Craig took issue with Jon Heyman’s MVP ballot earlier this afternoon. I’m not really looking to pile on here, but I was just as disturbed by Heyman’s choice for AL Rookie of the Year:
1. Jordan Walden, Angels RP. This 100-mph thrower has 26 saves for pennant contender.
Walden already got a nod to the AL All-Star team because of that big fastball. Can we just leave it at that?
Walden’s 26 saves rank tied for 17th in the majors. His nine blown saves, on the other hand, rank first in the majors. Carlos Marmol and Matt Capps are next with eight.
Now, Walden has pitched better than that. A couple of those blown saves have been pretty cheap, and the Angels have won four of the nine games in which he’s been charged with blown saves.
Still, the only reason anyone would notice Walden as a ROY candidate is because he’s a closer, and the fact it that he hasn’t been all that good at closing. Among rookie relievers alone, Chris Sale, Aaron Crow, Vinnie Pestano and Greg Holland have been about as valuable as Walden.
The way I see it the AL Rookie of the Year candidates are Jeremy Hellickson (11-9, 3.01 ERA), Michael Pineda (9-8, 3.71 ERA), Ivan Nova (14-4, 3.96 ERA) and Mark Trumbo (.256/.294/.475). Arguing for anyone else just doesn’t make much sense, and Heyman is way, way overvaluing the closer’s role if he’s honestly putting Walden first and then not rounding out his ballot with Sale and Crow or Pestano.
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.
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.