The 2013 NL MVP award is quite an interesting choice for me. After announcing my other awards for the National League during the week, I felt that it was time to announce my Most Valuable Player for the Senior Circuit. There are plenty of worthy candidates in the National League: Andrew McCutchen, Paul Goldschmidt, and Clayton Kershaw, to name a few. They each have been super valuable to their teams, and I believe that each of them have been excellent in the National League. During the season, I have felt that Clayton Kershaw should win NL MVP, but taking another look at the numbers, I have had a change of heart. Sorry, Pirates and Dodgers fans, but I think Paul Goldschmidt is my National League MVP.
Now before you decide to go read Buster Olney's award ballot, or Ken Rosenthal's, I think you should at least listen to my argument for Goldschmidt. Playing on a mediocre team (the D-Backs finished exactly 81-81), Goldschmidt had better numbers this year than he did in his first two years COMBINED. He was the force of the Diamondbacks, and crushed a NL-leading 36 homers and drove in 125 RBI with an 18.2 RBI% (RBI/Total Team Runs). He lead the NL in slugging percentage (.551), on-base plus slugging percentage (.952), and total bases (332). His surge also played a big part in his 19 intentional walks (led the NL). Yes, pitchers decided that Goldschmidt was such a force that they decided just to not pitch to him. Only David Ortiz got intentionally walked more.
Comparing Andrew McCutchen to Paul Goldschmidt is definitely tough. McCutchen posted a very nice .317 average. He consistently hits for contact, and does a great job of doing so. Goldschmidt, known as a power hitter, hit .302, a mere fifteen points behind McCutchen. Goldschmidt shows more pop, and also did a very good job of getting on base via the base hits as well. The same holds true for on-base percentage. McCutchen, again a guy that gets on base a ton, registered a .404 OPB, while Goldschmidt, who is known for his power, registered a .401. Slugging percentage is where it really gets out of hand. McCutchen had a .508 SLG, a good number for himself, but that just could not compare to the .551 SLG of Goldschmidt. He's able to hang right with McCutchen on getting on base, but blows him out of the water in the power stats. McCutchen is an awesome player and I love watching him, but I think that Goldschmidt just had a better season. (Hat tip to fangraphs.com comparison graphs)
I loved watching Paul Goldschmidt play this season, and felt that his excellence in Arizona deserves plenty of credit. While Andrew McCutchen may win the MVP by the BBWAA, I really feel that Paul Goldschmidt had a more outstanding season than any other candidate for MVP in the National League. He was an unbelievable player to watch and follow, and I speculate that he should get the MVP for it. He continues to be a better player every season, as it will be very fun watching Paul Goldschmidt into his prime. Congratulations to Paul Goldschmidt on winning the Cover The Bases National League MVP award.
What a season. The 2013 MLB season has been a good one thus far, and the World Series looks to continue that trend. Two equally matched teams in the Cardinals and Red Sox look to take the 2013 crown and write their names among the greatest teams ever. The once that win the World Series. This series is going to have a lot of heart, hustle, and just about anything else you can imagine, as these two teams play baseball the way it's supposed to be played.
The Red Sox and Cardinals feature lineups with pleny of postseason experience, as both teams have been here plenty times before. The Cardinals lineup is always clutch in the postseason, with that most recently occuring against Clayton Kershaw in game six of the NLCS. Their lineup rocked Kershaw for seven earned runs. The Boston Red Sox have been clutch as well, but in a different way. Numerous times the Red Sox could not tally a hit until about the fifth inning, but in some of those contests late timely hitting proved large for them. In the ALCS, David Ortiz and Shane Victorino each hit a grand slam to give the Red Sox the lead after being behind. That is clutch hitting. Finishing in first (Red Sox) and third place (Cardinals) in runs scored, this series could shape up to be a high-scoring affair.
The Red Sox have a proven pitching staff, with John Lester and Lackey, Jake Peavy, Clay Buchholz, and others. Although their staff is proven, they are not the nessecarily the better staff. The Cardinals have Adam Wainwright, Joe Kelly, Michael Wacha, and others. Their staff is one that has been awesome this postseason, posting a 2.34 ERA. The Red Sox have posted a 3.05 ERA this postseason. Their bullpens are just as good, but the Red Sox pen has been better, posting a 0.84 ERA to the Cardinals 1.80. If any of these games becomes a bullpen game, consider the Red Sox in winning that specific game, just because they have some awesome pitchers in their bullpen and are able to get hitters out.
The Red Sox slow pace of play could really effect the Cardinals fountain of youth pitching staff. They have kept pitchers off balance all year, and have been able to capitialize in the later innings because of it. The Red Sox baserunning is also better than the Cardinals, reading balls better, getting better jumps, and stealing more bases. Something as simple as baserunning could be the deciding factor in this series.
Although we have a close series here, some team have to prevail and takes the series. The Red Sox are able to play unbelievable baseball during times, and I love their style of play. They play tough, and they play dirty. But, in the end, those traits add up to victories. The Cardinals pitching staff has been an awesome thing to watch, but now they get tough hitters in Dustin Pedroia, David Ortiz, and the rest of the Red Sox lineup. I think they could escape unscathed, but those caliber hitters will "eat rookie pitching for breakfast". For those reasons, I'm picking the Red Sox in seven games.
Cy Young -- Max Scherzer
I mean, what's not to like about Scherzer's 2013 campaign? Going 21-3 (lead MLB in wins) with a 2.90 ERA, Scherzer was completely dominant. Striking out 240 in only 214.1 IP, Scherzer used his up to 98.8 MPH fastball to his advantage, and was able to get hits off the scoreboard and pitch deep into games. Scherzer never got pulled before four innings this year, and was unable to not pitch in the fifth inning only once. He made it to the seventh inning in 20 of his 32 starts. 78% of Scherzer's starts were quality starts (6+ IP, 3 ER or less). Scherzer was a quality pitcher. The numbers show it, he showed it, and the Tigers played well behind it (25-7 in Scherzer's starts). He is a no-doubter for my AL Cy Young this year.
Manager of the Year -- Terry Francona
Terry Francona took an Indians team that finished 68-94 in 2012 and led them to the first Wild Card, finishing 92-70. The Indians finished the season with a 21-6 September, playing very similarly to the way Francona's previous team played in the stretch run, the Boston Red Sox. The Indians have a bright future in front of them, with a chance to be even better in 2014. Thanks to Terry Francona.
Comeback Player of the Year -- Victor Martinez:
Martinez missed the entire 2012 campaign after coming off of a 2011 season where he hit .330 with 12 HR and 103 RBI. Victor Martinez came back in 2013 and did not miss a beat, hitting .301/.355/.430 with 14 HR and 83 RBI while continuing to be a smooth operator behind the plate for the Tigers. His success was a large part of the Tigers team that was able to get deep into the postseason.
Rookie of the Year -- Jose Iglesias:
Iglesias is another Tiger, but he's definitely the most deserving rookie for this award. Playing in his first full season for Boston, Iglesias played so well that the Red Sox decided that they had no need for him, but that he needed to stay in the big leagues. They traded him to the Tigers for these reasons, and he continued to hit. On the season, Iglesias hit .303/.349/.386 with 3 HR and 29 RBI, and played great defensively at shortstop to wrap up this award in my opinion.
Cy Young -- Clayton Kershaw
Clayton Kershaw was amazing this year. Amazing. Pitching to a 16-9 record with a 1.83 ERA, Kershaw became the first player since Roger Clemens in 2005 to post a sub-2 ERA in the regular season. He struck out 232 hitters (NL Leader) in 236 IP, and was the Dodgers stud pitcher in a dominant rotation. He delivered a quality start 82% of the time and was always able to complete five innings in all of his starts. Kershaw, against the 908 hitters he faced, only allowed a whopping 11 home runs. That's one homer allowed over every 82.5 hitters. If Kershaw faced 27 hitters a start, it would take him almost four entire starts to give up a homer. Clayton Kershaw's best month was in August, when he went 3-2 with a 1.01 ERA in five starts (4 ER in 35.2 IP). Clayton Kershaw is hands-down my Cy Young, as he just pitched beautifully in his 33 starts. There was no way I could choose anyone else.
Manager of the Year -- Clint Hurdle
The Pirates were finally able to end their run of missing the playoffs from 1992. Improving from 79-83 in 2012, the Pirates went 94-68 in 2013, with Hurdle being a large part of their success. He was a motivator and a leader, and was able to lead the Pirates to the first Wild Card and the NLDS. He and the Pirates hope to take the NL Central next year.
Comeback Player of the Year -- Marlon Byrd
In 2012, Byrd only played in 47 games, and seemed to be on the downfall, moving from the Chicago Cubs to the Boston Red Sox, but was a good utility player and could probably buy himself a contract that winter. The 35 year old did that with the Mets, and had a career year, posting a three slash line of .291/.336/.511 this season, while also driving in 24 homers and 88 RBI. He played so well that he earned a trade to the contending Pittsburgh Pirates, and got into the the playoffs for the first time in his lenghty career. And, he homered in his first at bat. What a story from Byrd. That's why he's my Comeback Player of the Year.
Rookie of the Year -- Jose Fernandez
Jose Fernandez was downright dominant. The 20 year old who had never pitched above High-Single A, was fantastic in his 28 starts, going 12-6 with a 2.19 ERA in 172.2 innings, with 187 strikeouts. He took the league by storm, and was able to get major league hitters out over an extended period of time. He's the future stud starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins, and is an awesome pitcher, and could only get better.
18 year old shortstop JP Crawford sat down with Cover The Bases, as we got an exclusive interview (via Twitter) today with the 16 overall pick of the 2013 first year player draft by the Philadelphia Phillies. Crawford, in 53 professional games, has impressed many people, with a .308/.405/.400 three slash line with 1 HR and 21 RBI. The shortstop was the first Phillies first round pick to be drafted and called up to the Lakewood Blue Claws (Single-A affiliate) in the same season. That's very impressive, considering that the Phillies have had stars like Chase Ultey and Jimmy Rollins come through their system. Let's get to the interview.
Cover The Bases: Is there any added pressure in your game being a first round pick for an organization like the Phillies?
JP Crawford: No. [You] just got to go out there and play the same game.
CTB: What's been the toughest transition to professional baseball thus far?
JPC: Just being away from home [in Lakewood, CA]. (Lakewood, NJ -- where the Blue Claws are located -- is almost 2,500 miles from Lakewood, CA)
CTB: Why do you like playing shortstop?
JPC: I've been playing it since I started playing. I just love the action and I have always liked to be the leader on the field.
CTB: Who do you want to resemble at shortstop? Why?
JPC: [Derek] Jeter. He plays 110% every game. He respects the game and plays the game the right way.
CTB: Did you know that you were the first Phillies player to play in Lakewood in your first year of professional ball? How would you like to build on that?
JPC: Yeah, they told me when I went up there. I want to just keep moving up quickly and make the big leagues as soon as possible.
CTB: What's your biggest career goal?
JPC: To make a name for myself in Philadelphia, and to be [ultimately] in the Baseball Hall of Fame.
CTB: Have you ever been to Citizens Bank Park? If so, what's your favorite about it?
JPC: I have. I just love the atmosphere there.
I want to give a big thank you to JP Crawford (follow him on Twitter @jp_crawford) and I hope for the best for him as he continues his journey up to the big leagues. Crawford will most likely start next year back in Lakewood. He is the Phillies shortstop of the future, in their opinions, and I think he could be a good ballplayer. He definitely has a good mindset right now. Once again, thanks to JP Crawford for participating.