The Baseball Writers of America caste a decisive vote for the 2012 MVPs, and they nailed it. Miguel Cabrera and Buster Posey were hands down the best players in their respective leagues. Whether you agree with it or not, sometimes it does matter whether the candidate’s team made it to the playoffs or not. It didn’t matter this year. Cabrera and Posey were just that far above the rest, not only statistically speaking, but what they meant for their teams as well.
Let’s start with Mr. Triple Crown in the American League. Some say that Cabrera winning the first Triple Crown since 1967 shouldn’t factor into the MVP vote. That notion is preposterous. The fact that Cabrera was good enough to lead the league in home runs, RBIs and batting average is simply astounding. Oh and by the way, he also led the league in slugging, OPS, and total bases. What more do you want from the guy? He’s been the most consistent hitter in baseball the past eight seasons, and this year he was simply the best. He not only has earned this MVP award, but he deserves it. Sorry to the Mike Trout lovers out there, but the vote wasn’t even close. Cabrera received 22 first places votes compared to Trout’s six. Not only did Cabrera play in 161 games for the Tigers, but he was their best hitter when they needed him most. He batted .420 with two outs and runners in scoring position. Trout on the other hand hit .286 in the same situation, which is respectable but not close to Cabrera. The case for the 2012 AL MVP is closed, and the rightful winner has been chosen.
The voting for the NL MVP was even more decisive, with Posey beating out Ryan Braun in a landslide. Posey’s performance this season, coming back from a broken leg, is not just good news for the Giants but good for baseball as well. He is one of the great young talents in the game today and is well-deserving of his MVP award. Posey led all of baseball with a .336 batting average, an incredible feat for a catcher as he is the first in 70 years to do it. He also led the NL in OPS+. Yes his 24 home runs and 103 RBIs contributed to the Giants’ success this season, but what makes him so valuable are the intangibles. His ability to call a game and be the leader in the clubhouse are qualities invaluable in a player, especially for a catcher. Of course the Giants have one of the best pitching staffs in baseball, but not enough can be said of Posey being that staple out there every night behind the plate. He earned every single one his 27 first place MVP votes.
Thank you, Baseball Writers of America, for getting it right this season.
MLB free agency is underway with a couple big names already re-signed in David Ortiz to the Red Sox and Jake Peavy to the White Sox. The free agent class is thin this year, but there still remains some names worth mentioning. Here are the top five remaining free agents in baseball:
1. Josh Hamilton – There’s no denying that Hamilton is above and beyond the top free agent this offseason. The 2010 MVP is coming off one of the best years of his career in which he hit 43 home runs and 128 RBI’s. However, Hamilton does come with an injury concern, along with the fact that he struggled down the stretch as the Rangers collapsed.
2. Zack Greinke – Greinke is the best free agent starting pitcher available. After being traded from the Brewers to the Angels before the trade deadline, he finished off a strong season going 15-5 with a 3.48 ERA. Greinke, only 28, won the Cy Young in 2009 and is still capable of being a top pitcher in any team’s rotation.
3. Kyle Lohse – Coming off the best season in his career with a 16-3 record and a 2.86 ERA, Lohse is the second best starting pitcher available this offseason. He only seems to be getting better with age, and he could dramatically improve a pitching staff.
4. Michael Bourn – This is where the 2013 free agent class drops off significantly, but Bourn can still be a key piece for many teams in need of a speedy center fielder. Though his numbers declined last year, Bourn is still only 29 years old and can be a threat at the top of any lineup.
5. Hiroki Kuroda – With the lack of depth in the free agent pool this year, number five has to be a pitcher. Kuroda is a strong veteran who pitched extremely well in New York last season, compiling a 16-11 record and a 3.32 ERA. He throws strikes, only walking 2.1 batters per nine innings in his career. Kuroda will be a great addition for whoever decides to snag him.
The Baltimore Orioles and Oakland Athletics are undoubtedly this years biggest surprises baseball. The A’s stormed into the playoffs to overtake the Texas Ranger in the AL West on the last game of the season. The O’s played consistently all season long as most awaited for them to tail off. That didn’t happen, and now they have the opportunity to advance further into the playoffs due to the new wild card format. The A’s and the O’s are two teams that make baseball great and will make this October just that more exciting, but which will make a shocking deep postseason run?
Let’s get to the predictions…
AL Wild Card Round – Orioles over Rangers
The Rangers have to be gassed at this point after back to back World Series losses and getting swept by Oakland to lose the division lead on the last day of the season. The Orioles have some magic in this team full of unlikely heroes like Chris Davis. The O’s steal this one down in Arlington.
NL Wild Card Round – Braves over Cardinals
The Braves are 12-0 when Kris Medlen starts this season. That undefeated record is not going to change in this game against the Cardinals.
ALDS – Athletics over Tigers
The A’s are on an absolute tear and have all the momentum in the world entering this postseason. If the A’s can combine a sturdy rotation and a strong bullpen with timely hitting, they can go deep into October.
ALDS – Yankees over Orioles
Unfortunately, this is where the O’s magic finally runs out. The Yankees surged into this postseason, and the division win allows them to setup their rotation. Yankees over Orioles easily in four games or less.
NLDS – Giants over Reds
This has to be the most intriguing matchup of the first round, and it comes down to pitching. Matt Cain facing off against Johnny Cueto in game one is the key to this series. Which ever team can win this game will take the series. Cain has the experience and players behind him that have been in this situation before. The Giants take this series after Cain wins game one.
NLDS – Nationals over Braves
Even without Stephen Strasburg, the Washington Nationals are the most complete team in the National League. Gio Gonzalez and Jordan Zimmerman are as good as any 1-2 punch in baseball in the rotation, and they are backed up by one the the best bullpens in the league. The Nationals end the Braves season and the illustrious career of Chipper Jones.
ALCS – Athletics over Yankees
The magical season does not end with another loss to the Yankees October. The A’s rotation and pitching staff is too deep even for the Yankees to overcome. If CC Sabathia can’t win two games for the Yankees in this series, the A’s will come out on top and return to the World Series for the first time since 1990.
NLCS – Giants over Nationals
If the Nationals had Strasburg, they’d take this series. They don’t. This is finally where their decision to sit him comes back to haunt them. With Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong anchoring the rotation, the Giants once again have the starting pitching to take them to the promise land.
World Series – Athletics over Giants
Yes, in a Battle for the Bay Area, Billy Beane’s dream of finally winning a World Series as the Oakland Athletics’ GM comes true, setting up for the sequel, Moneyball 2.