Shin-Soo Choo gets boned, and other thoughts on the Silver Slugger Awards

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The Silver Slugger Awards were announced last night. Like the Gold Gloves, the Silver Slugger is voted on by managers and coaches and stuff. Which makes little damn sense. We’ve long been in a world where offensive contributions can be quantified objectively — especially compared to defense — so why there’s a vote involved is beyond me.  What’s next? Voting for the winner of the 100 meters?

But they still do it, so let’s see how they did.  In the AL we have:

1B — Mark Teixeira
2B — Aaron Hill
3B — Evan Longoria
SS — Derek Jeter
OF — Ichiro Suzuki
OF — Torii Hunter
OF — Jason Bay
C —  Joe Mauer
DH –Adam Lind

Teixeira is the right choice. Youkilis had a great season but didn’t have the plate appearances to match Teix’s overall production. Miguel Cabrera is in the conversation too, but Teix edges him almost everywhere it matters, and had the big RBI numbers that catch the voters’ eyes.

Same story could be told at third, where A-Rod had better rate stats but missed too much time. Ben Zobrist brought way more to the table than Aaron Hill did. I suppose he was docked because he only played 91 games at second base, but Adam Lind only DH’d for 95 games and he made the grade. 

Shin-Soo Choo was boned in the outfield. He created more runs than any AL outfielder and was third in OPS. Torii Hunter missed time a la A-Rod and Youkilis, but unlike them, he wasn’t docked. I’d give it to Choo over Hunter. And before you say anything, no, they didn’t need one representative from each outfield position. They could have given it to three leftfielders if they wanted to.  Apparently Indians fans weren’t the only people who ignored what was going on with the Indians this year.

In the NL it’s:

1B — Albert Pujols
2B — Chase Utley
3B — Ryan Zimmerman
SS — Hanley Ramirez
OF — Ryan Braun
OF — Andre Ethier
OF — Matt Kemp
C — Brian McCann
P — Carlos Zambrano

The NL is pretty darn good.  Pujols, Utley and Ramirez are no-brainers. Brian McCann is the right call too. I think Pablo Sandoval might have been a better choice than Zimmerman, even if he spent time at other positions (120 games at 3B). I’m sure a lot of it has to do with Zimmerman’s scorching-hot start, whereas Sandoval was more of a solid, hoo-hum producer throughout the year. I wonder if there wasn’t a little bit in the way of seniority-preferences or east coast bias at work too.

Either and Kemp are a tossup from a purely offensive perspective, but I can’t help but think that one of them should have made way for Jayson Werth.

Why they give a Silver Slugger to a pitcher is beyond me, but sure, give it to Zambrano. If you don’t he may hit you or have a nervous breakdown or something.

Of course no one ever fights over the Silver Slugger Award. We’ll save that for later this month when the BBWAA awards are announced.

Theo Epstein named The World’s Greatest Leader

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Fortune Magazine has put out a list of The World’s Greatest Leaders. Not the greatest business leaders, not the greatest leaders in a given industry, but the Greatest Leaders, full stop. The greatest according to Fortune: The Cubs’ Theo Epstein.

For some context, Pope Francis was third. Angela Merkel was 10th. Lebron James was the next greatest sports leader, ranked 11th. Take Fortune’s methodology with a grain of salt, however, given that it has John McCain above Merkel — what, exactly, does he lead now? — and Samantha Bee in the top 20.

So what makes Theo the world’s best leader according to Fortune?

The Cubs owe their success to a five-year rebuilding program that featured a concatenation of different leadership styles. The team thrived under the affable patience of owner Tom Ricketts, and, later, under the innovative eccentricity of manager Joe Maddon. But most important of all was the evolution of the club’s president for baseball operations, Theo Epstein, the wunderkind executive who realized he would need to grow as a leader in order to replicate in Chicago the success he’d had with the Boston Red Sox.

I don’t want to take anything away from what Theo has done — he’s a Hall of Fame executive already in my view — but I feel like maybe one needs to adjust for the fact that this is a baseball team we’re talking about. They’re the whole world to us and their brands are nationally and even world famous, but as an organization, sports teams are rather small. There are guys who run reasonably-sized HVAC companies with more employees than a baseball team and they don’t get the benefit of an antitrust exemption and a rule which allows them to get their pick of the best new employees if they had a bad year the year before.

Really, not trying to throw shade here, just thinking that being the spiritual father for 1.2 billion Catholics or running a foundation that serves 55 million needy children — like the woman who comes in at number 14 — is a bit of a tougher trick.

But this will make a great framed magazine article on Theo’s wall in Wrigley Field.

 

 

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.