Hank Aaron Award nominees announced (and then picked apart)

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The Hank Aaron Award nominees were announced on Monday.  The award is meant to honor the best offensive performers in each league.  As always, there’s one nominee from every team and the winner will be selected by a fan vote in combination with a vote of select Hall of Fame players.

Here are the nominees:

American League
Baltimore: J.J. Hardy
Boston: Adrian Gonzalez
Chicago: Paul Konerko
Cleveland: Asdrubal Cabrera
Detroit: Miguel Cabrera
Kansas City: Alex Gordon
Los Angeles: Mark Trumbo
Minnesota: Michael Cuddyer
New York: Curtis Granderson
Oakland: Josh Willingham
Seattle: Dustin Ackley
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria
Texas: Michael Young
Toronto: Jose Bautista

Of course, with one player from every team nominated, the fans can vote for Ackley for AL offensive player of the year, but not Jacoby Ellsbury, David Ortiz or Robinson Cano.

The pretty awful pick here was Trumbo over Howie Kendrick on the Angels. Of course Kendrick didn’t match the first baseman when it came to RBIs, but he hit .285/.338/.464 to Trumbo’s .254/.291/.477.

Young was the Rangers’ fourth best hitter, but he played in 159 games, while Mike Napoli, Adrian Beltre and Josh Hamilton played in 113, 124 and 121 respectively. Napoli still deserves the nod, though. He hit .320/.414/.631 to Young’s .338/.380/.474.

National League
Arizona: Justin Upton
Atlanta: Brian McCann
Chicago: Aramis Ramirez
Cincinnati: Joey Votto
Colorado: Troy Tulowitzki
Florida: Mike Stanton
Houston: Carlos Lee
Los Angeles: Matt Kemp
Milwaukee: Ryan Braun
New York: Jose Reyes
Philadelphia: Ryan Howard
Pittsburgh: Andrew McCutchen
St. Louis: Albert Pujols
San Diego: Cameron Maybin
San Francisco: Pablo Sandoval
Washington: Michael Morse

Things were cut-and-dry for a lot of NL teams. It’s a shame Hunter Pence couldn’t get a nomination, considering that he was better than Lee in Houston and Howard in Philadelphia. Shane Victorino probably should have been the Phillies’ selection, but… yeah, fat chance.

St. Louis was the one I’d most argue against. Lance Berkman hit .301/.412/.547 to Pujols’ .299/.366/.541. That nearly 50-point difference in OBP is very significant, and Berkman only played in two fewer games over the course of the season.

I’m not going to complain about Maybin (.716 OPS). Chase Headley (.773 OPS) and Nick Hundley (.824 OPS) were considerably better hitters, but they played in 113 and 82 games, respectively.

Tigers, Royals to play a regular season game in Omaha next year

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Major League Baseball announced today that the Kansas City Royals and the Detroit Tigers will play a regular season game in Omaha, Nebraska next year to open the festivities for the College World Series.

The game will be played on Thursday, June 13, 2019 at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha two days before the first game of the Series. It will be televised nationally by ESPN. TD Ameritrade Park has a seating capacity of 24,000, with the ability to expand to 35,000 spectators. Which, um, probably means this will be one of the larger crowds for the Royals next year if the club’s current trajectory continues.

This will be the fourth small-park, special occasion regular season game for Major League Baseball in recent years. hIn July 2016 the Atlanta Braves and the Miami Marlins played at Fort Bragg, North Carolina for service members. Last August the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals played in the inaugural Little League Classic, which took place at Bowman Field in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. There will be a second Little League Classic in Williamsport this August between the Philadelphia Phillies and the New York Mets.