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Five Phillies have been named the NL Most Valuable Player

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Klein was the National League MVP in 1932 and finished as runner-up in both 1931 and 1933

 

Major League Baseball will conclude the process of handing out hardware to the 2019 award winners on Thursday with the naming of the National and American League Most Valuable Players.

In a televised announcement on the MLB Network beginning at 6:00 pm EST, the official BBWAA award winners will be announced.

As has been the case all week, the IBWAA (internet writers/bloggers) named their winners during the afternoon.

 

This year’s three finalists for the BBWAA honors in the National League are outfielder/first baseman Cody Bellinger of the LA Dodgers, third baseman Anthony Rendon of the world champion Washington Nationals, and outfielder Christian Yelich of the Milwaukee Brewers, the latter of whom as last year’s winner.

Over in the American League the finalists are third baseman Alex Bregman of the pennant-winning Houston Astros, shortstop Marcus Semien of the Oakland A’s, and outfielder Mike Trout of the LA Angels. Trout is a two-time AL MVP and four-time runner-up for the honors.

My thought is that Bellinger will win the NL MVP honors. But my pick would be Rendon. The Nationals turned their season around after a miserable first seven weeks, put up the NL’s best record over the final four months, and won the first world championship in franchise history. Rendon’s productive bat and outstanding play at the hot corner were keys.

In the American League, there is little doubt that Trout is baseball’s best all-around player. But this is not the “Most Outstanding Player” award, it’s for the most valuable. The Halos finished 18 games below the .500 mark and in fourth place. Bregman is similarly outstanding, and his club won. But he was surrounded by easily the best and deepest lineup in the league.

Semien is nowhere near as well known in wider baseball circles. However, his value to the NL West runners-up in leading the small-market Athletics to the postseason for a second straight year is worthy of the award: 33 homers, 83 extra-base hits, 92 RBIs, 123 runs scored and outstanding defensive play at shortstop helped add up to 8.1 total WAR. He would be my choice.

The origins of a formal Most Valuable Player in baseball can be traced back to the 1911 season, and an early automobile manufacturer by the name of Hugh Chalmers.

Chalmers company presented a vehicle to the player with the highest batting average after the 1910 season. For 1911 he instituted the Chalmers Award, with a baseball writer’s committee formed to select what was described as the “most important and useful player to the club and to the league“.

The Chalmers Award was handed out following the next four seasons from 1911-14, and the winners are a who’s who of Hall of Famers: Ty Cobb, Tris Speaker, Walter Johnson, and Eddie Collins. As World War I began and national attention diverted to the effort that summer, the award was discontinued after the 1914 season.

The American League decided to hand out an award beginning in 1922 to “the baseball player who is of the greatest all-around service to his club“. It was voted on by a baseball writer’s committee, and players were only allowed to win one time.

That award lasted for seven seasons. Hall of Famer George Sisler won the first, and Johnson took the honors in 1924. A pair of legendary New York Yankees stars, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, won the award for the 1923 and 1927 seasons. The first Philadelphia ball player, Mickey Cochrane of the Athletics, won the final award in 1928.

The National League followed suit in 1924 with an award that lasted through the 1929 season, but the NL allowed a player to win multiple times. This resulted in Hall of Famer Rogers Hornsby winning in both 1925 and 1929.

For the 1931 season, the Baseball Writer’s Association of America (BBWAA) began to hand out the honors that have lasted through today.  In the NL, the Phillies’ Chuck Klein won in 1932 and finished as runner-up in the voting in both 1931 and 1933.

Philadelphia Athletics ball players captured the first three AL awards, with pitcher Lefty Grove winning in 1931 and then slugger Jimmie Foxx taking it in 1932 and 1933. The A’s would get one more AL MVP winner before leaving town, with southpaw pitcher Bobby Shantz earning the honors in 1952.

Foxx would win again in 1938 for his performance that season with the Boston Red Sox. He is one of only four three-time winners in the American League, joining Joe DiMaggio, Mickey Mantle, and Alex Rodriguez. Trout will try to join that list tonight.

In the National League, Barry Bonds captured the award seven times. Next in line are a list of four three-time winners including Stan Musial, Roy Campanella, and Albert Pujols.

The other three-time winner in the NL is the greatest player in Philadelphia Phillies franchise history, Michael Jack Schmidt.

Mike Schmidt won the National League Most Valuable Player award for his performances in the 1980, 1981, and 1986 seasons. Ernie Banks in 1958-59, Joe Morgan in 1975-76, Dale Murphy in 1982-83, Bonds in 1992-93, and Pujols in 2008-09 are the other back-to-back NL winners. Yelich will try to join those ranks tonight. Bonds also had a stretch of four straight wins 2001-04.

A pitcher with the 1950 Phillies “Whiz Kids” National League championship club, Jim Konstanty was honored with the NL MVP that season, and remains the only reliever to ever win the Most Valuable Player honors. Konstanty received 18 of 24 first-place votes that year to win comfortably over Musial.

How did a relief pitcher capture the honors? Well, it would be hard to argue against Konstanty’s value to the NL pennant winners. He won 16 games and recorded 22 saves while tossing 152 innings and allowing just 108 hits across 74 games, all out of the bullpen.

With Klein, Konstanty, and the three Schmidt honors, that leaves two more Phillies National League Most Valuable Players. Those two were teammates who captured the honors in back-to-back seasons.

In 2006, first baseman Ryan Howard, who had won the NL Rookie of the Year award the prior season, won in a reasonably close vote over Pujols. Howard received 20 first-place votes while Pujols got the other 12, with Howard winning the overall vote by 388-347.

The following year, shortstop Jimmy Rollins predicted before the season began that the Phillies were “the team to beat” in the NL East Division. The club had fallen short despite contending over the prior half-dozen years, and had not won a division crown in 14 seasons.

JRoll backed up his prediction with an MVP performance. He became the first player in big-league history to record 20+ home runs (30), doubles (38), triples (20), and stolen bases (41) and scored 139 runs. Despite such an outstanding season, Rollins win was tight, edging out Matt Holliday of the Rockies by 353-336. Rollins received 16 first-place votes to 11 for Holliday.

A pair of current Phillies players have National League Most Valuable Player awards in their home trophy case. Andrew McCutchen won the award in 2013 as a member of the Pittsburgh Pirates, finishing third in both 2012 and 2014. Bryce Harper was the unanimous winner in 2015 as a member of the Washington Nationals.

Who will be the next Philadelphia Phillies player to take home the NL Most Valuable Player Award? At just age 27, Harper would seem to be the most logical candidate. If he can do it, he would add his name to a list that includes just 11 players in winning the award multiple times during a career.

 

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Jimmy Rollins officially retires as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies

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JRoll officially retires as a member of the Phillies

Prior to Saturday night’s big division rivalry game with the Washington Nationals, the host Philadelphia Phillies will hold a ceremony to honor long time shortstop Jimmy Rollins on the occasion of his official retirement from Major League Baseball.

Rollins, who turned 40 years of age back in November, played with the Phillies for the first 15 of his 17-year career in the big-leagues.
Born in Oakland, California, Rollins was the Phillies 2nd round pick in the 1996 MLB Draft out of Encinal High School in Alameda, California.
After getting his feet wet with the Rookie-level Martinsville club in the Appalachian League during that first pro summer of 1996, Rollins developed into an all-around offensive threat who could field the shortstop position brilliantly.
Over the 1997-99 seasons, he collected 110 extra-base hits and stole 94 bases. Spending most of the 2000 season with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Rollins hit .274 with 51 extra-base hits and 24 steals, earning his first big-league promotion for a 14-game cup of coffee with the Phillies that September.
His first appearance in a Phillies uniform in an official MLB game came on Sunday afternoon September 17, 2000 at Veteran’s Stadium. That day he hit second in manager Terry Francona‘s lineup and provided an immediate spark. Rollins delivered two hits including a triple, drew a walk, stole his first base, and scored twice to contribute towards a 6-5 win.
Rollins started in the leadoff spot for the first time the very next day at The Vet against the Pittsburgh Pirates. he again delivered two hits and also recorded the first RBI of his career with a base hit in the bottom of the 6th inning to score Tom Prince.
He would play in 14 games that first month, 11 of those as the starter at shortstop. Seven times he produced a multi-hit game, setting himself up as the starter at the position to open the 2001 season.
Under new manager Larry Bowa, the Phillies began emerging for the first time in years as a contender, and Rollins was a primary reason. On May 2, 2001 at Veteran’s Stadium, Rollins led off the bottom of the 4th inning against Colorado Rockies starter Brian Bohanon and blasted the first home run of his career.
These were just the first milestone moments of what would become one of the most storied careers in the history of the franchise. By the time it was all over, Rollins had become the franchise all-time Hit King with 2,306 hits for the Phillies.

Phillies are wearing a special patch on their jerseys tonight for Jimmy Rollins’ retirement night:

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Rollins current place on the Phillies all-time leaderboards:
  • Hits: 2,306 (1st)
  • Runs: 1,325 (3rd)
  • Games: 2,090 (2nd)
  • At-bats: 8,628 (1st)
  • Doubles: 479 (1st)
  • Triples: 111 (3rd)
  • Home runs: 216 (9th)
  • RBIs: 887 (8th)
  • Stolen bases: 453 (2nd)
  • Walks: 753 (6th)
  • Total bases: 3,655 (2nd)
  • Extra-base hits: 806 (2nd)
“JRoll” also produced 46.4 WAR with the Phillies. He finished 3rd in the 2001 NL Rookie of the Year voting behind Albert Pujols and Roy Oswalt. Rollins was the 2007 National League Most Valuable Player and received NL MVP votes in four other seasons.
He was a three-time NL All-Star, a four-time NL Gold Glover at shortstop, and was the 2007 NL Silver Slugger Award winner at shortstop for a season in which he became one of just four MLB players in history to record a 20-20-20-20 season: at least 20 homers, doubles, triples, and stolen bases.
Rollins had numerous tremendous, memorable plays during his career, and fans can argue for days about which was the best or most important. For me, two stand out.
Defensively, Rollins diving stop and perfect shuffle to Chase Utley began a double-play that clinched the 2008 National League East Division crown on the final day of the regular season. The Phillies would go on to win the World Series that year.
With the bat, it has to be his clutch two-out, two-strike, walkoff double into the right-center field gap at Citizens Bank Park off Los Angeles Dodgers closer Jonathan Broxton to give the Phillies a 6-5 come-from-behind victory and a 3-1 lead in the 2009 NLCS.

There is no doubt that Rollins will be enshrined on the Phillies Wall of Fame sometime early in the 2020’s. He will make for an interesting argument in a few years as a nominee for the Baseball Hall of Fame. But for tonight the Phillies legend will settle for a joyous celebration in front of more than 40,000 adoring fans.

Phillies fans are going to have to wait on Mike Trout

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Phillies fans have never been shy about their affection for local guy Mike Trout

If you follow discussions among the Philadelphia Phillies fan base on social media you know that it is difficult to go more than a couple of days without someone admonishing the team to “bring home” the best player in baseball, Mike Trout.

It takes just a glance at the career of the “Millville Rocket” to understand the desire of fans to see the native of that South Jersey town play his home games in the Phillies red pinstripes.
While the Phillies were setting a franchise record with 102 wins during their last winning season back in 2011, Trout was breaking into Major League Baseball with an extended 40-game cup of coffee with the Los Angeles Angels.
During his official rookie campaign a year later, Trout captured the American League Rookie of the Year honors. He slashed .326/.399/.564 that year with 30 home runs, 65 extra-base hits, 49 stolen bases, and 129 runs scored.
Trout has now played in eight big-league seasons. He has been the AL Most Valuable Player twice and finished runner-up for the honors on three occasions. During his seven full seasons the lowest that he has finished in AL MVP voting has been fourth.
Now 27-years-old, Trout has 240 career homers, 648 RBI, 793 runs scored, and 189 stolen bases with a .307/.416/.573 career slash line. The OPS mark of .990 that he has put together during that period is the best in all of baseball. He is also a seven-time American League All-Star and six-time Silver Slugger Award winner.
Trout now has a 64.3 career WAR mark, tied with Roy Halladay for 144th in baseball all-time. With a typical season in 2019 he would move past a couple of dozen Hall of Famers including Halladay, Willie McCoveyAndre DawsonCraig BiggioErnie BanksDuke Snider, and Roberto Alomar.
Trout has never won a Gold Glove Award and yet is widely considered among the best center fielders in the game. Early in his career, television highlight shows featured him frequently. His everyday excellence in this area of the game simply seems to now be taken for granted.
Trout did not commit a single error last year, the only center fielder in Major League Baseball who can make that claim. In fact, he has not committed an error since April of 2017.
But the affection for Trout extends beyond his phenomenal on-field performance for Philly sports fans. Trout is one of us. He grew up as a fan of Philadelphia sports teams. Trout tailgated at the 2008 World Series. He is one of the biggest fans of the Philadelphia Eagles that you are going to find.
USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reports that when responding to questions about the Phillies current free agent search, Trout showed that he fully understands the passion and interest of the fan base by referencing his own situation.
Mike Trout on Free agent search: ‘I didn’t go a day this winter without someone asking, ‘When you coming to Philly.’ I can’t predict the future.’

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Despite the enthusiasm and desire of the Philly fan base, it is no slam-dunk that Trout will ever pull on a Phillies jersey for even one day of his career. He remains under contract with the Angels through the 2020 season. Their owner, Arte Moreno, fully understands what Trout means to his organization and is on record that he is going nowhere during his contract.
Moreno has spent plenty of money before and is fully prepared and capable of doing so again. He lured Albert Pujols away from the Saint Louis Cardinals, where the player had become an icon, with a 10-year, $240 million free agent contract back in 2012. Last off-season, Moreno won the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes, landing the Japanese star for the price of a $20 million posting fee and $2.315 million signing bonus.
The Angels owner has also already demonstrated his specific appreciation for Trout’s value and talents. He bought out the first few years of the superstar’s free agency eligibility with a six-year, $145.2 million-dollar deal covering the 2015-20 seasons. That contract set Trout up for life, kept him with the Halos for most of his prime years, but also allows him to become a free agent at age 29.
Fabian Ardaya, who covers the Angels for The Athletic, asked Trout about possible contract extension talks with the team. It would appear from his response that there are none happening as of this time.
Mike Trout declined to comment on any potential contract negotiations with the Angels. Said he likes where he’s at, and said he wants to win. Said he feels they haven’t been far off.

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You can expect that Moreno will make a major push to sign Trout long-term in an attempt to make him an Angel-for-life at some point. As long as there is any chance of that happening, Trout will not be traded. Phillies fans may as well stop hoping for it right now. It just is not going to happen.
It is an entirely different question as to what the Angels should do, as opposed to what they will do. If there are indications that Trout will give them no special consideration in free agency, and if the Angels are not in true contention, then trading him at the 2020 non-waiver deadline would be the smart move. He would likely land them a major package in return.
An even better opportunity would come this summer. Again, if the Angels engage with his agent and learn that he intends to enter free agency, and if the Angels are again not in contention, then dealing Trout this year would land them an even stronger package in return.
But that will not happen. Trust me. You don’t have to like it, you just have to accept it. Moreno will not trade away the best player in baseball, his franchise icon. At least not this year. My bet it that he will not even consider it at next year’s trade deadline.
Trout knows the fan base. Aside from baseball (for now) he is one of us. “I’m an Eagles fan. I know how we are,” he recently said to reporters.

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Why are free agents reluctant to sign with the ? Philadelphia sports fans are no joke.

Mike Trout: “I’m an Eagles fan. I know how we are.”

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The most likely scenario for Phillies fans, by far, is to simply be patient. Enjoy whatever teams the Phillies run out during this 2019 season and then again next year. And when the 2020 season draws to an end, well, then we can talk about Trout. My guess is that 2020 off-season will make what we have gone through with Bryce Harper and Manny Machado this winter look like child’s play.

Manny Machado close to a decision, with Phillies a strong finalist

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Machado would immediately make the Phillies an NL East contender

The Philadelphia Phillies have been linked to superstar infielder Manny Machado for some time now. Going back to the approach of the 2018 non-waiver trade deadline and on through the early months of this current off-season, Phillies fans have waited to see if the young superstar might choose to make Philadelphia his long-term baseball home.

Based on numerous reports across the baseball landscape over the past 24 hours that wait may soon be over. The Phillies are reportedly one of three finalists for his services, joined by the Chicago White Sox and New York Yankees.
For the past few weeks it appeared as if the Yankees were emerging as favorites. However, New York just agreed to a deal with free agent Troy Tulowitzki. While that deal doesn’t necessarily knock the Yanks out of the Machado sweepstakes, it does appear to mitigate their need on the left side of the infield.
Jim Salisbury of NBC Philadelphia wrote today that the Yankees signing of Tulo absolutely has some bearing on their interest in Machado: “The signing is seen as inexpensive insurance should the team fail to sign Machado. It also could be a negotiating signal to Machado that the Yankees won’t wait forever.
The Yanks would use Machado at shortstop, the position he has publicly stated as a preference, for at least the first few months of the 2019 season. Incumbent Yankees shortstop Didi Gregorius needed Tommy John surgery on his right throwing elbow back in October, and could miss at least the first half of the upcoming season.
But longer term, New York would have to work out that shortstop situation. That positional usage could also be an issue with the Phillies, who obtained shortstop Jean Segura in a trade with the Seattle Mariners earlier this off-season.
In the Phillies case, they could either overpay to get Machado to play third base, which would make incumbent Maikel Franco trade bait, or they could flip Segura over to second base. Segura received NL MVP votes during the 2016 season when he spent the entire year as the Arizona Diamondbacks starting second baseman.
Salisbury commented on the possibility of the Phillies possibly needing to overpay Machado to keep him out of the Bronx:

“The Phillies like the idea of using Machado at third base and would probably have to significantly outbid the Yankees to land him. The Phillies have been gearing for this offseason for years and have the resources to do just that — if Machado would say yes to their offer.” ~ Jim Salisbury

It is still believed that the Phillies have offered up to a 10-year deal valued at between $300-350 million to Machado. The White Sox had previously been rumored to be willing to go the same 10 years. However, Bruce Levine at 670 The Score, one of Chicago’s leading sports talk stations, reported this afternoon that the Chisox are falling short of that level offer:
Reports of the White Sox offering ten plus years for Manny Machado or Bryce Harper are ”Without any substance and flat out wrong “ according to high ranking industry sources . Wh Sox will not be giving offer of more than 7 years for either player.

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Considering recent long-term free agent deals signed by youngish free agents such as Jason Heyward, who got eight years from the Chicago Cubs back in December of 2015, and Eric Hosmer, who received an eight-year deal from the San Diego Padres last off-season, a 10-year deal taking either Machado or fellow star free agent Bryce Harper through their age 35 seasons is not out of line.
Mark Polishuk of MLB Trade Rumors commented on just that fact regarding the two 26-year-olds:

“Either player could quite reasonably still be productive in their age-35 season, when a ten-year deal would conclude…It’s almost impossible to see Harper or Machado taking less, considering that both have delivered considerably more superstar-level production than either Heyward or Hosmer at the time of their deals.”

Jeff Passan at ESPN reported earlier today that in the wait for decisions from Machado and Harper, the infielder is likely to make his choice first, and that decision could come soon.
“Machado is going to sign first, and perhaps soon, choosing from among the New York YankeesPhiladelphia Phillies and Chicago White Sox. While one cannot rule out a mystery team — agent Dan Lozano is keeping a tight lid on the proceedings, just as he did when the Miami Marlins were among the final bidders on Albert Pujols — Machado’s fit among the known interested teams is strong enough not to necessitate a furtive suitor.”

There is a very real chance that we could get a Machado decision by this coming weekend or sometime next week. If he goes to the Yankees, the Phillies would throw their considerable financial resources towards Harper.
If Machado chooses to play in Philly, it will be interesting to see if the Phillies then drop out of the Harper sweepstakes or take a shot at landing both superstars.
Originally published at Phillies Nation as Phillies remain a finalist as Manny Machado readies to make his decision

Angels Again Surround Mike Trout With Little Help

The Los Angeles Angels are off to a 7-10 start to the 2017 season. Those uneven first three weeks have the team tied with the Seattle Mariners for third place in the AL West Division standings. Those two clubs are just a half-game ahead of the last place Oakland Athletics.
One of the main reasons that the Halos remain closer to the bottom of the division than the top is the continuing struggle to find support for the lineup’s lone true superstar.
Mike Trout appears set to add yet another strong season to what might already be a Hall of Fame career. Turning 26 years of age just before the MLB All-Star Game this coming July, Trout is hitting for a .339/.424/.625 slash line over the season’s first three weeks.
Trout has thus far produced three home runs, 11 RBI, and seven runs scored while stealing three bases. Those numbers put him on pace for the second ’30-30′ season of his career, which is now in its seventh year.
But even with a player of this caliber in their lineup, the Angels still struggle. A two-time AL MVP who has been the runner-up for the award in each of his other three full seasons. Five straight Silver Sluggers and AL All-Star nods. And still the team cannot win consistently.

LITTLE HELP IN THE ANGELS LINEUP

The only other player with a big reputation on the club is veteran first baseman and future Hall of Famer Albert Pujols. The 37-year old has 11 RBI, tied with Trout for second on the club. But his .190/.242/.310 slash line exposes that in his 17th season, Pujols is a shell of his once three-time MVP self.
New second baseman Danny Espinosa leads the Angels with a dozen RBI. Espinosa is also tied for the club lead with Trout, having banged three home runs. However, the former longtime Nationals’ infielder is also hitting just .232 with a .254 on-base percentage.
Kole Calhoun won a 2015 Gold Glove, and appeared to be developing as a consistent offensive contributor over the last two seasons. But this year, Calhoun is off to just a .218/.306/.327 slash.
Third baseman Yunel Escobar is hitting well at .313/.371/.406, and leads the Angels with 11 runs scored. But he brings little power to the traditional power position, having just one homer and five RBI to this point.
Only two other players besides Trout have even a single stolen base. Overall, the Angels as a team are hitting for just a .241/.306/.363 slash line. Imagine where the club would be without Trout’s contributions?
When you factor in a pitching staff that is mediocre at best, one that is also battling some injury issues, and the outlook for the Angels in the 2017 season is not a good one.

CONTRACT ISSUES AND REALITY

Trout is due to make more than $34 million each year beginning next season, when Pujols will be another year older.
Angels
Pujols is locked in for another $114 million over the next four years, a contract that will be impossible to move and will hang around the team neck like an albatross through 2021.
The minor league organization was rated 29th of 30 teams in the most recent Baseball America rankings back in late February. There is little prospect help coming over the next few years.
Arte Moreno and Halos management can deny reality for another year if they like, but sooner or later they are going to have to face a hard truth. The Angels cannot win as currently constructed, and Trout is the only asset they have who could change that fact.
Look at the prospect packages that the Phillies received in return for both Cole Hamels and Ken Giles in recent years. The talent received by the White Sox in exchange for Chris Sale. This is the type of impact that a trade of Trout would have for the Angels.
There is no doubt in my mind that the Angels should be actively shopping Trout right now, looking for a massive 5-6 top prospect package in return.
For now, they continue to run the best player in baseball out on the field at Angels Stadium. Unfortunately with little chance of fielding a winning overall ball club around him.