A week ago, I correctly predicted the winners of all six of the Baseball Writers Association of America awards that have been announced so far, and in my two years of writing the Awards Watch column here at SI.com, I have correctly predicted all 10 announced player awards, three of the four managers of the year, and the top three finishers, in order, for every player award except the American League Rookie of the Year.
DETROIT -- And then ... A.J. Burnett successfully saved the Yankees' season.
Five thoughts on the Division Series:
The wild card races aren't the only ones that went right down to the wire this season. The MVP races in the National and American Leagues, which will be announced on Nov. 22 and 23, respectively, had great suspense. Three players have a real shot at it in the NL and four in the AL.
There are 10 days left in the 2011 season and still several major player awards yet to be decided. In the American League, the Most Valuable Player race has a new, first-time leader who could be the first starting pitcher to win an MVP award in a quarter century while the Rookie of the Year chase is only now starting to come into focus. Over in the National League, the Cy Young battle is a three-way toss-up and the MVP race is still up in the air.
There are less than 20 days left in the 2011 regular season, but just two of the six races for the three major player awards have a clear leader. Go ahead and put down Justin Verlander as the American League Cy Young award winner and Craig Kimbrel as the National League Rookie of the Year, but both MVP awards, the NL Cy Young and the AL Rookie of the Year awards are both wide open with handfuls of contenders still in play for each and the very real possibility that a favorite might not emerge before the season comes to an end.
Less than a month after their most recent encounter at Fenway Park, the Yankees and Red Sox are set for another showdown in Boston. Here are five things you need to know about the possible playoff preview between the AL's two best teams that starts on Tuesday night:
Blue Jays star Jose Bautista deserves strong consideration for the American League MVP award, and if someone thinks he's the MVP because he's been the best player in the league, that's understandable.
Someone forgot to tell the Yankees that run scoring is down this year.
Awards Watch takes its final full-scale look at the Most Valuable Player races this week (September will bring the condensed, "lightning-round" version of this column, which lists the top three contenders for all three awards every week), and finds the races as tight as ever. Sitting atop the American League list is a player who has not held the top position all season, while the National League race finds a pair of teammates locked in an apparent dead-heat.
None of the top MVP candidates in either league changed teams at the trade deadline but that doesn't mean they won't be affected by the moves that were made. Given the manner in which voters tend to credit or punish candidates for their team's performances, players whose teams reinforced themselves for the stretch run could benefit. Meanwhile, players such as the Mets' Jose Reyes, whose teams were sellers, could see their candidacy undermined by something that had nothing to do with their own play.
PHOENIX -- Thank God for baseball. It's the dead of summer, two major sports are locked out, and baseball is the only thing we have to satisfy our sports appetite.
Home runs have been the story as the Most Valuable Player races in both leagues have begun to tighten up. Jose Bautista's power outage has kept the door open a crack in the American League, while a pair of National Leaguers have ridden the long ball to the top two spots on the senior circuit list, bumping the leader from three weeks ago down to third. Meanwhile, members of the exceptional 2005 draft class dominate the down-ballot candidates. Looking at the bottom six men on each list, six of those 12 were drafted in 2005, five of them in the first round, and four of them in the first dozen picks of that draft, and that's without Troy Tulowitzki (seventh overall) or Ryan Zimmerman (fourth), the former of whom made the NL list three weeks ago, and the latter of whom was a regular presence on the list last year.
Cliff Corcoran breaks down each day's games throughout the postseason.
NEW YORK -- "We are not thinking about how we are going to close anyone out," Rangers manager Ron Washington said on Tuesday night, minutes after his club had reached a 3-1 lead in this ALCS. "We are going to go out there and play baseball, and whatever the game asks us to do, we'll do it. We are not coming to the ballpark tomorrow night with the only thing on our minds [being] closing somebody out. We are coming to the ballpark tomorrow with our minds on baseball and our minds reacting to whatever the game says we have to react to."
Five cuts from Tuesday's action:
BOSTON -- While seeking the player parking lot more than four hours before the game's first pitch, new Red Sox centerfielder Mike Cameron turned onto Lansdowne Street behind the Green Monster and was surprised that even then the road was overflowing with fans.
This spring, SI.com writers are filing postcards from all 30 major league spring training camps. To read all the postcards, click here.
This spring, SI.com's writers are filing postcards from all 30 camps. To read all the postcards, click here.
TAMPA -- This is a new, more frugal Yankees team, one that kept their payroll to only $200 million, that declined to keep Johnny Damon and that spent more than $400 million less this year than last on new free agents.
People have asked me to judge the big trade of the winter meetings, and I have been reluctant to do it because Curtis Granderson is one of my favorite players. This is not entirely because he asked me to be his Facebook friend, though I suspect that makes up a percentage of it. I also like the way he plays, the way he carries himself, the way he represents the game. I like the way he wears his socks. I like the thoughtful answers he gives to questions. I like in that in 2007 he pulled off the quad-20 -- 20 doubles, 20 triples, 20 homers, 20 stolen bases.*
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Curtis Granderson is all set to put on the pinstripes. Only one thing to settle: What number does he wear for the New York Yankees?
INDIANAPOLIS -- One AL exec at this week's winter meetings called the three-team blockbuster that makes Curtis Granderson a Yankee, Edwin Jackson a Diamondback and four young players Tigers, "a great baseball trade.'' And while money was definitely a factor from the Tigers' perspective, what that exec meant was that all three teams received talent that could ultimately make them better.
INDIANAPOLIS -- The Yankees get accused often of flexing their financial muscle to almost unfair proportions, such as when they outspent the entire American League last offseason on free agents, $441 million to $176 million. But when they pull off deals like the one that was finalized on Wednesday -- a three-team swap with the Tigers and Diamondbacks -- it proves that they are the most dangerous club in baseball because they have the smarts to go along with the money.
So, it looks like I spent another sports year feeling pre-agitated about things that did not come especially close to happening. Zack Greinke won the Cy Young Award ... he won it rather easily. There was no sudden and overpowering push to get Jack Morris into the Hall of Fame while Bert Blyleven writhes in baseball limbo. The Cleveland Browns did not hire Eric Mangini.
They overlap before home games on Thursday afternoons, the thousands rushing into Comerica Park and the hundreds filing into Central United Methodist Church one block over on East Adams. The crowd streaming into the yard is drawn by a baseball team in first place, a pennant race on full blast, one final taste of summer. The group headed to the church is drawn by a free lunch. In the auditorium on the second floor of the church, the folks sit on metal folding chairs at wooden tables, wolfing down sloppy joes and talking about their neighbors, the Detroit Tigers. "You see the Twins blow that lead last night?" asks Willis Snead, who lives in a trailer park nearby. "That was great for us."
The President sure can pick 'em.
My favorite part of the Roger Clemens interview on the Mike & Mike in the Morning radio show Tuesday came when he said steroids could be bad for him because of his family history, and then cited his stepfather's heart attack as evidence.
Five thoughts in the wake of Team USA's 9-4 loss to Japan in the World Baseball Classic semifinals.
One of the great things about being a voter on John Dewan's Fielding Bible panel is I get my Bill James Handbook before it is sold into stores. I love getting stuff early. And, more, I love my Bill James Handbook. Every year they add some great new statistic like one that breaks down how managers do their jobs:
It's almost one in the morning, and the stragglers in this cavernous, dimly lit restaurant in downtown Detroit are calling it a night. With bags under his eyes, Curtis Granderson sits in a back room finishing off his filet mignon at the end of a very long day, after a very long week. Earlier in the evening his Detroit Tigers had fumbled through an unsightly 16-10 home loss to the Oakland A's for their sixth loss in eight days. The 26-year-old centerfielder is describing the season's grueling final stretch -- "When August rolls around, the sun beats down on you and it seems like it's 90 degrees everywhere you go," he says -- when two giggly blondes suddenly appear at his side. "Curtis, can we get a photo?" one asks. Motown's unlikely new hero obliges with a sheepish smile and a nod and stands up to pose with the women. "The attention is nice," Granderson says after they've gone, "but mostly it's kind of strange to me, so I'm like, Why me?"
1. Fausto Carmona, SP, Indians His 5-0 record and 1.57 ERA in July is one of the biggest reasons Cleveland held the wild-card lead at week's end. On pace for 21 �victories despite being sent down to the minors in May, the hard-�throwing �righthander has a chance to become only the third pitcher in the last 25 years -- along with Scott Erickson and Dontrelle Willis -- to win 20 games in a season before his 24th birthday.
Besides the styling 'do -- styling in a late 1980s, wildly mulleted kind of way -- and the crazy-high batting average, the thing that has to strike you about Tigers outfielder Magglio Ordonez is what has been so striking about him for years. The guy just doesn't strike out.
Carl Crawford, LF, Devil Rays, Age 25 (NR last year) Crawford seems like he's been around forever, having become a big league regular at age 20, but he's still just 25, and may have some further room for power development. He's also one of the more likely major leaguers to take a run at 3,000 hits, as he's even-money to have cleared the 1,000-hit barrier by the end of this season. Plus, he's perhaps the best baserunner in the league, and one of the few left fielders that might be worthy of Gold Glove consideration. So there's a ton to like here, but at the end of the day a .327 career OBP from a corner outfielder is too much to overlook.
Hugh Hefner was recently a guest of Lakers owner Jerry Buss in his spacious suite at the Staples Center. Hef didn't arrive alone. Twenty Playmates sauntered into the box along with the Playboy owner, who has long been friends with the Lakers' playboy owner. In case you're interested, the whole scene was filmed for The Girls Next Door reality show.
Although the roster will be comprised of a bunch of no-names, don't mistake this year's Nats for last season's Marlins. The starting pitching is a shambles, the lineup is sprinkled with "Four A" players and few team members have fantasy value at all. Even with the energetic Manny Acta running the show the Nationals will be hard-pressed to keep this from being the first 100-loss season for the franchise since 1976.
The batting order is the No. 1 topic in the Detroit Tigers' training camp this spring. It's really the only topic. In other camps, teams are busy looking for a No. 2 starter, or No. 3, 4 or 5. Or Nos. 3, 4 and 5. Other teams are searching for a third baseman, or the right side of an infield. A good leadoff man. A closer. A utility infielder. A lot of teams are after a lot of things.
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