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Chris Sale

HBT First-Half Awards: American League Cy Young

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With no baseball on Wednesday or Thursday, we’re taking stock of the best performances of the first half of the season by handing out midseason awards. Maybe someday we’ll have the budget for an actual Midseason Award Trophy, but for now they merely get our kind and admiring words. Next up: American League Cy Young Award.

Craig Calcaterra‘s ballot:

1. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
2. Sonny Gray, Oakland A’s
3. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros

This is a dang close race, folks, with arguments for all three of these guys, in terms of stats, in terms of narratives or in terms of whatever combination of those two things you prefer to let lead you in your analysis of such things.

Chris Sale, of course, has been striking out the world, leading the league in strikeouts, strikeouts per nine innings and leading the AL in WHIP and in Fielding Independent Pitching. Sonny Gray leads the American League in adjusted ERA+, ERA, and has given up fewer hits and fewer home runs per nine innings than any starter. Dallas Keuchel, for his part, is tied for the lead league in wins and WAR among pitchers. As far as narrative stuff goes, Keuchel is leading a surprisingly good Astros team, Sale tied the record for most consecutive games with ten strikeouts or more and Gray, well, he’s at least a reason to watch the A’s every fifth day.

If you ask me who should win this award ten times in the next few days I’d probably go back and forth between Sale and Gray a handful of times and may, when I’m feeling narrative-y, throw it Keuchel’s way on occasion. And I’d probably clear my throat and mention Felix Hernandez and Chris Archer a couple of times too because they’re having fantastic seasons. But if you put a gun to my head and make me choose one, I’ll choose Sale, because strikeouts are fun, even if they’re somewhat fascist.

Aaron Gleeman‘s ballot:

1. Dallas Keuchel, Houston Astros
2. Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox
3. Sonny Gray, Oakland A’s

I agree with basically everything Calcaterra said above, especially the stuff about this being an extremely close race so far. Chris Sale has been the most dominant starter, but in looking over all the relevant numbers I kept coming back to Dallas Keuchel as being every bit as deserving. He leads the league in innings pitched and batters faced–which is huge for an Astros rotation that otherwise hasn’t been particularly good–and Keuchel ranks second in ERA at 2.23, just 0.18 behind Sonny Gray and 0.49 better than Sale.

I give Keuchel the slight edge based mostly on a higher workload–he’s thrown 14 more innings than Gray and 18 more innings than Sale–while also having zero problem with anyone thinking Sale or Gray should be in the top spot. It’s also worth giving a little nod to reigning Cy Young winner Corey Kluber, whose secondary numbers remain Cy Young-caliber even if poor lineup, bullpen, and defensive support from the Indians have burdened him with an ugly win-loss record and too many runs allowed.

Mike Trout’s power scored the first run, his legs help score the second. AL leads 3-1.

Trout
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Mike Trout got things going in this game with his power. He kept them going with his legs.

Clayton Kershaw came on for the NL and gave up a single to Alcides Escobar. Trout grounded into what would’ve been a double play for anyone else running, but he bolted down the line like nobody’s business and beat the throw. I can’t recall seeing anyone with that kind of hustle in an All-Star Game, at least not lately. Trout safe at first, one out.

After another out Albert Pujols walked, putting Trout on second. Then Prince Fielder came in as a pinch hitter for Nelson Cruz and singled to left. Despite a strong, strong throw from Joc Pederson, there was no getting Trout who slid home for the American League’s second run. Next up was Lorenzo Cain, who doubled to left plating Pujols. Kershaw buckled down and struck out Brett Gardner, ending the inning.

It’s now 3-1, A.L. at the end of five.

2015 All-Star Game Preview

GABP
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source:

CINCINNATI — All of the parties, the Derbys the parades and the baloney is out of the way. Now it’s time for the actual All-Star Game.

Well, not quite yet. This evening there will still be a lot of . . . stuff. Pete Rose will make an appearance on the field here at Great American Ballpark, and I predict his ovation will be louder than even that given to Todd Frazier last night.

Also, the four “Greatest Living Ballplayers” and the “Franchise Four” of each team — all of which were voted on by fans — will be announced prior to the game. One of those Greatest Living Ballplayers is set to throw out the first pitch. That should create some controversy and argument fodder over the next couple of baseball-free days.

The U.S. Navy will conduct a flyover featuring four FA-18 Super Hornets. They practiced here yesterday. They’re loud. Not quite as loud, but definitely amplified will be Ciara, who will sing the U.S. National Anthem and Leo Welsh who will perform the Canadian Anthem. Country singer Josh Turner will sing “God Bless America.”

But then there is a game. Here’s what you need to know:

First Pitch: 8:15PM
Channel: FOX

American League Lineup

1. Mike Trout, CF, Angels
2. Josh Donaldson, 3B, Blue Jays
3. Albert Pujols, 1B, Angels
4. Nelson Cruz, DH, Mariners
5. Lorenzo Cain, RF, Royals
6. Adam Jones, LF, Orioles
7. Salvador Perez, C, Royals
8. Jose Altuve, 2B, Astros
9. Alcides Escobar, SS, Royals
Dallas Keuchel, SP, Astros

Notes: Quite a familiar AL group. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, Sal Perez, Mike Trout and Adam Jones all started last year, and many of them are on their third or fourth go-around. Missing is Alex Gordon and there is also no Miguel Cabrera due to injuries. Chris Sale may only be available in an emergency. Sonny Gray is unavailable due to pitching on Sunday.

National League Lineup

1. Andrew McCutchen, CF, Pirates
2. Todd Frazier, 3B, Reds
3. Bryce Harper, RF, Nationals
4. Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Diamondbacks
5. Buster Posey, C, Giants
6. Anthony Rizzo, DH, Cubs
7. Jhonny Peralta, SS, Cardinals
8. Joc Pederson, LF, Dodgers
9. DJ LeMahieu, 2B, Rockies
Zack Greinke, SP, Dodgers

Notes: Joc Pederson is filling in for the injured Matt Holliday. No Giancarlo Stanton or Dee Gordon for the same reasons. Max Scherzer pitched on Sunday or else you figure he’d get the start. Otherwise it’s McCutchen and Goldschmidt and a lot of guys who haven’t been here much. At least as starters. There’s a lot of experience here from guys who were reserves in the past.

  • All of the reserves and pitchers — plus and minus a few substitutions — can be seen here.

As for a prediction? Well, these things are total crapshoots. I think Ned Yost constructed a more real life roster with middle relievers and utility guys in places, whereas Bruce Bochy has more starters and veterans. But if that is an advantage to Yost, it’s probably made up for by the fact that Bochy is the better manager.

Ultimately, however, this is the most unpredictable game played all year because it’s almost entirely not a game as we tend to understand baseball. But hey, at least it doesn’t count for anything important, right?

Oh, wait. It does. Something that has, historically, mattered a whole lot. As in,since 1985, the team with home-field advantage has won 23 of 29 World Series. And until the Giants beat the Royals on the road in Game Seven last year, the home team had won nine straight World Series Game Sevens.

Play ball?