Kevin Kiermaier

Bryce Harper, Jonny Gomes, Kevin Kiermaier and post-Awards silliness

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The aftermath of the MVP voting was really weird, you guys. Among the stuff that happened:

Bryce Harper, on Scott Van Pelt’s late night SportsCenter, was reluctant to answer a playful hypothetical question because he was worried that his answer would become a “may may.” By which he meant “meme.” I offer no criticism of him on this because it’s not like anyone but degenerate Internet addicts like me think all that much about memes let alone says the word out loud. Unfortunately and ironically, however, Harper’s pronunciation of the word will now likely turn him into the very thing he most feared: a may may.

Second, AL MVP Josh Donaldson credited Jonny Gomes for helping him change his approach at the plate when they both played in Oakland. This is not weird, actually, it’s quite understandable. I’ll just observe that this is just the latest example of creeping Jonny Gomesism in Major League Baseball. It used to just be that we’d get an unreasonable number of stories about how critically important he was to a team that (a) he was not really a key part of; and (b) wasn’t very good in the first place. Now he’s the MVP whisperer. And, in some places, a gosh darn prophet:

If we manage to defeat ISIS and usher in peace in the Middle East, I have no doubt that our top generals and diplomats will give Jonny Gomes a shoutout. HE’S THE GLUE, MAN.

Finally, on a personal note, I made some Twitter observations last night about how Rays Gold Glove center fielder Kevin Kiermaier — who received a handful of MVP votes himself — was not particularly well known among casual baseball fans or sports fans in general. This was not a judgment of any kind. I’m a sucker for center field defense and I think he’s a slick player with a bright future. It was just a statement of fact with which I feel it is difficult to disagree. If I was poking fun at anyone with respect to Kiermaier’s relative obscurity it was talk radio hosts general sports media figures like Skip Bayless who don’t follow baseball all that closely, not Kiermaier himself.

Kiermaier, who must have found those tweets by searching for his own name, then decided to search MY Twitter feed, found a silly pic I posted of me with my cats and mocked me, saying that no one listens to a person who looks like me. While this may be undeniably true — I am quite a ridiculous and non-influential person — the funny aspect was that part of the mocking related to the number of Twitter followers I have. Which is weird because I have more followers than he does, I’m not even some allegedly super famous well-known baseball player, and do these facts not make my original point for me?

Anyway, when I and others told him that he misinterpreted me and that I meant him no ill-will, he blocked me. Note: I wasn’t following him anyway.

I have no idea what Major League Baseball teams look at when they determine a player’s “makeup,” but I have the sense that “vanity-searching one’s self on Twitter, getting hyper defensive about being mentioned, misinterpreting observation as offense and then cowering from some silly, old, harmless, bald and crazy cat lady on the Internet” is a bad marker for such things. Anyway: still love your game, Kiermaier. Sorry about your cat hangup. Cats are amazing.

And now, with Awards Season over, we head into the darkness of the offseason in earnest. If you do not expect or appreciate silliness in these lean times, I have no idea how you make it through the winter.

Cy Young Awards tonight: Are there any wrong choices?

Jake Arrieta
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The Cy Young Award winners will be announced tonight. Like most of the other awards this year it’s really hard for the voters to make a bad choice.

Of the six finalists — Jake ArrietaZack Greinke and Clayton Kershaw in the NL, Sonny GrayDallas Keuchel and David Price in the AL — only Gray feels like a guy who would be a surprise winner if his name were announced. Otherwise it’s all crazy-even, to the point where it’s hard to even muster some phony outrage, let along legit outrage. Kind of takes all of the fun out of an awards announcement to be honest.

Price went 18-5 and led the AL with a 2.45 ERA. Keuchel led the league in wins with 20 and posted a 2.48 ERA. Gray went 14-7 and posted the league’s third-best ERA at 2.73. Keuchel pitched a few more innings, had slight edges in some rate statrs and, as part of the great story that was the Houston Astros this year, probably has an edge.

You can’t go wrong in the NL either. Arrieta paired wins with a crazy-low ERA. Greinke had an even lower one, led the league in WHIP and had the league’s best winning percentage with a 19-3 record. Kershaw, after a mildly rocky start, turned it on in a major way after that, striking out over 300 batters. In any given year a guy with any of those basic resumes would be a Cy Young favorite. This year we have three top choices. If I had to guess I’d say that Arrieta’s dominant second half gives him the slight edge, but again, it’s a tossup.

Maybe next year we’ll have the chance of a truly bad choice. That would be far more interesting.

Who will win the Manager of the Year Awards tonight?

Joe Maddon
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Night two of the BBWAA Awards is tonight, and the Managers of the Year will be announced in both the AL and the NL just after 6pm Eastern time. The finalists were announced a week ago. They are Terry Collins, Joe Maddon and Mike Matheny in the National League and Jeff Banister, A.J. Hinch and Paul Molitor in the American League.

In early October I broke down this race, making a case for who should win and a guess as to who will win. As I made clear in that post, however, the Manager of the Year Award is not really a matter suitable for analysis and prediction in the way the other awards are. A manager’s success is insanely dependent on his team’s talent level and health and, just because an otherwise good manager’s team doesn’t fare well doesn’t mean they somehow forgot how to manage well. If you do better with what outsiders thought you had six months earlier, hooray, you’re the manager of the year.

And so it is here. The Mets and Cubs have men who are widely perceived to be excellent managers at the helm but were considered to be less-than-ready for true contention. Most figured the Mets were a potential wild card team and it turns out they won the NL East before ballots were submitted. Most thought the Cubs wouldn’t be a playoff team for a year or two at least, and they won 97 games. Mike Matheny was expected to have a strong contender and more than fulfilled those expectations with a 100-win season but did so despite injuries to key players. A month or so ago I figured that Maddon would win and maybe should, but Collins is a great choice given the parameters typically used by voters. Injuries notwithstanding, Matheny will likely fall victim to the same implicit argument Joe Girardi usually does: “hey, your team is SUPPOSED to win!”

In the AL we have a more traditional setup: three new managers who took over teams perceived to be non-contenders at the beginning of the year but which greatly exceeded expectations. Hinch was considered a disaster of a manager in Arizona but one good year later and he’s new looked on in a new light. Molitor and Bannister had no track record. All three could turn out to be the Next Great Managers in Baseball History, about which books are written, but now their calling card is, primarily, having exceeded those expectations. Any could win. I have no idea who should. If I had to guess I’d say Banister, but it’s really a pick ’em.