g’morning everyone --- just keeping the seat warm today. a few items from here and there:
- in september, a commenter suggested (and forgive me, i can’t find the post) that the cards’ fall from contention might aid pujols’ mvp chances --- because he might see more pitches to hit. that appears actually to have happened: as i noted last week at the Daily Fix, el hombre only drew 2 intentional walks in september --- after having been ibb’d 32 times in the first five months of the year. for whatever reason, teams were a lot more willing to challenge albert in september, and he took advantage of the opportunity to pad his counting stats: his 27 rbi in 24 september starts were nearly a quarter of his season total. that finishing kick propelled him to 4th in the nl leaderboard in rbi, and he wound up tied for 4th in the league in homers --- in other words, top 5 in all of the triple crown categories, which still carry a lot of sway among many bbwaa voters. those figures, combined w/ his superior rate stats and the lack of a suitable rival, might garner albert his 2nd mvp award.
- you can vote for albert, by the way, in the Internet Baseball Awards over at Baseball Prospectus. pujols won the IBA MVP in both 2005 and 2006; he lost out last year to matt holliday.
- one more albert item: Lookout Landing calls him the most underappreciated player in baseball.
- as long as we’re talking awards, am i the only one who thinks sabathia deserves the national league cy young? granted he only pitched in our league for half a season --- he came over in time to make 17 starts, or 3 fewer than wainwright made this year (and 1 fewer than cc made in the american league). but nearly half his nl starts (7) were complete games, and he led the league in that category despite his limited playing time. he also tied for the league lead in shutouts --- not only in the nl (where he tossed 3) but also in the al (2 sho). that feat in and of itself ought to be good for some kind of award. another point in cc’s favor: from july 8 (when he joined the nl) forward he led the league in every pitching category except strikeouts, where he finished second. his 1.65 era was nearly half a run better than his next closest competitor during that span (santana, at 2.09), and he threw 18 more innings than the next hardest-working guy. his average start for milwaukee lasted 7 2/3 innings. to cap it off, he threw a complete-game 4-hitter on the last day of the season to put his team into the playoffs. he never yielded more than 4 runs in a game for milwaukee; he yielded 2 or fewer 10 times. i’d place sabathia among the top 3 in nl mvp this year.
- as good as cc was, the brewers paid a pretty penny. they completed their trade for sabathia the other day by sending an outfielder named michael brantley over as the player to be named later. opinion’s divided on this guy --- he has exceptional on-base ability (career minor-league obp of .399) and good speed, and has handled high levels well at a young age --- reached double A at age 20 last year, spent all of 2008 there and posted a .319 / .395 / .398 line. the last figure in the slash lines is the knock on brantley --- no power. BA had him ranked as the 18th-best prospect in the southern league; john sickels rates him a B, and kevin goldstein likes him. he’s roughly comparable to john jay. so add that to the already high bounty milwaukee gave up for their 3 months of sabathia. (and, alas, cc wasn’t very good is his playoff game, was he. . . . .)
- espn released their park factor calculations for 2008, and st louis rated as the 4th-toughest national league park to score in, trailing only petco (by far the most inhospitable hitting environment in baseball), dodger stadium, and pnc park in pittsburgh. overall it ranked 23d among the 30 nl teams. last year it ranked 22nd; in 2006 it ranked 20th; and in all three years, the runs scored there have fallen between 93 and 95 percent of average --- it, the park suppresses scoring by 5 to 7 percent. those are some pretty consistent scores, and they were achieved despite some pretty drastic personnel churn --- the only players who have held starting jobs all 3 years of the ballpark’s existence are pujols and molina (a fact that, in and of itself, is fairly shocking . . . . ). the cards’ home/road pitching split was narrower than usual in 2008, a mere 13 runs (vs 59 runs last year and 66 runs in 2006); their home era of 4.06 was right in line with previous figures (3.93 in 2006, 4.17 in 2007), but the card hurlers improved dramatically on the road in 2008.
no ballgames today; the final four is set, and VEB's adopted team is still alive. red sox appear to be the best team left, but that's just on paper --- which ain't worth nothing this time of year.