Tag Archives: Marcus Semien

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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Oakland A’s Organization is in Desperate Shape

As recently as the 2014 season, the Oakland Athletics were legitimate contenders in the American League. The A’s finished 88-74 that season, good for second place in the AL West standings.
The club had taken the division crown the two previous seasons. In 2014 they were again in the postseason after capturing an AL Wildcard berth.
In that 2014 American League Wildcard Game against the Kansas City Royals, the A’s took a seemingly comfortable 7-3 lead into the bottom of the 8th inning.
The Royals rallied for three in the 8th and a run in the 9th to send the contest into extra innings. In the top of the 12th, Oakland scored to regain the lead. But Kansas City fought back once again, scoring twice in the bottom of the frame for a dramatic walkoff victory.
The loss would prove deflating for the entire Oakland organization, which has not recovered. The following year, the A’s sank to the bottom of the American League standings. Then a year ago, the A’s again finished at the bottom of the West Division.
Just three weeks ago, Baseball America released their annual MLB Organizational Talent Rankings. Oakland finished just 17th in all of baseball, which is actually their highest finish in at least the last seven years.
Unfortunately for the team and their fans in the Bay area, the Oakland A’s have fallen, and they can’t get up. At least not any time soon.

LINEUP STRUGGLES TO SCORE

The biggest culprit is the everyday lineup. In 2016, the A’s finished at the bottom of the American League statistical rankings in Runs and OPS, and next-to-last in Steals. This demonstrated that there was little in either power or speed with which to attack opposing pitchers.
The 2017 lineup is slated to feature 29-year old left fielder Khris Davis and 26-year old shortstop Marcus Semien as the only true proven power sources.
25-year old Ryon Healy banged 13 homers after making his big league debut in mid-July. He will likely fill the DH role this year, backing up at both the first and third base positions.
Oakland signed Rajai Davis as a free agent to patrol center field. While his best days are behind him, the now 36-year old did swipe 43 bags with the Cleveland Indians a year ago.

HOPE FROM A YOUNG ROTATION

Assuming health, the pitching staff is not bad. 27-year old Sonny Gray needs to bounce back. 25-year old lefty Sean Manaea showed promise in his rookie campaign. 26-year old Kendall Graveman looks like he can at least be a reliable back of the rotation option.
Athletics
Oakland is counting on 25-year old rookie Jharel Cotton to step up and take on a rotation role. He arrived in last summer’s big trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers for outfielder Josh Reddick.
The bullpen will be relying heavily on a trio of relievers who are now all north of 30 years of age in Ryan MadsonSean Doolittle, and John Axford.

MONEYBALL DAYS ARE LONG GONE

GM Billy Beane could use a couple of his veterans as trade chips, but none would appear capable of bringing back impact talent. The one piece that could do so would be Gray, if he comes out strong. But if he does, the A’s might consider trying to keep the righty and build a rotation around him moving forward.
Beane is no longer the “Moneyball” innovator that he was a decade ago. The rest of baseball has caught on fully to the modern concepts of advanced statistical evaluation. He is going to have to find a way to turn this around the old-fashioned way: a slow rebuild through the draft and opportunistic trades.
As I wrote back in November, it does appear that there is finally real hope on the horizon for a much-needed and long overdue new ballpark in Oakland.
That hope comes from the presence of a new management team in John Fisher and Dave Kaval. The new heads in the front office need to sell the passionate Oakland fan base on a future that includes that new park, and young prospects such as shortstop Franklin Barretto.
If you squint, you can envision the Athletics winning again in a new Bayside ballpark with exciting young players and pitchers. But you are going to need to squint really hard, because that vision appears to still be at least a few years off.

Can Oakland A’s Get Back Into Contention Quickly?

The Oakland Athletics have fallen to the bottom of the American League West and look to get back to regular contending status.

In 2016 the Oakland Athletics finished 69-93 and in last place in the American League West Division, 26 games out of first place and 20 behind an AL Wild Card playoff spot.
This was a second consecutive last place finish for the A’s after three consecutive appearances in the MLB postseason.
The Athletics won the division in both 2012 and 2013, losing both years in a tough LDS, each going the distance. Then in 2014 they lost the AL Wild Card to the Kansas City Royals by surrendering two runs in the bottom of the 12th inning.
The A’s had traded away the big outfield bat of Yoenis Cespedes at the 2014 trade deadline to the Boston Red Sox for Jon Lester, and then lost Lester that offseason to free agency.
Then the club dealt away another big bat in Josh Donaldson to the Toronto Blue Jays in the offseason as well. Donaldson was due to begin seeing big contract increases which the small market Oakland Athletics were not in a position to support.
The franchise has not carried a top-20 payroll since the 2007 season, so any improvement is almost certainly going to have to come from within, and from smart, lesser free agent signings.

There is plenty of money to spend. Coming off a season in which the payroll exceeded $80 million, they have less than a $30 million obligation entering the offseason.
The club could free up another $7 million or so if they choose to deal away Ryan Madson, their highest-paid player and a luxury as a reliever. If former closer Sean Doolittle proves healthy, this might be a legitimate consideration.
This should allow the A’s to easily meet whatever increase should come in arbitration, or via a contract agreement, with slugging center fielder Khris Davis. Davis banged 42 homers and drove in 102 runs this past season in his first year after coming in a trade from the Milwaukee Brewers. He turns 29 years old next month.
The only other “first division” caliber player in the current starting lineup might be shortstop Marcus Semien, who in his second full season slammed 27 home runs and produced 75 RBI.
For a team that needs to play youngsters, they have some starters approaching baseball old age, which these days starts at around the 30-year-old mark.
Catcher Stephen Vogt just turned 32 years old, first baseman Yonder Alonso will turn 30 at the start of the 2017 season, and second baseman Jed Lowrie will turn 33 years old a week later.
There are a pair of talented young pitchers on the roster in Sonny Gray (27) and Sean Manaea (25), and with a pair of smart yet economical free agent signings, the A’s could put a contending-level rotation together for the 2017 season.
The club could look at arms such as Jeremy HellicksonDoug FisterR.A. Dickey, and Andrew Cashner, hoping to find a couple of bargains, even on one-year deals.
The only losses to free agency will come in pitcher Ross Detwiler and outfielder Sam Fuld, neither a major loss as far as pushing competitiveness forward.
The club’s top prospect is shortstop Franklin Barreto, who came in the Donaldson deal. Barreto will turn 21 years old as Spring Training opens.
The youngster could well push for a starting spot at either second or third base right now. If the club insists on keeping him at shortstop, he is likely going to need another full year in the minors to work on his defense.
The real possible future at shortstop may be Yairo Munoz, who also turns 21 years old in early 2017. However, Munoz is just coming off his first year of full-season ball.
Lefty A.J. Puk, the club’s first round pick in the 2016 MLB Amateur Draft, and righty Grant Holmes who came from the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 2016 trade deadline deal that sent Josh Reddick and Rich Hill to L.A., are the team’s top two pitching prospects. Neither is likely to be ready in 2017.
The bottom line is that there does not appear to be much help coming from the minor league system in the short-term.
The only way that the Athletics can return to contending sooner rather than later is by opening up their wallets, something that the franchise has rarely done, especially in recent years.
Aside from the arms mentioned earlier, bringing in two to three veterans like Jose BautistaJustin Turner, and Rajai Davis would significantly increase the production. 
A veteran such as Chase Utley could really help the development of the younger players, as well as help in the locker room.
There is probably going to be at least $30-40 million available this offseason to spend on free agents, if the club wishes to go in that direction. Doing it will be the only way to that short-term contention.