Tag:Justin Verlander
Posted on: August 26, 2011 2:13 pm
Edited on: August 26, 2011 2:16 pm
 

Leyland doesn't think Verlander should win MVP

By Matt Snyder

MVP Debate
There's still more than a month left in the 2011 baseball season -- in which, yes, stats accrued actually count in MVP voting -- but that hasn't stopped rampant debate over who "deserves" to be the MVP, especially in the AL. Thus far, the names that seem to have the most traction in AL MVP debates are Jose Bautista, Justin Verlander, Curtis Granderson and a trio of Red Sox (Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Adrian Gonzalez). Many people want to automatically toss out Verlander due to him being a pitcher and others want to disqualify Bautista due to him playing for a "losing" team -- the Blue Jays have a winning record but aren't playoff-bound.

An interesting twist in the argument now is that Tigers manager Jim Leyland doesn't even believe his own candidate should win. On WXYT radio in Detroit, Leyland said the following (via Sports Radio Interviews):
“I have a different viewpoint than that. I think there should be a Most Valuable Pitcher and Most Valuable Player. I don’t think a pitcher should be the Most Valuable Player. I’m not looking for arguments or controversy I just think when a guy goes out there 158 times or 155 times and has a big year, an MVP type year I don’t think the guy that goes out there 35 times should be named over that guy. To me right now if you really wanted to look at it who is our Most Valuable Player? Is it Verlander or at this point today under all circumstances is it Alex Avila? You can make a case for what this kid has gone through. I’m certainly not taking anything away from Verlander and I’m not trying to change the voting I just think there should be a Most Valuable Pitcher and a Most Valuable Player. I think that will eliminate the talk about a pitcher being MVP.”
Now, let's remember: Leyland is an old-school guy. Also, these comments won't -- nor should they -- kill off the opinions of the supporters of Verlander-for-MVP. It's just interesting in that usually it seems like managers will argue for their guys. Obviously Leyland's not definitively arguing against Verlander's value to his ballclub, he just doesn't think pitchers should be able to win MVP and he's not alone.

Meanwhile, we still have more than four weeks left in the season.

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Posted on: August 24, 2011 3:52 pm
Edited on: August 24, 2011 4:00 pm
 

Should a pitcher be eligible for the MVP?

Halladay

By Evan Brunell


Here's an easy question: Who are the MVPs in the AL and NL?

Not so easy, right?

There are plenty of candidates for the award, players you've certainly heard of before. Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury in the AL. Ryan Braun, Matt Kemp, Prince Fielder in the NL. All good players.

All position players.

What about pitchers? Justin Verlander is having a sublime season for the Tigers. Roy Halladay is nailing down his reputation as one of the best pitchers to ever take the mound. Yet, pitchers are rarely considered for the MVP award, with the last victor coming in 1992 with Dennis Eckersley. The closest since was Pedro Martinez in 1999, when he lost out to Ivan Rodriguez because two sportswriters left Martinez off their ballot completely. Never mind that one of the sportswriters, George King of the New York Post, had Rick Helling and David Wells on the ballot the year before. (In fortuitous timing, Marc Normandin of SB Nation wrote Wednesday about Martinez and how Halladay and Verlander will have an uphill battle if Martinez couldn't even win the MVP.)

"It really made [writers] all look very dumb," Buster Olney, who covered the Yankees for the New York Times at the time, told Baseball Digest. "People were operating under different rules. The question of eligibility is a very basic thing. People were determining eligibility for themselves."

1999 is a long time ago, but Olney's sentiments could be repeated today. Voting for the MVP is a mess, as everyone comes to it with their own preconceived notion of who qualifies for the MVP award, and one of the bigger touchstones of the argument is whether a pitcher should be eligible. For the purposes of this discussion, we're not going to debate the merits of Verlander as opposed to Jose Bautista, or even to Jered Weaver. What we want to learn here is if pitchers should be on the MVP ballot, and if so, how important they should be weighted.

Taken straight from the actual MVP ballot, as was e-mailed to C. Trent Rosecrans when he voted for the NL MVP in 2010, are the following guidelines:
1. Actual value of a player to his team, that is, strength of offense and defense.
2. Number of games played.
3. General character, disposition, loyalty and effort.
4. Former winners are eligible.
5. Members of the committee may vote for more than one member of a team.

Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.
While the latter three points are irrelevant to the debate, we immediately run into an issue to start. The first guideline is that the value of a player on offense and defense need to be considered when voting, which would seem to exclude pitchers, even though the ballot takes care to mention that pitchers are included. Where the heck is the pitcher supposed to contribute? One could argue that a pitcher's value can be considered part of defense. I polled several colleagues of mine in baseball, the vast majority contending that a pitcher's value should be considered part of defense. Take the definition of defense a step further, and the inclusion of pitchers becomes clear: "defense" can really be thought of as "run prevention," which is the primary (and really, only) job of a pitcher.

So a pitcher counts, even if he might be dinged for his lack of offense.

What about the next point, though? "Number of games played."

Most starting pitchers are lucky to get to 33 games started. That's just 20 percent of the entire season's 162 games. Relievers play in far more games, but even then, the percentage isn't anything to get worked up about. Dennis Eckersley, the last pitcher to win a Cy Young Award and did so as a closer, appeared in 65 games, or 40 percent of the entire season. That percentage would plummet below starting pitchers if you changed the scaling to total innings in a season, not games, so no matter what, a pitcher is not even close to being responsible for half the team's games.

That's a pretty damning guideline against pitchers, but guidelines are just that -- guidelines. If a pitcher is extraordinarily valuable to his team, that should outweigh the amount of games he's appeared in, especially given precedent has already been established with 20 pitchers winning the award. Those who want to adhere to the guideline strictly are welcome to do just that and ding pitchers for their contributions in that department, but it should not by any means prevent a truly great pitcher from snagging the award.

Take Roy Halladay, for example. He's a starting pitcher who has appeared in 26 games to date, yet he outpaces everyone else in the NL in Wins Above Replacement (Fangraphs version). Halladay's 6.9 WAR stands above Shane Victorino and Justin Upton's 6.2, with Upton playing in 128 games, or almost five times as many games as Halladay. Yet, it's hard to argue against Halladay having been the most valuable player in the NL, and he's a pitcher. Can you really hold games played against Halladay? No, you can't.

But should we really be comparing games played? Isn't a better way to compare hitters and pitchers to look at plate appearances? After all, if someone pinch-hit in all 162 games and received exactly one plate appearance per game and registered a hit in each one, his batting average would be 1.000... and yet, not qualify for the batting title. And this is someone that, by the guidelines of games played, should be considered over a pitcher.

Looking at plate appearances, last year's NL MVP award winner in Joey Votto walked to the plate 648 times. How many batters did Halladay, the 2010 NL Cy Young Award victor, face? That would be 993, or 53 percent more times Halladay faced a batter at the plate than Votto walked to the plate.

Aside from the guidelines, the most popular argument against pitchers winning the MVP centers around pitchers having their own honor in the Cy Young Award, and it makes sense that people would treat the MVP and Cy Young as two separate awards for two separate pools of talent. But that's just not the case. The MVP award is open to all players, pitchers included. You want an award just for hitters? Feast your eyes on the Hank Aaron Award, given annually to the best hitter (so defense doesn't count). The award isn't well-known, perhaps due to the award only starting in 1999, or because it's not part of the awards that the Baseball Writers Association of America gives out (the Cy Young Award and MVP award are part of the BBWAA's domain), but it's there. Hitters are not being penalized by having to share the MVP with pitchers.

The debate on whether or not pitchers should win the MVP contributed to robbing Pedro Martinez of his rightful award in 1999. Let's not make the same mistake in 2011.

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Posted on: August 22, 2011 5:26 pm
 

On Deck: Playoff preview in Texas

OD

By C. Trent Rosecrans


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Playoff preview: If the playoffs started now, the Red Sox and Rangers would play each other in the first round of the playoffs. Boston, a half-game behind the Yankees in the AL East, could move into a tie for first with the idle Yankees with a victory -- the loser of the division will likely face the Rangers in October. Left-hander Erik Bedard hasn't won as a member of the Red Sox yet, but has pitched well in his three starts, allowing no more than three earned runs in any of the three and allowing just one earned run in six innings in a loss to the Rays last week. Rangers lefty C.J. Wilson is 3-1 with a 1.69 ERA in 16 appearances (four starts) against the Red Sox in his career. Red Sox at Rangers, 8:05 p.m. ET

Justin VerlanderC.J. WilsonPremier matchup: The Tigers' Justin Verlander has a chance to exceed his 2010 win total before September as he goes for No. 19 on Monday. Last year he won 18 games and he matched that with a victory over the Twins on Tuesday. Verlander has won six consecutive starts sincee his last defeat, July 15 against the White Sox. Detroit enters the game with its largest lead of the season in the AL Central at 4 1/2 games over the Indians. While Verlander hasn't lost since last month, Rays starter Jeff Niemann hasn't lost since May 4, going 7-0 with a 2.15 ERA in his last 10 starts and 4-0  with a 1.81 ERA in six starts since the All-Star Break. Tigers at Rays, 7:10 p.m. ET

Snakes slide: The Diamondbacks have lost five games in a row, but still lead the NL West by one-and-a-half games over the San Francisco Giants. Arizona's slide comes while the Giants are struggling as well, going 4-6 in their last 10 and 7-13 in their last 20 and have serious injury concerns. Arizona is six games into a 10-game road trip, winning just one. Left-hander Joe Saunders beat Washington on June 4, throwing seven shutout innings with five strikeouts and is 2-1 with a 2.05 ERA in three career starts against the Nations. Washington's Ross Detwiller has only faced the Diamondbacks once, allowing seven runs (four earned) and nine hits in just four-plus innings last August. Diamondbacks at Nationals, 7:05 p.m. ET

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Posted on: August 16, 2011 4:46 pm
 

On Deck: Eyeing three races

OD

By Matt Snyder

We've already had one game Tuesday, but there's a full slate of 15 at night, thanks to the Red Sox and Rays having a double-header. Remember to keep those eyes glued on the CBSSports.com live scoreboard for all the action.

Watching the AL Central: The Tigers have lost two straight while the Indians and White Sox have each won two in a row. That means the Tigers have a two game lead over the Indians and 3 1/2 over the White Sox. The latter two square off Tuesday night, so the Tigers need a win of their own to keep up with whichever team wins. They certainly have the right man on the hill, as it's Justin Verlander's (17-5, 2.35) turn in the rotation. Verlander dominated the Twins -- Tuesday's opponent -- in one previous outing this season. Nick Blackburn (7-9, 4.36) starts for the Twins. Meanwhile the Indians send their new ace to the hill against the White Sox, as Ubaldo Jimenez (7-9, 4.37) faces off against Gavin Floyd (10-10, 4.35) of the White Sox. Twins at Tigers, 7:05 p.m. ET; Indians at White Sox, 8:10 p.m. ET.

Watching the NL West: The Giants were in position to trim the Diamondbacks' lead to 1 1/2 games last night, but Brian Wilson's beard blew a save and the deficit is now 2 1/2. Fortunately for the Giants, the D-Backs have a tall order Tuesday night against Roy Halladay (15-4, 2.51) and the Phillies, who sport the best record in baseball by 4 1/2 games. Josh Collmenter (7-7, 3.51) is tasked with keeping his Arizona club close. The Giants have it a bit easier, but not by much. They're facing off against the Braves, who are tied for the second-best record in the National League. They're also sending the fickle Jonathan Sanchez (4-7, 4.29) to the mound. Rookie Randall Delgado starts for the Giants. The 21 year old only has three career starts above the Double-A level. Of note here, the Braves have won six consecutive regular-season games against the Giants. Diamondbacks at Phillies, 7:05 p.m. ET; Giants at Braves, 7:10 p.m. ET.

Watching the AL West: The Rangers traveled to Los Angeles for a four-game series against the Angels Monday, and came out and beat the Angels Monday night. The victory gave the Rangers a five-game lead in the AL West, and it's getting a bit late in the season to chase more than two series' worth a deficit. Translation: The Angels need to win at least two of these next three games, which would get it back to a four-game deficit. If they can win all three, the Rangers' lead would be trimmed down to two. Of course, if the Rangers came out and swept the Angels, the eight-game lead would likely be insurmountable. Tuesday night a pair of young arms are pitted against one another as the Rangers go with Derek Holland (10-4, 4.30) and the Angels send Tyler Chatwood (6-8, 4.07) to the mound. Rangers at Angels, 10:05 p.m. ET.

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Posted on: August 12, 2011 9:46 am
 

Pepper: Giants, Marlins meet again

Buster Posey

By C. Trent Rosecrans
 

Just when we thought we'd heard the end of the Buster Posey injury, the Giants are headed to South Florida.

For the first time since May, the Marlins and Giants will meet. You may remember Scott Cousins ran over Posey and ended the season of the reigning Rookie of the Year. In May, the Giants talked about Cousins, retribution and the rest. Well, that's not going to be a problem.

"We've moved on," Bruce Bochy told reporters, including Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News. "We have bigger things to be worried about. That's trying to win and get to the postseason. What happened is behind us."

After a 3-7 home stand, the Giants take to the road as the second-place team in the National League West, a half-game behind the Diamondbacks.

Also, Cousins won't be a target, because he's on the 60-day disabled list with a back injury.

The Giants say they've moved on, so maybe we all can as well. Or at least let's hope.

(Also, that's just an awesome picture from Jason O. Watson of US Presswire.) 

Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs: Blue Jays fans had some fun with the report of Toronto stealing signs. The Star in Toronto has a good photo gallery of signs the fans brought to Thursday's game.

Fast company: Justin Verlander recorded his 100th win on Thursday in his 191st career start, making him the 13th fastest to the 100-win mark since 1919. [Baseball-Reference.com]

Holliday break:  St. Louis outfielder Matt Holliday missed his second consecutive game with a back injury on Thursday, but may be ready to play Friday. Holliday is unlikely to go on the DL. [MLB.com]

Good Reed: The Cubs may be having another rough season, but outfielder Reed Johnson is having an outstanding year. He's hitting .349/.389/.566 with five homers in 75 games. In five starts since coming back from back stiffness, Johnson has gone 11 for 21 and is making himself part of next season's plans. However, he is a free agent after this season. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Vandy bound: Blue Jays first-rounder Tyler Beede will not sign with the Blue Jays, Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com reports. Beede, a right-handed starter, told teams before the draft that he wasn't going to sign, but the Blue Jays took a chance on him. He will be eligible to be drafted again in 2014.

Real fight: Usually baseball fights are millabouts with some shoving and little else. Not in the independent North American Baseball League. The league infamous for Jose Canseco and the Lake County Fielders, has another claim to shame -- the fight between former big leaguers Mike Marshall (the manager of the Chico Outlaws) and Tony Phillips. From the Los Angeles Times, here's the fight in which the 51-year-old Marshall suffered facial injuries.

Cop unhappy with Rays: The Cop from the Village People isn't happy with the Tampa Bay Rays. Victor Willis said he's planning on suing the Rays "within the next 30 days" for misappropriating his voice and image. The Village People performed after a Rays game last season and used video of the band performing YMCA in 1978 to promote the post-game concert. Problem is, Willis left the band in 1984 and he wasn't performing. Willis wrote the band's hits and doesn't need to perform to earn money, as he earns more than $1 million a year from royalties from YMCA alone, not to mention Macho Man, Go West and In the Navy. [St. Petersburg Times]

No pinch-hitter for Dunn: White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said he's not going to pinch-hit for Adam Dunn, even though he's thought about it. Guillen said he'll consider sitting Dunn against left-handed starters, but keep him in the games he starts. [Chicago Tribune]

Welcome back: Left-hander Brian Matusz is pitching well in Triple-A Norfolk and could be back on his way to Baltimore in short order, manager Buck Showalter told reporters. [MLB.com]

Progressive Ice: Cleveland's Progressive Field will host the Michigan-Ohio State hockey game this winter. The ballpark started Snow Days last year with a quarter-mile ice skiing track and a tubing hill. Both will be back, but they're also be a hockey rink. [New York Times]

Coming up short: Just about every game you'll hear a fan or radio announcer groan when an outfielder pulls up and lets a ball bounce in front of him. You know why he does that? Because he's not Alfonso Soriano. As soon as I saw the way Alfonso Soriano play Ian Desmond's leadoff double in the top of the eighth inning on Thursday, I thought, "that's why you pull up." Desmond turned Soirano's bad judgement into a double. It wasn't in MLB.com's highlights (or lowlights) but it's just another in the long list of Soriano's fielding mishaps.

Cactus bringing jack: A cactus statue signed by all of this year's All-Stars is being auctioned off on MLB.com with proceeds going to the cancer charities. [MLB.com]

Great news: Finally, a personal note. You may not know Dave Cameron, a writer for FanGraphs and USS Mariner, but Dave's recently been diagnosed with leukemia. Anyway, Dave's completed his first round of chemotherapy and there's no more leukemia in his body. He'll still have to go through more chemo and will be in the hospital for another week or so, but this is great news. [FanGraphs]

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Posted on: August 11, 2011 12:37 pm
Edited on: August 11, 2011 2:56 pm
 

On Deck: Pivotal series come to a close



By Evan Brunell


Follow all games live with CBSSports.com's GameTracker.

VerlanderVERLANDER TIME: The Indians have taken the first two games of the three-game set between AL Central rivals, leaving Cleveland just two games behind the Tigers for the lead. Unfortunately, Cleveland only has one Ubaldo Jimenez, and he pitched on Wednesday. That leaves Fausto Carmona, he of a 5.9 ERA, to do battle against Justin Verlander. That's a tall task, what with Verlander's amazing season leaving him in contention for the AL Cy Young Award. Verlander can accomplish two things on Thursday: first, the righty can snap Cleveland's 13-game winning streak against Detroit in Progressive FIeld, and he can also become the majors' first 17-game winner. Tigers vs. Indians, 7:05 p.m. ET

GallardoCarpenterGONE STREAKING: Another pivotal Central series comes to an end Thursday as well, except this one is over in the NL. The streaking Brewers are attempting to rip off a 6-0 road streak, their seventh straight win, push their MLB-best home record to 42-15 and extend their division lead to six games. Boy, that's a lot of accomplishments to reach in one game. The pitching matchup is pretty even, at least if you consider only ERA. Milwaukee has Yovani Gallardo with a 3.56 ERA toeing the mound, while St. Louis counters with a 3.75 figure. Brewers vs. Cardinals, 8:15 p.m. ET

RockiesRedsPITCHING DUEL: A pretty solid pitching matchup highlights this game, with Johnny Cueto taking the mound for the Reds and jockeying for the best ERA in in the game. Cueto's already qualified previously for the best ERA, but he fell out of consideration because he's right on the bubble to qualify for the lead. He's missed so much time, that even waiting five days for his next start can drop him out. All he needs is 4 2/3 innings and he reclaims his spot atop the ERA leaderboard. He won't have an easy time of it, as the Rockies will throw out Jhoulys Chacin, who has had a fine year in his first full season. He stumbled in July with a 4.97 ERA but has turned in two straight strong starts Rockies vs. Reds, 12:35 p.m. ET

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 11:19 pm
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Cueto takes MLB lead in ERA

Cueto

By Evan Brunell


UpJohnny Cueto, Reds: Cueto spun a gem on Sunday, finally qualifying for MLB leaderboards. Now that he's qualified, he boasts baseball's lowest ERA at at a scant 1.74, going the distance for a complete-game shutout, allowing three hits and one walk, while striking out six. People have been waiting for a breakout for Cueto for years, and while he's putting together the best season of his career, he's also been inordinately lucky, limiting home runs and allowing just 23 percent of batted balls to fall in for hits, compared to the league average of 29 percent. Not that his fantasy owners (me) are complaining.

Raul Ibanez, Phillies: Ibanez is an incredibly streaky hitter, being a valued member of the Philadelphia lineup in both May and July, but an albatross in the other two months. That doesn't bode well for August, does it? Anyways, Ibanez blasted two home runs against the Pirates, the latter blow tying the game in the bottom eighth before Philly walked off in the 10th. His four RBI were 2/3s of Philadelphia's total, and boosted his overall line to .247/.293/.434 which tells you how anemic he was in April and June.

Joe Saunders, Diamondbacks: Saunders is on fire, throwing 7 2/3 innings of a victory to even his record up at 8-8. He allowed just two runs, walking none and striking out three. This is part of a larger pattern for Saunders, who was roundly criticized upon his trade to Arizona last season for Dan Haren. Saunders has found the senior circuit to his liking, posting a 3.56 ERA despite pitching in a hitter's park and has pitched 16 2/3 innings of a possible 18 in his last two starts. In July, Saunders didn't allow more than three earned runs in his six starts, a big reason why Arizona has stayed in playoff contention.

Honorable mention: Justin Verlander came oh-so-close to his second no-hitter of the season, not his first flirtation with that honor. Instead, he ended up holding on for the win in what turned into a crazy game.



DownTommy Hanson, Braves: Hanson didn't exactly get hit hard, but he give up three runs in six innings. Good enough for a quality start, but despite striking out seven, he also walked three. The start means Hanson has given up 18 runs in his last 23 1/3 innings, comprised of four starts. For comparison, prior to July, the most runs Hanson had ever given up in one month alone, never mind four starts, was 10, accomplished twice in April and May before dropping to six earned in June over four starts. So that should illustrate both how good Hanson has been and the rough stretch he's entered, which has spiked his ERA to 3.13.

Jake Westbrook, Cardinals: Westbrook took a perfect game into the sixth inning, but coughed up a walk to Koyie Hill -- the No. 8 hitter -- with one out in the sixth. The wheels came off after that, and when it was all said and done, Westbrook had given up three hits, three walks and struck out three in six innings, allowing four earned runs. Every single one of those hits, walks and runs came in the sixth. That's one way to blow up a no-no.

Trade deadline losers: The Dodgers, Orioles and Cubs were colossal losers at the trade deadline. The Dodgers traded away a potential high-impact bat for three organizational guys. The Orioles' entire season is officially a loss, and the Cubs incomprehensibly stood pat. Read more here, as well as who won the trade deadline.

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Posted on: July 31, 2011 2:37 pm
Edited on: July 31, 2011 3:23 pm
 

Izturis breaks up Verlander no-no in eighth

By Matt Snyder

The trade deadline is coming very, very soon, but Justin Verlander tried to steal the show on this Sunday. The Tigers' ace did not allow a hit through 7 2/3 innings against the Angels. He threw his second career no-hitter earlier this season (May 7 at Toronto) and is one of the top pitchers in baseball, so things like this come as little surprise these days.

An interesting movement, after a near-brawl in the bottom of the seventh inning -- in which Jered Weaver was ejected -- Erick Aybar led off the Angels' eighth with an attempted bunt for a hit. Verlander fielded the ball and threw it away. The Tigers official scorer ruled it an error, so the no-no stayed intact. Later in the inning, a grounder to third base drew a throw home from Don Kelly. A rundown resulted and eventually Verlander couldn't hold onto the feed and the unearned run scored. But the Angels still didn't have a hit until Maicer Izturis knocked in Peter Bourjos with a two-out single, cutting the lead to 3-2.

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