1. Jordan Walden, Angels RP. This 100-mph thrower has 26 saves for pennant contender.
Walden already got a nod to the AL All-Star team because of that big fastball. Can we just leave it at that?
Walden’s 26 saves rank tied for 17th in the majors. His nine blown saves, on the other hand, rank first in the majors. Carlos Marmol and Matt Capps are next with eight.
Now, Walden has pitched better than that. A couple of those blown saves have been pretty cheap, and the Angels have won four of the nine games in which he’s been charged with blown saves.
Still, the only reason anyone would notice Walden as a ROY candidate is because he’s a closer, and the fact it that he hasn’t been all that good at closing. Among rookie relievers alone, Chris Sale, Aaron Crow, Vinnie Pestano and Greg Holland have been about as valuable as Walden.
The way I see it the AL Rookie of the Year candidates are Jeremy Hellickson (11-9, 3.01 ERA), Michael Pineda (9-8, 3.71 ERA), Ivan Nova (14-4, 3.96 ERA) and Mark Trumbo (.256/.294/.475). Arguing for anyone else just doesn’t make much sense, and Heyman is way, way overvaluing the closer’s role if he’s honestly putting Walden first and then not rounding out his ballot with Sale and Crow or Pestano.
With the Dodgers trying to make it back to the World Series for the second year in a row — and trying to win it for the first time in 30 years — it’s worth looking back at the last time they won it. More specifically, it’s worth looking back at the signature moment from the last time they won it. Which, really, was one of baseball’s all-time signature moments.
Yep, I’m talking about Kirk Gibson’s famous game-winning home run off of Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in Game 1 of the 1988 World Series, which happened 30 years ago tonight.
All playoff magic for anyone too young to remember Bill Mazeroski’s homer in 1960 is measured against Gibson taking Dennis Eckersley downtown to turn a 4-3 deficit into a 5-4 win. Heck, even if you were around in 1960, it’s far less likely that you saw Mazeroski’s homer than it was for you to have seen Gibson’s. Nationally broadcast in prime time to a nation of millions who had not yet fragmented into viewers of hundreds of obscure cable channels and various forms of streaming entertainments, it was a moment that sent shockwaves through the world of sports.
For my part, I was fifteen years-old, sitting in my living room in Beckley, West Virginia watching it as it happened. Like most of the rest of the country, I was convinced that the Dodgers had no chance to beat the mighty Bash Brothers and the 104-win Oakland A’s. Especially given that the Dodgers’ leader, MVP-to-be Gibson, was hobbled and not starting. Even when he was called on to pinch hit, I had no faith that he’d be able to touch Eckersley, the best relief pitcher on the planet, let alone hit the ball with any kind of authority.
But, as Vin said when he called it, the Dodgers’ year was so improbable that, in hindsight, it made perfect sense for Gibson to have done the impossible: