It has become ritual for we blogger-types to scan the awards ballots to find the oddities, outliers and outrages of the BBWAA vote, so I dutifully do so now. No real outrages here. Any reasonable person figured that Votto, Pujols and maybe — maybe — Carlos Gonzalez were your huckleberries, and they finished 1-2-3. So to the extent there is any reason to complain here it’s of the “downballot snarking” variety, not the “this is outrageous!” variety. To wit:
- Ryan Howard got a second place vote, a third place vote a fourth, two fifths, two sixths and a seventh. He’s a poor defensive first baseman who ranked 17th in OPS, yet he beat out Buster Posey on the ballot. I know he’s a popular player and everything — and I would never say that he’s not a good player — but is there a player in the league for whom there is a greater disconnect between perceived value and actual value?
- Roy Halladay was sixth. I haven’t thought hard about it, but it sort of feels right. He didn’t have a case or anything, but I want voters to get back to seriously considering pitchers for the MVP. There will come a season soon when someone goes, like 24-4 with 300 strikeouts and a low walk total. When he does, I want that guy to win the MVP.
- Ubaldo Jimenez got a fourth place vote, but no other votes. No man is an island. Except, that is, for the man who voted Jimenez fourth.
- Dan Uggla got five votes. I can now officially taunt Marlins fans by saying that the Braves traded Omar Infante and Mike Dunn for an MVP candidate. Wait, that’s silly. There aren’t any Marlins fans.
- Deep thought: how can Omar Infante beat Joey Votto onto the All-Star team and not be considered more valuable?! It’s the All-Star game, people!!
- Adrian Gonzalez was the highest ranked player who got left off of someone’s ballot. Voters can pick their top ten. I don’t believe that voters have to vote for ten players, however, so that could explain it. I mean, if a voter figured “top three is all that matters” it makes sense to leave him off. But if the guy who left off Gonazalez actually voted for ten other dudes, that seems a bit nuts to me. UPDATE: reader Whitakk points out that there were 32 10th-place votes cast, so each voter must have turned in a complete ballot. So someone didn’t think Gonzalez was top-10 material. Odd.
Like I said: no basis whatsoever for outrage. Votto deserved it in my view, and there were no atrocities on the ballots. But it’s fun to talk about it all the same, so we talk.
With their 2016 season and 11-game playoff run in the books, the Dodgers are refocusing their attention on the upcoming 2017 season. Two outstanding performers, third baseman Justin Turner and right-handed closer Kenley Jansen, are on the cusp of free agency heading into the offseason. According to Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports, the Dodgers intend to make qualifying offers to both Turner and Jansen, but may not be prepared to go the distance to keep both of them on the 2017 roster.
Turner finished his third season in Los Angeles with a .275/.339/.493 batting line and a career-best 27 home runs, riding a hot streak that made him one of the most productive players on the Dodgers’ squad this October. He started in all 11 games of the NLDS and NLCS, engineering a .286 average and two home runs — one of which was the difference-maker in a 4-3 win during Game 1 of the NLDS. His glove has become a much-needed asset within the Dodgers’ organization as well, as he currently ranks sixth among qualified third basemen with seven Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) and second with a 14.1 Ultimate Zone Rating (UZR) in 2016.
While Turner’s production rate suggests that he’s made a full recovery from the microfracture procedure he underwent in 2015, the Dodgers appear to have reservations about the 31-year-old’s age. Heyman indicated that the veteran infielder prefers to stay in Los Angeles, but the chances of the Dodgers jumping into a fierce bidding war appear to be low for the time being.
Jansen, on the other hand, is expected to incur more interest from the club. The right-hander commanded a 1.83 ERA and 9.45 K/BB rate through 68 2/3 innings in the regular season and was instrumental in closing the door on five wins during the postseason. His 3.2 fWAR performance in 2016 made him the most valuable reliever in the major leagues, eclipsing fellow standouts like the Indians’ Andrew Miller and the Cubs’ Aroldis Chapman. Assuming the Dodgers are as serious about retaining Jansen as they were about pursuing Chapman during the 2015 offseason, the 29-year-old closer should stand a decent chance of returning to Los Angeles for another season.
Should the Dodgers fail to match an offer levied to either Turner or Jansen, they’ll receive compensation in the form of unprotected draft picks.
The Cubs obliterated the Dodgers in Game 6 of the NLCS, riding nine shutout innings to their first pennant win since 1945. Here’s what you should know about their historic finish:
- By virtue of the Cubs’ 71-year World Series drought, Jon Lester and Javier Baez became the club’s first and only postseason MVPs in franchise history. The World Series MVP award was first distributed in 1955, while the NLCS MVP awards have been issued since 1977.
- Lester and Baez are also the first co-MVPs of the Championship Series since the 1990 Reds celebrated left-hander Randy Myers and right-hander Rob “Nasty Boy” Dibble following the team’s ninth pennant win (per MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch).
- Anthony Rizzo’s fifth inning solo shot in Game 6 tied him with Miguel Cabrera, Alex Gonzalez, and Kyle Schwarber for the most postseason homers hit at Wrigley Field, with three (per Comcast SportsNet’s Christopher Kamka).
- Rizzo and Willson Contreras’ home runs were the first Clayton Kershaw had given up in the playoffs since Game 4 of the 2015 NLDS. The twin blasts also accounted for a fifth of the total home runs Kershaw had given up in 2016.
- Clayton Kershaw’s Game Score of 33 was not only the lowest the left-hander had put up since the start of the 2015 season, but the lowest the Cubs had seen from an opposing pitcher in the postseason since 1989. During Game 4 of the 1989 NLCS, Giants’ right-hander Scott Garrelts pitched 4 2/3 innings with eight hits, four runs, and two homers en route to a 6-4 loss and a 33 Game Score.
- By contrast, Kyle Hendricks’ Game Score of 86 was the third-highest among Cubs’ postseason starters, ranking just below Jake Arrieta’s 11-strikeout complete game during the 2015 wild card tiebreaker and Orval Overall’s three-hitter in Game 5 of the 1908 World Series.
- The last major league season to feature an ERA leader on the Cubs’ roster was 1945, also the last season in which the Cubs rode to the World Series. In 2016, the MLB ERA leader is Game 6 winner Kyle Hendricks (2.13 ERA); in ‘45, it was left-hander Ray Prim (2.40 ERA), who capped a dominant year with a loss against the Tigers in Game 4 of the World Series and blown save in Game 6.
- Not to be overlooked in the lefty’s gem on Saturday night: Hendricks and Aroldis Chapman combined to face the minimum number of batters, at 27. According to MLB Stat of the Day, only the 1956 Yankees had also faced the minimum batters in a postseason game, though they did it with just a bit more panache.
- With Kris Bryant, Willson Contreras, Albert Almora Jr., Javier Baez, and Addison Russell penciled into the lineup, the Cubs became the first MLB team to utilize five starters under 25 years old to clinch the NLCS (also via MLB Stat of the Day).
- If you want to talk postseason drought, the Cubs-Indians World Series will set a precedent for combined championship-less streaks, at 174 years between the two clubs (per ESPN Stats & Info).
- Speaking of unpleasant streaks, there’s this: with the Dodgers’ loss in the NLCS, they’ve now gone to the postseason four consecutive times without participating in a World Series showdown. According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, that’s a first in major league history.