Thursday, November 23, 2017

Free Agents That Changed Baseball 11/23/17

Hey baseball fans!

Free agency and the Winter Meetings are just around the corner, so in honor of that, let's talk about some of the best free agent signings in baseball history.

Greg Maddux
After the 1992 season in which he played with a subpar Cubs team, Maddux's contract had run out, so he could sign with any team he wanted. Instead of going for the more lucrative deal and signing with the Yankees, he decided to take his pitching talents to Atlanta and became an absolute pitching star with the Braves. Out of all the teams he played for in his career, Maddux's years with the Braves are definitely his best: 194 wins and a 2.63 ERA in 11 years. Also, don't forget about his three straight NL Cy Young awards from 1993-1995 and his six All Star appearances while playing home games down South.

Randy Johnson
A 35-year-old Johnson signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks in just the franchise's second year of existence. So much of this deal was criticized at first on both sides, but after four straight Cy Young awards won, a co-World Series MVP & a World Series ring in 2001, five All Star teams made, and an average record per season of 17-8 with a 2.65 ERA, the critics had been silenced. Johnson's first of two stints with the D-Backs was magical to say the least.

Manny Ramirez
With the Curse of the Bambino still in full swing, the Red Sox made the move in 2000 to sign the eccentric left fielder Ramirez. Although his actions off the field have since been revealed to be questionable, he went to the All Star Game every year and hit over 30 homers in all but two seasons. And let's not forget his curse-breaking performance in the 2004 World Series that was recognized with a World Series MVP.

Kirk Gibson
After having success with the Detroit Tigers for nine years, Gibson signed with the Dodgers prior to the 1988 season. His three-year career in LA was short-lived and injury-ridden, but he did something for the franchise that Dodgers fans will always be thankful for. In 1988, Gibson won the NL MVP with 25 home runs, 76 RBIs, 31 stolen bases, and a .290 batting average. Without the help of the Dodgers' rosters of the late 1970s and early 1980s, Gibson basically led LA's batting order to the World Series single-handedly, even though he was injured badly during the NLCS against the Mets and couldn't play in the Fall Classic. But in a surprise move by Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda, Gibson was put in as a pinch hitter in the bottom of the ninth of Game One of the Series, even though he could barely walk. But miraculously, down by one run and going up against future Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley with a man on base, Gibson hit a walk-off homer in his only at-bat of the '88 World Series. It's one of the most legendary moments in baseball history and basically propelled the Dodgers to the Series win. LA hasn't won one since.

In your opinion, what free agent moves this offseason could define a franchise? Leave your thoughts in the comments section below. Thanks for reading this post and I hope you enjoyed it. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and check back soon for more of "all the buzz on what wuzz."

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."