Mike Moustakas

And That Happened: Tuesday’s scores and highlights

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Royals 11, Tigers 4: Two games, two Tigers Cy Young Award winners shelled. And with that, the Kansas City Royals are in sole possession of first place in the AL Central. This is the latest they’ve been in first place since that crazy, flukey year they had back in 2003, when they finally fell out of first place in August.

Angels 9, Indians 3: Mike Trout had two homers. He had a three-run homer in the fifth that broke a tie and a leadoff homer in the seventh for extra measure. A few weeks ago people were talking about Trout’s “down year.” Even if it was down, he was still having a great season by most people’s standards. Now, after a Trout is batting .410 over his last 22 games he has raised his average from .264 to .311 and sits at .311/.397/.610, which is a great season even by his own.

Brewers 7, Diamondbacks 5: Jonathan Lucroy hit two homers including a grand slam. Which was set up by a bunch of idiocy on the part of the Dbacks. But hey, at least no one can accuse of Kirk Gibson and his players of not Playing The Game The Right Way. That is, assuming trying to win baseball games isn’t part of Playing The Game The Right Way.

Nationals 6, Astros 5: Washington took a 6-1 lead into the top of the eighth and then weathered a four-run Houston rally to hold on. Anthony Rendon doubled twice and drove in three runs and the Nats broke their four-game losing streak.

Mariners 6, Padres 1: Homers for Robinson Cano and Jesus Montero. Montero also played first base, which is a new thing for him in the bigs. Not a bad couple of first steps back for a dude who got (a) underachieved tremendously; (b) got a drug suspension; and (c) showed up to camp after all of that in bad shape.

Reds 6, Pirates 5: Todd Frazier with a homer in the ninth to break a 5-5 tie. It was his 16th homer of the year and, at the moment anyway, he is the best offensive third baseman in the NL. He and Milwaukee’s Lucroy are the two dudes who, on first-half merit anyway, deserve to start the All-Star Game but aren’t currently leading at their positions. Maybe their big nights last night will goose the voters into giving them more love.

Phillies 5, Braves 2: The Phillies have won six of eight. They got a nice performance from Kyle Kendrick and Ryan Howard homered. Atlanta has lost seven of 11 and 13 of 21 and it’s only by the grace of God and the Nationals’ inconsistency that they aren’t buried right now.

Yankees 3, Blue Jays 1: You can’t count on much in this crazy world, but if you can count on anything you can count on Tanaka. The Yankees’ ace wins his 11th game after striking out ten in six innings. The only blemish was a homer to Jose Reyes on the first pitch of the game. After that: the Blue Jays couldn’t do a thing.

Marlins 6, Cubs 5: Garrett Jones hit a three-run homer. In other news, I had completely forgotten that Garrett Jones plays for the Marlins. Because, really, who watches a ton of Marlins games?

Cardinals 5, Mets 2: That’s eight of nine for the Cardinals, as Michael Wacha got some key strikeouts to get out of jams. The Mets have lost 11 of 14.

Red Sox 2, Twins 1: Phil Hughes was impressive, allowing two runs over eight, but Jon Lester allowed only one while pitching into the seventh and got some nice support from his bullpen. Also: some nice defensive support from a corner infielder playing center field.

Orioles 7, Rays 5: Chris Davis hit a grand slam that was originally called a double, but viva replay. Part of Buck Showalter’s rationale for challenging the call — which was a close one and hard for Davis himself to determine if it was gone or not — was that he heard it clang off the foul pole. Which is something that can probably only happen in the mostly empty and echoey Tropicana Field.

Dodgers 4, Rockies 2: Matt Kemp went deep and Hanley Ramirez hit a two-run shot. Ramirez also left the game in the seventh with a bruised ring finger on his right hand. X-Rays were negative. Which is positive.

White Sox 8, Giants 2: My kids wanted to watch baseball last night. By the time they were showered and in their jammies the Braves were losing 4-0 and our secondary viewing habit — the Tigers — were in an even deeper hole. So I turned on this one because my daughter asked me to watch “the best team playing a game right now.” Right after we turned it on Gordon Beckham hit a homer and the Giants started throwing the ball all around the infield. Then Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow started doing Hawk Harrelson impressions on the air which was both funny and painful. The upshot: not a great night for watching games with the kids. Probably should’ve watched the Tanaka game.

Athletics 10, Rangers 6: Derek Norris did a nice Vinnie Johnson impression last night:five RBI coming off the bench. Stephen Vogt went 3 for 3 with two RBI. Yu Darvish has lost eight straight to the A’s.

Who Should win the Rookie of the Year Awards? Who Will?

LOS ANGELES, CA - SEPTEMBER 05:  Corey Seager #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers reacts to his three run homerun for a 6-0 lead over the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fifth inning at Dodger Stadium on September 5, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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With the regular season ending on Sunday and most of the playoff spots locked up, there’s really only one big thing left to argue about: postseason awards. So let’s spend some time looking at who should win each of the four major awards and who will win them. Which are often totally different things. Next up: The Rookie of the Year Awards

This is a whole heck of a lot easier than the MVP and Cy Young Awards, that’s for sure. It’s a two horse race in the AL and a one-horse race in the NL.

Who should win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

It seemed like Tigers starter Michael Fulmer would be the no-brainer choice for a good long while, as his low ERA and solid performance helped carry the Tigers when their starting pitching wasn’t doing them any favors. But then the Yankees called up catcher Gary Sanchez at the beginning of August and all he’s done since then is hit .303/.378/.672 with an astonishing 20 homers in his first 51 games. Fulmer has continued to be solid — he’s just short of qualifying for the ERA title, but does have the league’s lowest ERA at 3.06 — but Sanchez has been spectacular.

The MVP and Cy Young Award require full season contributions. Not everyone takes the Rookie of the Year Award quite as seriously, it seems, and are thus more willing to entertain smaller samples of excellence over large samples of solid work when it comes to the award. That’s how Bill and I think about it anyway, giving the nod to Sanchez’s historic two-month run. Ashley, however, favors Fulmer’s larger volume of work. You can’t really go wrong with either choice:

Craig: Sanchez
Bill: Sanchez
Ashley: Fulmer

Who will win the AL Rookie of the Year Award?

Hard call. I have no idea what voters will do on that quantity/quality calculation. I’ll guess Fulmer, but it’s just a guess. I could just as easily see Sanchez given some quasi-MVP credit for helping the Yankees remain relevant after the trade deadline and throw it his way.

 

Who should win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If you say anyone other than Corey Seager, and his .311/.369/.519 26 homer batting line, the state has authorized me to have you taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point your competence to reenter society will be gauged. But there is ice cream there.

Craig: Seager
Bill: Seager
Ashley: Seager

 

Who will win the NL Rookie of the Year Award?

If any BBWAA voter lists anyone other than Corey Seager at the top of his or her Rookie of the Year ballot, the state has authorized me to have them taken to a hospital for 48 hours of examination, at which point their competence to reenter society will be gauged. They will not, however, be allowed to have any ice cream because, really, they should know better. They’re professionals.

Jeremy Giambi vs. David Ortiz

jeremy-giambi
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The 2002 Red Sox won 93 games, only to finish 10 games behind the Yankees in the AL West and six back of the lone wild card. They named Theo Epstein the GM that November and allowed him to begin reshaping the team, then led by Pedro Martinez and Manny Ramirez.

The Red Sox didn’t make any big splashes that winter. Their biggest free agent signing was Ramiro Mendoza, who got $6.5 million for two years. They also signed Mike Timlin and Bill Mueller (who played behind Shea Hillenbrand at third initially). They traded for Todd Walker. They stole Bronson Arroyo off waivers.

What Epstein did totally overhaul was a first base-DH situation that held the team back the previous season. 2002 trade deadline pickup Cliff Floyd exited in free agency, as did disappointments Tony Clark and Jose Offerman.

Brought in was a three-headed monster of underappreciated, high-OBP, Moneyball-type players. First, the Red Sox traded Josh Hancock to the Phillies for Jeremy Giambi, who had just hit .244/.435/.538 in 156 at-bats after coming over from the A’s at midseason. He hit .272/.402/.475 in 684 at-bats total between 2001 and 2002, and he looked like he was still very much in his prime at age 28.

The day after the Giambi trade, the Twins made the move to release David Ortiz. No one pounced, though, and Ortiz remained unsigned for a month before joining the Boston on a one-year, $1.25 million contract. Ortiz, who was entering his age-27 season, hit .272/.339/.500 in 412 at-bats for the Twins in 2002.

While that was going on, the Red Sox were working to bring in Kevin Millar for first base. Millar hit .306/.366/.509 in 438 at-bats for the Marlins in 2002 and was even better the previous season, but he was a poor outfielder and third baseman and the team already had Derrek Lee at first base. So, the Marlins, rather than trade Millar for a player, sold him to Japan for some much-preferred cash. Millar, not realizing that he was a desired commodity around the league, went along with the plan. That’s when the Red Sox broke an unwritten rule and claimed Millar off waivers. It turned into a long ordeal, but the Red Sox were finally able to land Millar in February by buying him from the Marlins.

I remember at the time being most excited about the Giambi acquisition. He couldn’t play defense and he had gotten himself exiled by the A’s for some transgression the previous year, but he looked like an awesome offensive force with his terrific power and ridiculous walk rate. Ortiz was certainly worth taking the chance on, too, but I thought Giambi would be better and leave Ortiz with little to do.

Indeed, Giambi started over Ortiz on Opening Day. However, both got off to lousy starts and Giambi’s playing time quickly diminished. Giambi finished April at .125/.288/.292 in 60 plate appearances, starting only once in the final week of the month. Ortiz came in at .212/.311/.346 in 61 plate appearances.

Both players found their strokes at the beginning of May. For Giambi, though, it amounted to all of about two weeks of success. He peaked with an .828 OPS on May 16. Ortiz’s build was slower, but it lasted. He had a .942 OPS in May, a .961 OPS in June, a .987 OPS in July and a 1.097 OPS in August before plummeting all of the way to .977 in September. He finished 5th in the AL MVP balloting despite playing about half the time the first two months.

Giambi, finding himself more starved for at-bats after Ortiz heated up, landed on the DL in late June with a bad shoulder. At the time, it looked like it might have been a made-up injury to get him playing time in the minors for a spell. It wasn’t. He returned a few weeks later, but he still wasn’t right. He made his last appearance on Aug. 1, going 0-for-3 against the Orioles. He landed back on the DL and then underwent surgery to repair damage in his labrum and rotator cuff.

As it turned out, Giambi never played in the majors again. As he was trying to come back from the shoulder surgery the next spring, he developed back problems. He played in 17 minor league games with the Dodgers in 2004 and nine with the White Sox in 2005. That was it for him, and he was done at 30 years old. In early 2005, he admitted to using BALCO-provided steroids and said that he regretted it. The strength training likely played roles in both his emergence and his downfall, given the breakdown of his body.

Things worked out a little differently for Ortiz…

Ortiz through 2002 (age 26): .266/.348/.461, 108 OPS+ in 1,693 PA
Giambi through 2002 (age 27): .269/.381/.437, 114 OPS+ in 1,549 PA

Ortiz after 2002: .290/.386/.570, 148 OPS+ in 8,387 PA
Giambi after 2002: .197/.342/.354, 81 OPS+ in 156 PA

And those 2003 Red Sox? Well, they won 95 games, which was good enough for the wild card this time. Still, they lost to the Yankees in seven games in the ALCS. They were still one year away.