Mike Trout

When the “best” player who “unquestionably provides the most value to his team” is not the MVP

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I take it back. Heyman’s MVP column was not all that convoluted after all. That’s because I just read Buster Olney’s and I can’t recall anything as confounding. And that’s with 98% of it being excellent.

It’s behind a paywall so you may not be able to read it. But I will do it justice in summary. Really — I am not adding my own gloss here. This is a faithful summary of Olney’s reasoning:

    • Doing something because “that’s the way it’s always been done” is stupid;
    • Voting for MVP award winners based on them being on a winning team is the way it’s always been done and that’s stupid. Writers do it, though, because they are slaves to this precedent which started in the 1930s.
    • It shouldn’t be this way. The MVP should go to the best player regardless of how his team finishes in the standings.
    • “I also think [Mike] Trout is the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value to his team of any player in the sport.”
    • He then says that if he had a vote he’d vote for Miguel Cabrera because “the MVP voting is chained to the past, for now: That’s the way we’ve always done it.  Because the criteria hasn’t changed — and until it does, the precedent should continue to carry interpretative weight.”

I repeat: all of that precedent is stupid. It should no longer stand. But it binds me, Buster Olney, to say Miguel Cabrera is the MVP despite the fact that I think Mike Trout is “the best player in baseball, and he unquestionably provides the most value.”

I’m sorry. We’re through the looking glass here.

I tweeted the upshot of this post a few minutes ago. Here was Buster’s response to me:

I guess I can get why he might consider my criticism of his stunning incoherence here to be a personal attack (though he’s the one calling people names). However, I personally see it as an instance in which one of the most influential opinion makers in all of baseball is making a strong argument that he himself is afraid to follow.

Question: If Buster can’t listen to his own reason and conscience with respect to this matter, why should anyone else?

Red Sox set a new major league record with 11 strikeouts in a row

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 20: Starting pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez #52 of the Boston Red Sox works the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on September 20, 2016 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Patrick Smith/Getty Images
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Lost in the nifty base running by Dustin Pedroia that won Sunday’s game against the Rays, the Red Sox set a new major league record by striking out 11 batters in a row, per Peter Abraham of The Boston Globe. Starter Eduardo Rodriguez struck out the final six Rays he faced and reliever Heath Hembree struck out five Rays in a row after that. Tom Seaver had the previous consecutive strikeout streak of 10, set on April 22, 1970 against the Padres.

The Red Sox also set a team record with 23 strikeouts in total: 13 by Rodriguez, five by Hembree, one by Matt Barnes, and four by Joe Kelly. Per Abraham, that’s the most strikeouts in a 10-inning game since at least 1913 and the most in a game of any length since 2004.

For Rodriguez, Sunday marked the first double-digit strikeout game of his career. He has pitched quite well since returning to the rotation at the start of the second half. Over 13 starts, the lefty has a 3.10 ERA with a 70/23 K/BB ratio in 72 2/3 innings.

Dodgers clinch NL West on Charlie Culberson’s walk-off home run

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 20: Charlie Culberson #6 of the Los Angeles Dodgers runs to first base after hitting a single RBI in the second inning against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park on July 20, 2016 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Matt Hazlett/Getty Images)
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Dodgers second baseman Charlie Culberson delivered a walk-off solo home run in the bottom of the 10th inning, clinching the NL West for the Dodgers on Sunday afternoon. What a way to celebrate Vin Scully’s final home game behind the microphone.

The Dodgers were trailing 2-1 in the seventh inning, but shortstop Corey Seager tripled in a run to tie the game. Rockies outfielder David Dahl untied the game in the top of the ninth with a two-out solo home run off of Kenley Jansen. But Seager once again rose to the occasion, blasting a game-tying solo shot in the bottom half of the ninth against Adam Ottavino. That would set the stage for Culberson in the next frame.

Culberson, a former Rockie, came into the afternoon with a .591 OPS and zero home runs in 53 plate appearances. He finished the afternoon 3-for-5 with the homer.

It’s the fourth consecutive season in which the Dodgers have won the NL West. The Cubs have clinched the best record, which means they’ll play the winner of the Wild Card game. The Dodgers will play the Nationals in the NLDS. The Nationals have a 1.5-game lead over the Dodgers for home-field advantage, so both teams are still playing for something of importance in the regular season’s final week.