What they’ve done lately:
Texas certainly can’t be happy about being stuck in this situation, going from looking like the best team in baseball to blowing a 13 game lead over Oakland from July 1st on. They needed to win just one game in the final series of the season in Oakland to take the A.L. West crown, but instead they got swept, and blew a 5-1 lead en route to losing 12-5 in the final game of the regular season. In other words, Texas has arguably backed into the playoffs to a larger extent than any other team in baseball, and certainly more so than any other American League participant.
Likewise, the Orioles took the Yankees to the final day of the season in the A.L. East race, and like Texas, they have to be a little bit disappointed about how they finished the season, dropping two out of three games against the Rays to not only fail to claim the division crown, but lose the chance to host this game as well.…
A couple of observations. As far as the pitching goes, this is a really easy exercise, as Derek Lowe is the only real bubble candidate, and the other 10 are all but guaranteed a spot. I suppose Clay Rapada doesn’t seem like a lock based on his recent usage, but he is an effective LOOGY, so there aren’t any alternatives who would seem to bring more to the table than his potential platoon advantage. The guy left out in the cold here is Cody Eppley, and I’m not really sure that the Yankees will indeed carry Lowe over him. Joe Girardi has been happy to use Eppley as a right-handed ground ball guy pretty much all year, but Lowe is pitching pretty well again, is a ground ball specialist himself, and has the whole veteran experience and ability to work a lot of innings things going for him.…
Cabrera has finished in the top five in MVP voting each of the last three seasons and in his nine seasons has never failed to get at least one MVP vote, but the closest he’s come to winning the award was last year, when he finished 87 points behind his teammate Justin Verlander (he was 96 points back of Josh Hamilton in 2010). So, I can understand why some voters might feel like it’s “his turn.” However, Cabrera has become an MVP frontrunner in 2012 mainly because of the Triple Crown. Those who vote for him will point to his strong finish and his superior team, but such arguments are pretty easily diffused. Although Mike Trout hit only .287 in August and September, his OBP was still .400, and he maintained his stellar pace in almost every other statistical category. Moreover, the Angels won more games than Detroit and their record with Trout in the lineup (.580) is considerably better than the Tigers with Cabrera (.540).…
N.L. MVP: Ryan Braun (Brewers)
The 2011 National League MVP turned in a doozy of a repeat performance in 2012, seing a slight decline in his slash line stats, but hitting eight more home runs for a total of 41 dingers on the year, and the first +8 fWAR season of his career. It will be…interesting…to see if he suffers with the real voters because of his since thrown out failed drug test following last year’s award.
A.L. Cy Young Award: Justin Verlander (Tigers)
The Detroit ace turned in virtually an identical season to his 2011 MVP campaign, with the sole exception that his win total fell from 24 to 17. That’s no matter to our staff, as the best pitcher alive took home every first place vote but one, and he came in at second on that ballot.
How’s this for close: one measly point was all that stood between us and a three way tie for the N.L.…