Tigers get their bat, add Huff from Orioles

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It was quite a surprise that the Tigers didn’t add any offense at all before the deadline, but they had the strategy right: acquire pitching then, because quality arms are less likely to slide during the waiver process, and pick up some offensive help in August. On Monday, they got Aubrey Huff from the Orioles, adding another left-handed middle-of-the-order option, in return for Brett Jacobson.
Now that Carlos Guillen should be able to head out to left field once in a while, Huff fits in as a DH against righties. Clete Thomas and Marcus Thames stand to lose at-bats. Thomas has faded to .208/.322/.312 in 77 at-bats since the All-Star break, and Thames is only truly valuable against lefties anyway. Huff’s .253/.321/.405 line for the season is unimpressive, but he has rebounded some after an awful July and he’ll only need to play against righties in Detroit. He should be an asset.
Jacobson, 21, was a fourth-round pick by the Tigers last season. Strictly a reliever, he’s posted a 3.74 ERA and a 44/17 K/BB ratio in 55 1/3 innings for Single-A Lakeland this season. He’s been particularly good of late, pitching 13 2/3 innings without allowing an earned run in his last nine appearances. Unfortunately, his fastball-curveball combination hasn’t made him very effective against left-handed hitters. He currently projects as more of a middle reliever than a true setup man.
With Huff out of the mix, the Orioles could give Luke Scott a crash course at first base in order to see whether he’ll be an option there next year. Felix Pie figures to get additional playing time in left field, with Nolan Reimold serving as a DH more frequently. If the Orioles want to stick with the same personnel, then Ty Wigginton and Melvin Mora would also be due some extra playing time. However, the Orioles could call up first baseman Rhyne Hughes, who was just acquired from the Rays to complete the Gregg Zaun deal. The 25-year-old Hughes offers 20-homer power and a strong glove at first base. He’s hit .313/.361/.533 in 56 games in Triple-A this year. It’s doubtful that he’d hit for average in the majors, since he does strike out a ton, but he’s earned a look anyway.
The trade shouldn’t have any long-term ramifications. Huff is a free agent at season’s end, and the Orioles probably wouldn’t have risked offering him arbitration in order to land a draft pick if he left. It’s still possible that Huff could return to Baltimore as a free agent, though it’d likely have to be on a one-year deal.

Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich win 2018 MVP Awards

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Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts and Brewers outfielder Christian Yelich were announced on Thursday evening as the winners of the 2018 Most Valuable Player Awards as voted on by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Betts, 26, led baseball with a .346 batting average, a .640 slugging percentage, and 129 runs scored. He also put together a .438 on-base percentage with 32 home runs, 80 RBI, and 30 stolen bases while ranking among the best defensive outfielders. According to Baseball Reference, Betts was worth 10.9 WAR, the highest total by a position player since Barry Bonds in 2002 (11.8). It was the 21st time a player compiled a 10.9 WAR or better since 1871. The others to do it along with Betts and Bonds: Cal Ripken, Jr., Joe Morgan, Carl Yastrzemski, Willie Mays, Mickey Mantle, Stan Musial, Lou Gehrig, Babe Ruth, Rogers Hornsby, Ty Cobb, and Honus Wagner.

Betts is the first Red Sox player to win the MVP Award since second baseman Dustin Pedroia in 2008. Other members of the Red Sox to win the award include Mo Vaughn (2005), Roger Clemens (1986), Jim Rice (1978), Fred Lynn (1975), Carl Yastrzemski (1967), Jackie Jensen (1958), Ted Williams (1946, ’49), Jimmie Foxx (1938), and Tris Speaker (1912).

Angels outfielder Mike Trout and J.D. Martinez each received one first-place vote with Betts receiving the other 28. Trout finished in second place with 265 overall points, Indians infielder José Ramírez finished third with 208, and Martinez finished fourth with 198. They were followed by Alex Bregman, Francisco Lindor, Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Blake Snell, Justin Verlander, Mitch Haniger, Aaron Judge, Xander Bogaerts, José Altuve, Blake Treinen, Andrelton Simmons, Whit Merrifield, Edwin Díaz, Giancarlo Stanton, Didi Gregorius, Jed Lowrie, Trevor Bauer, Aaron Hicks, and Chris Sale.

Trout is now one of four players to finish second in MVP Award voting four times, joining Stan Musial, Ted Williams, and Albert Pujols. Trout was the runner-up behind Miguel Cabrera in 2012-13 and Josh Donaldson in 2015.

Yelich, 26, led the National League with a .326 batting average, a .598 slugging percentage, and a 1.000 OPS. He also put up a .402 on-base percentage with 36 home runs, 110 RBI, 118 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases while playing above-average defense in the outfield.

Yelich is the first member of the Brewers to win the MVP Award since outfielder Ryan Braun in 2011. The other Brewers to have won the MVP Award are Robin Yount (1982, ’89) and Rollie Fingers (1981).

Nearly a unanimous choice, Yelich was voted in first place on 29 of 30 ballots with NL Cy Young Award winner getting the other first-place vote. Cubs infielder Javier Baéz finished in second place with 250 points and Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado finished in third place with 203 points. They were followed by Freddie Freeman, deGrom, Paul Goldschmidt, Lorenzo Cain, Trevor Story, Matt Carpenter, Max Scherzer, Anthony Rendon, Ronald Acuña Jr., Aaron Nola, Justin Turner, Max Muncy, Jesús Aguilar, Anthony Rizzo, Nick Markakis, and Eugenio Suarez.

Coincidentally, both MVP Award winners hit for the cycle this season. Betts achieved it on August 9 while Yelich did it twice, on August 29 and September 17. Yelich also finished two home runs and one RBI short of the Triple Crown.

The BBWAA voters submitted their ballots before the start of the postseason, so the fact that the Red Sox won the World Series and that the Brewers made it to Game 7 of the NLCS had no impact on the award results. That the Red Sox won a franchise record 108 games during the regular season and the Brewers won the NL Central tiebreaker over the Cubs certainly could have been factors for many voters, however.