Brian Sabean: “the game is East Coast-centric”

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An article in the Santa Rosa Press Democrat catches up with Giants GM Brian Sabean, who notes that life hasn’t changed all that much for the World Series champs in terms of hype or outside media interest or anything like that.  Part of that may be, he explains, because of the dreaded east coast bias:

“It teaches us that the game is East Coast-centric. If you came in here after traveling on a year-long safari in Africa and knew nothing about the events of last year, you would not know there was any difference.”

East Coast-centric?

“We were joking about the Phillies’ press conference they chose to have, I guess, because of all the interest with their starting pitchers. Somebody told me they had 200 media people there. And they didn’t even get to the World Series.”

I don’t think Sabean is complaining here or taking a swipe at the Phillies rotation, but I also don’t think that interest in the Phillies rotation compared to the Giants winning the World Series is indicative of anything, east coast centrism or otherwise.

Someone wins the World Series in the fall and starts spring training the following February every single year. Unless they import some player with a singularly large media following like Hideki Matsui, the same media contingent that follows them each spring shows up.  Maybe during your first game of spring training you get some guest members of the national sporting press hanging around — the Giants’ spring kickoff played host to me, Tyler Kepner of the New York Times and Dave Brown of Yahoo!, among others — but beyond that it’s the same half-dozen beat writers and a random camera crew or two who always cover the team.

What doesn’t happen every year is the assembly of an All-Star rotation like that in Philly. So when the Phillies — who were no doubt inundated with individual press inquiries — decide to hold a press conference about it, of course it’s going to garner considerable interest.

Put differently, the Giants aren’t news. They were news in October and if they do anything neat again, they will again be news.  The Phillies rotation coming together is news.  And reporters tend to go where the news is.

(link via BTF)

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.