The argument over the AL MVP isn't a pointless squabble.
I suppose that we ought to be used to this at this point. Noted author, columnist, sportswriter, and Detroit resident Mitch Albom wrote about the obvious big story involving the city of Detroit and the game of baseball: yesterday's naming of Miguel Cabrera as American League MVP. But his sub-headline proclaimed the award as a victory over "the stat geeks." For the most part it followed the same cliched form that these pieces tend to, complete with the veiled and not-so-veiled insults that somehow keep being peddled as journalism. Albom pulls out two old favorites in his column: that the "stat nerd" crowd never sees the sun and that we are not fans and probably don't actually watch games.
Notes from around the AFL and Caribbean Winter Leagues
The Arizona Fall League regular season has come to an end -- Peoria will play Salt River in the Championship Game on Saturday -- so now the moment you've all been waiting for ... my AFL MVP and Cy Young picks.
Twins outfielder Nate Robertsgets the MVP nod after he hit .446 with a .565 OBP and 6 SB in 19 games. The 23 year-old also hit 3 HR and knocked in 15 runs. Pirates pitcher Kyle Kaminska, acquired from the Marlins on July 31st, is my pick for the AFL Cy Young winner. The 24 year-old had a 1.61 ERA with 4 BB and 21 K in 28 IP. Congrats guys! I'll type out a certificate and send it to you.
More from around the AFL and Caribbean Winter Leagues ...
Hanser Alberto, SS, Rangers (Surprise): 4-for-4, SB (4). The 20 year-old finished the regular season with a four-hit game to boost his average to .397. He also finished with four stolen bases while being caught four times and had four extra base-hits and four strikeouts on the season. Most of his damage was done with the bases empty, however, as he had 20 hits in 32 at-bats in those situations.
Kole Calhoun, OF, Angels (Escogido-DWL): 2-for-5, RBI, BB. Calhoun is only 17-for-70 in the DWL but he has a hit in six straight games. If the Angels stand pat with their outfield this offseason, the 25 year-old could play a significant role, even off the bench, as the lone left-handed hitter among five outfielders.
Robbie Erlin, LHP, Padres(Peoria): 5 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, BB, 6 K. Another start, another terrific outing for Erlin, who finishes the AFL with a 2.28 ERA, 6 BB, and 31 K in 23.2 IP. The 22 year-old allowed just 1 ER over his last three starts with 2 BB and 18 K in 13 IP.
Tyson Gillies, OF, Phillies (Lara-VWL): 2-for-5, RBI, BB. Since being acquired from the Mariners in a deal for Cliff Lee in December 2009, Gillies' career has been sidetracked, mostly because of injuries. A strong 68-game stint with Double-A Reading (.822 OPS) and a fast start in the VWL (.831 OPS in 10 games) is helping to put the 24 year-old back on the prospect radar. It won't stop the Phillies, however, from offering center fielders B.J. Uptonor Michael Bourna long-term deal this offseason. At least he's finally showing some of the talent he flashed early in his minor league career.
Scott Kazmir, LHP, Free Agent(Carolina-PRBL): 4 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, BB, 6 K. Why should anyone care that a 28 year-old who posted a 5.34 ERA for the Sugar Land Skeeters in the independent Atlantic League in 2012 had a half-way decent outing against a lineup of minor leaguers? Because it's Scott Kazmir, a two-time All-Star with the Devil Rays and one of the best young starting pitchers in the game from 2005-08. By age 26, he appeared to be done and he's been trying to work his way back ever since. Baseball fans love a great comeback story and while that appears to be a long shot at this point, crazier things have happened in this game.
Whit Merrifield, 2B/OF, Royals (Surprise): 3-for-5, HR (1), 2 RBI. The 23 year-old utilityman didn't have much success in the AFL but he did finish with five hits in his last nine at-bats, including his lone HR and four of his eight RBI on the season.
Zeke Spruill, RHP, Braves (Phoenix): 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K. This sinker baller is certain to play a part in the Braves' offseason plans, whether he's part of a trade package to acquire a third baseman or an outfielder, or whether his presence in the farm system gives the Braves the comfort level to trade Julio Teheran, Randall Delgado, or J.R. Graham. Expect the 23 year-old to start the 2013 season in Triple-A.
Max Stassi, C, Athletics (Phoenix): 2-for-4, 3 RBI, BB, K, SB (1). Stassi's known for his plus defense behind the plate and that's what will carry him to the big leagues in a couple of years, as long as his offensive skills don't lag too far behind. That hasn't been the case in 2012. The 21 year-old flashed some power with 15 HR in 84 Cal League games and, despite sporadic playing time in the AFL, posted a .710 OPS in 48 at-bats.
Dickie Thon, SS/3B, Blue Jays (Ponce-PRBL): 2-for-4, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K, SB (1). If his name sounds familiar, that's likely because you were a baseball fan in the 1980's when his dad, Dickie Thon, Sr., was a big league shortstop with the Astros and a few other teams. Thon's walk-off HR against the Padres on August 10, 1983 actually made me cry. OK, stop laughing. I was only eight years old and it was a devastating moment in my young life. It wasn't so much that particular HR as it was Thon's overall season against the Padres (.400 BA, 5 HR, 11 RBI in 80 at-bats). I had finally had enough. In the greatest movie of all-time, 'A Bronx Tale' with Robert Deniro, a young Colagero says that he hates Bill Mazeroskifor making Mickey Mantle cry after his World Series winning homer in 1960. Well, Thon was my Bill Mazeroski. I hated that guy. Anyways, Thon, Jr. was a 5th Round pick of the Jays in 2010 and has a .664 OPS in his first two pro seasons.
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