Voter who kept Joe Mauer from unanimous MVP explains himself … sort of

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Just one vote kept Joe Mauer from joining Albert Pujols as a unanimous MVP last season and Tyler Kepner of the New York Times recently spoke to Keizo Konishi of the Kyodo News about why he cast his ballot for Miguel Cabrera instead.
In addition to going into some convoluted logic about the Twins’ lineup being better without Mauer than the Tigers’ lineup without Cabrera, Konishi also admitted to being “unaware of the details” surrounding Cabrera going 0-for-4 with six stranded runners after spending the night at a police station following a drunken altercation with his wife.
“If I had known what was going on there, my vote would probably be different,” Konishi said. “Or maybe, I don’t know. I would have to think about it again.”
Whether or not you think Cabrera’s off-field incident and subsequent struggles in the next game should impact his candidacy, my question is why one of just 28 votes for league MVP went to someone who didn’t pay enough attention to the league (or didn’t wait long enough to send in his ballot) to know “the details” of something like that involving a star player? MVP voters should know more than the average fan, right?
Konishi also explained that Mauer skipping the World Baseball Classic because of an injury played a part in his voting for Cabrera, because “the World Baseball Classic is a huge deal for the Japanese people” and “Cabrera played to the semifinals.” All of which might be somewhat relevant if the WBC was part of the MLB regular season, but it isn’t.
I appreciate Konishi’s willingness to explain his ballot in a public forum, but I certainly don’t appreciate the lack of insight and logic that went into his decision making. His vote made little sense, the reasoning behind his vote makes even less sense, and his having a ballot in the first place perhaps makes the least sense of all. Oh well.

Dodgers top Giants, clinch fifth straight NL West title

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The Dodgers are NL West champions for the fifth time in a row. They clinched with a 4-2 win over the Giants on Friday night, taking their first and only lead on a mammoth record-breaking home run from Cody Bellinger in the third inning.

Rich Hill turned in another quality start, going six innings with five hits, a run and nine strikeouts to keep the Giants at bay. He tacked on an RBI hit of his own, too, lashing a double to left field for his first extra-base hit since 2007.

The Giants, meanwhile, deployed Jeff Samardzija and his 4.42 ERA for 4 1/3 innings. Samardzija was on the hook for the Dodgers’ four-run spread in the third and took his 15th loss of the season. Pablo Sandoval came through with a solo home run in the ninth, but the rest of San Francisco’s offense wasn’t so lucky against Kenley Jansen, who struck out the side to clinch the game — and the division.

After Friday’s showstopper, the Dodgers are just two wins away from their first 100-win season since 1974. If they win the remaining eight games of the season, they’ll beat out the 1953 Brooklyn Dodgers for the most wins in franchise history.

Watch: Cody Bellinger breaks NL rookie home run record

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Cody Bellinger helped the Dodgers to their first lead on Friday night, going deep for his 39th home run of the season and setting a new National League rookie home run record in the process. With two on and two out in the third inning, the Dodgers’ slugger launched a 2-1 pitch from the Giants’ Jeff Samardzija, skimming the right field fence to give the team a three-run cushion:

The three-run bomb was Bellinger’s sixth of the season. In what is undoubtedly a Rookie of the Year award-worthy campaign, he’s logged 21 solo shots, 11 two-run blasts and a single grand slam. His historic home run topped former NL rookie leaders Frank Robinson and Wally Berger, at 38 homers apiece.

The Dodgers need to stay on top of the Giants to clinch the NL West or, barring that, have the Marlins pull off a win over the Diamondbacks. They currently lead the Giants 4-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning. The Marlins, meanwhile, are staying just ahead of the D-backs with a 9-7 lead in the top of the sixth.