Sports Dojo MLB Awards

Dojo AL MVP- Mike Trout over Miguel Cabrera

As the year was going on, I got caught up in the Miguel Cabrera and Chris Davis hype. They both had a shot at the Triple Crown at one point, but Davis took off with the homers and Cabrera got hurt and started to have a severe drop in production. Mike Trout, slow and steady, kept putting up another unbelievable offensive season.

I am taking Trout’s slow and steady greatness for this selection. Lets remember how old Trout is…

Trout has also done something during his first two seasons that is outrageous. In the past 50… FIFTY years there have only been 13 seasons where a player has had a Wins Above Replacement (WAR) above 10, according to Fangraphs. There are 3 people that have done it more than once: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Mike Trout. Cabrera has never done it, and his career high WAR of 7.6 came this year. Mike Trout is just on another level.

Mike Trout

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 21 157 716 589 109 190 39 27 97 33 7 110 .323 .432 .557 .988 328

Miguel Cabrera

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 30 148 652 555 103 193 26 44 137 3 0 90 .348 .442 .636 1.078 353

Mike Trout has more doubles, steals, walks and runs than Cabrera. He also has a ridiculous slugging percentage for someone who has 33 steals. Since 2003, only 5 players have had as high or higher slugging percentage and as many or more steals as Trout in 2013: Alfonso Soriano (2006), Hanley Ramirez (2007), Ryan Braun (2011), Matt Kemp (2011), and Mike Trout (2012). Anything look similar about these seasons? Well, besides Soriano, every player on that list either won or finished second in MVP voting in their respective league. Soriano’s numbers were ridiculous that year because he went 40-40. He wasn’t close to winning MVP because his team was awful and he had a poor batting average (.277) for an MVP without 50 homers.

Of course, the last stat I threw out there reminds you that Trout may have had a worse season, but he didn’t. He had 3 less homers, but 12 more doubles. The power was still there, but some balls didn’t quite make it over the fence. The biggest improvement was in his strikeout rate and OBP. First, he did have similar strikeout totals this year, but remember he didn’t play a month last year. His strikeout percentage (K/PA) dropped 2.8%, while his walk percentage (BB/PA) rose 4.9%. This led to a .033 point jump in OBP. The more you are on base, the more you can help your team. Trout did more this year to help his team, but his team was just worse than last year.

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

Mike Trout sliding into 2nd base (Photo Cred: Mike Stobe/Getty Images)

I am praising Trout’s OBP and how valuable it is, and I haven’t mentioned how Cabrera’s OBP is actually .010 points higher than Trout’s. Obviously, it is a better OBP. However, would you rather have a guy who could cause an out because he is on the bases or a guy who can create runs with his speed? Cabrera’s OBP is better, but Trout’s is more valuable because he can get into better scoring position for his teammates and force errors with his speed. “But Greg, Cabrera hit 17 more home runs than Trout!” Trout was the league leader in runs. The scoreboard counts runs not home runs. Home runs are just another way to produce runs.

To finish off why I’m right, Trout plays a much more difficult position and plays better defense than Cabrera. Trout has to cover a tremendous amount of ground in the outfield, while Cabrera isn’t very good at covering his small area around 3rd base. Cabrera managed to cost his team 9 more runs on defense than Trout from an easier defensive position.

Case Closed.

For this year, like I did in my 2012 AL MVP piece, I will say who I think the writers will vote for.

Baseball Writer’s Vote- 1. Miguel Cabrera 2. Chris Davis (53 home runs will give him enough votes to finish 2nd) 3. Mike Trout

Dojo NL MVP- Paul Goldschmidt over Andrew McCutchen

Every award is tough to pick this year, except NL and AL Rookie of the Year, but this award was one of the toughest for me. I know that the voters will probably pick Andrew McCutchen over Paul Goldschmidt because of the Pirates triumphant return to the playoffs, and McCutchen was their best player all year. However, I would argue that the Diamondbacks would not have finished with a .500 record without Goldschmidt, and his defense and batting statistics are mostly better than McCutchen’s.

 Paul Goldschmidt

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 25 160 710 602 103 182 36 36 125 15 7 99 145 .302 .401 .551 .952 332

Andrew McCutchen

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 26 157 674 583 97 185 38 21 84 27 10 78 101 .317 .404 .508 .911 296
Paul Goldschmidt after a walkoff home run against the Miami Marlins (Photo Cred: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)

Paul Goldschmidt after a walkoff home run against the Miami Marlins (Photo Cred: Matt Kartozian/USA TODAY Sports)

When you take a closer look at the statistics, you will see how Goldschmidt outperformed McCutchen in so many ways. Goldschmidt had more homers and RBI’s than McCutchen and actually led the NL in those categories. Goldy only had an OBP .003 points lower than McCutchen’s, but his slugging was .043 points better. This gave Goldschmidt the NL leading OPS of .952 and McCutchen an OPS of .911. Goldy clearly put up the better numbers at the plate.

You say, “Now Greg, McCutchen was so much better on the bases with 12 more steals.” I would argue that Goldschmidt was just as effective on the base paths and that his effectiveness is more valuable than McCutchen’s. McCutchen stole 27 bases on 37 attempts so he was successful at stealing a base 73% of the time, and Goldy going 15 on 22 was 68%. They are nearly as effective on the bases and Goldschmidt steals much more than the average first baseman. Since 2000, there have only been 15 other occasions where a first basemen has had 15 or more. While outfielder’s over that span have had over 27 steals 141 times. 15 steals from a first basemen is more valuable than the 27 from an outfielder.

To just finish off how I believe Goldschmidt has been the best player, and thus, the MVP in the NL, his defense saved 13 runs above the average first baseman, and McCutchen only saved 7 runs above the average outfielder. Better defense for his position, better hitting, and more value on the basepaths… Goldschmidt>McCutchen

Baseball Writers vote – 1. McCutchen 2. Goldschmidt 3. Clayton Kershaw

Dojo AL Cy Young- Max Scherzer over Chris Sale/Felix Hernandez

I feel like I am going to say the same thing over and over again, so I’ll just say every big award (MVP and Cy Young) were tough. The AL Cy Young had about 5 guys who could win the award and it feels like that happens every year. I am not going to talk about Yu Darvish (too many walks and not enough innings) and Anibal Sanchez (not enough innings) because I have them as 4 and 5, respectively. As you can see, I am going to be picking at small things to decide this award and I am not going to count the W-L record. If I did, Scherzer would win in a landslide, like I think he will in the actual MVP voting.

Name Team W L GS IP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 BABIP LOB% GB% HR/FB ERA FIP WAR
Max Scherzer Tigers 21 3 32 214.1 10.08 2.35 0.76 0.259 74.40% 36.30% 7.60% 2.9 2.74 6.4
Chris Sale White Sox 11 14 30 214.1 9.49 1.93 0.97 0.289 77.00% 46.60% 12.50% 3.07 3.17 5.1
Felix Hernandez Mariners 12 10 31 204.1 9.51 2.03 0.66 0.314 75.10% 51.40% 10.00% 3.04 2.61 6

Powered by Greg Danchik’s Awesome Excel Skills and Fangraphs

Max Scherzer (Photo Cred: Chris O’Meara/AP)

Max Scherzer (Photo Cred: Chris O’Meara/AP)

Everyone will point to Max Scherzer‘s W-L record, but he did more than that. He averaged over a strikeout an inning en route to having the second best strikeout total in the AL. Batters had an average below .200 against him over the whole year. He averaged less than a runner on base per inning with a WHIP of .970. Tack that on to having a Fielder Independent Pitching (FIP) below 3 runs. You’ve got yourself a dominant pitcher with a lot of wins. A wins leader, not because his team’s offense was really good, but because he gave his team the chance to win every time out.

Chris Sale narrowly misses on the Cy Young because well, Scherzer was really really good, but also for a few other reasons. Sale also struck out over a batter an inning, but he didn’t do it at the level that Scherzer did. He had a FIP of 3.17, which was much higher than Scherzer’s, relatively speaking. He gave up home runs at a higher rate, which would indicate his stuff isn’t as good.

Felix Hernandez (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Felix Hernandez (Photo Cred: Elaine Thompson/AP)

Now for King Felix. Felix was dominate for a bad team, much like Sale was. Hernandez actually had a better FIP than Scherzer at 2.61, but it is not a huge difference. The thing that locked it up for me was his HR/FB rate. Felix Hernandez pitches in a park that gave up the 10th least amount of home runs, and Scherzer pitched in a park that let up the 13th most home runs. Yet on 10% of his fly balls, Hernandez gave up a home run (23rd highest in the AL). Like Sale, I would say that this is an indication of how good his stuff is, however it still wasn’t as good as Scherzer’s.

These are the reasons I would pick Max Scherzer for AL Cy Young. Obviously, I had to really nitpick with this award, but it led to Scherzer as my winner.

Baseball Writers – 1. Max Scherzer 2. Felix Hernandez 3. Chris Sale

Dojo NL Cy Young- Clayton Kershaw

I just didn’t really think there was anyone that compared to him. Adam Wainwright was in it before he had a couple of struggles towards the end of the year. I think Jose Fernandez would have been in the conversation had he pitched some more innings and the same is true for Matt Harvey. But they weren’t able to pitch enough innings to compete with Kershaw, so Kershaw stands alone.

Clayton Kershaw (Photo: Cred: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

Clayton Kershaw (Photo: Cred: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)

To start, Kershaw had an ERA of 1.83 and struck out 232 batters. Since 1984 (roughly the beginning of the Steroid Era), only 2… TWO pitchers have had an equal or lower ERA and as many or more strikeouts. One of those seasons was Dwight Gooden‘s 1985 sophomore season, and Pedro Martinez‘s dominant 2000 season (Side note: Pedro did that in the AL, where he had to deal with DH’s, not pitchers. It was also the height of the Steroid Era.).

Kershaw’s advanced stats also indicate he deserves the Cy. He was second in the NL in FIP, had a HR/FB of 5.8%, and walked 1.98 batters per 9 innings. To top it all off, Adam Wainwright was the only pitcher to top him in innings.

Kershaw is going to go down in history as one of the greats. He is going to get paid like it this offseason too.

Baseball Writer’s vote- 1. Kershaw 2. Adam Wainwright 3. Jose Fernandez

Dojo AL Rookie of the Year- Wil Myers

In the AL, there wasn’t much competition for Rookie of the Year. Manny Machado was basically a rookie, but he can’t be considered because of the at bats he accumulated in 2012. The only person that comes close is Jose Iglesias. Iglesias’s value comes 100% from his defense.

His bat was good at the beginning of the year with a .367 average, but he only had a .235 average in the second half, which is closer to the career average that is expected of him. His presence in Detroit saved them during the Johnny Peralta suspension, but Wil Myers presence in Tampa provided a much needed bat to team up with Evan Longoria.

Wil Myers

Year Age G PA AB R H 2B HR RBI SB CS BB SO BA OBP SLG OPS TB
2013 22 88 373 335 50 98 23 13 53 5 2 33 91 .293 .354 .478 .831 160

The Rays refused to call up Myers before June, and it almost cost them a spot in the ALDS. However, they still made it there, and Myers is a big reason for that. He homered at a pace that would have led to 24 homers over the whole season. He also had a great batting average for a rookie to add on to an OPS of .831. All of his offense helped spark a Tampa Bay run that almost led them to a division title. You will also notice that when Myers started slumping at the end of the year, the Rays fell out of contention for the AL East and the Sox pulled away.  Wil Myers is the Dojo AL Rookie of the Year, but he would have had major competition if any of the top 5 NL guys were in the AL.

(Side note- I came really close to calling the amount of Myer’s homers in my Top Prospect Tuesday. Also if Myers wants to maintain or improve his batting average and become a true star, he is going to have to raise his poor, to say the least, BB/K ratio of .36.)

Baseball Writer’s Vote- 1. Wil Myers 2. Jose Iglesias 3. Brad Miller

Dojo NL Rookie of the Year- Jose Fernandez over Yasiel Puig

If Matt Harvey was eligible, he would win, but like Machado, he isn’t. Jose Fernandez is a close second to Harvey though. Yasiel Puig presents a good case as well, but Fernandez’s domination prevails.

Puig’s case is driven by his ridiculous stats, but also by the Dodgers revival in the second half of the season. The part of the Dodger’s revival that people forget about is that Hanley Ramirez came back at the same time, and Zack Greinke started to pitch like someone getting paid $147 million should. Puig had 19 home runs, 42 RBIs and a .319 batting average in 104 games and would have easily won the Dojo AL Rookie of the Year, but he’s competing against Jose Fernandez and isn’t going to win that competition.

Jose Fernandez (Photo Cred: Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

Jose Fernandez (Photo Cred: Scott Rovak/USA TODAY Sports)

Jose Fernandez’s season is something else. Over the course of 172.2 innings, he had an ERA of 2.19, a FIP of 2.73, and 187 strikeouts, over a strikeout per inning. However, his second half was downright dominate. He had an ERA of 1.32, a FIP of 1.99, and 68 strikouts, or 11.12 K/9. He pitched for the lowly Marlins, who finished in second if the MLB was about getting the most losses. Yet, the Marlins were 18-10 in games he pitched. In other words, not including the games Fernandez pitched in, the Marlins went 44-90. The Marlins were pretty bad, but Fernandez always improved their chance of winning every time he stepped onto the field. Look for Fernandez to challenge Kershaw for Dojo NL Cy Young Awards (and NL Cy Young Awards) in the near future.

Baseball Writier’s Vote- 1. Jose Fernandez 2. Yasiel Puig 3. Julio Teheran

Dojo AL Manager of the Year- John Farrell

In an incredibly managerial season, John Farrell took a team that exchanged all of their high prices players for middle-tier players and led them to an AL East crown. I figured the Red Sox would be in the celler for a long time, but they are now competing for a World Series title. John Farrell deserves this award over anyone. The Indian’s under Terry Francona is a nice story, but they went 36-52 against teams at .500 or above. (Not that this counts in my decision, but that showed against the Rays in the AL Wild Card game).

Baseball Writer’s Vote- 1. John Farrell 2. Terry Francona 3. Joe Girardi

Dojo NL Manager of the Year- Clint Hurdle

The Pirates had their first winning season and playoff appearance in 21 years. Enough said.

Baseball Writer’s Vote – Clint Hurdle

Greg Danchik

Dojo Playoff Predictions

World Series Trophy (Photo Cred: CHARLIE RIEDEL/AP)

World Series Trophy (Photo Cred: CHARLIE RIEDEL/AP)

Who’s going to win the World Series this year? For my selection in this week’s poll, I picked the Cardinals. However, you all know I have been tooting the horn of the Tampa Bay Rays all year. I think they have the best overall team in the AL, but Wil Myers missing the first two months cost them a division title. So that’s going to be my World Series matchup, but how do we get there?

NLDS

Dodgers in 3 against the Braves- Both are streaky teams, but I think that the Dodgers will win both games in Atlanta behind Kershaw and Greinke. Then, the Dodgers come home to a crowd that hasn’t had a playoff game since Manny Ramirez was around. Remember Pittsburgh’s crowd on Thursday? It won’t be as rowdy, but it will be LOUD.

Cardinals in 4 against the Pirates- Pirates get one at home, but the Cardinals are a superior team, and it will show.

ALDS

Rays in 5 against the Red Sox- The Red Sox are built on power, but the Rays pitching staff will shut them down. I know the Red Sox led the season series, but they only have a .200 batting average against the Rays this year. The Red Sox walk off in a game at home, but lose the other two, including Game 5.

Athletics in 5 against the Tigers- This pick is the one that makes the least amount of sense. The Tigers are the better team to pick for one series, but I am giving the Athletics the win here, mostly because of Justin Verlander‘s postseason (and current season) struggles. Verlander gets roughed up twice, in Game 2 and 5.

NLCS

Cardinals in 7 against the Dodgers- The Dodgers avoid elimination at home in Game 6 behind a performance for the ages by Kershaw. Grienkie crumbles under pressure in Game 7 in St. Louis, and the Cardinals bullpen shuts down a Dodgers’ rally late.

ALCS

Rays in 6 against the Athletics- The battle of the small market teams.To show how small market they are… If you combined their Opening Day payrolls and then multiplied them by two, you get $251,214,544. That’s only $28,218,599 more that the New York Yankees opening day payroll. Two of the best front offices in the league. I do think the Rays’ aces will win them this series in Game 6 at home.

World Series

Cardinals in 7 against the Rays- Just like Athletics’s fans will never forget Kirk Gibson, the Rays’ fans will never forget Allen Craig. On a bum ankle in Game 5, he hits a walk off home run to keep the Cardinals alive, and the Rays won’t recover. Cardinals celebrate in an empty Tropicana Field with their World Series Championship.

Greg Danchik

Weekend Wrap-Up

Chip Kelly and Michael Vick (USATSI)

Chip Kelly and Michael Vick (USATSI)

Most NFL teams have finally had their first game after the first Sunday of football action. My synopsis of the games this week.

Adrian Peterson is still a beast. But Reggie Bush is the missing piece to the Lions offense. He went off yesterday running the ball, but that also included 4 catches for 101 yards. In those catches, he had a ridiculous 77 yard touchdown catch and run. He will probably lead all running backs in receptions. The Lions pass the ball and Bush’s talent can help them open up Megatron during the season.

Andrew Luck is really good. Unfortunately, the Colts don’t have a great outlook if they can’t blow out the Raiders. They have some work to do.  Luck will still carry this team to a postseason berth because of their week division, but I am not so sure they will be able to make a deep run against some of the top teams in the AFC. Then again, those top teams did not look so hot (minus Denver).

The 49ers are the real deal again. They are just better than the Ravens, and it showed in their ability to use Anquan Boldin. He dominated in that game because Kaepernick threw to him in coverage, something that Flacco refused to do until Jim Caldwell took over. The Packers are going to be good again, but its hard to be bad with Aaron Rodgers.

The Rams-Cardinals game showed me this… Tyrann Mathieu is a playmaker, and the Cardinals are going to get a large contribution from the 3rd rounder. Larry Fitzgerald is still a top wide receiver if he has a half decent quarterback throwing the football. I personally think these teams are really good and can split with the 49ers and Seahawks. NFC West is the best division in football in my opinion.

The NFC East is going to be the most wide open division in football. Yes, it was only Week 1, but they all have talent, but they all have questions. Is RGIII going to improve on Week 1 where he looked like a shell of himself? Can Tony Romo (and Eli Manning for that matter) be the real deal all season and limit the stupid mistakes? Finally, can Michael Vick stay healthy, and can the Eagles defense be good all season? I know I have been hating on the Eagles ALL summer, and I still think that they will be bad. However, they have an offense with Vick. Chip Kelly’s offense will dominate for at least half the season, and maybe the whole season. It will be up to the rest of the NFL to catch up with him. I still have doubts about this team really contending in this division. I am still going to say they are going to be bad until they continue to show this dominant offense and acceptable defense. I know this is not the same, but remember when the Sanchize threw 3 touchdowns in Week 1 of 2012, and the Jets put up 48 points. Can’t overreact to Week 1, no matter how hard it is.

Since I know no one paid attention to baseball this weekend, heres some big news. It has been 20 years since the Pirates have had a winning season and they clinched it last night. This team has talent. In my midseason bold predictions, I had them winning the World Series over the Orioles. This is still mathematically possible, but it will be really close. This series with between the Yankees and the Orioles could be one of the biggest series in determining the second AL Wild Card. The Orioles started it off with a win and I hope they can win each game including the game I will be attending on
Thursday. With a little less than a month left, the playoff races are coming down to the wire. I can’t wait for the rest of this month and especially October, when all 4 sports are going to be be going on in some capacity.

Greg Danchik

Daily Dojo: Morneau’s Value to the Pirates

How beneficial will the Pirates acquisition of Justin Morneau be as the MLB season rolls on? When I first heard of the trade, it sounded really good for the Pirates. I thought getting a former MVP, who’s having a decent year would really benefit them. Then, I took a look at the statistics of Pirates’ first baseman this year, and I am intrigued by the similarities in Morneau’s stats and the Pirates’ first basemen’s stats are.

Garrett Jones and Gaby Sanchez have been in a platoon split all year for the Pirates. Jones faces righties and Sanchez faces lefties. Combined, they have accounted for 20 home runs, 81 RBI’s and 65 runs scored while hitting .244. That does not sound great, but the counting stats (not batting average) are serviceable for a first baseman.

Justin Morneau (Photo Cred: Adam Hunger/Reuters)

Justin Morneau (Photo Cred: Adam Hunger/Reuters)

Enter Morneau. Morneau had been playing for the Twins and had been batting higher in the order. Playing for the Twins probably reduced his home run totals because of Target Fields pitcher-friendliness (3rd worse home run park for lefties), and his run and RBI totals were probably reduced because he was playing for a worse team. However, he was batting higher in the order than the Pirates’ first basemen, so I consider all of these factors a wash for RBI’s and run. It’s a wash because batting higher in the order gives you a better chance at RBI’s and runs. Home runs should be expected to be lower.

Morneau, so far this season (excluding last night), has batted .259 with 17 home runs, 74 RBI’s and 56 runs scored. The Pirates hitters have actually done better so far this year. More home runs, more RBI’s and more runs scored than Morneau.

The difference is that Morneau has batted 124 less times than the Pirates’ first basemen. They have been pretty similar on a per at bat basis. Morneau has hit home run every 29 at bats, while the Pirates’ first basemen have hit one every 31. It also took Morneau about 1 at bat less per each RBI and run scored than Jones and Sanchez combined.

I think that over a whole season, this could have made a HUGE difference for the Pirates. They would probably be leading the division by a couple extra games rather than be tied atop the standings as Labor Day rolls around (I say this like its a bad thing, but this is a huge deal for the Pirates. No winning seasons the past 20 years). I am just not so sure it will give them a huge edge during the stretch run. I think it will help, but we will see by how much. Also, I am not a believer that having postseason experience is a large part of postseason success, but I do think it helps. Morneau has only 7 games under his belt and 2 home runs, but the last time he was in the playoffs was 2006. Then again, the Pirates haven’t been there in 20 years so Morneau’s little experience could help out just enough during an October run. Ultimately, if the Pirates win a World Series with Morneau, they won’t care if he does provided a significant increase in production. If Alex Presely is able to revive his career in Minnesota, the Pirates may have wasted good talent on a poor upgrade

Greg Danchik