NLCS Giants Phillies Baseball

Ryan Howard got a second place MVP vote. That actually happened.

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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.

Orioles re-sign Michael Bourn to a minor league deal

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 04:  Michael Bourn #1 of the Baltimore Orioles hits a single in the fifth inning against the Toronto Blue Jays during the American League Wild Card game at Rogers Centre on October 4, 2016 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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The Orioles have re-signed outfielder Michael Bourn to a minor league contract with an invitation to major league camp, MASN’s Roch Kubatko reports.

Bourn, 34, joined the Orioles last year in a trade from the Diamondbacks on August 31. Though he compiled a meager .669 OPS with the Diamondbacks, Bourn hit a solid .283/.358/.435 in 55 plate appearances with the O’s through the end of the season.

Bourn, a non-roster invitee to camp, will try to play his way onto the Orioles’ 25-man roster. If he does make the roster, Bourn will receive a $2 million salary, Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports points out.

Shelby Miller is in the best mental shape of his life

PITTSBURGH, PA - MAY 24:  Shelby Miller #26 of the Arizona Diamondbacks pitches in the first inning during the game against the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park on May 24, 2016 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
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Diamondbacks starter Shelby Miller had about as bad a season as one can have. He was the headliner in the trade that sent 2015 No. 1 overall pick Dansby Swanson, All-Star outfielder Ender Inciarte, and highly-regarded pitching prospect Aaron Blair to the Braves. It was a trade that was pilloried at the time and continues to be pilloried to this day.

Miller didn’t do then-GM Dave Stewart any favors with his 2016 performance. He went 3-12 with a 6.15 ERA and a 70/42 K/BB ratio over 101 innings. That included a bout with mechanical failure, as he kept hitting the mound with his follow-through. He went on the disabled list. And after that, he was demoted to Triple-A. After getting fired, Stewart expressed remorse over acquiring Miller — or, more accurately, giving up Swanson to do so.

So, the 26-year-old Miller heads into 2017 without any momentum. To his credit, though, he’s going into the new season with a very positive perspective. Via Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports:

I’m just in a really happy place, away from the field, on the field. […]

Maybe it’s just the way I go about everything, trying to be positive in every single aspect of life. Baseball’s not perfect. I’m not perfect. I know bumps in the road are going to happen. Last year was obviously not just a bump, but a huge mountain. Right now, that’s completely behind me. I’m not worried about any of that.

I’m really ready for this year, ready to redeem myself so much.

Even pitching coach Mike Butcher sees the change in Miller’s mentality. “He’s not a different guy. But you can see there’s a presence in him. That’s what we need. Just be Shelby Miller. You don’t have to live up to anything. Just be yourself.”

Manager Torey Lovullo, too, praised Miller. “I saw a guy who had spent a lot of time taking care of his business in the weight room — he looks fantastic, in fantastic shape,” he said.

It sounds like Miller is not only in great mental shape, but great physical shape, too. Is it the “best shape of his life”? Only time can tell.