Your Monday Afternoon Power Rankings

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Here’s something new. And something that, once we get a couple of weeks under our belt, will hopefully be fun.  Power rankings. Yes, lots of places do them. No they don’t mean a thing, especially in baseball. But I’m a college football fan who is kind of addicted to arguing over arbitrary rankings that are borne out of bias and ignorance and all manner of ill-will (and don’t you think I don’t know it, you Big Ten haters!), so I think it will be fun to do these once a week.

Beefing, moaning, defending, gloating and denying should be directed to the comments section:

1. Yankees: To be the man, you gotta beat the man.
2. Cardinals: El Hombre homered as I was writing this. He’s the man.
3. Rays: They have a chance to make me look real dumb this year.
4. Braves: They have a greater chance to make me look dumb.
5. Phillies: One of my bosses is a big Phillies guy. He’s probably not liking this.
6. Red Sox: Another of my bosses is a big Red Sox guy. I know he hates this.
7. Rockies: Seth Smith gets the nod over Fowler for the opener.
8. Angels: I wonder how short a leash they have with Brandon Wood.
9. Twins: First ten games against Angels, Chisox and Bosox. Not easy.
10. Dodgers: I feel like I have them too low, but I don’t know who to bump.
11. Tigers:  First nine against the Royals and Indians. Fast start, one would hope.
12. Rangers: Feliz is the setup man. Why is everyone so afraid to develop starters these days?
13. White Sox: I predict Ozzie Guillen’s tweets cease within a week of Opening Day
14. Marlins: They’ll feel low early, but they’ll die by attrition, not obvious incompetence.
15. Reds: I’m fine with them losing the traditional first game. The Red Stockings were a different franchise.
16. Giants: Lincecum and Cain and three days of rain? Only if it rains hitters.
17. Brewers: A team full of third and fourth starters.
18. Mariners: Seven of their first ten games are against the A’s. They should sign Cust for spite.
19. Cubs: Big hopes placed on Zambrano and Soto comebacks. What if they suck again? Uglyville, that’s what.
20. Orioles: Reporter Scott Templeton assigned to get quotes outside Camden Yards on Opening Day
21. Mets: Their cleanup hitter is a Royals non-tender. And people think I’m pessimistic?
22. Athletics: They should sign Edgar Martinez just for spite.
23. Diamondbacks: First six against Padres and Pirates. Who will be the first reporter to get suckered?
24. Nationals: Obama on Opening Day a mere dress rehearsal for Strasburg’s arrival.
25. Astros: They offer Jeff Keppinger a no-trade clause yet?  That’s their thing, right?
26. Blue Jays: No games against the Yankees until June. How does that happen?
27. Royals: First 12 against Tigers, Red Sox and Twins. 3-9?
28. Padres: Yesterday’s earthquake will be the most action at Petco Park sees all season.
29. Indians: The post-game show is brought to you by…
Christ, I can’t find it. To hell with it.

30. Pirates: Garrett Jones has hit two homers since I started writing this post. There’s hope.

I’m guessing these will change once the games actually start happening.

Mookie Betts, Christian Yelich win 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 (1995), 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.