We're coming down the stretch of the MLB season and well some things just never change. For the 19th, that's right, the 19th consecutive season the Pittsburgh Pirates have assured themselves a losing record. Remember when the Pirates were in a three way battle for first place of the NL Central at the end of July? Yeah, neither do I. Good going Pittsburgh. On the bright side, at least they're not the Cubs. Click to read more random thoughts about Baseball after the jump...
With their ace on the mound, the Philadelphia Phillies officially became the first team to clinch a spot in this year's postseason. Roy Halladay pitched his first complete game shutout of the year to help his case for the NL Cy Young. Speaking of which, I'm a little biased here because I happen to have Roy Halladay on my fantasy squad, but I do think he will take home the 2011 NL Cy Young Award. It really comes down to Halladay, Lee, and Kershaw. They all have outstanding numbers, and they've all arrived at the numbers in different ways. Let's take a look...
Cliff Lee was absolutely ridiculous in the months of June and August going 10-0 and allowing 3 earned runs. In June, I remember seeing a stat that he had more RBI's (2) than allowed earned runs (1). That's nuts. He's also pitched in 11 games where he's held the opponent scoreless. Also impressive. To me, Clifford presents the biggest competition for Halladay, but the last time I checked, they play on the same team and everyone knows that Halladay is the 'Ace' there. Roy started the first game of the season, and will get the ball in Game 1 of the playoffs. I just don't see how we can vote for the number 2 guy when their stats are so close.
Clayton Kershaw also has a good case to make for top pitcher in the NL. Granted his team, the Dodgers are under .500, he's put up some very impressive individual numbers. Since the All Star Break he has completed 83 innings. He's allowed 12 earned runs. For the season he leads the league in Strikeouts and ERA but I don't think voters will be able to get over the fact that he's done it against the NL West. He's pitched against the San Francisco Giants and San Diego Padres a combined 7 times this year. Hitters for these two teams reach base safely only 23.9% of the time. That's not very good. So while Kershaw has been great, it's who he has been great against that I think hurts his chances.
For me, it's just been as simple as overall consistency throughout the year that will give Roy Halladay his third Cy Young award. Only 4 times this year has he given up more than 3 runs in a start. He also has a ridiculous Strikeout/Walk ratio of 7/1. Just further proves his consistent dominance. I do think it will be a close race, but Halladay should be the victor for the 2011 NL Cy Young.
In the American League - the Rays and Red Sox get started on their 4 game series today. As I mentioned earlier this week, things are getting a little too close for comfort for the Red Sox. The Rays squandered a really good opportunity to cut into that lead by dropping 2 of 3 to the Baltimore Orioles, but as it stands only 4 games separate the Rays and Sox heading into their matchup. Still up for grabs.
The Rangers and Angels are also gearing up for what should be a good race down the stretch. I look for the Rangers to hold onto the division, but the three game series at the end of the year will likely decide the victor.
On that note here are some other predictions:
AL Postseason Teams: Yankees, Tigers, Rangers, & Red Sox
NL Postseason Teams: Phillies, Brewers, Diamondbacks, & Braves
AL Cy Young: Justin Verlander, SP - DET
NL MVP: Matt Kemp, OF - LAD
AL MVP: Curtis Granderson, OF - NYY
AL ROY: Jeremy Hellickson, SP - TB
NL ROY: Craig Kimbrel, RP - ATL