Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Case for Joe Mauer 11/15/18

Hey baseball fans!

Last weekend, longtime Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer announced his retirement from the MLB after 15 seasons. I can understand if some of the younger folk don't know who this is, but my mini-generation of baseball fans can definitely recognize the former All Star. Mauer was something rare in baseball, a contact-hitting catcher, and this anomaly might hinder his Hall of Fame case. I, however, think his rare talent enhances his chances.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mauer's career accomplishments, let me tell you a little bit about him. Mauer grew up in Minnesota and played his entire career with the Twins. In that career, he batted .306 with 2,123 hits, and an OBP of .388. He's a three-time batting champ, two-time OBP champ, a six-time All Star, five-time Silver Slugger, and three-time Gold Glover. He was also the 2009 AL MVP, helping his Twins with the AL Central in the process.

It's important to note that Mauer played for 15 years and was a Hall of Fame-worthy player for his first ten. Because of injuries, he tailed off in his last five years in baseball. I am a firm believer that starting off a career as a Hall of Famer and then going through a prolonged and significant decline in talent and production does not give a player the worthiness of being a Hall of Famer, but injuries are a different story. There are some Hall of Famers that had their careers completely cut short due to injuries (think Ralph Kiner and Sandy Koufax) who are in the Hall, while Mauer just had to move to first base for his last couple of years, so the fact that Mauer wasn't as good as when he started shouldn't hurt his Hall of Fame credibility. In addition, Hall of Fame catchers Johnny Bench and Mike Piazza saw similar declines to their numbers later in their careers, so Mauer's decline isn't something abnormal for catchers. Yes, Bench's and Piazza's declines weren't as severe as Mauer's, but that's only because they're two of the best hitting catchers ever and it wouldn't be fair to compare Mauer's career to either Bench's or Piazza's.

If we're going to apply a fair edition of baseball's common law to Mauer's Hall of Fame case, let's look at Mickey Cochrane, a Hall of Fame catcher for the Tigers in the 1920s and 1930s. Cochrane's career abruptly ended due to a head injury he suffered in 1937, so he only played for 13 years in baseball. Cochrane had a lot of great years, but had subpar years sprinkled in here and there, so although he had some seasons in which he batted north of .335, he ended his career with a .320 batting average, 1,652 hits, and a .419 OBP. Now, I have already told you Mauer's career stats, but those stats include Mauer's later years. Mauer's stats in his first ten years are as follows: a .323 batting average, 1,414 hits, and a .405 OBP. The batting average and hits per season are both better than Cochrane's and although it's not by much and Cochrane's OBP is better, this is still very telling of just how good and how impactful Mauer was. In addition, Mauer's career WAR is better than Cochrane's (39.0 to 36.9) and is, in general, better than the average Hall of Fame catcher's career WAR.

My opinion alone might be biased, but based on the numbers, I don't see how Mauer doesn't at least eventually make it into the Hall. But what do you think? Is Joe Mauer a Hall of Famer? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, November 10, 2018

BwM's 2018 MLB Award Predictions 11/9/18

Hey baseball fans!

The 2018 MLB major awards will be given out starting this coming Monday, November 12! But, before the winners for the Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP awards for the AL and NL are officially announced, I'm going to try to predict the winners. Last year, I went 5/8 on the predictions, so let's see if my luck will change for the better in 2018!

AL Manager of the Year
Winner: Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox
Why? A rookie manager winning the World Series and leading his team to the best season in terms of wins in franchise history? This one should be pretty obvious.

NL Manager of the Year
Winner: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee Brewers
Why? You could make a case for Brian Snitker of the Braves, but the Brewers had the best record in the National League in 2018 and, out of the three managers in the NL who are nominated for Manager of the Year, the Brew Crew had the best bullpen in terms of ERA, one of the best ways you can judge a manager who is in contention for this award.

AL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
Why? Andujar was towards the top among AL rookies in hits, home runs, RBIs, batting average, and slugging percentage. He is an extra base hits machine and a fan favorite in New York. Shohei Ohtani had a great year, but Andjuar put up All Star stats in 2018.

NL Rookie of the Year
Winner: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
Why? I wouldn't be surprised if Walker Buehler of the Dodgers walked away with this award, but Acuna was a powerful, contact-hitting star this past season and you could argue that the Braves wouldn't have won the NL East without his help.

AL Cy Young
Winner: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
Why? Snellzilla came out of what seemed like nowhere this past year, leading the AL in wins and ERA and coming in second in WHIP. Justin Verlander of the Astros and Corey Kluber of the Indians are definitely in the conversation, but I think Snell takes this award.

NL Cy Young
Winner: Jacob deGrom, New York Mets
Why? We've seen pitchers with no run support win the Cy Young award before, so why can't it happen again? DeGrom led all National League pitchers with a staggering 1.70 ERA and had he been given even a little bit of more run support from the Mets' lineup, he could've easily been a 20-game winner.

Winner: Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Why? Mike Trout of the Angels is, as always, in hot pursuit of this heralded award, but I'm picking the AL batting champ to win it this year; along with leading the AL in batting, he was also the 2018 MLB WAR leader, which matters a lot to voters in this type of close race.

Winner: Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers
Why? Almost winning the Triple Crown and being a massive help to his team in achieving the best record in the NL certainly gives the former Marlin the advantage here, but this is going to be a close race regardless between him, Javier Baez of the Cubs, and my favorite player in baseball, Nolan Arenado of the Brewers.

What do you think of my picks? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, November 1, 2018

Miscellaneous Hall of Fame Awards Part 1 11/1/18

Hey baseball fans!

Welcome to the MLB offseason, when teams try to reshuffle their rosters in hopes of a future run at a World Series title. But first, we have some awards to discuss! As I do every year, I will try to predict the 2018 MLB major award winners, but we're saving that for a different post. In this post, I will be giving some fake awards to Hall of Famers for some of their amazing career accomplishments. So, without further delay, let's get to it!

Face of the Franchise Award: Napoleon Lajoie
What's the award for? Most people don't know who Lajoie is, mostly because he played more than 100 years ago. However, from 1896-1916, Lajoie batted an astounding .338 with 3,243 hits, both among the best marks in their respective categories in baseball history. In fact, he was so good that the Cleveland Indians temporarily changed the team name to the Cleveland Naps, while Lajoie was still on the team. Cleveland wasn't named the Indians until 1915.

Super Star Award: Joe DiMaggio
What's the award for? Joltin' Joe was one of the best hitters of his era, but because he only played 13 seasons in the MLB, he's not regarded as one of the best of all time. But DiMaggio managed to do something that not even Hank Aaron managed to do: make an All Star Game every single year he played. Yes, Joe DiMaggio doesn't have the most All Star appearances of all time (that accolade belongs to Aaron with 25), but DiMaggio made 13 All Star Games in the 13 years he played in the MLB. No other Hall of Fame can say they did that besides the Yankee Clipper.

Neighbor to the North Award: Fergie Jenkins
What's the award for? Jenkins was an All Star pitcher who pitched for mainly the Cubs and Rangers from 1965-1983, winning 284 games during his Hall of Fame career. So, what makes him so special, you may ask? Well, besides being a great pitcher, Jenkins is Canadian and was the first Canadian inducted into the MLB Hall of Fame when he was inducted in 1991 with 75.4% of the BBWAA vote.

The Butt of No Joke Award: Heinie Manush
What's the award for? Please ignore my potty humor, but do not ignore Manush's Hall of Fame worthy career. From 1923-1939, Manush batted an out-of-this-world .330 during his career with just over 2,500 hits. He led the league in hits twice, including a 241-hit year in 1928, which is the twelfth-most hits in a single season in baseball history. He finally got into the Hall of Fame in 1964 via the Veteran's Committee.

Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Monday, October 22, 2018

A Historical Look at the 2018 World Series 10/22/18

Hey baseball fans!

The World Series is upon us! Sadly, my Yankees didn't make it, but that doesn't mean that I can't be happy that we are at the most historic part of the MLB season! Speaking of the word "historic," obviously history doesn't play such a huge part in the outcome of World Series matchups, but it can't hurt to know what this World Series could and will mean to baseball's past. With that, here are some historical facts about the 2018 World Series:

Boston Red Sox:
  1. The Red Sox could move into a tie for third place on the all-time World Series championships list with a ring in 2018. They've currently won the World Series eight times, one back of the A's. A championship would also move them ahead of the Yankees in terms of World Series winning percentage, bumping them up to sixth on the all-time list. 
  2. Joining the Yankees, Cardinals, and Giants, the Red Sox are the fourth team in baseball to win the pennant four times in the new millennium. If they win the 2018 Fall Classic, however, they will be the first team to win all four of those related championships. 
  3. With a victory in this best-of-seven series, the Red Sox will become the first US major professional sports team to win championships 100 years apart from each other. The 1918 Red Sox won the World Series over the Cubs in six games.
Los Angeles Dodgers:
  1. First, what does the pennant itself mean for the Dodgers? Well, the Dodgers are the first National League team to win back-to-back NL pennants since the 1991-1992 Atlanta Braves. In addition, with their 2018 NL pennant, the Dodgers move into a tie for the second-most pennants of all time with 20, tied with their rival Giants. 
  2. If the Dodgers lose the World Series, they will have the most World Series losses of all time with 14. They are currently tied with the Yankees who, ironically, have given LA eight of their Fall Classic defeats. 
  3. The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988, making this World Series drought the second-longest in franchise history. Additionally, this drought is the sixth-longest active drought among teams that have won the World Series. 
Red Sox vs. Dodgers
  1. The Red Sox and Dodgers previously played each other in the World Series in 1916, with the Red Sox winning in five, making the 2018 World Series the first World Series rematch in five years. In the 2013 World Series, the Cardinals squared off against the Red Sox, having previously played each other in the 1946 and 1967 World Series. 
  2. This is the first AL East vs. NL West World Series since 2007 (Sox swept the Rockies). 

Who's taking home the 2018 crown? Will it be the Sox or the Dodgers? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below, thanks for reading this post, and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

BwM's Dynasty Criteria 10/16/18

Hey baseball fans!

The Astros and Dodgers are both one step closer to making it back to the World Series for the second consecutive year! We could possibly see a dynasty forming with one or both of these teams, or will we? In this post, I will try to define what a dynasty is because let's be honest: it's one of the most overused vocabulary words when talking about sports. Here's what I believe it takes:

In Terms of Championships:
Obviously, winning the World Series is the most important part of being called an MLB dynasty, but how many championships does a team need?
  • 3 championships in 3 years (1972-1974 Oakland A's)
  • At least 3 championships in 4 years (1952-56 New York Yankees)
  • At least 3 championships in 5 years (2010-2014 San Francisco Giants)
In Terms of Players:
A dynasty needs to have the same core. For example, those many championship years of the Yankees from the late 1940s to the early 1960s can be broken up into a couple of increments because the core changed. In the aforementioned 3-in-4 dynasty from 1952-1956, the Yankees were led by a young Mickey Mantle, not Joe DiMaggio, who was part of the club for an earlier dynasty from 1947-1951, when the team won 4 Fall Classics in 5 years. 

In Terms of Appearances:
Just because a team didn't win in all of their appearances doesn't mean they aren't worthy of the "dynasty" label.
  • 3 appearances in 3 years with at least one championship (1976-1978 New York Yankees)
  • At least 3 appearances in 4 years with at least one championship (1921-1924 New York Giants)
  • At least 4 appearances in 5 years with at least one championship (1991-1996 Atlanta Braves, pictured below)

In Terms of Contention: 
I think dynasties last roughly 5 years because after half a decade, it's not the same team. That's why contention isn't a factor for me in calling a team a dynasty. However, there are other words to use, depending on a team's level of success.
  • A consistently good team that makes the playoffs almost every year that just can't win the big one: try-nasty
  • A very good team that always chokes in the late stages of the playoffs: cry-nasty
  • A team that's very bad for a very long time: die-nasty
  • A team in a postseason drought: dry-nasty
  • A team with a bird name that's good for a long time: fly-nasty
  • A team that finishes in a middle spot every year, as expected: sigh-nasty
  • A team that somehow sneaks its way into the playoffs in what seems like every year: sly-nasty
What do you think of my dynasty criteria? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Thursday, October 4, 2018

2018 MLB Standings Recap and Postseason Predictions 10/4/18

Hey baseball fans!

The AL and NL Division Series are officially set, but before we get to my playoff predictions for the remainder of October, let's talk about how the 2018 MLB regular season ended regarding the standings. Before the season, I made predictions regarding how each team would do record-wise during 2018. As you can probably guess, I got most of the AL right in terms of playoff seedings, while my NL predictions were less than stellar. Nonetheless, if you would like to see the predictions, click here. If you are too lazy to click there, here's a quick recap of what I got correct and incorrect.

AL Playoffs:

1st seed: Indians
2st seed: Astros
3rd seed: Yankees
Wild Card Game: Mariners at Red Sox
Other Notable Contenders: Angels, Twins

1st seed: Red Sox
2nd seed: Astros
3rd seed: Indians
Wild Card Game: A's at Yankees
Other Notable Contenders: Rays, Mariners

Correct teams in playoffs: 4
Correct divisional winners: 2
Correct Wild Cards: 0

NL Playoffs:

1st seed: Nationals
2st seed: Dodgers
3rd seed: Brewers
Wild Card Game: Diamondbacks at Cubs
Other Notable Contenders: Cardinals, Rockies

1st seed: Brewers
2nd seed: Dodgers
3rd seed: Braves
Wild Card Game: Rockies at Cubs
Other Notable Contenders: Cardinals, Pirates, Diamondbacks, Nationals

Correct teams in playoffs: 3
Correct divisional winners: 2
Correct Wild Cards: 1

Now that we've got that out of the way, let's discuss what everyone's been waiting for: MLB postseason predictions!

ALDS Matchup 1: Yankees (4) vs. Red Sox (1)
Winner: Red Sox in 5
Why? These teams have squared off in the playoffs before, their rivalry goes without saying, and had even matchups throughout the 2018 season. But to be fair, most of these games will be in Fenway and the Sox are the best home team in baseball. It's going to be a close series, nonetheless.

ALDS Matchup 2: Indians (3) vs. Astros (2)
Winner: Astros in 3
Why? This should be no contest for a strong, rejuvenated Astros squad. The only reason the Indians are in the playoffs is because their division this past season was an absolute joke. That doesn't mean that the Indians aren't a great team, but the 'Stros are looking to repeat and are out for blood.

NLDS Matchup 1: Rockies (5) vs. Brewers (1)
Winner: Brewers in 5
Why? The Brewers can go toe-to-toe with the powerful Rockies, with or without the Coors effect. That might not be mutual and the Brew Crew has home field advantage for the series.

NLDS Matchup 2: Braves (3) vs. Dodgers (2)
Winner: Dodgers in 4
Why? The Dodgers are looking to avenge their World Series loss from 2017, while the Braves are honestly just lucky to be in this position. They may pull a 2017 Yankees, but not against yet another team that's out for blood.

ALCS: Astros (2) vs. Red Sox (1)
Winner: Red Sox in 7
Why? Injuries have a long-lasting effect in baseball, even if those injuries are in a team's rearview mirror. The Sox are relatively healthy, while the Astros are just seeing some of their key contributors come off the Disabled List. This series is going to be another close one for Boston, but it's their's for the taking.

NLCS: Dodgers (2) vs. Brewers (1)
Winner: Dodgers in 6
Why? It's plain and simple: the Dodgers have been here before. In a National League that was a total dogfight and that could've possibly seen a six-way tie for seeding, it's the intangible advantages that set teams apart at this stage of the season. The Brewers are great, but besides Lorenzo Cain and Ryan Braun a million years ago, this team is very new to postseason baseball.

World Series: Dodgers (NL2) vs. Red Sox (AL1)
Winner: Dodgers in 7
Why? Fueled by the ghosts of last year's aforementioned World Series defeat and a tired Red Sox lineup, it's the Dodgers that will raise the World Series trophy in late October this year. The Red Sox will have had a long and tiring road to the Fall Classic; no one can expect them to stay totally ready (and healthy) come the World Series if all of these scenarios play out as I've predicted. But even so, the Dodgers are an amazing, all-around team. Thankfully, Yu Darvish will not be pitching for them this postseason.

Do you agree with my playoff predictions? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The 1978 AL East Playoff Game 9/25/18

Hey baseball fans!

We are nearing the end of the 2018 MLB regular season and although the AL seedings have been pretty much decided, the NL is completely crazy. It's so crazy that we could see a four-to-five team tie for the Wild Card spots! That would require a bevy of tiebreakers and although the tiebreaker I'm about to describe wasn't as insane in terms of participating teams, it's much more insane in terms of magnitude.

The year is 1978. The Yankees are coming off a World Series championship in 1977 and are looking to repeat as MLB champs. But the Red Sox have other ideas. Thanks to an MVP season by Hall of Famer Jim Rice and yet another solid campaign from Carlton Fisk, the '78 Sox were in the driver's seat for a majority of the season in the AL East. In fact, in mid-July, the Yankees were 14 games back of Boston for the AL East crown! Why do I sound so worried about my Yanks at this point, you ask? Well, in 1978, Major League Baseball hadn't implemented the Wild Card yet, so it was either a team won the division or didn't make the playoffs.

But New York mounted a furious comeback, going 53-21 in the team's final 74 games, while Boston only went 38-36. The highlight of this comeback was a Yankees four-game sweep of the Red Sox at Fenway late in the season. The Yankees outscored the Red Sox 40-9 over the four contests and the series was dubbed "The Boston Massacre" by the press. By season's end, both rivals were tied for the top position of the AL East, meaning that for the first time since 1948, a playoff game would be played to decide who would make the playoffs.

Game 163 did not start off the way the Yankees had planned, despite having 1978 AL Cy Young award recipient and 24-game winner Ron Guidry on the mound. Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski led off the bottom of the second with a homer and Rice hit an RBI single to center field in the sixth. But in the top of the seventh, things started to look up for the Yankees. With two runners on base, Bucky Dent, a contact-hitting shortstop who had hit only five homers the entire season, smacked a ball over the Green Monster, giving the Yankees a 3-2 advantage! Thurman Munson doubled later in the inning, scoring Mickey Rivers, and Hall of Famer Reggie Jackson led off the top of the eighth with a homer to essentially clinch the game for the defending champs. The Red Sox rallied off Goose Gossage in the bottom of the eighth to make it look closer, but the Hall of Fame reliever eventually closed the game for the Yankees, giving them their third consecutive AL East title. The final score was 5-4.

Bucky Dent, who is now referred to as this game's hero, also ended up winning World Series MVP. So indeed, the Yankees did go back-to-back in the Fall Classic. It would be their last championship before an 18-year drought. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."