Thursday, November 7, 2019

Who's In, Who's Out: The 2020 Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame Ballot 11/6/19

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB just released its 2020 Modern Baseball Era Hall of Fame ballot, which consists of players who played their careers from 1970-1987. Naturally, I have to give my predictions and opinions on who's getting into the Hall on the ballot, so that's what this post is about!

Most Likely to Get In: Steve Garvey
Why? The ten-time All Star is the National League's Lou Gehrig, playing in an NL-record 1,207 consecutive games. A legend in the Dodgers and Padres organizations, Garvey helped his teams to five pennants, establishing himself as one of the best contact-hitting first basemen in baseball history. Out of everyone on the Modern Era ballot, he's got the best shot at induction.

The Yankees Who Have a Shot: Don Mattingly, Tommy John, and Thurman Munson
Why? Three Yankee legends are on the fence regarding the Hall. Mattingly had a great seven years, so his JAWS is fantastic, but wasn't himself for the latter half of his career due to back problems. Munson was one of the best catchers of the 1970s, but a fatal plane crash in 1979 cut his career short. John, in my opinion, has the best shot of getting in out of these three. His 288 wins rank 26th on the all-time list and is 3.34 career ERA is totally HoF-worthy, especially considering he pitched for 26 years.

Others Who Deserve a Look: Dave Parker and Ted Simmons
Why? Parker had an extraordinary swing that terrorized pitchers for years and is one of the tougher decisions on the Modern Era ballot this year because of his versatility. He batted .290 lifetime with 339 career homers and 1,493 career RBIs. Simmons is an interesting case, too. He was essentially Thurman Munson's NL counterpart, batting .285 lifetime and collecting 2,472 career hits, both excellent stats for a catcher.

The Others: Lou Whitaker, Dwight Evans, and Dale Murphy
Why? Sorry, Braves fans, but I'm not a big Dale Murphy fan. He had a great start to his career, but completely fizzled out by the time he retired. Whitaker put up good stats in Detroit alongside my Hall of Fame birthday buddy, Alan Trammell, but the class is too stacked with guys who deserve induction much more. Lastly, Evans has the Gold Gloves, but unless you're Ozzie Smith, you don't get inducted into the Hall of Fame on just your fielding skills.

So, my prediction for who gets in is as follows: Garvey, John, and Simmons. Do you agree or disagree? 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 31, 2019

Baseball with Matt's 2019 MLB Awards Predictions 10/31/19

Hey baseball fans!

Congratulations to the Washington Nationals on their first World Series in franchise history! Now that the season's over, it's time to talk about awards. As per usual, in this post, I'll be giving you my predictions for the winners of the four major MLB offseason awards in each league: Manager of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Cy Young, and MVP. So, without further delay, let's get to the predictions!

AL Manager of the Year: Rocco Baldelli, Twins
Why? Manager of the Year is always the hardest award to predict, so I'm giving it my best shot here. In his first season as manager of the Twins, he led them to 101 wins and the AL Central title. Not bad, considering the Indians had that division in the bag before the 2019 season started. The Twins really came out of nowhere.

NL Manager of the Year: Dave Martinez, Nationals
Why? I know voting takes place before the playoffs, but having twice as many wins as losses for two-thirds of the season is extremely impressive. Martinez should be very proud of his 93-win Nats, especially after last night's Game Seven.

AL Rookie of the Year: Yordan Alvarez, Astros
Why? 27 homers in 87 games as a rookie is very impressive, but he batted .313 and had an OPS of 1.067. That's insane, even for Mike Trout (more on him later). John Means and Brandon Lowe were contenders for this award at the beginning of 2019, but Alvarez tore it up as soon as he got called up.

NL Rookie of the Year: Pete Alonso, Mets
Why? He set the rookie home run record at 53. I wouldn't be surprised if he wins this award unanimously. Sure, Mike Soroka is a future star, but 53 home runs isn't done every season, even by the most experienced of sluggers.

AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, Astros
Why? It's very close between Verlander and his teammate, Gerrit Cole, but I'll give the edge to Verlander on the basis of two categories that he led the AL in this year, WHIP (.80) and Batting Average Against (.172), both otherworldly numbers, especially considering JV's home run problems this year.

NL Cy Young: Jacob deGrom, Mets
Why? Poor run support will limit deGrom's votes, but his league-leading strikeouts and being second in ERA and WHIP will help him beat out Jack Flaherty, Max Scherzer, Hyun-Jin Ryu, and many others. DeGrom is just towards the top of the most categories out of all the contenders.

AL MVP: Mike Trout, Angels
Why? It's the safest option, but a good one, nonetheless. Trout led the league in OPS (again) and set a new career high in home runs. Had it not been for a late-season injury, Trout would've won the MVP handedly. Now, it's a little closer with Alex Bregman.

NL MVP: Christian Yelich, Brewers
Why? Your 2019 NL leader in OPS and batting average was also up there for home runs and stolen bases. Cody Bellinger and Anthony Rendon have strong cases, too, but I think this is going to Yelich.

What do you think of my 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." And lastly, happy Halloween!

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Comparative Look at the 2019 and 2015 MLB Playoffs 10/22/19

Hey baseball fans!

The 2019 World Series is officially set, but the ways the Astros and Nationals got there reminds me of another MLB postseason that happened just a few years ago. Are you unfamiliar with what I'm talking about? Well, allow me to explain!

An upstart National League East team somehow made the playoffs after a second-half surge. Once in the playoffs, this team beat the Dodgers in five games in the NLDS, then swept the NL Central champions in the NLCS to reach their first World Series in a while (or ever). Meanwhile, the number one seed in the AL needed five games to beat the Wild Card team in the ALDS, then won a tough, six-game series against the AL East champions en route to their second World Series in a short period.

The above paragraph could describe two World Series matchups: the Astros and Nationals of the 2019 World Series or the Royals and Mets in the 2015 World Series. In case you need a refresher on the '15 matchup, here you go!

The Mets surged to the top of the NL East by season's end, thanks in part to their midseason trade for Yoenis Cespedes. They beat the Dodgers in the Division Series and the Cubs in a sweep in the Championship Series to reach their first World Series in 15 years. The number one seeded Royals needed five games to beat the Wild Card Round-winning Astros in the 2015 ALDS and six games to beat the AL East-winning Blue Jays in the ALCS, but eventually made it to their second consecutive World Series.

What's funny about these two matchups is that they're the only two World Series to feature only expansion teams. But do you think the 2019 World Series will end in similar fashion to the 2015 one, a five-game victory for the AL pennant winners? Let me know your opinions on the subject in the comments down 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 15, 2019

My 2019 Analyses for the Potential World Series Matchups 10/15/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are down to our final four teams for the 2019 MLB season! However, instead of giving my predictions for the remainder of the playoffs, I thought it would be more appropriate for this blog to go over the potential World Series matchups and talk about why they matter historically.

Astros vs. Nationals
This World Series matchup would mark just the second occurrence in baseball history of an all-expansion team World Series. The Astros joined the MLB in 1962, then known as the Houston Colt .45s, and the Nats joined in 1969, then known as the Montreal Expos. The first all-expansion World Series took place in 2015, featuring the Royals (est. 1969) and the Mets (est. 1962). This would also be the first AL West vs. NL East World Series since the establishment of the Wild Card in 1994.

Yankees vs. Cardinals
At five times, this matchup is the third-most frequent World Series matchup of all time, sitting only behind Yankees vs. Giants (seven times) and Yankees vs. Dodgers (eleven times). However, with 38 combined championships, this is the most decorated matchup a World Series could possibly see.

Yankees vs. Nationals
If the Yankees face the Nationals in this year's World Series, they will have faced all but two NL teams in the World Series (the Brewers and Rockies). This would also be the first New York vs. DC baseball championship matchup since 1933, when the New York Giants beat the Washington Senators (present-day Minnesota Twins).

Astros vs. Cardinals
The only other major American sports championship to feature a former division rivalry was Super Bowl XLVIII, which saw the Seahawks (formerly in the AFC West) beat the Broncos (currently in the AFC West). The Astros and Cardinals duked it out almost 20 times a year from 1994-2012 in the NL Central, but their rivalry faded when the Astros moved to the AL West in 2013. This matchup would reignite that rivalry in a big way.

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 7, 2019

The Flip: Jeter's Magical Play Versus the A's 10/7/19

Hey baseball fans!

The MLB postseason has officially kicked off! I'm going to save my playoff predictions once we get to the Championship Series, but let's talk about one of the best Division Series moments of all time: Derek Jeter's flip in 2001 against the A's.

In the season following a half-decade of Yankees dominance that included four championships in five years, the Bronx Bombers continued to thrive, winning the 2001 AL East title with 95 wins, but were not favored to win it all. That distinction belonged to the Mariners, who broke the Yankees' three-year AL single-season wins record with 116 W's in '01. The Athletics made it in as a Wild Card with 102 wins, while the Indians snuck into the playoffs with 91 wins and first place in the AL Central. Because the Mariners and A's were in the same division, the Yanks had the honor of facing Billy Beane's squad in the ALDS, while the Tribe and Seattle squared off in the other series.

It looked like the A's would end the Yankees' reign of superiority, as they quickly went up two-games-to-none in the best-of-five series and were only losing 1-0 entering the bottom of the seventh inning in Game Three in Oakland. Yankees ace and Hall of Famer Mike Mussina was in the midst of a gem, when Terrance Long came up to bat with two outs and Jeremy Giambi (yes, Jason's brother) on first base. Long smashed a grounder down the first base line that went all the way to the right field corner. Yankee outfielder Shane Spencer fielded the ball cleanly, but overthrew his cut-off men. Meanwhile, Giambi, as slow as he was, rumbled around the bases. It looked like he was going to score, which would've tied the game, until Derek Jeter came out of nowhere, streaking across the infield, fielding the ball on a hop, and flipping the ball effortlessly to catcher Jorge Posada. Giambi didn't bother to slide, making Posada's tag that much easier. The Yankee lead was preserved and the score would stay at 1-0 for the remainder of the game.

Had Jeter not made his spectacular play, the A's could've won Game Three and effectively the series. Instead, all of the momentum shifted to the Yankees, who came back from the 2-0 deficit and eventually made it all the way to the World Series. They would end up losing the seven-game Fall Classic to Arizona, but Jeter's flip has still remains as one of the most legendary fielding plays of the 21st century, thus far. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Saturday, September 28, 2019

My 2019 MLB Historical Postseason Preview 9/28/19

Hey baseball fans!

The final series of the regular season is here and we have our official ten teams for the 2019 MLB playoffs, which means it's only appropriate for me to give some historical perspective on what the 2019 MLB postseason could mean for baseball's present and future, but especially its past.

Yankees vs. Twins: Part 6
For the sixth time in the 21st century, the New York Yankees will face the Minnesota Twins in the MLB postseason. Each time this matchup has occurred in October in the past, the Yankees have won the series. This includes four ALDS series victories (2003, 2004, 2009, and 2010) and a Yankee Wild Card Round win just two years ago, meaning that the Twins are out for revenge. If they make it to the World Series, it will be their sixth AL pennant in franchise history (including the times they were the Washington Senators) and could lead to their fourth World Series title ever and first since 1991. The Yankees, meanwhile, have made 40 pennants and won 27 World Series, the most US sporting championships ever, three ahead of the NHL's Montreal Canadiens.

A Pennant in Each League
The other AL divisional winner is the Astros, who could win their second AL pennant ever, having won the World Series in 2017 against the Dodgers. When they made the 2017 Fall Classic, they became the first team to win an American and National League pennant, having played in the NL from 1962-2012 and winning the 2005 National League pennant. The Brewers are the other team in baseball to have switched leagues, moving from the AL to the NL in 1998. They last won a pennant in 1982, meaning that if they make the World Series, they could become the second team to win a pennant in each league.

The Rays and Nats: The Losers
The Tampa Bay Rays and the Washington Nationals have never won a World Series, two of the three teams out of this year's ten to fall under this dubious category (the other being the Brewers). The Nats actually haven't even been to a World Series before (the other MLB team that hasn't reached the Fall Classic is the Mariners), while the Rays haven't made it since their five-game Series defeat in 2008 to the Phillies. A championship for either squad would break some interesting geographic droughts: no Florida team has won the World Series since 2003 (Marlins over Yankees) and no DC team has won the World Series since 1925 (Senators, aka Twins, over Giants).

Non-Aquatic California Droughts
The A's and Dodgers haven't won the World Series since the late 1980s. The Dodgers have lost each Series of the last two years, while the A's haven't even made the World Series since 1990, when they lost to the Reds. If the A's win the World Series, they will become the third MLB team with double-digit championships and will move into sole possession of second place in the AL in the category, while the Dodgers could move into sole possession of second place in the World Series appearances category for all of Major League Baseball if they make the 2019 World Series. If they lose it, though, they will become just the second franchise in baseball history to lose the World Series in three consecutive years (the first being the 1911-1913 Giants).

Braves vs. Cardinals: A Historical Matchup
Two of the six original MLB teams in this year's postseason bracket (the others are the Yankees, Twins, A's, and Dodgers) will most likely battle it out in the National League Division Series this year. The Cardinals last won the World Series in 2011, while the Braves last won in 1995. A victory for the Cardinals in the 2019 World Series would put them in a tie with the Giants for the second-most World Series championships in the 21st century with three, while the Red Sox are leading the category with four. The Braves are looking to become Atlanta's first sports champion of the 21st century, as the Atlanta Hawks and Falcons haven't won their respective championships in a while, if not ever.

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

Monday, September 16, 2019

My Top 5 Favorite Current Baseball Stadiums That I've Visited 9/16/19

Hey baseball fans!

We are two weeks away from the postseason, but we are also two weeks away from the Rangers' last home game at their current stadium, Globe Life Park in Arlington. Now, I've never been to this stadium, but I certainly wish I had visited! One of the items on my life's bucket list is to visit every baseball team's home stadium at least once. I've already been to 13 different stadiums (not counting the Old Yankee Stadium) and, because I'm almost halfway there, I figured I'd give you guys my opinion on my favorite ballparks I've visited.

But first, numbers thirteen to six:
#13: Guaranteed Rate Field, Chicago (White Sox)
#12: Angels Stadium, Los Angeles (Angels)
#11: Fenway Park, Boston
#10: Yankee Stadium, New York City (Yankees)
#9: Kauffman Stadium, Kansas City
#8: Nationals Park, Washington DC
#7: Citizen's Bank Park, Philadelphia
#6: Rogers Centre, Toronto

#5: Citi Field, New York City (Mets)
Yes, Citi Field trumps Yankee Stadium. Don't get me wrong, I love watching my Yankees in the Bronx, but Citi Field has a much better vibe and better attractions. The apple that pops up for Mets homers is always endearing and the blue and orange coloring, representing the flag of New York City and the Mets' uniforms, is a cool aesthetic.

#4: Oracle Park, San Francisco (then AT&T Park)
The home of the Giants will always be AT&T Park to me, but I'm sure older baseball fans will say it will always be Pacific Bell Park. Either way, I loved walking around the concourse, seeing McCovey Cove in right field and the giant glove/slide in left field. But I think what really makes this stadium great is the fans. Look at the yearly MLB attendance rankings. San Fran always gets huge crowds, even when they aren't the best team.

#3: Wrigley Field, Chicago (Cubs)
The most classic of National League parks sure does live up to its reputation in real life. The ivy along the outfield is awesome, along with the stands on the buildings across the street. Knowing its history made it even better, though, as it's the oldest park still standing in the NL. Here's something cool: while at Wrigley, I saw my very first inside-the-park home run by Tony Campana of the Cubs.

#2: PNC Park, Pittsburgh
PNC Park is objectively one of the best stadiums in Major League Baseball, as it seems to be towards the top of everyone's "Favorite Stadiums" list. Walking along the Roberto Clemente Bridge was awesome and the feel within the ballpark was too. I happened to go when the Pirates were doing really well, so the environment was also insane, as MVP candidate Josh Harrison was a key part in the Pirates' tight win against the Reds that day.

#1: Camden Yards, Baltimore
The architecture really makes Camden Yards the best ballpark. It's got Wrigley's ivy, Ebbets Field's iconic right field scoreboard, and has plenty of other landmarks too, like the warehouse just outside the stadium. It's got the overall best atmosphere out of any park I've been to and, if you don't believe me, go to Baltimore and see the O's play here. It's truly mesmerizing.

What do you think of this list? 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."