Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Roy Halladay 11/7/17

Today, the sports world mourns the loss of one of the best pitchers of the 2000s in Roy Halladay. An eight-time All Star and two-time Cy Young Award winner, Halladay captured the attention of all fans, whether they be north of the border or in the city of brotherly love. With a 203-105 career record, Halladay sits 19th on the all-time career win-loss percentage list by an MLB pitcher with a winning percentage of .659. He struck fear in the hearts of opposing batters in both the AL and NL, especially during Game One of the 2010 NLDS. In his first postseason start, Halladay led the Phillies to a victory over the Reds by pitching the second no-hitter in MLB postseason history and the first by a National League pitcher. It wasn't even his first career no-hitter; Halladay actually pitched a perfect game earlier that year against the Marlins, becoming the first pitcher in baseball history to throw at least one no-hitter during the regular and postseason.

As a Yankees fan, Halladay, when he was on the Blue Jays, was one of the first pitchers that I was taught to despise. However, as it goes with most AL East stars not in New York (sorry, David Ortiz), I ended up admiring and respecting Halladay. He was such an amazing pitcher and watching him on the mound was like watching an artist paint on a canvas. When I saw he was heading to Philadelphia for the 2010 season, I breathed a sigh of relief that, one, he wouldn't be in the same division as the Yankees anymore, and two, that all of my friends who were Mets fans could now see how great a pitcher Halladay was. 

It's quite gloomy to think that all the recent generations of baseball fans have mourned the loss of an All Star who died in a plane crash. My grandpa's generation had Roberto Clemente, my dad's had Thurmon Munson, and now mine has Roy Halladay. It's sickening that this type of news keeps on resurfacing in sports news sources every so often and my thoughts and prayers go out to the Halladay family. We'll always remember and love you, Doc. 

BwM's 2017 MLB Awards Predictions 11/7/17

Hey baseball fans!

Now that the World Series is officially over (congrats, Astros), it's time to talk about end-of-season MLB awards! With that being said, here are my predictions for the MVP, Cy Young Award, Rookie of the Year, and Manager of the Year in each league.

AL MVP: Aaron Judge (Yankees)
Why? No offense to Jose Altuve and his league-leading batting average, but as has been seen with Mike Trout's numerous MVPs, the MVP award usually comes down to WAR (wins above replacement) as a tie-breaker. Judge and Altuve are the front-runners for this award and have plenty going for them in different categories; Altuve is your typical modern contact hitter/speedster, while Judge is Mickey Mantle without the batting average. The bottom line is that this decision for MVP should come down to WAR, a category Judge topped in the AL at 8.75, compared to Altuve's 7.94. Both are extremely proficient run-producers, but Judge consistently carried the Yankees in a year when they were supposed to stink. To simplify, when Judge was hot, so were the Yankees.

NL MVP: Paul Goldschmidt (Diamondbacks)
Why? This is a very awkward decision for me. Originally, I had Nolan Arenado winning this award, but APPARENTLY, he will remain the most underrated hitter in baseball by not being selected to be in the top three for this award category. With that being said, Paul Goldschmidt still had an insane year that eventually helped his team to the playoffs. Sure, Joey Votto and Giancarlo Stanton had arguably better years in certain statistical categories (batting average and home runs, respectively), but Goldy was the best all-around AND Votto and Stanton didn't get to taste October because of the subpar teams for whom they play. That's why considering WAR in the 2017 NL MVP conversation is misleading; Votto and Stanton have the highest WARs in baseball, but that's only because they were the only producers for their teams. Goldschmidt plays on a stacked Diamondbacks lineup and still posted a top-ten WAR in baseball, not just the National League.

AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber (Indians)
Why? No offense to Chris Sale, but your league-leading strikeout total won't win you the Cy Young Award. Kluber led the AL in wins (18), ERA, (2.25), ERA+ (202), and WHIP (0.869). Actually, that WHIP is the 26th-best single-season WHIP in baseball history. That's pretty Cy Young-worthy to me.

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)
Why? Not to sound repetitive, but no offense to Max Scherzer, but your league-leading strikeout total won't win you the Cy Young Award. Kershaw led the NL in wins (18), ERA (2.31), ERA+ (180), strikeouts-to-walks ratio (6.73) and came in second in the NL in WHIP (0.949). Seems like another Cy Young season for Kershaw to me.

AL and NL RoY: Judge and Cody Bellinger (Yankees and Dodgers)
Why? Both of these decisions should be unanimous. Judge has the record for most rookie home runs in baseball history (52), while Bellinger holds the same record in National League history (39). Case closed.

AL Manager of the Year: Paul Molitor (Twins)
Why? Who knows how Molitor got this team to the playoffs, but props to him for doing it. No team before the 2017 Twins had made the playoffs just a year after losing 100 or more regular season games. Honestly, I think this team is a major fluke and will be back in the basement of the AL next year. However, for the time being, nice job, Paul. I guess now I know why your nickname is "The Ignitor."

NL Manager of the Year: Torey Lovullo (Diamondbacks)
Why? The D-Backs went from posting their worst team ERA in franchise history in 2016 (5.09) to posting their best in 2017 (3.67). Lovullo's emphasis on small ball, even though the team can really smack the ball around, led to one of the best run-preventing and baserunning teams in baseball in 2017. Regarding baserunning, the D-Backs ranked second in baseball in taking the extra base (45%) and first in least amount of outs made on the base paths (35).

Do you agree with my picks? Let me know 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 2, 2017

Looking Back on the 2017 MLB Season (and BwM's 500th post!!) 11/2/17

Hey baseball fans!

This is my 500th post on Baseball with Matt! I can't believe I've been doing this for almost five years now and I'm so thankful for my loyal readers. You guys are the reason I keep writing, so thank you for looking at my stuff. Now, for my 500th post, I wanted to do something special, so why not talk about one of the most special MLB seasons I've ever witnessed as a baseball fan: the 2017 MLB campaign.

The Homers
Boy, there were a lot of them, a record-setting number to be exact. Giancarlo Stanton smacked a whopping 59 dingers and Aaron Judge added 52 of his own. Hitters like J.D. Martinez, Mike Moustakas, and Logan Morrison shocked fans with their home run numbers, while Edwin Encarnacion, Nelson Cruz, and Nolan Arenado put up their normal, astronomical statistics. So many batters hit over 30 home runs that the Home Run Derby could've had at least twice the amount of competitors it did have and it would've still been exciting. What more is there to say besides people dig the long ball?

The Rookies
As mentioned before, Aaron Judge was a monster this year, but he wasn't the only rookie who shined in the spotlight. What about probable NL Rookie of the Year Cody Bellinger? I also can't forget Andrew Benintendi, Trey Mancini, or Josh Bell, and all the guys you hadn't heard of before the season, like Matt Davidson, Matt Olson, or Ian Happ. But I should also probably mention Rhys Hoskins, the Gary Sanchez of 2017 in terms of immediate carnage of baseballs. Paul DeJong, Hunter Renfroe, and Yuli Gurriel are even more hitters who in one way or another will continue to lead baseball's youth movement for years to come.

The Team Stories
Whether it be the Astros' hot start to the Dodgers' amazing summer to the Indians' record-breaking September, lots of teams had plenty of amazing story lines that carried them throughout the season. Other incredible plot lines includes the Diamondbacks and Rockies and their seasons that defied preseason expectations, and the Yankees who turned their "rebuilding year" into a redefining year. Many teams had things going for them come postseason time, which is why coming up with postseason predictions was so hard for me.

The Postseason
It was an October (and November) that I don't think I will be forgetting anytime soon. There were insane comebacks, nail-biting pitching duels, and one of the greatest World Series games in history. I couldn't care less about how the Fall Classic ended, to be completely honest, because all I can think about now is how grateful I am for having witnessed that Series and the playoffs in general.

The Swagger
It's no secret that baseball's popularity has been dwindling the last couple of years compared to sports like football and basketball, but 2017 saw baseball switch attitudes completely. It wasn't just a sport for people with plenty of patience; it became a sport full of bat flips, walk-off celebrations, and cocky egos. The team that best exemplifies this is the Yanks, who ditched the proper "Yankee Way" in favor of the thumbs-down hand gesture and in-game, post-home run amateur interviews. Baseball just got so much more fun to watch.

Thank you, 2017, for a fantastic baseball season. Let's just hope the offseason features even more unbelievable moments. Yes, I'm looking at you, Marlins front office and probably-former Royals stars. Thanks for reading post #500 on Baseball with Matt and I hope you enjoyed it. Here's to another 500 and to checking back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

Sunday, October 22, 2017

7 Historical Facts about the 2017 World Series 10/22/17

Hey baseball fans!

Yes, I'm upset that the Yankees lost to the Astros in the ALCS, but the World Series is upon us! It's the 'Stros vs. the Dodgers in the 113th edition of the Fall Classic. Before the series starts, however, here are seven facts that'll give the matchup a little more meaning.

Fact #1: 
Much like the last couple of Fall Classics, the 2017 World Series is heavily focused on drought-ending. The Dodgers haven't won a World Series since 1988, while the Astros haven't won a single World Series in their 56-year history. Houston actually did appear in a World Series back in 2005, but they were swept by the White Sox. Speaking of which...

Fact #2:
The Astros are the first team in baseball history to win both the AL and NL pennants. The only other team that could also do it would be the Brewers, but they haven't made a World Series since their switch to the National League back in 1998.

Fact #3:
It's only the second World Series ever in which California and Texas, the two biggest U.S. states in terms of population, are represented by at least one team each. The first time this occurred was back in 2010, when the San Francisco Giants won in five games over the Texas Rangers.

Fact #4:
We could possibly see the hottest World Series game ever in terms of temperature. The hottest World Series game on record is a 94-degree Game One of the 2001 Series in Phoenix, but Game One of the 2017 Series has a predicted first-pitch temperature of 95 degrees.

Fact #5:
Because the Astros and Dodgers used to be in the same league and division, they've played a fair amount of games against each other. LA holds the edge, however, having won 388 of their 711 head-to-head matchups.

Fact #6:
In their Major League playing careers, the managers for LA and Houston, Dave Roberts and A.J. Hinch, respectively, combined for 55 career home runs in 17 MLB seasons. Not a lot of power from the skippers, I see.

Fact #7:
The Dodgers, in terms of win-loss record in the World Series, are actually ranked 19th amongst all qualified teams, with only 45 wins in 105 World Series games played. The Astros, on the other hand, are tied for dead last in the category, having been swept in their only World Series appearance thus far.

Who's winning this series, Dodgers or Astros? 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."

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Analyzing the Potential 2017 World Series Matchups 10/15/17

Hey baseball fans!

We are down to the final four! Yes, the American League and National League Championship Series are finally here, which means we have ourselves four potential World Series matchups. In this post, I'll be looking at each of these matchups with a historical perspective and stating which World Series matchup I'd like to see the most, starting with number four.

Number Four: Astros vs. Dodgers
Historical Significance: These teams were National League competitors for ages before Houston switched over to the American League in 2013, but it's not like they were heated rivals, as they were in different divisions. What makes this matchup interesting is the potential drought-ending. LA hasn't won or been to a World Series since 1988 and the Astros haven't won a World Series at all, their last appearance coming in 2005, where they were swept by the White Sox. It would kind of have the feel of last year's World Series, but on a smaller scale.

Number Three: Yankees vs. Cubs
Historical Significance: These two teams haven't met in the World Series since 1938, but in both times this pair squared off on baseball's biggest stage (1932 and '38), Lou Gehrig and the Yankees swept the Lovable Losers easily. From the Cubs' last pennant to their World Series championship in 2016, the Yankees have won 17 World Series, but obviously it would be the Cubs trying to repeat as MLB champs. Both of these franchises have incredible histories with some incredible Hall of Famers and, down the road, if this World Series matchup were to happen this year, we could be seeing a lot of future Cooperstown inductees.

Number Two: Astros vs. Cubs
Historical Significance: No, these teams have never met up in the World Series because Houston has never made the Fall Classic as an AL team. Instead, these two ball clubs were NL Central rivals for almost 20 years. What's interesting about these teams is that when I was first getting into baseball, both of these teams were absolutely abysmal, each losing 90+ games consistently, while teams like the Phillies and Braves were winning 90+ games (how weird is that?). But ever since Houston switched leagues, these teams have become juggernauts and this World Series matchup would pit potential dynasties against each other. In my opinion, if this World Series were to take place, the winner will turn into a force to be reckoned with for the next five or more years.

Number One: Yankees vs. Dodgers
Historical Significance: Legendary moments have occurred when these teams face off in the World Series, mostly because this matchup has occurred so many times in the past century. The Yanks and Dodgers hold the record amongst all baseball teams with 11 World Series meet-ups. In those meet-ups, the Bronx Bombers hold the advantage, winning eight of them. However, the Dodgers won their first World Series ever in franchise history in 1955 versus New York and also beat them in 1963 and 1981. Snider vs. Mantle or Judge vs. Bellinger? Seriously, this could be one fun World Series.

Which of these World Series matchups would you want to see the most? 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 5, 2017

My 2017 MLB Postseason Predictions 10/5/17

Hey baseball fans!

Even though I'm in college, what would October baseball be without some BwM MLB postseason predictions? So, without further ado, now that the Wild Card round has concluded, here's how I think the 2017 playoffs will go.

ALDS Series 1: Yankees vs. Indians
Winner in X games: Indians in five
Why? There's only one AL team that can beat the Indians and it just so happens to be the Yankees. Cleveland and New York had the best and second-best run differentials this season, respectively, so these teams give their pitchers plenty of run support. But Cleveland is just too good. If it goes to a fifth game, Corey Kluber is scheduled to pitch, so mark that down as a New York loss.

ALDS Series 2: Red Sox vs. Astros
Winner in X games: Astros in four
Why? Houston is way too dominant at the plate. Sure, their pitching has slumped this season, but they had the best team batting average in baseball this regular season by a long shot and the Sox can't send Chris Sale to the mound every day.

NLDS Series 1: Diamondbacks vs. Dodgers
Winner in X games: Diamondbacks in five
Why? LA is not the team that it was in the middle of the season and we all know how Clayton Kershaw performs in the postseason. Sure, the D-Backs barely have any playoff experience, but the Dodgers don't have much non-choking playoff experience in recent memory. In short, I'm giving this one to the boys in Arizona because of  a well-rounded pitching staff and a strong lineup filled with plenty of MVP candidates that hasn't quit basically all season.

NLDS Series 2: Cubs vs. Nationals
Winner in X games: Nationals in five
Why? It's about time the Nats lift the Washington sports choking curse and this is the year to do it. With an absolutely insane starting pitching staff, a revamped bullpen, a healthy Bryce Harper, and a weakened Cubs team from last season, this is the year for the Nationals to finally win in the playoffs.

ALCS: Astros vs. Indians
Winner in X games: Indians in six
Why? The Yankees are a balanced team and that's why I think they'll go toe-to-toe with the Tribe until the end of their ALDS, but the Astros don't have pitching. Cleveland is just too powerful on all fronts.

NLCS: Diamondbacks vs. Nationals
Winner in X games: Nationals in seven
Why? What a series this would be: two really good expansion teams who've never enjoyed a lot of success in the playoffs. But there is one constant for pennant winners that'll be true again in this series: pitching wins championships. The Nats will outlast the D-Backs because of their All-Star caliber starters, but it'll definitely be a close series overall.

World Series: Nationals vs. Indians
Winner in X games: Indians in five
Why? Plain and simple: World Series jitters in DC. If this World Series were to happen, it'll be exactly like the 2015 Fall Classic: a pennant winner of the previous year avenging their heart-breaking World Series loss by obliterating a team that is just happy to be there. I guess the Mets and Nationals will have more in common than just being in the same division together. Congrats, Cleveland.

Do you agree with my World Series picks? Let me know 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."

Monday, September 25, 2017

The Bash Brothers: Big Mac and Canseco 9/25/17

Hey baseball fans!

Aaron Judge just set a new rookie record with 50 home runs in a season! But who hit 49, you ask? Well, his name is Mark McGwire and he was one half of one of the greatest hitting duos of the late '80s: the Bash Brothers.

The Oakland Athletics went to three straight World Series from 1988-1990 and one (well, more like two) of the reasons for their success was two young sluggers who won back-to-back Rookie of the Year Awards in 1986 and 1987, respectively: Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire. They were known as the Bash Brother because, well, they could really bash the baseball. Like I said before, Big Mac hit 49 home runs in his rookie season, 1987, but Canseco's 33 rookie dingers in '86 aren't half bad either. During the full seasons that they played together, which was from 1987-1991, they won a combined three home run titles, each hit 30 or more home runs in four seasons, and played for the AL in the All Star Game a combined nine times. Big Mac and Canseco helped the A's win the World Series in 1989 in a sweep over the Giants and even though neither hit any home runs during the Bay Area Series, both batted over .290 to etch their names into Oakland sports lore.

Canseco was traded to the Rangers midway through the 1992 season and then bounced around the league until retiring in 2001, but finished his career with 462 career home runs. McGwire, meanwhile, stayed with the A's until getting traded to the Cardinals during the 1997 season and would go on to set the record for most home runs in a single season in 1998 with 70 (but it was broken three years later by Barry Bonds) and is one of two hitters in baseball history with back-to-back seasons of at least 60 home runs (the other being Sammy Sosa). He finished his career with 583 home runs, which is good for eleventh on the all-time list.

It's sad that neither of these great hitters are in the Hall of Fame, but boy did they give excitement to the city of Oakland in the late 1980s. "The Bash Brothers" is a pretty good nickname, after all. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."