Thursday, September 29, 2011

The 2011 MLB Mambinos

Murder. Rape. Announcing regular season awards during the playoffs. 3 crimes, all of equal importance. Since we enjoy our non-prison lifestyle, here are the winners of the 2011 MLB Mambinos!

National League Most Valuable Player: Ryan Braun

Runners-up: Prince Fielder, Albert Pujols, Matt Kemp (KOBEsh's pick)

KOBEsh: I’m 27 years old, and I still don’t know what “Most Valuable” means. I hear different arguments from a everyone. I’ve heard that the MVP has to be which player from a playoff or near-playoff team brings the most value. The Simmons-ian argument is “If you had to start your team and win in 2011, who would you pick?”. You could also go with the sabermetric argument and decide which player brings the most wins above a league average replacement player (otherwise known as WAR).

I go with a slightly different and even more crude argument; it’s the “which player would your team be MOST screwed if you didn’t have him?” In other words, if you subtracted that one guy’s skills, leadership and other intangibles from that guy’s team, which guy would leave his team the most devastated?

By my count, there’s no man in the National League who would leave his team in worse shape by going AWOL than Matt Kemp. As I detailed a few weeks ago, he has dragged a team full of overpaid stiffs, injury wracked veterans and inexperienced rookies to a winning record. Somehow he has thrown up numbers that rank in the top 3 in average, slugging, OPS, homers, RBI, runs scored, steals, wins above replacement, intentional walks and total bases despite being surrounded by a band of underachievers, has beens and never His leadership and incredibly consistent play (both offensively and defensively – don’t forget that last part) have kept this team from losing 95 games.

Prince and the Hebrew Hammer have had incredible years, but if you were to take one of them off of that team, they still would contend for the NL Central title. More importantly, the difference Kemp makes on the defensive end is miles ahead of where both Brewers candidates are.

Pujols is a robot. I am going to cut and paste this section every year, because he rightfully should have a perennial spot in the top five for MVP voting. Upton, similar to Kemp in performance but not necessarily in numbers, has taken an otherwise feeble offense on his back and led them to respectability and an NL West title.

BockKnock: Matt Kemp is the National League Player of the Year. He's not the MVP. Yeah, the Dodgers would be so much worse without him, but guess what? Being third in the NL West is the same thing as being fifth in the NL West. Both of those teams won't play in October, and that's all that matters.

I disagree with the Boss. You can't assume that the Brew Crew would contend for the Central Division title if they lose Ryan Braun. Losing a middle of the order hitter who is the face of a franchise has effects on the rest of the team that are unmeasurable. It's kind of like when you plan a college reunion with your buddies, and one of them can't go. Not only does everyone know the trip won't be the same, but there will be little reminders of it along the way that everyone doesn't expect.

American League Most Valuable Player: Curtis Granderson

Runners-Up: Justin Verlander (KOBEsh's pick), Miguel Cabrera (BockKnock's pick), Jose Bautista

K: Which player would your team be MOST screwed if you didn’t have him? In the American League, that’s got to be Justin Verlander.

I’ve heard the argument that pitchers shouldn’t be included in the MVP voting because they have their own award. That’s absolutely true, but there’s no way that you can equate the MVP with the Cy Young. As I detailed before, the qualifications for the MVP are pretty nebulous. The Cy Young however, goes to the best pitcher in the league. There is no other criteria involved, or some bogus adjective like “most valuable”. The award simply goes to the one pitcher who dominates, regardless his team success (Felix Hernandez), if he is a human cancer (Roger Clemens), the nicest guy in the league (Greg Maddux) or a complete weirdo (Barry Zito). The Cy Young is not the MVP for a pitcher. There is no reason why pitchers shouldn’t be considered for the MVP.

If you took Verlander off of that Tigers team, they possibly could have lost at least half of his 25 wins. In fact, 16 of his wins happened after a loss, 3 of which happened after a 2 game losing streak and 2 of which happened after a 3 game losing streak. He was a steadying influence on an otherwise unsteady rotation. Beyond his domination on the mound, the mental and emotional stability that he gave to the team knowing that they could always depend on him is an intangible that can’t be measured with WAR and shouldn’t be discounted because he only played every fifth day. He would be the guy you started your team with in 2011 and the man you’d be most screwed without.

B: I didn't even rank Justin Verlander. I'm just not gonna include pitchers in an MVP discussion after realizing that Pedro Martinez didn't get the MVP when he was scaring the living daylights out of roided-out monkeys. KOBEsh says that the Tigers could have lost about half of Verlander's wins. Well, looking at the standings, the Tigers still would have won the division anyway.

My Ryan Braun argument doesn't apply to Verlander or any other pitcher. Sure, if "The Best Pitcher Alive" were to go miss a whole season, the Tigers would be emotionally depressed for every game, similar to how the Brewers would feel if Braun went down. But Los Tigres would not lose any tangible assistance for 4 out of every 5 days. On the other hand, losing Miguel Cabrera...way different. The guy's just barely sober every time he steps to the plate, and he still rakes it!

Condolences to Jacoby Ellsbury. Not even his unbelievable statistical season could save the Red Sox from being disgraceful.

National League Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (unanimous)

Runners-Up: Roy Halladay, Ian Kennedy, Cliff Lee

K: The choice is Clayton. No pitcher has ever taking home the triple crown and not won the Cy Young award. More importantly, he has superior statistics in almost every way to Ian Kennedy, which is the criteria here. I have the three Phillies starters rounding out the ballot, which should scare the crap out of any team left in the playoffs.

B: No argument here. 21 wins for the Los Angeles McCourts? Done and done.

American League Cy Young: Justin Verlander (unanimous)

Runners-Up: James Shields, CC Sabathia, Jered Weaver

K: The more interesting argument is who comes after Verlander, and why. If it were any other year, James Shields would have won with a ridiculous 11 complete games, a sub-3.00 ERA, and 225 strikeouts. CC isn’t far behind, with slightly inferior statistics, but more wins and bonus points for being the only dependable source of starting pitching on that staff (Yanks fans, you can’t tell me you’ve found rook Ivan Nova, Fat Bartolo Colon or Fragile Freddy Garcia reliable). Jered Weaver would have won the award if it were given out in July.

B: Expounding on the 11 complete games for James Shields...he more than doubled the total of the 2nd highest total in the American League (5 by King Felix). Roy Halladay had 8, but he pitches in the Junior Varsity league.

National League Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel
American League Rookie of the Year: Mark Trumbo

K: Despite his September swoon, Craig Kimbrel has struck out 126 batters in 76.1 innings. He ranked 41st in Ks, striking out more guys than Josh Collmenter, Vance Worley and Dillon Gee…in less than half the amount of innings. He’s done so with a sterling ERA, a sub 1.00 WHIP, all while holding guys to a .175 batting average.

I’m very aware of Ivan Nova’s 16 wins, Michael Pineda’s first half and Jeremy  Hellickson’s ERA. But my man Mark Trumbo thundered into the 5 spot in the Angels lineup, smacking 29 jacks, bringing in 87 runs and slugging .477, while playing in 149 games. Also, his name just makes it sound like he’s going to hit 30 homers a year. Mark TRUMBO. Say that out loud.

B: Didn't even vote for these two. I don't really care about this award, save for SuperNova. Calling it right now: he will FLATTEN the Tigers.

National League Manager of the Year: Ron Roenicke
American League Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon

K: As I’ve detailed before, the Manager of the Year award, in any sport, is (for lack of a better word) pretty bunk. It always seems to go to the guys whose teams defy expectation. For example, Bud Black won the award last year for managing a surprising Padres team to a near-division title when they were not expected to contend. The year before it was Jim Tracy, under similar circumstances with the Rockies. Two years before that Bob Melvin won the award with the Arizona Diamondbacks that lost nearly 100 games the year before that. You can go down the list year after year, and that’s almost always the case. Why isn’t it that the manager who does the best job wins? Why isn’t it the guy who motivates the team properly and does his job and makes hi team live up to expectations? Sure, Joe Girardi has a $200 million dollar team, but how difficult is it to get those guys to live up to all those expectations in the most intensely scrutinized market on the most scrutinized team in America? Same with Charlie Manuel, Tony LaRussa and Jim Leyland?

This year it has to be Ron Roenicke in the National League. He had tremendous pressure on him to win now, in his first year at the helm, with only 1 more year of Prince Fielder, and almost certainly only two more years of Shaun Marcum and Zack Greinke. He got Corey Hart back on track, kept Prince focused on the field (not his free agency) and managed an excellent bullpen. This team was supposed to be good – Roenicke made it great, and under highly-pressurized circumstances. It's absolutely unsurprisingly that yet another member of Mike Scioscia's staff has taken over a team and made them into another reflection of Scioscia; hard working, focused and all about the game.

Speaking of which, Roenicke's American League compatriot has to be Joe Maddon. To be honest with you, this award should be Joe Maddon’s as long as he is managing in the AL East and with Alex Rodriguez’s salary as his payroll. Somehow he has gotten a bunch of guys who know they won’t be in Tampa very long and are up against nearly $350 million in payroll.

B: You, loyal reader, have made it this far without quitting on us. I shall reward you by making this the last sentence.

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