My NFL predictions, more (cont.)
Tweet: Hear people saying that QB Matt Stafford isn't ready to lead Detroit. What, they're going to win FEWER than 0 games?
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The National League Cy Young race is starting to look interesting. On the one hand, you have Tim Lincecum, who leads the league in innings, strikeouts, complete games and shutouts. He's 13-5 with a 2.34 ERA and the league hits .207 against him.
On the other, you have Chris Carpenter, who leads the league in ERA and winning percentage and has won his last 11 decisions. He is 16-3 with a 2.16 ERA and the league hits .219 against him and his WHIP (walks plus hits per inning) is even better than Lincecum's (.097 to 1.02).
So where do you go? Carpenter has battled some injuries, which means Lincecum has thrown about 35 more innings, and that's a pretty big difference (though Lincecum is now battling back issues). Carpenter has more victories and fewer losses -- and while I think pitcher wins and losses are about the most overrated statistic in baseball (the Cardinals' offense is much better than San Francisco's), it will sway voters. Carpenter's amazing story -- the guy didn't win a single game in either 2007 or 2008 because of injuries -- will sway more voters.
I think it's so close that they both deserve the award. I tend to think Lincecum is the best pitcher in the league by the slightest of margins. But I think Carpenter will win the Cy Young.
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Tweet: A baseball question: Why do some baseball people desperately want their pitchers to avoid walks while not caring if their hitters draw them?
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Speaking of baseball awards, Albert Pujols is pretty clearly the best player in the National League. But is there an MVP case to be made for, say, Florida's Hanley Ramirez or Philadelphia's Chase Utley?
Ramirez will win the NL batting title (he's hitting .359), he hits with power (21 homers, .571 slugging percentage), he can run (24 stolen bases) and he plays shortstop, the most important and difficult defensive position other than catcher. There is some debate about how well he plays shortstop -- a lot of that carried over from 2007, when he was terrible there. Most scouts I've talked to and most advanced defensive stats suggest that he has become an average and maybe even an above-average shortstop. He's a great player.
More or less everyone agrees that Utley is a terrific defender at second base. He gets on base any way he can (.414 on-base percentage, thanks in no small part to a league-leading 20 hit-by-pitches), hits with power (29 homers) and he has stolen 17 bases without getting caught. He would not be a bad guy to start a team with.
That said... I don't think anyone is close to Pujols. I do wonder if at some point he becomes so good that people start to look for a reason to give someone else the award the way they did back in Michael Jordan's heyday. You know that Jordan won the MVP five times from 1987-88 through 1997-98. But he probably should have won it every year he played... surely he was the most valuable player every year. At some point, though, it was nice to give awards to great players like Charles Barkley and Karl Malone. And so you would think that at some point Utley or Ramirez will get their due.
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Wouldn't it be great if the Top 25 in college football only reflected what happens on the field? No preseason polls. Everyone starts exactly even.
After Week 1, the Top 11 might look something like this:
Wouldn't that be fun? Just turn it all upside down every week based on the season's performance rather than by using all these preseason expectations. That would keep Ohio State from being ranked eighth in the country after getting scared at home by Navy.
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Tweet: If you want 25 seconds of joy in your day, watch this defensive play from the Cubs' Andres Blanco.
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I'm a huge fan of my colleague Peter King, of course. But when I saw that he picked the Kansas City Chiefs to go 8-8, I was wondering if maybe a virus had hijacked his computer. The Chiefs went 2-14 last year, traded away (by far) their best offensive weapon (Tony Gonzalez), paid a lot of money for a quarterback who before last year had not started since high school, had what pretty much everyone called an uninspiring draft and then signed an all-star team from 2002 (WR Bobby Engram, LB Mike Vrabel -- they have since released WR Amani Toomer and LB Zach Thomas). Their offensive line is in shambles. They fired their offensive coordinator during the last week of training camp.
That's not to say they can't go 8-8. This is the NFL, and crazy stuff happens. What I'm saying is that if the Chiefs get within three games of 8-8, I'm buying Peter a nice watch or an espresso maker or something because that would be one heck of a pick.