Taking stock as the season winds down



I took stock on the season at the 1/3 mark, and then at the half way point.

I had promised to do so on Labor Day as the season goes into its final lap and here I am.

There’s not much suspense for the Yankees, Rays, Rangers and Reds who all seem to have their playoff spots locked up.

But looking at San Diego and their current implosion shows you can never be 100% sure who is going to end up where. (Has anyone else noticed the Rockies aren’t dead yet?)

There are injuries that make some of the awards up for grabs as well as some slumps that turned front runners into mere contenders… or in Tim Lincecum’s case totally off the board.

So with more or less a month to go, let’s take a look at the playoff picture and who should be in line for post season hardware (and compare those to my 1/3 picks and 1/2 way picks.)

If the playoffs started today…

AL East Champion New York Yankees
Would have home field advantage over
AL West Champion Texas Rangers

AL Central Champion Minnesota Twins
Would have home field advantage over
AL Wild Card Tampa Bay Rays

(The Chicago White Sox would be within 3 games in the loss column of a playoff spot.)

NL East Champion Cincinnati Reds
Would have home field advantage over
N. L. Wild Card
Philadelphia Phillies

NL East Champion Atlanta Braves
Would have home field advantage over
NL West Champion San Diego Padres

(The Giants are within 1 game of a playoff spot.)

(At the 1/3 Mark, The Rays had home field over Oakland, the Twins had home field over the Yankees. The Cardinals had home field over the Braves while the Padres still had home field over the Reds

At the 1/2 way mark, the Yankees had homefield over the White Sox while the Rangers would host the Rays. Meanwhile the Braves would have homefield over the winner of a Rockies and Dodgers playoff while the Padres would have homefield over the Reds.)

AL MVP:
MIGUEL CABRERA, Tigers
I had Josh Hamilton here, but his ribcage injury might take him out of commission. Cabrera has the OPS, the Average, the power and ranks at the top of W.A.R. It’s not his fault the Tigers faded.

In the running:
EVAN LONGORIA, Rays. ROBINSON CANO, Yankees. JOSH HAMILTON, Rangers.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Miguel Cabrera as the MVP.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Josh Hamilton as the MVP.)

NL MVP:
JOEY VOTTO, Reds
He is pulling away from Pujols in OPS and is near the top in virtually every single offensive category. And oh yeah, his Reds have opened up a big lead with Joey Votto as their main man.

In the running:
ALBERT PUJOLS, Cardinals. CARLOS GONZALEZ, Rockies. ADRIAN GONZALEZ, Padres.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Albert Pujols as the MVP.
At the 1/2 was mark, I had Joey Votto as the MVP.)

AL CY YOUNG:
FELIX HERNANDEZ, Mariners
Yeah, I know his record is only 11-10. He also leads the league in ERA, strikeouts, innings pitched and a lot of other categories that I don’t understand. If the Cy Young goes to the best pitcher, then King Felix is the best.

In the running:
CLAY BUCHHOLZ, Red Sox. CC SABATHIA, Yankees. TREVOR CAHILL, A’s. DAVID PRICE, Rays.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Jon Lester as the Cy Young.
At the 1/2 way mark I had David Price as the Cy Young.)

NL CY YOUNG:
ROY HALLADAY, Phillies
The fascinating Cy Young chase could come down to the last few weeks. Right now Halladay has been the horse the Phillies need and has the gaudy stats to back up his “Ace” title. He right now is the pitcher to beat.
In the running:
UBALDO JIMENEZ, Rockies. ADAM WAINWRIGHT, Cardinals. CHRIS CARPENTER, Cardinals. TIM HUDSON, Braves. MAT LATOS, Padres.
(At the 1/3 mark AND the 1/2 was mark, I had Ubaldo Jimenez as the Cy Young.)

AL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
NEFTALI FELIZ, Rangers
A couple of bad games made his ERA swell, but he has supplied the AL West leading Rangers were a steady hand at the back end of the bullpen.

In the running:
BRIAN MATUSZ, Orioles. AUSTIN JACKSON, Tigers. JEREMY HELLICKSON, Rays. JOHN JASO, Blue Jays.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Mitch Talbot as the AL Rookie of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Brennan Boesch as the Rookie of the Year.)

NL ROOKIE OF THE YEAR:
BUSTER POSEY, Giants
Posey has been everything and more that the Giants could have asked for. He hits for average, for power, gets on base and has supplied a team starved for offense a spark and a flair for the dramatic. Seems to be solid behind the plate as well.

In the running:
JAIME GARCIA, Nationals. GABY SANCHEZ, Marlins. JASON HEYWARD, Braves.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Jason Heyward as the Rookie of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Jamie Garcia as the Rookie of the Year.)

AL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
OZZIE GUILLEN, White Sox
I was leaning towards Joe Maddon, but the recent surge by Ozzie’s White Sox shows just how dangerous they can be. Could Manny’s prescience be a positive thing in Chicago. They just want him for a month (maybe two.)

In the running:
RON WASHINGTON, Rangers. RON GARDENHIRE, Twins. JOE MADDON, Rays. JOE GIRARDI, Yankees.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Joe Maddon as the Manager of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Ozzie Guillen as the Manager of the Year.)

NL MANAGER OF THE YEAR:
DUSTY BAKER, Reds
The recent collapse by the Padres took Bud Black out of the running for top spot here. The Reds were supposed to be a fringe contender… not cruising to a Division title with home field advantage throughout the playoffs.

In the running:
BOBBY COX, Braves. JIM TRACY, Rockies. BUD BLACK, Padres.

(At the 1/3 mark AND the 1/2 way mark, I had Dusty Baker as the Manager of the Year.)

AL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
VLADIMIR GUERRERO, Rangers
How often do you pick up a 100 RBI guy from the scrap heap? There will me more responsibility on his shoulders with Josh Hamilton’s injury.

In the running:
VERNON WELLS, Blue Jays. ALEX RIOS, White Sox. EDWIN JACKSON, White Sox. FRANCISCO LIRIANO, Twins.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Vernon Wells as the Comeback Player of the Year.
At the 1/2 way mark, I had Vladimir Guerrero as the Comeback Player of the Year.)

NL COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR
TIM HUDSON, Braves
Forget comeback player… Hudson is making a run at the Cy Young Award. 15 wins and a 2.30 ERA will do that.

In the running:
SCOTT ROLEN, Reds. RICKIE WEEKS, Brewers. AUBREY HUFF, Giants.

BIGGEST BUST IN THE AL:
JAVIER VAZQUEZ, Yankees
He was brought back to the Bronx to be a solid #2 starter as Yankee brass was convinced he no longer had the jitters that he showed in his first Yankee tour. It turns out he still had them. His starting stats have been disastrous for the Yankees who need rotation stability in order to repeat.

In the running:
JOSH BECKETT, Red Sox. JOBA CHAMBERLAIN, Yankees. MILTON BRADLEY, Mariners.

(At the 1/3 mark I had Josh Beckett as the biggest bust in the AL
At the 1/2 way mark I had Milton Bradley as the biggest bust in the AL)

BIGGEST BUST IN THE NL
JASON BAY, Mets
Bay had become a symbol of how the Mets use money poorly while the Yankees (at least in 2009) spent wisely. Everyone and their dog knew Jason Bay would struggle in CitiField, except evidently the Mets front office. His season ended in late July with a concussion, but his stats were ordinary at best with the Mets.)

In the running:
AKI IWAMURA, Pirates. ARAMIS RAMIREZ, Cubs. MARK DeROSA, Giants.

(At the 1/3 point I had Carlos Lee as the biggest bust in the NL
And at the 1/2 way point I had Carlos Zambrano as the biggest bust in the NL)

So here we go… the players in the running can all win some off season hardware with a push in September.

I hope to be back here at the end of the regular season talking about the great Red Sox comeback.

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