The 2010 National League MVP Debate… An MVP Run in The Mile High City

September 15, 2010

Read the opposing arguments from Bleacher Fan and Sports Geek.

It is September, and the Colorado Rockies are once again making one of their patented runs towards a playoff spot. Despite losing their last two games to the first place San Diego Padres, the Rockies sit just three and a half games back in both the National League West race and the NL Wild Card race. And they have made their charge largely on the shoulders of one man – Carlos Gonzalez.

Both Albert Pujols and Joey Votto have had outstanding seasons in their own right, and Gonzalez is arguably the lesser known and lesser established of the three players. However, all three players have spent their majority of their summer chasing the Triple Crown, and today it is my job to focus on CarGo (I’ll let my colleagues focus on the merits of those other two guys).

Gonzalez’s numbers for the 2010 season are outstanding. After last night’s game, he is currently hitting .340 with 32 home runs and 104 runs batted in. That batting average leads the league by a fairly significant margin at this point (though Braves second baseman Omar Infante may eventually come into play, and will likely provide a challenge for him). He is fourth in the league in home runs, and tied for the lead in RBIs with Mr. Pujols (he also hit for the cycle earlier this year). He is what manager Jim Tracy likes to call a “six-tool” player.

What is truly amazing about Gonzalez is the tear he has been on the second half of the season, which has coincided with the annual run the Rockies seem to always make towards a postseason berth.

Ironically, his surge began after he was snubbed from the All-Star team and lost out on the final fan vote to Votto of all people. Since the All-Star break, he has hit .375 with 15 home runs and 41 RBIs, with an extremely high slugging percentage of .735, and an on-base percentage of .418. That, my friends, is lighting it up. Compare those second half numbers to those of his main competitors for the MVP award.

Albert Pujols, in the second half of the season, is hitting .307 with 18 home runs, 40 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .623, and an on base percentage of .378. Votto, meanwhile, is hitting .332 with 12 home runs, 43 RBIs, a slugging percentage of .596, and an on-base percentage of .422.

It is not like any of them have slumped down the stretch, but neither has kept pace with Gonzalez’s performance (and Pujols’ team has certainly faded a little).

It is going to be a dogfight these last two and a half weeks to see who takes the lead in this battle for the MVP award. All three guys have had outstanding seasons, but Carlos Gonzalez literally came out of nowhere the second half of the season, and brought his team along for the ride. That is what puts him at the top and that is why he gets my vote for National League MVP.

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The Best Pitcher of 2009 Debate – “The Freak” Freaks Out All Of Baseball

September 21, 2009

Read Bleacher Fan’s argument that Zach Greinke is the best pitcher of 2009. Read Sports Geek’s argument that Chris Carpenter is the best pitcher of 2009.

The 2009 Major League Baseball season is entering the last two weeks. While it sadly looks like all the division and wild card races will be settled before the last day (unless the Twins can get hot and catch the White Sox in the American League Central), there are some interesting battles going on in individual competition. As Bleacher Fan pointed out, the writers at The Sports Debates are going to assess the top pitchers of 2009.

There have been some standout performances by pitchers this year. Chris Carpenter, Zach Greinke, Mariano Rivera, C.C. Sabathia, and Adam Wainwright all deserve consideration, but to me, one guy stands out as “King of the Mound” – Tim Lincecum.

Yesterday, Lincecum took the lost against the Dodgers in a very important game, putting the Giants into an even deeper hole in the NL wild card race (4.5 games back of the Rockies). Lincecum struggled with his command, and was never really able to get on track. Despite the loss which dropped him to 14-6 overall, though, he has a 2.47 ERA with an astonishing with 247 strikeouts in 211.1 innings pitched on the season.

It’s true that Lincecum’s Giants have stayed in postseason contention the vast majority of the season, but it can be argued that Lincecum has had to be spot-on in his pitching to get his wins. It is no secret that the Giants’ offense leaves a lot to be desired. As a team they rank 13th in the National League in runs scored at 4.04 runs a game, a stat magnified even more by the .257 overall team batting average.

Obviously, Lincecum needs to have a quality start in order to give his team a chance to win.

When you think of the Giants pitching staff, which is the strongest point of the team, you think of “The Freak.” He and Matt Cain are the anchors of the Giants rotation, and as long as those two stay healthy, they will be a contender in the National League West and in the National League.

Lincecum is not a physically imposing guy. He is listed at 5’11 and 172 lbs officially, though that may be pushing it a little. What adds to his effectiveness, though, is his long pitching stride. It’s hard enough hit a mid 90’s fastball, but with that long stride it appears to be coming much faster. He also has a near unhittable pitch that is referred to as a “12-6 curveball”.

A lot of guys have had great years in 2009. No one is disputing that. However, when determining the best pitcher in 2009, look no further than the 2008 Cy Young winner. If you think someone else is better, then I challenge you to stand in the batter’s box and see if you can come close to hitting his curve ball. I bet you can’t!

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The Speaking the Unspoken Rules Debate – The Speaking of Unspoken Rules

August 12, 2009

Read Sports Geek’s argument that it is ok to come out and speak about the unspoken rules and Bleacher Fan’s argument that players and coaches should not speak the unspoken rules of their sport



The city of Chicago is fortunate enough to have two teams in wild card chases (with the Cubs also being in a division race.) Entering play on Wednesday, the Cubs are three games behind the Cardinals in the National League Central and three games behind the Rockies in the wild card race. Meanwhile, the boys from the South side enter play Wednesday trailing the Detroit Tigers by two games in the American League Central. It is going to be wild!

Something else has happened involving the White Sox, though.

White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen, perhaps feeling the pressure of the pennant race, spoke out in frustration last week. This is something he rarely does (just a hint of sarcasm here). The White Sox have been getting drilled in all parts of the body over the past month by blazing fastballs from the opposing teams. Guillen has had enough, and he is going to do something about it. He has issued a warning to every team the White Sox play from here on out.

“If I see someone hit my player, and I know they hit him on purpose, it’s two guys going down. I don’t care if I get suspended,” Guillen said. “I rather have me suspended for two games than have my players on the DL for 30 days.”

Now, it is common for a team to plunk a batter at some point after their player has been drilled. It is just part of the game and most people, sans Kevin Youkilis, accept it. I know, as a fan, if one of the players on the team I am rooting for gets drilled, I want someone on the other team to get hit also. Not headhunting or anything, but maybe right in the back. After that, all is forgotten and everyone moves along.

But Ozzie “The Non-Wizard” Guillen has upped the ante. On one end of the spectrum, he has really sent a message to his team that he has their back and that the constant beaning of the White Sox has got to stop. On the other hand, he has really put his entire pitching staff under a microscope and put them under a lot of pressure. If Mark Buerhle comes inside on Miguel Cabrera and unintentionally hits him, the home plate umpire, knowing Guillen’s comments, could toss Buerhle out of the game.

Sounds like a debate to me.

Is it wise to speak the unspoken rules of baseball?

Sports Geek will argue that it is ok to speak the “unspoken” rules while Bleacher Fan will argue that it is not something that a player or coach should do!

Game on! The loser either gets thrown out of the game or gets beaned by a Loyal Homer fastball (and we all know that’s a real heater!)!

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