Mike Trout

Pouliot’s 2014 American League awards picks


If the American League MVP race doesn’t provide as much intrigue as usual this year, at least the Cy Young competition still offers some controversy. Here are my AL picks for the three player awards, with the NL selections to follow on Tuesday.


1. Mike Trout
2. Michael Brantley
3. Robinson Cano
4. Victor Martinez
5. Adrian Beltre
6. Jose Altuve
7. Josh Donaldson
8. Jose Abreu
9. Adam Jones
10. Jose Bautista

Trout wasn’t quite as good this year as he was the previous two, but he’s still the AL’s best player and he’ll finally get his much deserved first MVP award, thanks to the Angels’ ascension. It’s not a particularly close race for first. Trout was third in the AL in OPS behind Martinez and Abreu, but the margin was minuscule. In fact, in OPS+, they graded out at 169 for Abreu, 168 for Martinez and 167 for Trout. And if Trout wasn’t as valuable defensively or on the basepaths as he was in previous years, he still obviously had much more value there than Martinez or Abreu.

Brantley is the clear No. 2 in my mind: 156 games with the AL’s seventh best OPS, plus 23 steals in 24 attempts. WAR isn’t fond of his defense, but I don’t find any fault with him in left field. It gets a whole lot more difficult to separate the candidates after that. Both versions of WAR favor Donaldson and Alex Gordon because of their defense. I’m going Cano third because he was a better hitter than both and still an above average defensive second baseman in my mind. Martinez comes in fourth despite his total lack of defensive value; it was just an awesome offensive season. Particularly nice is that he grounded into a modest 17 double plays, despite the fact that he’s slower than molasses, he was always putting the ball in play (just 42 strikeouts) and he so often had Miguel Cabrera on first base ahead of him.

Abreu’s lack of defensive value, combined with his early DL stint, drops him to eighth on my ballot, though I’m guessing he’ll finish third behind Trout and Martinez when the actual results are revealed in November.

Tough to leave off the list were Kyle Seager, Gordon and both Cy Young candidates.


AL Cy Young

Felix Hernandez: 15-6, 170 H, 68 R, 56 ER, 16 HR, 248/46 K/BB in 236 IP
Corey Kluber……: 18-9, 207 H, 72 R, 64 ER, 14 HR, 269/51 K/BB in 235 2/3 IP

That’s awfully, awfully close.

Fangraphs WAR, which is based strictly on homers, strikeouts and walks, obviously favors Kluber. Baseball-reference WAR, which isn’t FIP based, also prefers Kluber.

The ERA crown went to Hernandez, who finished at 2.14 after having four earned runs from his next-to-last start taken away over the weekend (it was his own error that led to the runs, and yes, it was clearly an error). Kluber finished at 2.44. Even with the extra four earned runs, Hernandez would have come in at 2.28, though he would have lost first place to Chris Sale at 2.17.

As for Sale, I’m discounting him from this discussion. He was more effective than either Felix or Kluber, but he finished 60 innings shy of both. The other two pitched 33 percent more than Sale did.

Hernandez led the AL with a 0.915 WHIP. Kluber’s was a much more pedestrian 1.095.

Kluber faced the tougher competition; his opposing batters had a .715 OPS, whereas Hernandez’s came in at .704.

In the end, I think this comes down to defense. The Mariners’ had the second best defensive efficiency in baseball, behind only Oakland. The Indians ranked 25th. That goes a long way towards explaining how Kluber gave up 37 more hits despite recording 21 more strikeouts and surrendering two fewer homers.

If you buy into that — that the gap between Seattle’s defense and Cleveland’s defense was that huge — then you have to give the Cy Young Award to Kluber. If you don’t, then you might prefer Hernandez. Personally, I don’t think the Mariners’ defense was quite that good — the outfield was something of a mess until Austin Jackson arrived and Brad Miller isn’t anything special at short — but I do believe the Indians defense was that bad and perhaps worse. For that reason, I’m throwing my support behind Kluber. It’s still close, but I think it’s the right call.

1. Kluber
2. Hernandez
3. Sale
4. Jon Lester
5. Max Scherzer


AL Rookie of the Year

1. Abreu
2. Dellin Betances
3. Collin McHugh

A year ago, I had Jose Iglesias edging 3 1/2 months of Wil Myers atop my ROY ballot. Neither of those seasons would have cracked the top five for AL rookies this year.

Just look at the starting pitching options:

Collin McHugh: 11-9, 2.73 ERA, 157/41 K/BB in 154 2/3 IP
Yordano Ventura: 14-10, 3.07 ERA, 153/68 K/BB in 179 IP
Masahiro Tanaka: 13-5, 2.77 ERA, 141/21 K/BB in 136 1/3 IP
Matt Shoemaker: 16-4, 3.04 ERA, 124/24 K/BB in 136 IP
Marcus Stroman: 11-6, 3.65 ERA, 111/28 K/BB in 130 2/3 IP
Roenis Elias: 10-12, 3.85 ERA, 143/64 K/BB in 163 2/3 IP
Jake Odorizzi: 11-13, 4.13 ERA, 174/59 K/BB in 168 IP

Only one of them can make the cut, and I’m choosing McHugh. Betances was probably the AL’s best reliever, or at least he and Wade Davis were 1 and 1a. Abreu was Abreu. Honorable mention goes to Danny Santana and Kevin Kiermaier on the offensive side. Santana hit .319 and swiped 20 bases in 405 at-bats. Kiemaier’s .263-10-35 line in 331 at-bats doesn’t look like anything special, but he played some terrific defense in right and center.

Jury awards Jose Offerman’s bat attack victim $940,000

Jose Offerman AP

You may remember when former major league infielder Jose Offerman attacked two players with a bat while he was a member of the independent Long Island Ducks back in 2007. One of the victims was catcher Johnathan Nathans of the Bridgeport Bluefish, who was hit on the side of his head by Offerman. Nathans sued and the result is in today:

The jury in the two-week-long bat-attack trial of Jose Offerman awarded the victim, former Bluefish catcher Johnathan Nathans $940,000 in damages.

The verdict in the federal case was returned at about 4 p.m. on Tuesday; the seven-member jury deliberated for about 5 hours.

Nathans, whose career was ended by his injuries, had sought nearly $5 million in damages. He claims the attack has left him permanently disabled with vertigo, splitting headaches, nausea and other problems. The jury agreed that Offerman was culpable, but obviously did not see eye-to-eye with Nathans on damages.

It’s rare to see any on-the-field violence actually punished via the legal system. But of course, extreme cases call for extreme consequences. But not extreme criminal consequences: Offerman was charged with felony assault after the attack, but the charges were dismissed after he took anger management classes. Anger management classes which didn’t take, apparently.

The Long Island Ducks, Offerman’s employer at the time, were found not to be liable. Which makes sense. I mean, it’s not like their management was on record saying that they wanted players to act violently on the field or something. Such a scenario would likely change the calculus, but that would be totally crazy.


(thanks to Ben Butler for the heads up)


Jury finds the Dodgers partially negligent, awards $18 million to Bryan Stow

Bryan Stow

UPDATE: Apparently the allocation of damages is much more complicated than I first assumed. Specifics of California tort law and the old bankruptcy order governing the Dodgers’ liabilities at the time change the calculus here. So, while the $18 million verdict still represents the top that Stow can recover, the Dodgers may be on the hook for as much as $14 million of the jury award.

Wednesday, 5:03 PM: The jury verdict in the Bryan Stow civil case has just come in: the Dodgers were found to have been negligent on Opening Day 2011 when Bryan Stow was brutally beaten in the Dodger Stadium parking lot. The jury awarded $18 million in damages to Stow and his family.

However, the Dodgers will only have to pay a quarter of that $18 million, as they were only found to be 25% of the cause of Stow’s injuries. His attackers, Louie Sanchez and Marvin Norwood, were 75% responsible according to the verdict. Obviously Stow is highly unlikely to ever receive a dime from them as both of them are currently serving lengthy prison sentences.

Notably Frank McCourt, then the Dodgers owner, was not found negligent. McCourt’s not being held personally liable is consistent with the mainstream of premises liability and corporate law which, in the normal course, shields the owners of a company from liability even if the company itself is on the hook. Stow himself was not found contributorily negligent, meaning that the jury did not, contrary to the arguments of the Dodgers, believe that he was responsible for bringing on the attack which injured him. The jury likewise rejected Stow’s claim of punitive damages which means that they did not find that the Dodgers’ acted egregiously our outrageously in failing to provide adequate security at Dodger Stadium that day.

Stow’s expert witnesses estimated that he would need some $50 million in lifetime medical care due to the severity of his injuries. Now he stands to receive, at most, $4.5 million.

Or: between one and two percent of the Dodgers’ annual payroll.