The MVP award voting has brought about a lot of disgusting negativity, abject absurdity and borderline criminal levels of ignorance. And some people besides Mitch Albom decided to write about it too! But there was one positive thing to take away from the vote totals yesterday, and that’s Ryan Braun’s showing.
I would have voted Buster Posey over him, but it’s pretty clear that he was a top MVP candidate in the National League. Good arguments could be made for him as the second best player, but it would certainly be within the realm of reason to have him anywhere in the top four, along with Posey, Yadier Molina and Andrew McCutchen. And that’s where he finished. Second overall and present on all 32 MVP ballots. Indeed, no voter placed him lower than fourth.
I view this as a very good thing because I was convinced that someone — perhaps many someones — was going to either leave him off their ballot entirely or put him way down the list as some sort of extra-judicial punishment for the whole PED test thing last year, much the way PED guys are punished by the Hall of Fame voters. Which, as I’ve written ad nauseam over the years, is stupid.
The Hall of Fame electorate and the awards electorate are very different beasts so I don’t expect, say, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds to get a fair shake next month when the Hall ballots are submitted, but I do view this as a positive step forward for BBWAA voters.
The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.
Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.
Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.