Pegging BP's favorites in both leagues, in the standings and for the major awards.
Today we reveal the Baseball Prospectus staff predictions for the division standings and the major player awards (MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year) in the American and National Leagues. Each staff member's division standings predictions may be found later in the article. Here, we present a wisdom-of-the-crowds summary of the results. In each table you'll find the average rank of each team in their division with first-place votes in parentheses, plus the results of our pre-season MVP, Cy Young, and Rookie of the Year voting. Picking favorites for the Wild Card for the respective leagues initially might have seemed easy, since the selections universally favored the second-place team in the AL East, while all but two voters picked their second-place teams in the NL East to earn the non-division champ playoff team, but a tie in the rankings had to be broken in favor of the team named the Wild Card winner on the most individual ballots, which is sure to upset some people.
For the MVP voting, we've slightly amended the traditional points system in place that's been used elsewhere, dropping fourth- and fifth-place votes to make it 10-7-5 for the MVP Award, and the regular 5-3-1 for the Cy Young and Rookie of the Year Awards (that's 5 points for a first-place vote, 3 points for a second-place vote, etc.). Next to each of these selections we've listed the total number of ballots, followed by the total number of points, and then the number of first-place votes in parentheses, if any were received.
The Twins' $184-million man is on a career track headed towards Cooperstown.
Is Joe Mauer Cooperstown-bound? Four weeks shy of his 27th birthday, we can't answer that question definitively, of course. But that doesn't mean we can't start measuring the $184 Million Dollar Man's chances with the tools (of ignorance?) at our disposal.
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Last night's victors face a tall order in their Bronx confrontation.
The Yankees have been pretty sure they'd be playing in the postseason since not long after the All-Star break. The Twins didn't have much chance of doing so until about two weeks ago, and only found out for sure about 18 hours before the first pitch of the Division Series. That's just one reason of many why this AL Division Series matchup is one of the most lopsided in the 15-year history of the three-tiered playoffs.
Which statistical pinnacle will the Twins' backstop erect next?
Over the last month or so, the focus on Joe Mauer seems to have drifted a bit off topic. Instead of appreciating the season he's having, which as we'll see in a moment is in some small sense historic, the focus has shifted to whether or not he's worthy of the AL Most Valuable Player Award, which is entirely beside the point, as the award won't alter the significance of his season in any way. Great works of art are great works, whether you pin a ribbon on them or not.
Can topping your league in average, OBP, and slugging leave nonetheless you without hardware on the mantelpiece?
Let's start by stating the obvious, or at least what should be obvious to anyone reading this at Baseball Prospectus: Joe Mauer is by far the most qualified player for the 2009 AL Most Valuable Player Award. You know it, I know it, even many enlightened sportswriters know it. Despite a few recent rumblings in the mainstream media putting forward a slew of other possibilities, most of them clad in the throwback uniforms of "run producer" and "winner," Mauer's numbers are so compelling that even Joe Sheehan has expressed little doubt that voters will get this one right in the end.
Wasted greatness in the land of lakes should inspire the Twins to do more than settle.
As the Minnesota Twins continue to tread water in third place, 5½ games behind the Detroit Tigers after Sunday's action, dreams of a playoff berth (or at least a repeat of last year's Game 163 excitement) seem more remote with each passing day. Perhaps Twin Cities baseball fans can take comfort in one thing, though: the middle of the Twins order has become the stuff of nightmares for AL pitchers.
Before all the IBA ballots are counted, staff picks give a hint as to what hands the awards may find themselves in.
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Travis Hafner posted the highest OBP in the AL while nobody noticed, while Neifi Perez ended up getting playoff PT. The young guns had their day and then some. Jermaine Dye gave a lengthy spanking to his 90th percentile PECOTA projection (PECOTA's .288/.359/.516 versus an actual .315/.385/.622). The crop of AL rookies included a guy with a 0.92 ERA finishing third, and rooks like Jered Weaver (105:33 K:BB) and Francisco Liriano (144:32) threatening to be Johan Santana's biggest challengers in 2007. The National League featured tighter races, including a four-way brawl for the Pitcher of the Year and another impressive crop of newbies.
Eight staff members weighed in on the season that was, casting their ballots for the Internet Baseball Awards. We summarized their findings below, and then let them have their individual say.
Derek recaps a Santana-Bonderman duel with serious implications for the AL Central race.
The divisional race in the AL Central was thought to be over as recently as a month ago. On August 7, Detroit had a ten-game lead in the division. Since then, the Tigers have a 10-21 record. They've lost two out of their first three in a crucial four-game set against Minnesota. Meanwhile, in Chicago, the White Sox have taken two in a row from the extremely disappointing Cleveland Indians. Just like that, the AL Central race is now down to a three game lead, three and a half over the White Sox, the tightest race in the AL.