidity Sunday night as they selected Derek Jeter as the 2009 recipient of the AL Hank Aaron Award, given each season to the top hitter in each league. That’s right, baseball fans think Derek Jeter was a better hitter this season than Joe Mauer. Perhaps Bud Selig should re-think his decision to make this award based on a fan vote. Let’s take a deeper look at the numbers:
Derek Jeter had 46 extra-base hits this season, Joe Mauer had 59. Advantage: Mauer. Jeter’s BA/OBP/OPS numbers were .334/.405/.871. Not bad. Mauer’s were .365/.444/1.031. Advantage: Mauer. Mauer played in fewer games than Jeter this season, but he still put up better “counting” numbers in nearly every category. In fact, Mauer beats Jeter in every offensive category other than hits, runs, and stolen bases (which I’ll factor in, even though it’s questionable whether base stealing ability should be considered for a “best hitter” award). Jeter’s 30 stolen bases do not even come close to making up for the huge difference between his and Mauer’s other offensive numbers. Jeter has the advantage in runs scored, but he’s also a leadoff hitter for the best lineup in baseball. If he gets on base, he’s got a great contact hitter behind him to move him over and then 2 of the best sluggers in the game to drive him in. Mauer doesn’t have that going for him, but he still scores a run every 6.4 plate appearances, compared to 6.7 plate appearances for Jeter.
Will someone please attempt to make a valid argument for Jeter winning this award over Mauer? I sure hope the MVP voters aren’t as stupid as the fans, because it would be a shame if Joe Mauer’s amazing season gets overlooked because Derek Jeter didn’t suck as much as some expected this season.
There was a time when baseball umpires were selected to do playoff games based on the merit system. Then, for some reason (possibly the umpires union getting involved), MLB decided every umpire should get a chance to work baseball’s biggest games, no matter how terrible they are. Phil Cuzzi is the type of umpire who would normally spend his Octobers playing golf or shuffleboard. He has a reputation for needing glasses, and thus was not at the top of anyone’s list for playoff duty based on the merit system. With baseball’s new let’s-give-everyone-a-turn system, Cuzzi was put in a position where he could make or break a team’s season.
Cuzzi missed a crucial call in game 2 of the ALDS. I can understand some missed calls on close plays, but this one was a little different. Umping the left field line, Cuzzi was kneeling over the line about 15 feet from a ball hit by Joe Mauer. First of all, the ball clearly hit off Melky Cabrera’s glove while he was in fair territory. Second, the ball still landed in fair territory after hitting his glove. It wasn’t on the line, it was about a foot to the fair side of the line. Considering Cuzzi’s proximity to the play, it was an easy call to make. Forgetting that the ball hit Cabrera’s glove, did the ball land to the right or the left of the line? Remember, Cuzzi is straddling the line at this point. It’s like those eye exams they give in elementary school. Is the apple on or off the picnic table? How Cuzzi managed to call that ball foul is beyond me. Did he make the foul signal on accident and then have to stick to his call? Was his view obstructed because he was buried too deep in George Steinbrenner’s pocket? I don’t think we’ll ever know.
The non-New York media has been ripping Cuzzi apart this week. It’s not often that you’ll see newspapers being very critical of umpires, but it’s not often that you see an umpire miss a call like Cuzzi did. The Chicago Sun Times asked if Cuzzi’s call was among the worst ever. MLB Fanhouse did a little background check on Cuzzi after the blown call and found he was once fired as a minor league umpire. ESPN had to write a column explaining why Cuzzi wasn’t the only one to blame for the Twins eventual loss in the game.
I’m the last person who would call for an instant replay system in baseball, but I do want to see the best umpiring possible when it comes to the postseason. MLB needs to rethink the umping assignments and reconsider the merit system, at the very least to ensure guys like Phil Cuzzi don’t get put in a position where their call can decide a game.
The Twins had to fight tooth and nail to get into the playoffs, but now they have to face the dreaded New York Yankees. The same New York Yankees team that went 7-0 against the Twins in the regular season. They don’t have a chance, right? Well, maybe they do. A quick look at those 7 games against the Yankees is very telling: they are very close to evenly matched. That’s right, despite laying a big goose egg in the win column against the Yanks, the Twins played the very close all year. One game, on July 7th, was a 10-2 blowout for the Yankees. Every other game between the two teams was a 1 or 2 run Yankee win. That’s right, the Yankees only beat the Twins by more than 2 runs on one occasion all season. If that 10-2 blowout had gone in the Twins favor instead of the Yankees, the Twins would have been 1-6 against the Yankees on the year despite have scored an equal number of runs scored as they had allowed.
All 10 of ESPN’s experts are picking the Yankees to win this series. Only 1 of the 10 has the ALDS going 5 games. It seems they’ve already decided the Yankees are going to blow out the Twins, even though it’s something they only accomplished once in 7 tries this year.
The Twins won the first game of today’s doubleheader against the Tigers and are now just 1 back of the AL Central leaders. A win in the second game would move them into a tie. I was so amped up during this game I did hundreds of dollars of damage to my own house, and I don’t care! The Twins are going to win this thing, baby! I never thought we’d be here a month ago. As an added bonus, if the Twins win the division there is no argument you can make against Joe Mauer for the MVP. He’ll have the highest average, great counting stats (HR, RBI, runs), and he’ll have done it all for a division winner while playing at the most demanding defensive position. Not only does he deserve the MVP, but nobody has been more valuable to his team since Barry Bonds’ steroid-induced heydays with the Giants.
Joe Mauer missed the beginning of the season and most baseball experts think the Twins will just miss the playoffs this season. Those are basically the only 2 reasons that people have argued Joe Mauer doesn’t deserve the MVP this season. They are both foolish. First of all, the other candidate often mentioned is Derek Jeter. Jeter and the Yankees will be going to the playoffs this season, but I’m not convinced Jeter is even the MVP of his team. Certainly Mark Teixeira would get some votes in that category.
Despite missing a month of the season, Mauer has caught up to and passed Jeter in the major counting categories (HR, RBI, R) while dominating the average categories (Avg, Slg). Mauer has been better at every aspect of the offensive game. On defense, Jeter is having one of his best seasons at shortstop yet and seems to have improved on his range factor, something critics have always pointed to when claiming Jeter was an overrated fielder. Mauer, on the other hand, is a catcher. He’s not just a catcher, he’s one of the best catchers in the game. Catcher is the only fielding position with more importance than shortstop. So Jeter gains on his teammate Teixeira (first basemen get few “bonus points” because even a sloth like David Ortiz can play some first base when needed and it’s basically a position teams have their slowest and worst fielder play), but he loses ground to Mauer. In terms of playing above replacement value, nobody comes close to Mauer. There are a dozen guys in baseball who could replace Jeter and play at 85% of his level; you’d be hard pressed to find anyone in baseball who could even play at 60% of Mauer’s level.
One of the main arguments for Jeter — that he’s on a team going to the playoffs, should be used as an argument against him. Jeter is surrounded by the best lineup in baseball. He’s got guys on the bottom of the lineup getting on base in front of him and sluggers batting after him to drive him in and also to make sure he gets a lot of good pitches to hit. With that kind of protection it’s no wonder he does well. How would Jeter hit if he were on the Athletics with no protection and playing in a stadium that isn’t nicknamed Colorado East? Jeter plays on a home field that will set the record for home runs in the season this year, yet Mauer’s got him beat in home runs and RBI while playing home games in the pitcher-friendly Metrodome.
The MVP voting this year shouldn’t be close. Mauer may not make the playoffs, but the Twins are a respectable team that is contending for a playoff spot, so it’s not like those rare years when an MVP is reluctantly selected from a bottom-dweller (Andre Dawson on the ’87 Cubs, A-Rod when he was with the Rangers). He has provided tremendous value to a Twins team that has otherwise been very mediocre this season.
Without a doubt, this weekend was one of the most disappointing I can remember in all my years as a Twins fan. Not only did the Twins lose the first 3 games of a 4-game set against the Yankees, but each win came in the form of a walk-off hit. Joe Nathan blew a 2-run lead in the 9th on Friday night, Alex Rodriguez hit an extra inning walk-off on Saturday afternoon, and Johnny Damon did the same on Sunday.
I’ve got to find a way to take some positives from this weekend series. The best I can find is Joe Mauer’s hitting. He was 2 for 4 on Sunday, bringing his average up to .429. He also has 6 home runs in just 56 at bats. We’re going to need him to stay hot to keep us in the hunt, especially if the bullpen is having the struggles it did this weekend.