Midseason AL Cy Young Award

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It was the easiest call of all of the awards when we looked back one-third of the way through the year, but things have tightened up a bit since, as Zack Greinke is no longer sporting a 1.10 ERA.

Here’s the top 10 in ERA:

1. Zack Greinke – 2.12 ERA in 127 1/3 IP
2. Edwin Jackson – 2.52 ERA in 121 2/3 IP
3. Felix Hernandez – 2.53 ERA in 124 2/3 IP
4. Roy Halladay – 2.85 ERA in 123 IP
5. Jarrod Washburn – 2.96 ERA in 112 1/3 IP
6. Nick Blackburn – 3.06 ERA in 123 1/3 IP
7. Dallas Braden – 3.12 ERA in 112 1/3 IP
8. Jered Weaver – 3.22 ERA in 120 1/3 IP
9. Josh Beckett – 3.35 ERA in 121 IP
10. Justin Verlander – 3.38 ERA in 122 1/3 IP

And the top 10 in VORP:

1. Zack Greinke – 45.5
2. Edwin Jackson – 39.9
3. Felix Hernandez – 39.3
4. Roy Halladay – 39.0
5. Cliff Lee – 34.3
6. Jered Weaver – 33.3
7. Jarrod Washburn – 32.8
8. Kevin Millwood – 31.7
9. Nick Blackburn – 29.9
10. Justin Verlander – 29.3

I think that VORP gives us a better list than ERA in this case,
particularly in the way that it separates the top four from the rest of
the pack.

Now let’s try to remove fielding from the equation with FIP:

1. Zack Greinke – 2.06
2. Justin Verlander – 2.69
3. Roy Halladay – 2.96
4. Felix Hernandez – 3.04
5. Jon Lester – 3.32
6. Cliff Lee – 3.34
7. Josh Beckett – 3.36
8. Dallas Braden – 3.44
9. Edwin Jackson – 3.52
10. Carl Pavano – 3.70

I don’t really trust FIP very much, but there’s a lot here that I
agree with. Verlander hasn’t been more valuable to the Tigers than
Jackson, but maybe he could have been under different circumstances.
Lester ran into a lot of tough luck early on, yet he’s pitching as well
as anyone in the league right now. Pavano… well, color me skeptical
about that one.

So, Greinke is still the clear No. 1, even though he has a 3.97 ERA
since the beginning of June. After that, it’s three pitchers for two
spots: Jackson, Hernandez and Halladay. Halladay has an advantage in
that he’s allowed just two unearned runs, compared to six apiece for
Jackson and King Felix. Halladay has also faced the tougher schedule:
his opposing batters have had a 761 OPS, compared to 756 for Jackson
and 749 for Hernandez. I think that gets him the second spot. The
remaining place on the ballot goes to Jackson. While FIP believes he’s
been helped a great deal by the players behind him, the Tigers aren’t
nearly as strong defensively as the Mariners or Blue Jays. He’s also
gotten less assistance from his bullpen.

AL Cy Young

1. Greinke
2. Halladay
3. Jackson

Tigers in discussions with Jordan Zimmermann

Jordan Zimmermann
AP Photo/Alex Brandon

Jon Morosi of FOX Sports reports that the Tigers are in discussions with free agent starter Jordan Zimmermann. His sources have told him that the talks have become “serious”.

Zimmermann, 29, has a career 3.32 ERA across parts of seven seasons in the majors. He finished fifth in National League Cy Young Award balloting in 2014, finishing with a 2.66 ERA and a 182/29 K/BB ratio over 199 2/3 innings.

Among starters who have amassed at least 1,000 innings since 2009, only Cliff Lee, Dan Haren, Madison Bumgarner, and Zack Greinke have compiled a better strikeout-to-walk ratio than Zimmermann’s 4.09. While he doesn’t have the star power of other free agents such as Greinke or David Price, the Tigers would certainly improve their rotation by bringing him on board.

Blue Jays still focused on upgrading their pitching

Marco Estrada
AP Photo/LM Otero

Having already added Jesse Chavez and J.A. Happ to the mix and re-signing Marco Estrada early in the offseason, Blue Jays interim GM Tony LaCava said the team will continue to pursue pitching upgrades, as Sportsnet’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports. Nicholson-Smith added that LaCava declined to comment on free agent ace David Price. It is believed that the Jays will not pursue Price and other big-name free agent starting pitchers given their November activity.

The Jays re-signed Estrada to a two-year, $26 million deal on November 13, acquired Chavez from the Athletics in exchange for reliever Liam Hendriks on November 20 and signed Happ to a three-year, $36 million deal on Friday.

Nicholson-Smith notes in a column on Sportsnet that the Jays need to address the bullpen in particular. That is especially true after swapping Hendriks, who had a career-best 2.92 ERA out of the Jays’ bullpen in 2015, for a back-end starting pitcher.

Report: Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”

Jonathan Papelbon
AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

Jon Heyman of CBS Sports spoke to an anonymous baseball executive, who said that Nationals closer Jonathan Papelbon is “untradeable”. The Nationals are hoping to trade both Papelbon and the man he displaced, Drew Storen.

Papelbon has a poor reputation in baseball, particularly after a dugout altercation with superstar outfielder Bryce Harper. Focusing strictly on what he does on the field, Papelbon still gets the job done. The 35-year-old finished the last season with a combined 2.13 ERA, 24 saves, and a 56/12 K/BB ratio over 63 1/3 innings between the Phillies and Nationals.

The Nationals owe Papelbon $11 million for the 2016 season.

Minor league home run king Mike Hessman retires

NEW YORK - JULY 29:  Mike Hessman #19 of the New York Mets bats against the St. Louis Cardinals on July 29, 2010 at Citi Field in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. The Mets defeated the Cardinals 4-0.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Baseball America’s J.J. Cooper reports that corner infielder Mike Hessman has retired from professional baseball after 20 seasons. Hessman hit 433 home runs in the minor leagues, an all-time record. He broke Buzz Arlett’s record this past August and with style as #433 was a grand slam.

Hessman, 37, was selected in the 16th round of the 1996 draft by the Braves and remained with the organization through the 2004 season. He then went to the Tigers from 2005-09, the Mets in 2010, then drifted into the Astros and Reds’ farm systems before returning to the Tigers for the last two years.

Hessman took 250 plate appearances at the major league level, batting .188/.272/.422 with 14 home runs and 33 RBI.