Thursday, August 18, 2016

MLB Pennant Races

The clarity of pennant races is always fun to look into this time of year.

American League
There's a virtual dead heat between the Toronto and Boston to win the AL East, with the Blue Jays up by a slight margin. In the same division, Baltimore is not far behind, but most likely trying to hold off Houston, Seattle, Kansas City and Detroit for the second Wild Card.

New York is treading water with their infusion of young talent, which is fun, but their upper limit of wins for the season is probably 85, which won't get them anywhere. The Yankees don't need to tank to get good again, but it's notable that they haven't had a chance at an early draft pick in a long time.* It looks like the emergence of the Sanchez, Frazier, Betances, Bird, Judge, Torres, Austin Era could keep the Bronx Bombers out of the Top 10 for another six or seven years, at least.

As of this writing, Baseball-Prospectus shows the Astros only have a 1.1% chance to win the division or a 8.6% chance to make the Wild Card game.

*Next year will be the 25th Anniversary of the Yankees last Top 10 pick**, when they took a high school shortstop from Michigan with the #6 pick, Derek Jeter.

**fun list
N.Y. Yankees Top 10 Picks
Derek Jeter, 1992, #6, rWAR 71.8
Brien Taylor, 1991, #1, rWAR 0.0
Carl Everett, 1990, #10, rWAR 20.4 (none for NYY, lost in expansion draft, not traded, no compensation)
Thurman Munson, 1968, #4, rWAR 45.9
Ron Blomberg, 1967, #1, rWAR 9.4 (9.5 as a Yankee! He left as a free agent and had a -0.1 season with the White Sox before retiring)

Jeter & Munson are "True Yankees".

Taylor was one of the first legendary pitching flameouts.

Everett was lost to an expansion draft. He was a character worthy of his own blog. Dude doesn't think dinosaurs ever existed, among other insanities.

Blomberg had four very good partial seasons as the Yankees' first baseman in 1971-74, averaging 2.2 rWAR each year, even though he averaged only 90 games per season. Keep in mind, a 2.2 rWAR season now is valued at around $16 million.

Before checking in the with the NL, let's take a quick pulse of our MVP ballot at the moment:

2016 AL MVP
1. Mike Trout, Angels
2. Jose Altuve, Astros
3. Josh Donaldson, Blue Jays
4. Manny Machado, Orioles
5. Robinson Cano, Mariners
6. Francisco Lindor, Indians
7. Mookie Betts, Red Sox
8. David Ortiz, Red Sox
9. Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
10. Evan Longoria, Rays

National League
The NL has less drama, with the Cardinals, Pirates, and Giants fighting for 2 Wild Card spots, with the Nationals, Cubs, and Dodgers as the Division champs.

2016 NL MVP
1. Kris Bryant, Cubs
2. Anthony Rizzo, Cubs
3. Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
4. Buster Posey, Giants
5. Corey Seager, Dodgers
6. Nolan Arenado, Rockies
7. Freddie Freeman, Braves
8. Paul Goldschmidt, D'backs
9. Starling Marte, Pirates
10. Ryan Braun, Brewers

I was wrong about Braun. He is good now.

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