Tag Archives: MLB 2018

MLB awards: my 2018 IBWAA ballot

IBWAA 2018 MLB awards ballot time
Back in 2009 the IBWAA (Internet Baseball Writers Association of America) was originally, and perhaps fittingly, founded on Independence Day “to organize and promote the growing online baseball media, and to serve as a digital alternative to the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA)” per the organization home site.
At the end of each regular season, each member in good standing receives an awards ballot and is tasked with voting for a top 10 for Most Valuable Player of the National and American Leagues.
We are also tasked with voting in each league for a top five in the Cy Young Award, as well as a top three in each of three further categories: top manager, top reliever, and Rookie of the Year.
This will be the fourth year that I’ve had a vote in the IBWAA annual awards balloting. As with each of the last three years, I’m now publicly releasing my ballot. As always, I’m sure that you would choose differently. I would love to hear your choices for each of the awards. Please feel free to leave a comment below this piece with your own selections.
The IBWAA is scheduled to begin announcing the winners of its awards in mid-November. Our editorial director here at Phillies Nation, Tim Kelly, released his own ballot just yesterday which included some of the reasoning behind his selections.
I’m not going to defend my choices, just simply presenting my ballot for your edification. However, I will let you in on this: I don’t vote for pitchers for Most Valuable Player. I’ve heard, appreciate, and respect all arguments to the contrary. I respectfully disagree with them all.
For me, a player who takes the field every single day to hit and field his position is always going to be more valuable than one who plays every five days. Also, there is a stand-alone award for the best pitcher that is not available to position players.
Also, my MVP votes are always going to be prejudiced towards players whose teams actually win something. Win your division, or at the very least capture a Wildcard playoff berth.
I don’t care if you hit 70 home runs for a last place team. They could have finished in last without your contribution. This is Most “Valuable”, not Most “Outstanding” Player. MLB gives out the Hank Aaron Award to the top hitter in each league. The MVP needs something more to win it on my ballot, and one thing they need is to have helped their team win.
So now it’s time to reveal my own ballot. I’ll first show my top choice to actually win the award, and then the entire ballot for each category.

First-year skipper Snitker guided the Braves to their first NL East crown in five years. (Photo: Bbqsauce13)
NL Manager of the Year: Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves
  1. Snitker
  2. Bud Black
  3. Craig Counsell
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, Oakland Athletics
  1. Melvin
  2. Kevin Cash
  3. Joey Cora
NL Top Relief Pitcher: Josh Hader, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Hader
  2. Wade Davis
  3. Kenley Jansen


Diaz (R) was baseball’s top reliever by a wide margin in the 2018 season. (Photo: Keith Allison)
AL Top Relief Pitcher: Edwin Diaz, Seattle Mariners
  1. Diaz
  2. Blake Treinen
  3. Craig Kimbrel
NL Rookie of the Year: Ronald Acuna, Atlanta Braves
  1. Acuna
  2. Juan Soto
  3. Jack Flaherty
AL Rookie of the Year: Miguel Andujar, New York Yankees
  1. Andujar
  2. Joey Wendle
  3. Shohei Ohtani

Nola is a worthy NL Cy Young Award candidate and received this vote.
NL Cy Young Award: Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies
  1. Nola
  2. Jacob deGrom
  3. Max Scherzer
  4. Kyle Freeland
  5. Jameson Taillon
AL Cy Young Award: Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays
  1. Snell
  2. Chris Sale
  3. Corey Kluber
  4. Justin Verlander
  5. Trevor Bauer

Bregman broke out to help the champion Astros remain a top contender. (Photo: Udeezy)
NL Most Valuable Player: Christian Yelich, OF, Milwaukee Brewers
  1. Yelich
  2. Javier Baez
  3. Freddie Freeman
  4. Matt Carpenter
  5. Lorenzo Cain
  6. Nolan Arenado
  7. Justin Turner
  8. Paul Goldschmidt
  9. Trevor Story
  10. Anthony Rendon
AL Most Valuable Player: Alex Bregman, 3B, Houston Astros
  1. Bregman
  2. Francisco Lindor
  3. Mookie Betts
  4. Matt Chapman
  5. Jose Ramirez
  6. J.D. Martinez
  7. Aaron Judge
  8. Mike Trout
  9. Whit Merrifield
  10. Didi Gregorius
Originally published by Phillies Nation as “Matt Veasey’s 2018 IBWAA awards ballot

Final 2018 MLB Power Ranking

Ryan Braun and the Brewers ranked lowest
among MLB playoff teams
(Photo: Steve Paluch)
The 2018 Major League Baseball regular season has come to an end, and yet it still isn’t over. For the first time ever there will be a pair of “Game 163” events taking place.
The Chicago Cubs are hosting the Milwaukee Brewers at Wrigley Field at this very moment. The winner will be crowned champions of the National League Central Division. The loser will host the National League Wildcard Game tomorrow night.
Should the Cubbies win it would mark their third consecutive Central Division title. This will be their fourth straight postseason appearance. Back in 2015 the Cubs shut out the division-rival Pittsburgh Pirates in the NL Wildcard Game behind a 4-0 gem from Jake Arrieta.
The Brew Crew last captured the division crown back in 2011. That was the first division title for the franchise since their move to the National League for the 1998 season.
Prior to that you would have to go all the way back to 1982 and the “Harvey’s Wallbangers” team that won a second consecutive American League East Division title to find the last Brewers division championship squad.
Beginning at 4:09PM EDT the Los Angeles Dodgers will host the Colorado Rockies at Dodger Stadium. The winner of that contest will be crowned as champions of the National League West Division. The loser will travel to either Chicago or Milwaukee, whichever also loses today, for a do-or-die meeting in that National League Wildcard Game on Wednesday night.
The Dodgers have been kings of this division for a long time now. Los Angeles has captured the last five National League West Division titles and seven of the last 10 division crowns.
Last year the Dodgers rolled through the division-rival Arizona Diamondbacks and the Cubs, losing just once en route to the franchise’ first World Series appearance in nearly three decades. There they were defeated in seven games by the Houston Astros.
The Rockies played their first season as an expansion team back in 1993, and they have never won a division title. Colorado has advanced to the postseason four times, three as the division runners-up. Last year saw the Rockies losing an 11-8 slug-fest in the NL Wildcard Game to the Dbacks after finishing third behind LA and Arizona in the division during the regular season.
The Atlanta Braves are sitting home, able to relax and enjoy a few days break after running away with the National League East Division title. It marked the first division crown for the Braves in five years. Atlanta will travel to play whichever club wins the west in one National League Division Series beginning on Thursday.
Whichever team captures the Central Division title will play host to the survivor of the NL Wildcard Game in the other National League Division Series. That series is also scheduled to open on Thursday.
Over in the American League the match-ups have been set for some time. It will be the New York Yankees hosting the Oakland Athletics at 8:00PM EDT on Wednesday night in the American League Wildcard Game.
The winner of that game will then travel up to Fenway Park in Boston to face the host Red Sox in one American League Division Series beginning on Friday night. The Cleveland Indians will visit the defending World Series champion Houston Astros in the other ALDS beginning on Friday evening at Minute Maid Park.
Those four division series are each a best-of-five games, played in a 2-2-1 format as to home field. The winners in each league would advance to face one another in a best-of-seven League Championship Series. The winner of those would then meet towards the end of October in the 2018 World Series.
I released my first 2018 MLB Power Ranking on July 1, when the season was three months old. There have been four more since that time. Each time saw the Astros either alone at the top or sharing the top spot.
That remains the case in the below final 2018 MLB regular season rankings. The old saying remains true. If you want to be the champ, you’ve got to beat the champ. The Brewers are the lowest-ranked among all of the MLB playoff teams at 13th overall.

My formula for compiling the rankings has remained unchanged. I researched each of the 30 MLB teams current position in the four categories of winning percentageruns scoredpitching OPS, and fielding percentage. I then assigned each of those rankings a 1-30 value and added them up to determine an overall score.
To show team progression or regression through the season, I have included where each ranked at the MLB All-Star Game break in mid-July, then on August 15, and then after Labor Day weekend from left-to-right in parentheses.
FINAL 2018 MLB REGULAR SEASON POWER RANKINGS
1. Houston Astros (1-1t-1)
2. Boston Red Sox (2-1t-2)
3. Oakland Athletics (11-7-6t)
4. New York Yankees (3-3-3)
5. Cleveland Indians (10-4t-5t)
6. Atlanta Braves (4-6-4)
7. Chicago Cubs (5-8-6t)
8. Los Angeles Dodgers (6-9t-10)
9. Colorado Rockies (9-9t-11)
10. Washington Nationals (13-11-9)
11. Tampa Bay Rays (15-16-12)
12. Arizona Diamondbacks (7-4t-8)
13. Milwaukee Brewers (8-14-14)
14. Los Angeles Angels (14-12-15)
15. Seattle Mariners (12-13-16)
16. Saint Louis Cardinals (18t-15-13)
17. New York Mets (24-26-20t)
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (18t-20-20t)
19. Minnesota Twins (17-18t-20t)
20. San Francisco Giants (20-18t-17)
21. Philadelphia Phillies (16-17-18t)
21. Cincinnati Reds (21-21-18t)
23. Toronto Blue Jays (25-24-23)
24. Miami Marlins (23-25-26)
25. Kansas City Royals (27t-27t-27)
26. Detroit Tigers (22-23-24t)
27. Texas Rangers (26-22-24t)
27. San Diego Padres (27t-28-29)
29. Chicago White Sox (30-29t-28)
30. Baltimore Orioles (29-29t-30)
As I’m a huge Philadelphia Phillies fan, a couple of final words about the club’s performance this season.
First, as you can see from their rank at the MLB All-Star break and on August 15, the Phillies were never better than a middle-of-the-pack ball club from a statistical perspective.
Second, you can also see that the team plummeted down five places over the final month. Any Phillies fan who sat through the last two months can understand why.
Finally, a look over the full rankings shows that the Phillies finished just fourth among the five National League East Division teams. In fact, when looking at the numbers behind the rankings, the club finished just ahead of Miami as well.
The 2018 Philadelphia Phillies finished in the middle-of-the-pack as far as the overall MLB standings are concerned. Their pitching staff was competitive enough to be ranked in the middle as well.
It was the club’s 29th-ranked defense and 21st-ranked offense that held them back. It will be the job of Phillies management and ownership to fix the position-player mix in the coming off-season if they want to truly become a contending team in the 2019 campaign.

Originally published at Phillies Nation as “MLB Power Ranking – 2018 Regular Season Final

MLB Power Ranking: 2018 All-Star break

The Yankees and Red Sox again battle atop the AL East

We have reached the Major League Baseball All-Star Game break, and the National League has developed the far more interesting playoff races.

In the American League, the Boston Red Sox in the East Division (4.5), Cleveland Indians in the Central (7.5), and Houston Astros in the West (5) all have comfortable leads at the moment.

In the AL Wildcard race, the New York Yankees hold a comfortable eight-game cushion for one of the two available playoff berths. The Seattle Mariners currently hold a three-game edge on the division-rival Oakland Athletics for the other slot.

Just two more teams, the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Angels, are above the .500 mark at the break. They sit 8.5 and nine games out in that Wildcard race respectively, and are all but out of their respective divisional battles.

But over in the senior circuit it’s an entirely different picture. The Philadelphia Phillies hold just a half-game edge on the Atlanta Braves in the East Division. In the Central, the Chicago Cubs are just 2.5 up on the Milwaukee Brewers.

The NL West Division is by far baseball’s best divisional race this season. The Los Angeles Dodgers finally got their act together after struggling for much of the first half. The Dodgers are by a half-game on the Arizona Diamondbacks, with the Colorado Rockies two back, and the San Francisco Giants lurking at four games off the pace.

The National League’s two Wildcard berths are presently controlled by the Brewers and Braves. However, six teams are within 5.5 games of the second spot held by Atlanta. It all seems to be setting up for a tremendous second half.

When I released my July 1 MLB Power Ranking, only the team rankings on offense, defense, and pitching were considered. This time around, I’ve allowed for their winning percentage to also be considered.

I researched each of the 30 MLB clubs current rankings in four categories: winning percentage, runs scored, pitching OPS, and fielding percentage. I then simply assigned each of those rankings a 1-30 value, and added them up to determine the below MLB Power Ranking for the middle of July.

This is the formula that I am going to stick with moving forward. It encompasses a team’s ability to actually win games, while also taking into account their performance on offense, defense, and on the mound. Yet it is also simply enough for the average baseball fan to comprehend.

Here is the current MLB Power Ranking, with each team’s previous rank from July 1 in parentheses:

1.   Houston Astros (1)
2.   Boston Red Sox (2)
3.   New York Yankees (5)
4.   Atlanta Braves (4)
5.   Chicago Cubs (7)
6.   Los Angeles Dodgers (9)
7.   Arizona Diamondbacks (3)
8.   Milwaukee Brewers (9T)
9.   Colorado Rockies (12T)
10. Cleveland Indians (12T)
11. Oakland Athletics (15)
12. Seattle Mariners (11)
13. Washington Nationals (8)
14. Los Angeles Angels (6)
15. Tampa Bay Rays (14)
16. Philadelphia Phillies (23T)
17. Minnesota Twins (16)
18. Saint Louis Cardinals (23T)
18. Pittsburgh Pirates (18)
20. San Francisco Giants (22)
21. Cincinnati Reds (17)
22. Detroit Tigers (19T)
23. Miami Marlins (26)
24. New York Mets (27T)
25. Toronto Blue Jays (19T)
26. Texas Rangers (19T)
27. San Diego Padres (25)
27. Kansas City Royals (27T)
29. Baltimore Orioles (29)
30. Chicago White Sox (30)

The next MLB Power Ranking will be released around August 1, right in the middle of the dog days of summer. By then, some of these teams will have made significant moves to improve their chances as the MLB non-waiver trade deadline arrives on July 31.

Should Phillies bring home Cole Hamels?

Could the Phillies bring back former hero Cole Hamels?

As the month of June draws to a close, this weekend also marks the exact halfway point to the 2018 Major League Baseball regular season.

One month from this weekend, the MLB non-waiver trade deadline will arrive. The Philadelphia Phillies, emerging from a half-decade of irrelevance, are once again emerging as playoff contenders.

The Phillies have a number of holes which need to be filled in order to remain legitimate contenders in the current season. As that trade deadline draws closer and rumors begin to heat up, Phillies fans find their team has been frequently involved in the gossip.

The most glaring need may be at least one proven run producer for the middle of their batting order. That hitter would preferably play on the left side of the infield, or at a corner outfield spot. Manny Machado of the Baltimore Orioles, who could slot in at either shortstop or third base, is the biggest name being tossed around.

The club also could use help in the bullpen. A pair of 23-year old right-handers, Seranthony Dominguez and Victor Arano, are the only currently healthy members of the bullpen who have been consistently reliable.

I also believe that the Phillies are going to need one more strong, proven veteran starting pitcher for their rotation. Behind Aaron Nola and Jake Arrieta, and possibly Zach Eflin if he remains healthy and effective, one more veteran would really solidify them for the second half.

I’ve written previously that a good option moving forward would be an immediate move of Vincent Velasquez to the bullpen. Adding that veteran starting pitcher could allow this switch to happen. I believe it would strengthen the back of the relief corps as well, taking care of two needs.

One option who has frequently been linked to the Phillies, especially among the fan base, is former World Series hero Cole Hamels. The Texas Rangers, to whom the Phils traded the lefty three years ago, are actively shopping the now 34-year old.

Hamels is 4-6 this season with a 3.61 ERA and 1.274 WHIP. He has surrendered 87 hits over 97.1 innings pitched across 16 starts with a 97/37 K:BB ratio. Those are all solid numbers, and would certainly upgrade the current Phillies rotation.

However, there are some red flags with Hamels. His current FIP mark of 5.22 is well above the 4.09 MLB average. That mark ranks him just 87th of 91 pitchers who have recorded at least 80 innings pitched and a dozen starts.

His biggest problem this season has been the long ball. Hamels has already surrendered 20 home runs, two more than he allowed all of last season. He has never given up more than 28 in any full season previously.

Corey Seidman for NBC Sports Philadelphia addressed the possible reasons for those troubles in a recent article regarding a possible reunion between Hamels and the Phillies:

“Some of that is because he’s around the plate often with a fastball that averages 91 mph; some of it is because the Rangers’ home park is among the most homer-friendly venues in baseball.”

Citizens Bank Park is no picnic for fly ball pitchers either. Globe Life Park in Texas ranks as the second-toughest for pitchers as far as surrendering home runs. Citizens Bank Park is 10th among the 30 ball parks in Major League Baseball.

However, Hamels won 114 games here over a full decade between 2006-15. He certainly is comfortable here, and knows how to make adjustments at the South Philly park.

The Phillies are already paying $2.5 million of his $23.5 million contract for this year. With the season halfway over, they would be on the hook for the rest of that money, roughly $11 million. There is also a $20 million team option for next season, which they would presumably pick up.

That money wouldn’t hurt the Phillies in any way. The club has plenty to spend both this season and next. But bringing back Hamels would not only cost some cash, it would also cost the Phillies something from their minor league system.

That is where the answer can be found as to whether or not the Phillies should consider bringing Cole Hamels back to bolster their rotation for a couple of years. What would that prospect package look like?

You also have to factor the possibility of the Phillies going after a big bat such as Machado. That deal would certainly involve more, and more valuable, prospects than would be needed in a Hamels trade.

The Phillies do have the minor league talent to get a Hamels or Machado deal done. In fact, they have enough to get both deals done. But should they pay the price? That is the big question for GM Matt Klentak and owner John Middleton to decide in the coming days and weeks.

I believe that the return of Hamels would not only be a great story, it would also help the Phillies. The money is not an object. And I also believe that the price in prospects would be reasonable.

Should the Phillies bring home Cole Hamels, the 2008 World Series and NLCS Most Valuable Player? As long as that prospect package is indeed reasonable, you have to vote ‘Yes’ on this proposition.

2018 MLB Preview and Predictions

The Boys of Summer are set to begin the 2018 season

The crack of a bat ripping a line drive. The pop of a fastball into a catcher’s mitt. Fireworks exploding. Hot dogs steaming.

It’s that time again folks. The start of another season in Major League Baseball.

For the first time in 50 years, all MLB teams will experience Opening Day on the same date. That comes this Thursday, March 28, when 15 games will take place scattered at various times throughout the day and night.

Those first games will begin a regular season that will stretch out over more than six months, leading to the drama of the MLB playoffs as Fall arrives.

Which teams are most likely to reach those playoffs? Which players will stand out over the course of the 162-game MLB regular season?

Each year, I give you my picks for the final standings across each of MLB’s six divisions, as well as my playoff predictions. I also make picks for some of baseball’s most important awards.

A year ago in my 2017 MLB Preview and Predictions piece, I correctly picked the winners in five of those six divisional races. The biggest letdown from those picks was for the San Francisco Giants to edge out the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NL West. The Giants collapsed to a last place finish after winning three World Series crowns in the previous seven seasons.

I had the Washington Nationals beating the Boston Red Sox in seven dramatic games a year ago. As we know now, it was the Houston Astros beating the Dodgers in six to capture their first-ever world championship.

So now it’s time to make my team picks and my awards predictions for the upcoming 2018 MLB season. Would love to hear your own picks in the comments section below this piece. Here we go again, baseball fans.

2018 NATIONAL LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Kris Bryant, Chicago
Contenders: Corey Seager LAD, Bryce Harper WAS, Nolan Arenado COL, Paul Goldschmidt ARZ
CY YOUNG AWARD: Stephen Strasburg, Washington
Contenders: Clayton Kershaw LAD, Max Scherzer WAS, Noah Syndergaard NYM
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Lewis Brinson, Miami
Contenders: Jack Flaherty STL, Ronald Acuna ATL, Scott Kingery PHI, Nick Senzel CIN
MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Craig Counsell, Milwaukee
Contenders: Joe Maddon CHC, Dave Roberts LAD, Dave Martinez WAS, Gabe Kapler PHI

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Noah Syndergaard
Contenders: Adam Eaton WAS, Mark Melancon SF, Homer Bailey CIN

2018 AMERICAN LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS

MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: Francisco Lindor, Cleveland
Contenders: Giancarlo Stanton NYY, Carlos Correa HOU, Mike Trout LAA, Mookie Betts BOS

CY YOUNG AWARD: Chris Sale, Boston
Contenders: Corey Kluber CLE, Luis Severino NYY, Justin Verlander HOU, Chris Archer

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR: Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles
Contenders: Dustin Fowler OAK, Gleyber Torres NYY, Francisco Mejia CLE, Chance Sisco BAL

MANAGER OF THE YEAR: Alex Cora, Boston
Contenders: Aaron Boone NYY, TerryFrancona CLE, A.J. Hinch HOU, John Gibbons TOR

COMEBACK PLAYER OF THE YEAR: Michael Brantley CLE
Contenders: Doug Fister TEX, Miguel Cabrera DET, Francisco Liriano DET

2018 MLB DIVISIONAL & WILDCARD PREDICTIONS

NL EAST: Washington, Philadelphia, Atlanta, New York, Miami

NL CENTRAL: Chicago, Milwaukee, Saint Louis, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati

NL WEST: Los Angeles, Colorado, San Francisco, Arizona, San Diego

NL WILDCARDS: Milwaukee, Colorado

AL EAST: Boston, New York, Toronto, Baltimore, Tampa Bay

AL CENTRAL: Cleveland, Minnesota, Detroit, Kansas City, Chicago

AL WEST: Houston, Los Angeles, Seattle, Texas, Oakland

AL WILDCARDS: New York, Los Angeles

2018 MLB PLAYOFFS & WORLD SERIES PREDICTIONS

As stated at the top of this article, a year ago I had the Washington Nationals finally breaking through to win the franchise first-ever World Series by edging out the Boston Red Sox. I genuinely believe that making that exact same prediction this season would be just as valid. It would also be just as likely to go another way entirely.
A major development will come as the summer rolls on, and the impending free agency of superstar Bryce Harper becomes more and more realistic. At some point, the powers-that-be with the Nationals may have to actually entertain trade offers for their outfielder, or risk losing him for nothing later this Fall.
If Harper stays and is both healthy and focused come October, the Nats are my pick. But that is way too questionable at this point. So let’s call it the Chicago Cubs as winners of their second NL Pennant in three years.
Over the in AL, the defending World Series champion Houston Astros are the cream of the crop until someone proves differently. The Bosox and Yankees will do a Battle Royale in the AL East, and both could be good enough to dethrone the Astros. Same can be said of the Tribe in the Central. Still, I’m taking Houston to repeat in the American League.
The 2018 World Series would then be a battle between the winners of the last two Fall Classics. There is an old saying in sports that goes “you gotta beat the champ if you wanta be the champ.” I just think that Houston is too good for that to happen.
Given health, the Houston Astros will defeat the Chicago Cubs in five games in the 2018 World Series. After never having won a title, the Astros will make it back-to-back World Series crowns. They would become the first team to repeat since the 1998-2000 Yankees won three in a row.

There you have it, my 2018 Major League Baseball preview and predictions. Again, feel free to leave your own picks in the comments section below. Play ball!