On the final day of the season, I ponder whether the MLB should continue to play 162 games. Although baseball is a sport of statistics and percentages, which needs a lot of time to calculate, does the season need to be shortened? On Monday, September 23, the Astros-Indians tilt scored a 0.0 TV Rating in Houston, en route to the Astros 105th loss of the season. Of all the Nielsen households in the greater Houston area, none tuned into the game for more than a given few minutes over any given quarter-hour. That is an issue for Major League Baseball, and definitely the Houston Astros. This makes me wonder, does the MLB season need to be shorter than 162 games?
Without 162 games, each game would gradually become more important, depending on how many games they games they get rid of. It would most likely draw more fans to the game, be able to get higher TV ratings, and definitely become less grueling on the players and coaching staffs, perhaps giving them more heart and hustle on a daily basis. With less than 162 games, baseball games would each become more viewed, and more watched individually. It's fun to go to a game, but how often does the average person watch an entire in a season. Once? Twice? Maybe more if they're a playoff team, but in all seriousness, if baseball had less than 162 games, it would make more fans interested on any given day. But, is this really the way to go?
Baseball is a game of percentages (batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, etc.) and it becomes easier to calculate that the more games you have. Every player goes through some sort of a slump, a hot streak, and everything in between. With a 162 game schedule, it gives players the chance to really be able to have the chance to play to the best of their ability. Also, with 162 games, baseball is being played all through the spring and summer, something that us writers love tweeting and writing about all during those fun months. Baseball has ups and downs, ins and outs, and with 162 games, it gives every fan a chance to see every single one of those.
Baseball plays 120 games too many. Every team wins 60 games, and every team loses 60 games. It's only the other 42 games that truly count.
I heard that quote, and immediately took my mind off all over the place. But, theoretically, he was right! Only the Astros are more than 42 games out of first (44). Every other team is within those 42 games, and if they played them out better, could easily be in first place. So, all but 120 games pretty much count. This is pretty much eliminating all but one month of the season. Is this the way baseball should be?
Honestly, I am a fan of the 162 game schedule. It gives me something to look forward to every single night from April to September. That is something that I love, especially since I write about it. This makes it so much more fun, every night. You never know what could happen on any given day, and I like that. So, in my opinion, the 162 game schedule is perfect!
The Rays finish 1-1, the Indians finish 1-1, the Rangers finish 2-0. The Rays finish 91-71, the Indians finish 91-71, and the Rangers finish 91-71. Or, the Indians could finish 0-2, the Rays could finish 0-2, and the Rangers finish 1-1. You guessed it, they would be all tied at 91-71. The American League Wild Card race could finish in a three way tie. How would this wild mess be cleaned up? How likely is the possibility of this happening? Let's take a look at how the MLB would have to deal with this.
The Rays, Indians, and Rangers would play two games among the three of them to settle the spots. To determine "seeding" we would first use their records against one and other. The Rays are 4-2 against the Indians, and 3-4 against the Rangers. The Indians are 2-4 against the Rays, and are 5-1 against the Rangers. Finally, the Rangers are 4-3 against the Rays, and 1-5 against the Indians. So, this means that they would be ranked by winning percentage among the three teams, which would rank them as follows:
Indians --- .583 PCT (against Rays and Rangers)
Rays --- .538 PCT
Rangers -- .384 PCT
The Indians would technically get a "bye" in this "bracket." They would play the winner of Rays-Rangers in Tampa Bay (since Rays were ranked second). This game would take place in Cleveland. Remember, this would all take place in the matter of two days. That's the beauty of it.
The Indians finish off the season with the Twins, the Rangers finish the season with the Angels, and the Rays finish off the season with the Blue Jays. This could get ugly. This could be something that we may never see again. This may be a three way tie. Coolstandings.com gives the Rays an 81% chance to win a Wild Card, the Indians a 90% chance, and the Rangers a 28% chance. Yes, this could happen, and it's very possible it does.
Choose your sides, pick your teams in this Wild Card Race. Me? I am rooting for this, a three way tie. That would be something to see, would it not?
There is less than one week of the MLB regular season left. There are playoff spots to be won, divisions to be crowned, and the fading hopes of some other teams. What is unique about this season is that both MVP races are still considered to be "wide open," meaning that there is no clear MVP in either league. Over the course of the season, I have thought differently on who I thought my MVP should be. Now, I have made my final decision, and am getting ready to say my last thoughts on the craziness. Here I go.
The National League:
The Senior Circuit has some great MVP candidates, such as Andrew McCutchen, Joey Votto, David Wright, and Paul Goldschidt. But, you gotta show some love to pitchers! I honestly think that Clayton Kershaw has been the Most Valuable Player in the National League. Clayton Kershaw has the highest WAR in the National League, posting a 8.0 average. I forgot to mention that he has the lowest ERA by a single pitcher since 2005, when Roger Clemens posted a 1.87 mark. Kershaw has a 1.88 ERA. He leads the league in shutouts (2), WHIP (0.92), and and SO (224). In a year where no player really has been better than all the rest, Kershaw should be given some love, and a MVP award, in my opinion.
Kershaw has came out every five days, and given the Dodgers a legitimate chance to win. I doubt even many other position players can say that, because it's more likely you'll go 0-for-4 than 3-for-4 with 2 RBI. That may happen once a WEEK, if you're lucky. Kershaw has come out, and done his job every single start, and in my mind, I don't see anyone more valuable than Kershaw right now. Think about this, if you were building a team from scratch that had to finish with above a .600 winning percentage (97 wins), who would you pick first? Who would give you the best chance to win? I would pick Clayton Kershaw.
The American League MVP is more clear cut the the National's. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and Chris Davis are most likely the top three MVP finishers in the American League. But, how will they finish? Earlier in the year, I picked Chris Davis to win the American League MVP, and can still see validity in my previous points. I just don't agree completely anymore. Davis has played very well, but I cannot see the voters overlooking the unbelievable play from Miguel Cabrera.
Cabrera leads the MLB in average, RBI, and ranks second in HR. Although Mike Trout leads the league in WAR, I believe Cabrera is more deserving of the award, and has been just as valuable to the Tigers as Trout is to the Angels. And, he's played better, in my opinion. Although Trout has given the Angels a better chance to win on a daily basis, Cabrera has been a game changer in those clutch moments. I am not saying that Trout isn't (he definitely is), but when I think about Trout, I think of more of an overall all around player, compared to Cabrera, who is a big play kind of guy.
In conclusion, these are just my opinions, and who I think has been the most valuable in each league. I will not have any outcome on the MVP races, and I hope that they can come right down to the finish. I have just been watching baseball as a spectator over this entire season, and have decided to write about it. I love the sport, and understand how hard it is to play. I just think Miguel Cabrera and Clayton Kershaw have been the MVPs of their respective leagues.
With six games to play, the National League Wild Card race is becoming one of the highest pressured races into this final week of baseball. The Reds and Pirates are deadlocked, as both teams are looking to play better than the counterpart to either give themselves a home playoff game, or win them the National League Central Division. All the games ahead of them are very important. To a high level.
The Wild Card race is going to really come down to who plays better over this week, obviously. With the final series for both teams coming against the counter-part, that could be the most exciting series over the final weekend of baseball, the Reds or the Pirates. Both have played exteremely well over from April to now, but it's going to come down to the final week to determine the fate of both teams.
If both teams are already in a Wild Card spot, why is this week so important? The top Wild Card spot gets home field advantage for the Wild Card Game, giving them the upper edge coming into the game. The top spot is recieved by the team with the better record, making this week very important for both teams. Would you rather be playing one elimination game at home, or on the road? Would you rather have all the fans screaming for you, or against you? Would you rather be batting first or last? Home field advantage means so much.
Both the Reds and Pirates are so close in terms that they have very good teams, and good pitching staffs. The Pirates play the Cubs for the next three games, and then they play the Reds on the road. The Reds play the Mets for their next series, and finish up at home against the Pitates. These teams could easily finish with the same record. The Reds are coming off an 11-3 win over the Pirates yesterday, and have plenty of momentum heading into the final week. But, there is one deciding factor between the teams, the Reds play at home for the last three games, giving them an upper edge in my opinion.
I think the Reds will finish above the Pirates, not because they have a better team, but because of the circumstances ahead of them. They are in a great position right now, and I think them finishing the season at home gives them the top Wild Card spot over the Pirates. This is going to be a fun week regardless, as we are getting ready to find out who is going to get to the postseason. The Road to October is coming to an end.
The Cleveland Indians are currently in place for the second Wild Card. The Cleveland Indians. They have gone 13-6 in September, and have leapfrogged the Texas Rangers for the second Wild Card. Just last year, the Indians went 68-94, and placed 4th in the American League Central Division. Now, they are making a run into the playoffs, and could be playing October baseball for the first time since 2007. What has happened over this past calendar year that has turned them into a contender?
With a championship-caliber manager in Francona, a team becomes much better and can fulfill their highest expectations. Terry Francona won two World Series with the Boston Red Sox, and was always expected to keep the motor of the team running. Now, he's powering a different motor, but the same success is happening. The Cleveland Indians could be a playoff team.
The Front Office:
Making a big splash in the off-season can finally put the final puzzle piece in place when developing a playoff team. The Indians made two. With the signings of Michael Bourn (.257/.310/.347, 23 SB) and Nick Swisher (.250/.344/.422, 20 HR), the Indians became a much better team, just in the upgrades of two positions. Swisher and Bourn have been a big part to the Indians success, not to mention that they also provide leadership and experience to the mostly unexperienced club.
The Breakout Seasons:
The Indians have had breakout seasons from Jason Kipnis, Justin Masterson, and Michael Brantley. All of them are under the age of 30, and are playing like veterans in this tight pennant race. Kipnis has been a force in the lineup, driving in 79 runs, and leading the team in WAR. Brantley is second on the team in hits, and is able to get on base a ton (.327 OBP, 4th on team). He's been able to change games himself. And, do not leave out Masterson. He has been masterful this season, pitching to a 14-10 record with a 3.52 ERA, as he has anchored this pitching staff.
The Cleveland Indians have a favorable schedule ahead of them, with their final series coming against the Astros, White Sox, and Twins. If they keep playing like they are, who's to say that they won't be playing in that Wild Card game? The Indians have done a great job overall, and look to have a bright future in years to come. They have a lot to look forward to. It starts now.