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Tag:Michael Young
Posted on: October 7, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: October 8, 2011 4:45 pm
 

Tigers vs. Rangers ALCS preview

By Evan Brunell

Detroit-Texas ALCS

The Tigers and Rangers share one thing in common -- both teams have AL pennants to their name in recent seasons, but fell short in the World Series. Jim Leyland took Detroit to the World Series in 2006, his first season with the club, winning 95 after the Tigers registered five straight seasons of at least 90 losses, including 119 in 2003. It's taken them some time to return to the postseason, but they're here after downing the Yankees in five games. Detroit will be leaning on the electric arm of Justin Verlander, who won Rookie of the Year in '05 but gave up 17 runs in 21 2/3 innings across the 2005 postseason. He'll get a chance at redemption against Texas, who appeared in the Fall Classic a mere season ago.

The revamped Rangers may have lost Cliff Lee, but their offense is as potent as its ever been in franchise history, adding Adrian Beltre and Mike Napoli to its monstrous lineup. Seeking to become the first consecutive AL pennant champion since the 1998-2001 Yankees, Texas will be relying on C.J. Wilson and its formidable bullpen to keep the Tiger offense in check. However, Texas' own offense needs to play up to its billing, as the team scored just 16 runs in the LDS, least among any team. (Granted, Texas was the only advancing club to play a series in less than five games, bouncing Tampa Bay in four.)

TEAM INFORMATION

Detroit Tigers (host games 3, 4, 5*)
95-67, AL Central champions
ALDS
: Defeated Yankees in 5 games -- View coverage of ALDS Tigers-Yankees
Manager
: Jim Leyland
Regular-season batting statistics: .277 batting average (3rd in AL), .340 on-base percentage (3rd), .434 slugging percentage (4th)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 4.04 ERA (7th), 1.32 WHIP (8th), 2.27 K/BB (6th)
Star player: SP Justin Verlander -- 24-5, 2.41 ERA, 251 IP, 0.92 WHIP, 250 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 6*, 7*)
96-66, AL West champions
ALDS
: Defeated Rays in 4 games -- View coverage of ALDS Rangers-Rays
Manager: Ron Washington
Regular-season batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Regular-season pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

*if necessary

WHO HAS THE EDGE? (Click player name for statistics)

Let's break each position down and see which team has the edge...

Catcher: Alex Avila vs. Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba


Being a quality catcher is difficult to do. You have to be able to call a game, develop a rapport with pitchers, block balls effectively, have a gun for an arm... and oh yeah, hit too. The latter category is what Avila and Napoli excel at, as both rank 1-2 in baseball in catcher offense. Napoli of course, blows away Avila in offense, but the Ranger also has 28 less games at the position, in large part due to another capable catcher also on the roster in Torrealba -- but the Tigers have Victor Martinez, too. Defensively, Avila holds the edge, and this is just too close to call.

First base: Miguel Cabrera vs. Mitch Moreland, Michael Young


Moreland could feasibly be at first base the entire series, as he's a favorite of the club and all of Detroit's starters are right-handed, but Young could steal a couple games if the team wants to get Torrealba or Craig Gentry into the lineup. Either way, both these players pale in comparison to Miguel Cabrera who, if it wasn't for Justin Verlander lucking into 24 wins (to be clear, he's a very good pitcher, but win-loss records have nothing to do with player quality), he could very well be the favorite for the MVP award. Cabrera led all of baseball in doubles, batting average, OBP and decided to swat 30 homers too. Moreland is still scrapping to be a full-time player and Young just can't field.

Second base: Ramon Santiago vs. Ian Kinsler


This isn't even close. The Tigers have cycled through six second basemen this season, with five of them receiving at least 17 starts. Santiago won the job basically by default, as Carlos Guillen can't stay healthy, Ryan Raburn split his time between left and second then lost his job for a complete inability to hit and Scott Sizemore was traded. Santiago is like Raburn in that he can't hit, but can flash a solid glove. Kinsler, meanwhile, was one of the most valuable second basemen in the game.

Shortstop: Jhonny Peralta vs. Elvis Andrus


Andrus can pick the ball, get on base and steal bases. Peralta can't steal any bases and can only play a passable short. But boy, can Peralta hit. Here's the thing, though -- people tend to overvalue offense because it's easily quantified, and you can see with your eyes the impact a bat can have. Stolen bases and defense, not so much. But they are important facets of the game as well, and when you factor everything in, this is a dead-even.

Third base: Wilson Betemit, Brandon Inge vs. Adrian Beltre


Adrian Beltre is an awesome player, there is no doubt about that. He posted the second-best season of his career and slugged three home runs to pace the narrative of Texas winning the ALDS. However, the gap between Beltre and the Tigers' crew isn't as large as one might think. Betemit rakes against righties, while Inge is capable against left-handers. But don't ask them to face the opposite-handed pitcher. Inge also has excellent defense at the hot corner and is a great late-inning replacement for Betemit. All told, the duo combines into a pretty good player. Good enough that the difference between Detroit and Texas at the spot is not significant.

Left field: Delmon Young vs. David Murphy, Craig Gentry


Young injured himself in Game 5 of the ALDS, but reports are that he should be fine for the ALCS. If not, Raburn will start in his place. Young has played his way into a 2012 role with the Tigers, but he's doing so on the backing of a hot streak that might not be sustainable long-term. He's a statue in left field and his value is tied up completely in swatting home runs. Murphy, meanwhile, parlayed a hot September into more playing time and has been sharing time with Gentry, with Murphy getting PT against right-handers and Gentry mostly playing against lefties. If Young wasn't performing well as of late, this would probably be a slight edge to the Rangers, but as long as Young's hot streak is carrying him, we'll call this even.

Center field
: Austin Jackson vs. Josh Hamilton


This isn't a difficult decision at all. Hamilton is one of the best hitters in the game and is the reigning AL MVP. Austin Jackson, meanwhile, rode a lot of luck to a .293 batting average last season that sank to .249 this year. He has strong defense, but is miscast as the leadoff hitter.

Right field: Magglio Ordonez vs. Nelson Cruz


At one point this season, Ordonez contemplated hanging his spikes up. Good thing he didn't, for he hit .365 from Aug. 21 to the end of the year and finished the ALDS with five hits in 11 at-bats, including a 3-for-3 effort in Game 2. When Ordonez is hot, he can still beat any pitcher, regardless of his advanced age. But his defense is questionable, and Nelson Cruz is a better hitter at this point. Although Cruz is slumping significantly, gathering just one hit in 15 trips to the plate during the ALDS against the Rays, he remains the better player.

Designated hitter: Victor Martinez vs. Young


A certain three-year-old, I'm sure, would pick Young here with an edge. But both Martinez and Young are remarkably similar in production at the DH spot, and the numbers are uncannily similar even though Young has played in 14 more games. Take a look:

Martinez: .330/.380/.470, 12 HR, 103 RBI
Young: .338/.380/.474, 11 HR, 106 RBI

How can you not call this even?

Starting pitching: Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Doug Fister, Rick Porcello vs. C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Colby Lewis, Matt Harrison


The order listed here is the order that both teams have announced will go in the ALCS, so let's judge it on these parameters. For one, the Tigers clearly lose by not being able to set up their rotation they way they wanted. Rick Porcello, obviously the lesser member of the quartet, will start twice while Max Scherzer only draws Game 4 after appearing in relief during Game 5 of the ALDS. Regardless, the Tigers still hold an overall edge here. You don't need me to throw more platitudes Verlander's way, and Fister has been a revelation since coming over from Seattle (although he's veering fast into overrated territory) and Scherzer is a quality pitcher whose potential breakout has been tantalizing pitchers for quite some time.

Over in Texas, C.J. Wilson is a great pitcher, but doesn't quite stack up to Verlander. Porcello matching up against Derek Holland pits a battle of proming young pitchers, especially Holland, who is showing signs of emerging into an ace but is lacks consistency and is prone to the wild inning if he lets the game get away from him. Lewis has an incredible postseason record, but his propensity to give up the long ball held him back in the regular season. Harrison impressed against the Rays by punching out nine but could only last five innings and the jury is still out on just how good a picher he is.

All told, yet another matchup where both teams look even -- but not quite, as Verlander is the man that tips the scales in the Tigers' favor.

Relief pitching: Jose Valverde and co. vs. Neftali Feliz and co.


Both Valverde and Feliz are good pitchers when on, but both can also be maddeningly inconsistent. The Tigers closer can point to his 49 of 49 record in saves, but he walks way too much to be reliable. Feliz, meanwhile, took a clear step back from last season when he closed 40 games as a rookie and lost his strong command. He's been much better since the All-Star break, though, and if I had to pick one closer, I'd take Feliz. Texas also has a vaunted setup corps, boasting Mike Adams (who is still one of the best relievers in the game despite a spike in home runs allowed), Koji Uehara, Alexi Ogando, Mike Gonzalez and Darrell Oliver most notably.

Texas' 3.79 bullpen ERA during the regular season was fifth-best in the AL and would have been even better with full years of all relievers mentioned sans Feliz and Oliver, who have been with the club all year. By comparison, the Tigers' two best relievers are Al Alburquerque and Joaquin Benoit, but Alburquerque only pitched 14 1/3 innings in the second half and did not look good in Games 1 and 4 of the ALDS. The Tigers pen has a chance to be a good one, but Texas is the better bet to come out on top in the war of bullpens.

Defense


Defensive statistics are getting a bum rap these days, and it's understandable. Quantifying defense is a very difficult thing to do and no defensive metric out there can be relied on. However, when you have a large sample to draw from, multiple numbers to look at and enough of a disparity in the numbers, it becomes obvious which defense holds up. And that's the Rangers, who score well in defensive metrics, largely on the strength of Andrus, Kinsler and Beltre, while the Tigers are affected by the tin gloves of Betemit, Cabrera, and Young the most.

DetroitPREDICTION

Both teams shape up to be remarkably even all across the board -- even though both teams are the last two standing in the AL and it makes sense that they would be equals, it's not often you see such a balanced division. It will come down to the postseason mantra of good pitching always beating good hitting, and given the presence of Verlander, I'll give the nod to Detroit vanquishing Texas in six games, while Daniel Knobler likes Detroit too, but in seven.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.



Posted on: September 29, 2011 4:05 pm
Edited on: September 30, 2011 2:57 pm
 

2011 ALDS matchup: Rays vs. Rangers

By Evan Brunell

The Rays and Rangers will meet for the second year in a row. Last season, Texas came away with a victory, needing the maximum five games to do so. They would go on to advance to the World Series before losing to the San Francisco Giants. Both teams are in dramatically different places this time around, with the Rays team undergoing turnover while the Rangers' offense is one of the most fearsome in recent memory. Let's break down each team's position and determine who has the advantage....

TEAM INFORMATION

Tampa Bay Rays (host games 3, 4)
91-71, AL wild card champions
Manager: Joe Maddon
Team batting statistics: .244 batting average (25th in AL), .322 on-base percentage (13th), .402 slugging percentage (13th)
Team pitching statistics: 3.58 ERA (8th), 1.22 WHIP (2nd), 2.27 K/BB (2nd)
Star player: SP James Shields -- 16-12, 249 1/3 IP, 2.82 ERA, 3.25 xFIP, 65 BB, 225 K

Texas Rangers (host games 1, 2, 5)
96-66, AL West champions
Manager: Ron Washington
Team batting statistics: .283 batting average (1st), .340 on-base percentage (5th), .460 slugging percentage (2nd)
Team pitching statistics: 3.79 ERA (13th), 1.24 WHIP (5th), 2.56 K/BB (5th)
Star player: C Mike Napoli -- .320/.414/.631, 432 plate appearances, 30 HR, 75 RBI

SCHEDULE (Click here to view the entire postseason schedule)

Full Playoff Coverage

Game 1: TB @ TEX, Sept. 30, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Moore (1-0, 2.89 ERA) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)**
Game 2: TB @ TEX, Oct. 1, 7:07 p.m. -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. Derek Holland (16-5, 3.95)
Game 3: TEX @ TB, Oct. 3, 5:07 p.m. -- Matt Harrison (14-9, 3.39) vs. Jeremy Hellickson (13-10, 2.95)
Game 4*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 4 -- Colby Lewis (14-10, 4.40) vs. David Price (12-13, 3.49)
Game 5*: TB @ TEX, Oct. 6 -- James Shields (16-12, 2.82) vs. C.J. Wilson (16-7, 2.94)

* If necessary | ** all pitching matchups projected

TEAM BREAKDOWN (Click player name for statistics)

Catcher
Texas: Mike Napoli, Yorvit Torrealba
Tampa Bay: John Jaso, Kelly Shoppach

The Rays' catcher situation is like that of shortstop: Choosing between bad or worse. Jaso and Shoppach have both combined for extremely disappointing seasons while Napoli was one of the best offensive players in the game, robbed of his due because his counting statistics aren't up to snuff due to playing in just 113 games, but Napoli can do serious damage. Torrealba isn't a zero either, but most of his value comes on defense.

Advantage: Rangers

First base
Texas: Mitch Moreland, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Casey Kotchman

Kotchman came out of nowhere to give Tampa fantastic value out of first base, hitting at a .306 clip and providing his usual stellar defense at first place. While no one expects Kotchman to keep this up next season, what matters is right now. And right now, Kotchman is head and shoulders better than Moreland, although if Texas goes with Torrealba behind the plate and Napoli at first base, this conversation changes.

Advantage: Rays

Second base
Texas: Ian Kinsler
Tampa Bay: Ben Zobrist

Both Kinsler and Zobrist had excellent seasons -- both at the plate and in the field. Picking one or the other amounts to nitpicking as both players have 30 stolen bases. Zobrist holds a small edge in batting average and Kinsler holds a small one in slugging percentage. Even fielding numbers aren't any help. This is as even as it gets.

Advantage: Tie

Shortstop
Texas: Elvis Andrus
Tampa Bay: Sean Rodriguez, Reid Brignac

As mentioned before, Tampa's shortstop spot is horrible. Between Rodriguez, Reid Brignac and Eliot Johnson, Rays shortstops combined to hit .193/.256/.282. League average was .266/.321/.386. That's simply awful, awful production. The Rangers clearly win out here, with Andrus' solid bat and strong glove.

Advantage: Rangers

Third base
Texas: Adrian Beltre
Tampa Bay: Evan Longoria

Evan Longoria has been one of the best third basemen in the game for a long time. Up until this year, you could have argued that he was the best AL third-baseman for years running. Alas, Beltre's second straight excellent season has supplanted Longoria, coming off a down year. Beltre's 32 homers rank fifth in the AL, and he missed a month and a half! Add in his all-world defense, and he runs away from Longoria even though Longo is still a threat and hit .289/.454/.589 in September.

Advantage: Rangers

Left field
Texas: David Murphy
Tampa Bay: Desmond Jennings

Murphy looked like he would have a lost season, but turned it on down the stretch and forced the Rangers to move Josh Hamilton to center for the playoffs in order to get Murphy's bat in the lineup. It's easy to remember that Jennings debuted with fantastic numbers in August, but September told a very different story. All in all, both players have things working both for and against them and nothing quite standing out.

Advantage: Tie

Center field
Texas: Josh Hamilton
Tampa Bay: B.J. Upton

This is pretty easily Hamilton's domain here after Upton hit just .243. Hamilton remains one of the best players in the game despite being injury-prone. When he's on the field, he produces. Upton can't say the same, although he turned on the jets at the right time for Tampa and had a productive September.

Advantage: Rangers

Right field
Texas: Nelson Cruz
Tampa Bay: Matt Joyce

Here's an interesting matchup. Cruz missed time with injury but when he was right, enjoyed yet another productive season, missing 30 homers by just one blast. Cruz's calling card is power, while Joyce counters with a better overall game, flashing a strong glove. With both players' offensive games basically evening out, the balance tips to defense, and Joyce wins there.

Advantage: Rays

Designated Hitter
Texas: Michael Young, Napoli
Tampa Bay: Johnny Damon

Yet another win for the Rangers on offense. We all know what Napoli can do, but Young figures to get most of the at-bats at DH. Despite Young having to adjust to the DH spot on a full-time basis for the first time in his career, Young coolly racked up 106 RBI and should get some MVP attention. Damon, by comparison, falls far short.

Advantage: Rangers

Starting pitching
Texas: C.J. Wilson, Derek Holland, Matt Harrison, Colby Lewis
Tampa Bay: Jeff Niemann, James Shields, David Price, Jeremy Hellickson

The Rays win here, although Rangers fans will probably beg to differ. Yes, Wilson had a fantastic season -- you can't take that away from him. But Shields, Price and Hellickson all had excellent years as well. No one's shorting Holland and Harrison here, but at best, these two pitchers are no better than fifth best overall with three of the first four spots belonging to Tampa. The Rays are in the postseason for their pitching, not their offense.

Advantage: Rays

Relief pitching
Texas closer: Neftali Feliz
Tampa Bay closer: Kyle Farnsworth

Feliz's future as a closer was in doubt even as late as early August, but he clamped down the rest of the way and will pair with Mike Adams for a formidable 1-2 punch. There isn't a soft underbelly of middle relief either, and this bullpen has the potential to pick up the slack left over from the starting rotation to beat Tampa. But the Rays have taken a completely remade bullpen and turned it into an elite corps, too. Tampa's relief ERA of 3.73 is 10 spots higher than Texas' 4.11, but Texas' bullpen is different after importing Mike Adams, Koji Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Let's call it even.

Advantage: Tie

Total advantage: Rangers (5), Rays (2), Tie (3)

PREDICTION (click here to see full postseason predictions)

CBS Experts
Evan Brunell: Rays in 4
Gregg Doyel: Rays in 4
Danny Knobler: Rangers in 5
Scott Miller: Rangers in 4
Trent Rosecrans: Rangers in 4
Matt Snyder: Rays in 5

Evan's take: The Rangers are a fearsome club, there's no doubt about that. The offense is awe-inspiring and the pitching has the ability to hang tough with Tampa Bay. The Rangers basically cruised to the division title in September, so it's easy to overlook the club because of lack of press, but those who overlook the club are making a mistake. I selected the Rays in four because in the postseason, I believe far more in pitching than offense. I also give credence to how teams played down the stretch. Tampa went 17-10 in September (of course, Texas went 19-8, so there's that) and was in playoff mode for two weeks, constantly playing must-win games then seeing it all pay off when Evan Longoria's second homer of the night went over the fence to give T.B. the wild card. The combination of pitching and the hot hand tilt me toward predicting the Rays to advance.

More Rangers-Rays ALDS coverage

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeonBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.


Posted on: September 26, 2011 10:15 am
 

Pepper: From afterthought to MVP candidate

Michael Young

By C. Trent Rosecrans

I'm not sure I'd vote for Michael Young for the American League MVP, but I sure would have to consider the Rangers veteran if I had a ballot in the AL -- and that's a far cry from where Young started the season.

Remember going into spring training? Young had no home on the diamond and reportedly wanted a trade from the only team he's played for as a big leaguer. At 34, he seemed to be anything but what his surname suggested and of declining skills, not to mention he was a man without a position. The team signed Adrian Beltre to take over at third base, displacing him once again. Young had been moved off shortstop to make room for Elvis Andrus after previously being moved from second base. And now the team had another third baseman and it seemed there was nowhere for Young.

Instead, Young has wound up playing everywhere. In addition to 68 starts as the team's DH, he's made 39 starts at third base, 36 at first base and 13 at second. He may be the team's MVP -- with V standing for both valuable and versatile. He played in all but two games this season, and produced. He's hitting .338/.380/.477 -- all improvements over last season -- along with 11 home runs (down from a year ago), 104 RBI and a MLB-best 209 hits.

"People want to talk MVP? It's ridiculous if they don't consider Michael Young," Rangers manager Ron Washington told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. "I'd like someone to tell me a utility player who does what he does… When it all started, nobody thought he'd be able to get playing time."

The AL MVP vote could be one of the toughest in recent years, but Washington's right, Young should seriously be considered.

Rockies to be aggressive in offseason: The Rockies were many people's pick to win the National League West, or at least the wild card. Instead, the team has limped to a 71-87 record so far, 21 games behind the surprising Diamondbacks. Colorado has money to spend and will look for several upgrades in order to be competitive in 2012. [Denver Post]

Sayonara Kuroda? Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda said there's a 50-50 chance he returns to Japan next year. Kuroda is 13-16 with a 3.17 ERA this season. [MLB.com]

Rasmus blames Cardinals: Colby Rasmus hasn't played well since going to Toronto, and for that, he's blaming the Cardinals. The 25-year-old center fielder has as much talent as anyone, but his head seems to continue to get in his way. Maybe Tony La Russa was right… [National Post]

Pinch-runner paying dividends: Tyler Greene isn't playing much shortstop for the Cardinals, but he's still making his mark on the bases. [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

Stadium holding back A's: The A's still hope to get a new stadium in San Jose, but if they do they'll likely hold back on spending -- because the stadium wouldn't be ready for at least three years, and the team would want to build toward opening strong in the new stadium. At least, that's what the agents for Josh Willingham hear. [San Francisco Chronicle]

Extending DatDude: Reds general manager Walt Jocketty will meet with the agents for second baseman Brandon Phillips in New York this week to talk about an extension. Jocketty has already said the team would pick up Phillips' $12 million option for 2012. [MLB.com]

Sanchez hopeful: Giants second baseman Freddy Sanchez said he expects to be ready for opening day in 2012. Sanchez underwent shoulder surgery in August. [San Jose Mercury News]

Homecoming: You think it's bad when you see minivans with a kid's name and number on the back? I know I'd be embarrassed if if my mom had "Trent" and "CBSSports.com" on the back of her car. Or even if she wore a t-shirt with that around town. Well, imagine how embarrassed Reds rookie Devin Mesoraco felt when his mother distributed more than 700 t-shirts with his image and name on it for Saturday's game in Pittsburgh. [OMGReds.com]

Maybin wants to stay in San Diego: Cameron Maybin has apparently found a home in San Diego. When asked if he was open to signing a long-term deal with the Padres, Maybin said "100 percent." You can also find out where he buys his shoes. [San Diego Union-Tribune]

If you don't hit does it matter where you hit? The Cubs' Alfonso Soriano isn't happy about batting seventh most of the season fo rthe Cubs. Shouldn't he be more upset with him putting up the type of production that makes him a seven-hitter? [ESPNChicago.com]

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 24, 2011 6:14 pm
 

Hernandez leaves game after being hit by liner

Felix Hernandez

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Felix Hernandez left Saturday's game with the Rangers in the fourth inning after being hit by a line drive off the bat of Michael Young

Hernandez, the 2010 Cy Young Award winner, had allowed seven runs (five earned) on 12 hits in 3 1/3 innings.

The ball hit off his right forearm and appeared to be in pain as he went directly to the visitor's clubhouse. 

The official diagnosis is a contusion, which would be a relief for the Mariners, even though Hernandez was likely making his last start of the year anyway.

Rangers starter Alexi Ogando also left the game early, but his departure was planned. Ogando threw two perfect innings to start the game and is likely to return to the bullpen for postseason.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 13, 2011 3:36 pm
 

MLB 'Man of the Year' finalists released

By Matt Snyder

The six finalists for the Marvin Miller Man of the Year Award in Major League Baseball were revealed Wednesday. The award is given to a player "whose on-field and off-field performance most inspires others to higher levels of achievement by displaying as much passion to give back to others as he shows between the lines on the baseball diamond."

Here are the six finalists (via DenverPost.com):
Paul Konerko, White Sox
David Robertson, Yankees
Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies
Adam Wainwright, Cardinals
David Wright, Mets
Michael Young, Rangers

The award is named after Marvin Miller, who was the executive director of the MLB Players Association from 1966 to 1982. Under his watch, it grew into one of the strongest unions in the country. The award is a "player's choice" award, which means what it says: The players vote on it.

The award started in 1997. Young won the award in 2008, so he could join John Smoltz and Jim Thome as the only two-time winners. Brandon Inge of the Tigers won last season -- the second consecutive Tigers' player to win it, as Curtis Granderson won in 2009, his last season in Detroit. Torii Hunter and Albert Pujols are the other active players who have won the award before.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:43 pm
 

Juan Pierre joins 2,000 hit club

Juan PierreBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Juan Pierre's third-inning single against the Indians' David Huff on Thursday gave him 2,000 for his career. He's the 268th player in Major League history to reach 2,000 career hits and the eight player to reach the milestone this season. Pierre's the second White Sox to reach the career mark this season, joining Paul Konerko who notched his 2,000th career hit on Aug. 23.

It was only fitting that Pierre reached 2,000 with a single -- it was the 1,667 single of his career.

Also reaching 2,000 hits this season were Carlos Lee, Orlando Cabrera, Albert Pujols, Michael Young, Scott Rolen, Adrian Beltre and Konerko. He figures to be the last to get to 2,000 this season -- but 10 players are in striking distance to reach the mark next season -- Placido Polanco (1,947), Jason Giambi (1,945), Derrek Lee (1,940), Carlos Beltran (1,895), Andruw Jones (1,880), Jimmy Rollins (1,846), Torii Hunter (1,803), Lance Berkman (1,795) and Raul Ibanez (1,774).

Pierre, 34, is the 23rd active player with 2,000 hits, led by Derek Jeter with 3,069.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @eyeonbaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.
Posted on: September 6, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: September 6, 2011 5:47 pm
 

Sizing up the AL MVP contenders

Verlander, Bautista

By Evan Brunell

During the week, Eye on Baseball will be profiling candidates to win baseball's major awards after the season. Today: the AL MVP.

The AL MVP race is shaping up to be one of the more interesting races as of late, with compelling cases to be made for several candidates. Increasingly, the MVP race in the junior circuit looks to be one that could bear out a surprise candidate. Without a clear-cut candidate, players will lose votes due to team performance, being a pitcher or seeing teammates stealing votes. This last distinction is important, as the Red Sox, Yankees and Tigers will all boast multiple candidates.

In alphabetical order, here are the 10 candidates that figure to appear on the majority of ballots:

Jose Bautista, Blue Jays: The presumptive top candidate, Bautista is getting dinged due to Toronto being way out of the postseason race. But since when does one player control the fate of a team that could be in the hunt if it didn't play in the AL East? Bautista leads baseball with 40 homers and is far and away the most productive hitter with a .306/.444/.632 line. Any votes he loses due to playing for Toronto could easily be negated with rivals splitting the vote with teammates, so Bautista remains the most likely victory.

Robinson Cano, Yankees
: Entering play Tuesday, both Cano and Dustin Pedroia had equal production on offense as wOBA suggests (basically OPS, but weighted on an OBP scale and tweaked to account for OPS' weaknesses). Cano checks in at .307/.350/.535, while Pedroia lands at .304/.391/.469 in one less game than Cano. The difference is on defense, where Pedroia has played worthy of a Gold Glove and Cano has slipped back to below average, but fielding isn't considered a major factor in MVP balloting. Both players are deserving, but aren't even considered the best MVP on the team.

Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
: Voters will be dealing with a lot of AL East fatigue in MVP ballots, which could cause Cabrera to slip up the ballot further than anyone may have otherwise thought. The first baseman will crack 100 RBI before the year is out and should also slide over the 30-homer barrier, which will be enough to make him viable to the voters still adamant about relying on traditional counting metrics. This is a player to watch.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
: Ellsbury has been a wrecking machine all season and may be the most popular candidate on the Red Sox for voters, who will love the five tools Ellsbury brings to the table. Leading off much of the year, the center fielder has contributed a .311/.371/.520 line, swiping 36 bags and hammering 24 homers. If he can get hot down the stretch and toss in a 30/30 season for good measure, his candidacy will be overwhelming and could take home the honors. But will it be enough to cut through the noise of two other Boston contenders?

Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox
: Gonzalez leads baseball in batting average with a .339 mark and while his power has suffered with the move to Fenway, 23 homers and 67 extra-base hits is nothing to sneeze at. An August swoon dropped his RBI pace down and no longer leads the league in that respect, but he's still collected 103 on the season. Pair that with fantastic defense as always, and he's another strong candidate. Someone who was considered a lock to win the award before the year and even for the first few months of the season, Gonzalez may fall short thanks to Bautista's overpowering talents and Ellsbury doing it all on the same team.

Alex Gordon, Royals
: Gordon's not going to win the award, but with the MVP balloting going 10 deep, he figures to show up on enough to place on the ballot. He's been the Royals' best hitter by far, with a sneaky .303/.376/.502 line that would get far more play if he played on a better team or in a better media market. Gordon has also taken to left field, leading all outfielders with 20 assists. (Second best: Nick Markakis, 14.) While some of these assists are certainly players taking a risk early on in the season with an unknown entity manning left, it's still to Gordon's credit that he's become a strong fielder. If he keeps up these type of numbers in the coming years, he could have a MVP waiting for him down the line.

Curtis Granderson, Yankees
: Granderson is doing all he can to outslug Bautista with 38 homers and 109 RBI to his name, but where he drops off is in batting average, with his .271 line the lowest among any hitter on this list, and the only one under .300. That's going to hurt Granderson, as well as the presence of Cano as a candidate. And, while not listed here, CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira could also steal votes. Mitigating things is Granderson's 24 stolen bases. If you throw fielding out of the equation, Granderson easily clears Ellsbury in terms of offensive value. But when you add in overall game... well, the balloting results should be interesting.

Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
: As mentioned above, Pedroia has the same offensive value as Cano, but wins it all on fielding. Yet, Pedroia pales in comparison -- at least as far as MVP chatter goes -- to Ellsbury and Gonzalez. Pedroia is the Red Sox at this point and is one of the most indispensable players in the game. But that doesn't necessarily mean he's MVP, and it's hard to look past the gaudy numbers Ellsbury and Gonzalez are putting up in favor of someone who just keeps motoring along. Perhaps in a weak class, he'd stand out.

Justin Verlander, Tigers
: The only pitcher on this list, Verlander has a chance to win it all because when he pitches, the Tigers win. When he doesn't the Tigers... well, they win too, but a lot less to the point where they'd be out of the postseason chase by now. Scott Miller describes his chase as well as anyone could: "Most dominant single individual player in baseball this season. In line to win the first pitching Triple Crown in the AL since Johan Santana in 2006, and he's 14-3 this season after a Detroit loss."

Michael Young, Rangers
: Young will get some love here for two reasons: First, he's not in the AL East. Second, the Rangers are currently poised to win the AL West, although the Angels may have something to say about that. (And even then, there's no clear MVP candidate in Los Angeles.) Plus, Young had that well-publicized spat with the Rangers over the winter, when he was booted to the DH spot, causing the infielder to ask for a trade. It didn't work out, but Young has been immeasurably valuable in his ability to play around the infield and has thrown up a .334/.376/.482 line, driving in 91 games, so he'll top 100. Getting votes as a MVP after the offseason he had would be an interesting story.

So all in all, who is the best candidate to win the MVP? We'll answer that later in the year, but drop in your responses in the comments.

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Posted on: August 7, 2011 11:16 pm
 

Rangers' Young reaches 2,000 hit mark

Michael YoungBy C. Trent Rosecrans

The Rangers' Michael Young collected two hits Sunday night against the Indians to reach 2,000 for his career.

Both hits were slow rollers up the third base line that failed to draw a throw from Cleveland third baseman Lonnie Chisenhall

Young, 34, the 11th fastest player in history to reach 2,000 hits, doing it in his 1,621st game -- behind Tris Speaker (1,602) and ahead of Ted Williams (1,638).

Before Sunday's game, Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters he likes Young's chances at reaching 3,000.

"If he stays healthy, [he could reach the milestone]," Washington said, according to MLB.com. "This year, knock on wood, he's got the normal aches and pains, but if he stays away from missing time, Michael will figure out how to get 180, 200 hits every year. That's a thousand hits [more]. He could pick up another 50, 60 before the year is over, then he only has to get [950]. I think he's got a chance to. He's only 34, so he'll have to play roughly until his 40s. He doesn't look like he's slowing down."

Well, that's a little optimistic. Young has five 200-hit season in his career, accomplishing the feat five years in a row from 2004-2007. Young saw a dip in both his batting average and on-base percentage in 2008 and 2010, bouncing back the next year each time, including a .336/.372/.497 line this season. The problem is that age -- unless you're, say, Barry Bonds -- catches up to most players. Nobody (save Bonds) gets better from 34-39, you wear down, slow down and age like a human. That's going to make Young's chance of 3,000 tougher. While he's gotten to 2,000 relatively quickly, he didn't become a regular until 2002 when he was 25. 

Of the 28 players in the 3,000 hit club -- only seven got their 2,000th hit at 34 or older, and of those only one was older than 34 (Cap Anson, who played until he was 45). 

Young is the fifth player this season to reach 2,000 hits, joining Orlando Cabrera, Carlos Lee, Albert Pujols and Scott Rolen. Young is younger than each of those other than Pujols.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com