Monday, October 26, 2015

Royals - Mets: 2015 World Series Preview

The 2015 World Series begins tomorrow in Kansas City, Missouri pitting in the National League Champion New York Mets against the American League Champion Kansas City Royals.  The Royals get the honor of having home-field advantage thanks to Ned Yost managing the American League to a 6-3 victory in the 2015 All-Star Game.

The Royals will be making their 4th overall and 2nd consecutive appearance in the World Series (lost to the Giants in 2014) after defeating the Houston Astros in 5 games in the ALDS and defeating the Toronto Blue Jays in 6 games in the ALCS.  This appearance makes the Royals the first team since the Texas Rangers in 2010 and 2011 to play in consecutive World Series, the Rangers lost both times, in 2010 to the Giants and in 2011 to the Cardinals.  The last time the Royals won the World Series was in 1985 when they defeated the Cardinals in 7 games.  And while we do not get a rematch of that series which was seen as a real possibility at the start of the postseason considering the Cardinals won 100 games and finished with the best regular season record in baseball and the Royals finished with the 4th best record in baseball and the best in the American League at 95-67, we do get to see this Royals team go up against some of the best young pitchers in the game.

The Mets will be making their 5th overall appearance and their 1st appearance since 2000 in the World Series.  It will also be the first World Series they will have played at Citi Field which opened in 2009.  They reached this point by defeating the Dodgers in 5 game in the NLDS and by sweeping the Cubs in the NLCS, behind stellar starting pitching and the now legendary Daniel Murphy. While the Royals are 1 and 3 (1985) in World Series appearances the Mets are 2 and 2, defeating the Red Sox in 1986 and the Orioles in 1969, but like the Royals they also lost their most recent appearance, 2000 loss to the Yankees.

I am going to stick with my preseason prediction and say the Royals win this series but instead of the 7 games I said they would defeat the Nationals in and then the 7 games I said they would defeat the Cubs in I am going to say that they defeat the Mets in 6 games and bring a title back to Kansas City for the first time since 1985.  I am also going to stick with my original World Series MVP prediction of Eric Hosmer.

What has to happen for either team to win:

  • If the Royals want to bring a title back to Kansas City they need the most questionable part of their team, their starting position to step up and do their part.  The bullpen will always be there for them but if their starters can go at least 6 innings in each of their starts and keep it close it would leave the Royals in very good shape.
  • If the Mets want to bring a title back to Queens they need their starters to continue to pitch and be absolutely dominate like they have been throughout the playoffs because they are at a immense disadvantage late in games, with the exception of Jeurys Familia.  But Familia can't and won't pitch the 8th and 9th inning of every game so some of other members of their bullpen, such as Tyler Clippard and Addison Reed to step up and pitch like the closers they have been in the past.
  • If Daniel Murphy plays like he has been the series swings in the Mets favor
    • Murphy hit a career high 14 HRs this season in 130 games, he has seven this postseason in 9 games.  If he had hit HRs at this rate across 499 regular season ABs he would have hit about 91.92 HRs.
    • He has homered in 7 postseason games and 6 straight games in the 2015 postseason.
      • Only Barry Bonds has more in a single postseason with 8 games in 2002
      • No one has homered in more consecutive games
    • Only 3 players hit more than 7 HRs in a single postseason (Murphy is at 39 plate appearances so far in the 2015 postseason)
      • Nelson Cruz 8 HRs in the 2011 postseason - 70 plate appearances
      • Carlos Beltran 8 HRs in the 2004 postseason - 56 plate appearances
      • Barry Bonds 8 HRs in the 2002 postseason - 74 plate appearances
  • The Royals
    • They struck out at the lowest rate in baseball by a large margin in 2015 at 15.9%
    • Their batters hit .269 which was tied for 2nd best in baseball
    • Royals' pitchers generated strikeouts 19.0% of the time in 2015, which ranked 23rd
    • The best bullpen in terms of batting average allowed at .211
    • Best contact rate in baseball at 82.0%
    • 3498 pitches thrown over 95 MPH
      • 1464 pitches thrown over 95 MPH by their 4 World Series starters
    • 492 pitches thrown over 95 MPH so far this postseason (11 games)
      • 286 (58.13%) thrown by their 4 World Series starters
  • The Mets
    • They struck out at a rate of 21.0% in 2015, which ranked 18th
    • Their batters hit .244 which was tied for 2nd to last and only .001 better than the 30th ranked Padres
    • Mets' pitchers generated strikeouts 22.1% of the time in 2015, which ranked 8th
    • The Mets bullpen ranked 5th with a batting average allowed of .230
    • 10th best contact rate in baseball at 80.2%
    • 4948 pitches thrown over 95 MPH in the regular season
      • 3663 pitches thrown over 95 MPH by their 4 World Series starters
    • 470 pitches thrown over 95 MPH so far this postseason (9 games)
      • 387 (82.34%) thrown by their 4 World Series starters

World Series Schedule: 

Tuesday, October 27
Game 1: Mets @ Royals
Harvey (13-8) at Volquez (13-9)

Wednesday, October 28
Game 2: Mets @ Royals
deGrom (14-8) at Cueto (11-13)

Friday, October 30
Game 3: Royals @ Mets
Ventura (13-8) at Syndergaard (9-7)

Saturday, October 31
Game 4: Royals @ Mets
Young (11-6) at  Matz (4-0)

Sunday, November 1
Game 5 if necessary: Royals @ Mets

Tuesday, November 3
Game 6  if necessary: Mets @ Royals

Wednesday, November 4
Game 7  if necessary: Mets @ Royals

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

One of the single greatest offensive seasons ever?

Well we all know that Bryce Harper had an extraordinary season, but just how insane was it.  In the 2015 season Harper has a slash line of .330/.460/.649 while qualifying for the batting title.  A feat that has only been done 34 times by 14 of some of the greatest players ever such as Ruth, Bonds, and Mantle.  If you then account for him having a bWAR of 9.9, the list drops to 20 times by 8 players: Williams, Ruth, Mantle, Hornsby, Gehrig, Foxx, Bonds and Harper.  Add in that Bryce Harper did it all at the age of 22 and the list includes just him and first ballot Hall of Famer Ted Williams

42 or more home runs have been hit 227 times, only 8 times by players 22 or younger.  A batting average over .330 while qualifying for the batting title has been done 799 times, only 29 times by a player 22 or younger.  And a player walking 124 or more times has been accomplished the least often but still 104 times, only 3 times by a player 22 or younger (Harper, Ted Williams, Adam Dunn).  But do you know how many times these three items have been done together?  15 times by 6 players, the list of those players is: Ruth, Bonds, Gehrig, Williams, Giambi and Bryce Harper.  But that is not all.  If you account for his bWAR of 9.9, a feat only done 61 times alone, the list is just Bryce Harper, Babe Ruth and Barry Bonds.  Once again accounting for Bryce Harper being 22 and he stands alone.

Not only are his traditional statistical numbers ridiculous but his more advanced statistical numbers only improve upon his season.  Harper finished 2015 with an OPS+ of 195 a feat only accomplished 60 times in the history of baseball, this list once again drops to just him and Ted Williams once accounting for him being only 22.  His Runs Created in 2015 was 161 which has been done 84 times, he is one of 3 players to do this in their age 22 season, the other two are Joe DiMaggio in 1937 and Ted Williams in 1941. His Situations Runs (RE24/boLI) was a ridiculous 84.345, which has only been done 32 times and Harper is the only one to do it at the age of 22 or younger.  The next closest to him in 2015 was Joey Votto who still ended the year far behind at 68.970.

Bryce Harper had one of the greatest offensive seasons ever and arguably the greatest by a player at the age of 22 or younger (Ted Williams vs. Bryce Harper at the age of 22 would be a fun debate).  Harper winning National League MVP is a lock and he should honestly win it unanimously.

Friday, October 16, 2015

2015 Division Series Recap and Championship Series Preview

My pre-postseason picks:

ALDS: Royals over Yankees in 5
ALDS: Blue Jays over Rangers in 4
ALCS: Royals over Blue Jays in 7
            ALCS MVP: Johnny Cueto

NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 4
NLDS: Dodgers over Mets in 3
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers in 5
            NLCS MVP: Kris Bryant

World Series: Royals defeat Cubs in 7
            World Series MVP: Eric Hosmer

As the the Championship Series begins tonight with a match-up between the Kansas City Royals and the Toronto Blue Jays I figured it would be a good time to recap what has happened so far and give my predictions for the rest of the way.

Postseason to this point (10/16/15)

ALDS: Royals over Astros 3-2
ALDS: Blue Jays over Rangers 3-2
ALCS: Royals - Blue Jays

NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals 3-1
NLDS: Mets over Dodgers 3-2
NLCS: Cubs - Mets

Division Series Recaps:

The first division series to conclude was the Chicago Cubs over the St. Louis Cardinals in four games and it was the only series where I correctly picked not only the winner but also the number of games.  The Cardinals took game one behind an absolute gem by John Lackey but were thoroughly overpowered in the following three games.  Highlighted by a game three where Arrieta finally showed some vulnerability allowing 4 runs across 5.2 innings pitched but also struck out 9.  But these 4 runs were nothing as the Cubs went on to hit a major league postseason record six home runs, one by each of the first six batters in the Cubs lineup.  The following day the Cubs finished it off behind a stellar all hands on deck bullpen effort after starter Jason Hammel was pulled in the fourth inning after walking Jhonny Peralta to leadoff the inning.  This was the first time in the history of Wrigley Field that the Cubs had clinched a postseason series at home and it made them the first team to advance.

The next division series to conclude even if it was only by hours was the Toronto Blue Jays over the Texas Rangers in five games.  Despite game two going 14 innings before the Rangers finally won it that game was completely overshadowed by the events of game 5.  Game five was pretty uneventful heading into the bottom of the 6th inning with the Rangers holding a 2-1 lead.  Then Edwin Encarnación hit a massive home run to tie the game and it woke the crowd in Toronto up big time.  Then we get to the top of the 7th and it looks like the Blue Jays might get out of the inning without allowing any more runs after Rougned Odor reached third with 2 out but then with Shin-Soo Choo at the plate the strangest play of the postseason happened.  Russell Martin went to throw the ball back to Aaron Sanchez but the ball hit the hand and bat of Choo and bounced into play, Odor being heads up came home to score but not before umpire Dale Scott had called time.  This resulted in a long umpire conference that concluded with the run counting and the Rangers taking a 3-2 lead, Choo then immediately struck out to end the half inning.  The top of the 7th was also something that is rare in baseball the Rangers started out the half inning by making three errors, two by shortstop Elvis Andrus, allowing Martin, Pillar and Goins to all reach base with no outs.  After Revere grounded into a fielder's choice MVP candidate Josh Donaldson hit a little blooper that resulted Odor misplayed that scored Pillar to tie the game at 3 but it also resulted in Revere being out at second since he was not running because it appeared to be an easy play for Odor.  With two outs Jose Bautista stepped to the dish and hit the biggest home run in Toronto since Joe Carter in game six of the 1993 World Series.  With a 1-1 count Rangers right-hander Sam Dyson threw Bautista a 97 MPH two-seam fastball that he absolutely crushed to put the Blue Jays ahead for good and send them to the ALCS.

The second game 5 of the division series this one between the Kansas City Royals and the Houston Astros began almost immediately after the Blue Jays and Rangers concluded and this game was nothing compared to the one it was following.  After allowing a two-run home run to Luis Valbuena in the second inning Johnny Cueto did not allow another baserunner striking out eight before handing it off to closer Wade Davis who closed out a decisive 7-2 Royals victory and advanced them to their second consecutive ALCS.

In game two of the Dodgers-Mets series Chase Utley 'slid' into second to break up the double play and in the process broke shortstop Rubén Tejada's leg.  This has sparked a debate that is still going on regarding player safety and what is considered a dirty slide and this one play has overshadowed the rest of the series.  In my opinion while it was a poor attempt at a slide, if you can even call it a slide, it is not a dirty play and within the rules.  Utley's intent was to break-up the double play not to injure Tejada and Major League Baseball has shown in the past that they will allow these types of plays.  A month ago Utley had a worse slide against the Padres and no one even talked about it, Chris Coglan broke Jung-ho Kang's leg and the next day the only people still talking about it were Pirates' fans.  But that brings us to the last game of the division series.  Also a game five this one between the Los Angeles Dodgers and the New York Mets.  Two nights after Clayton Kershaw threw the Dodgers a gem to keep them in the series and give them a chance to win it at home Zack Greinke was good allowing 3 runs across 6.2 innings with 9 strikeouts but was not quite good enough to defeat Jacob deGrom and the Mets.  After struggling in the first deGrom grinded through the next five innings without allowing another run despite having some control problems and not having his best stuff before handing the ball off to Noah Syndergaard who threw an inning after warming up four times.  Syndergaard then handed it off to Jeurys Familia who threw the last two innings without allowing a baserunner to conclude a 3-2 Mets win.  This sent the Dodgers home and sent the Mets back home to host the Cubs on Saturday night.

Championship Series Predictions:

Kansas City Royals - Toronto Blue Jays:

I am standing by my previous prediction of Royals over Blue Jays in seven games with Johnny Cueto throwing them two huge games, game three and game seven.  With those huge games he takes home ALCS MVP and advances the Royals to the World Series for the second straight year.  Despite this prediction I believe Edinson Volquez gets hit around while Marco Estrada is good, not great, but good enough to out-pitch Volquez in a Blue Jays game one win over the Royals.

Chicago Cubs - New York Mets:

I have to slightly change up my prediction for this series considering I initially had the Dodgers but I am going to stand by the Cubs but bump it up from five games to six while sticking with Kris Bryant as NLCS MVP.  Bryant finally gets going on the road with at least one home run at Citi field before returning to Wrigley and playing extremely well like he has all season.  I think the Cubs lose game one in New York before taking game two.  They then return to Chicago taking games three and five, dropping game 4 due to a less than adequate outing from Jason Hammel.  When the series returns to New York the Cubs win game six clinching a trip to the World Series behind another stellar performance from their ace Jake Arrieta and home runs from Kris Bryant, Kyle Schwarber and Anthony Rizzo.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

2015 ALDS Game One Predictions

Today we have the first two games of the American League Division Series.  The first game of the day is the Texas Rangers at the Toronto Blue Jays at 3:37 ET and then the at 7:37 ET the Kansas City Royals host the Houston Astros.

Texas Rangers - Toronto Blue Jays

The match-up of this game is AL Cy Young frontrunner left-hander David Price for the Blue Jays against Rangers' right-hander Yovani Gallardo.  Gallardo has been surprisingly very good in the postseason in the past, having thrown 26 innings with 20 strikeouts allowing 22 hits and only 6 earned runs.  While Price has not faired as well having thrown 40 postseason innings with a WHIP of 1.23 and an ERA of 4.50.  But I think this all changes today.  Today I believe the most potent offense in baseball, one that averaged 9.14 hits per game and 5.50 runs per game finally gets to a pitcher who has shut them out this season.  And I believe that David Price shows why he was so coveted by teams trying to compete at the deadline and throws them 8 innings of one-run baseball.  My prediction is an 8-1 Blue Jays victory.

David Price: 8 IP, 12 Ks, 2 BB, 5 HA, 1 ER
Roberto Osuna: 1 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HA, 0 ERs

Yovani Gallardo: 4 IP, 3 Ks, 2 BB, 12 HA, 6 ERs
Chi Chi Gonzalez: 1.2 IP, 0 Ks, 3 BB, 5 HA, 2 ERs
Ross Ohlendorf: 1.1 IP, 2 K, 0 BB, 1 HA, 0 ERs
Sam Dyson: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 HA, 0 ERs

  • Teams to score 5+ runs in game 1 of the ALDS are 27-4 and 3 of the 4 losses were to the Yankees with the last one being to the Twins.
    • The Athletics loss to the Twins in game 1 of the 2002 ALDS is also the only time a team scored 5+ runs at home and lost (15-1).
  • No team has ever lost game 1 of the ALDS when scoring 8+ runs (15-0), those teams are 8-7 in the series.
    • The last team to score 8+ runs in a game was the Orioles in 2014, they swept the Detroit Tigers and then were swept by the Royals.

Houston Astros - Kansas City Royals

This second game of the day pits Astros' right Collin McHugh against Royals' right-handed flamethrower Yordano Ventura.  McHugh was very good this season but I think the Royals get to him in the first two innings when he was most vulnerable all season.  Batters against McHugh in the first inning: .302/.390/.468 and in the second inning: .295/.343/.426, from that point on he gets better but I think in this case those 2 innings are enough for Ventura and the Royals bullpen.  The Royals score 2 in the first and 1 in the second before McHugh eventually goes the next 4 innings without allowing a run.  While Ventura continues where he left off last postseason throwing the Royals 7 innings allowing 2 runs before the Royals bullpen locks down the win.  I have the Royals winning this game by a score of 4-2.

Yordano Ventura: 7 IP, 6 Ks, 2 BB, 7 HA, 2 ERs
Kelvin Herrera: 1 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 1 HA, 0 ERs
Wade Davis: 1 IP, 2 Ks, 0 BB, 0 HA, 0 ERs

Collin McHugh: 6 IP, 3 Ks, 1 BB, 9 HA, 3 ERs
Pat Neshek: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 3 HA, 1 ER
Tony Sipp: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 BB, 1 HA, 0 ERs

  • Teams to allow 2 runs or fewer in game 1 of the ALDS are 22-2 in that game
  • Teams to allow 2 runs or fewer in game 1 of the ALDS are 16-8 in the series

In the 2-2-1 format when the team with home-field advantage wins game 1 they win the series 73.5% of the time.

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

2015 NL Wildcard Game Prediction

Tonight is the NL Wildcard game between the Chicago Cubs and the Pittsburgh Pirates at PNC Park.  This is absolute pitching match-up pitting aces Jake Arrieta and Gerrit Cole against each other.  Gerrit Cole has had an absolutely outstanding season and I'm not trying to take anything away from him but I think Jake Arrieta gives the Cubs the advantage.  He finished the season 22-6 with an ERA of 1.77, an FIP of 2.35 and an fWAR of 7.3, second to only Clayton Kershaw.  But it is his second half that really shines considering it was one of the most dominate ever.  In 15 second half starts Jake Arrieta went 12-1 posting an ERA of 0.75, which is the lowest in baseball history.  And did I mention he struck out 28.3% of the batters he faced.  Since the beginning of August, spanning 12 starts, he has allowed all of 4 earned runs with a 0.41 ERA and the Cubs are 12-0 in those games.  In that same span 269 pitchers have allowed 4+ earned runs in an inning.  At the end of the day I think the Cubs win this game by a score of 3-1 because of Jake Arrieta.

Jake Arrieta: 8 IP, 11 Ks, 0 Walk, 3 Hits, 1 ER
Hector Rondon: 1 IP, 1 Ks, 0 Hits, 0 ERs

Gerrit Cole: 6 IP, 5 Ks, 1 Walks, 7 Hits, 3 ERs
Joakim Soria: 1 IP, 2 Ks, 1 Walk, 0 Hits, 0 ERs
Tony Watson: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 Walks, 0 Hits, 0 ERs
Mark Melancon: 1 IP, 1 K, 0 Walks, 1 Hit, 0 ERs

Cubs runs score on a Kris Bryant two-run home run with Dexter Fowler on base and an Anthony Rizzo solo home run.  Pirates score Polanco on a McCutchen double.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Postseason Picks

As the playoffs begin tonight with the AL Wildcard game I figured it was as good a time as ever to write up my postseason picks and update my award winners.  My preseason picks did not turn out awful overall as the majority of my playoff teams actually made it and I could possibly get 50% of the major awards correct (unlikely however) but I would like to make some changes and forecast the rest of the way.

My Preseason Picks:
AL Wildcard game: Indians over Houston
ALDS: Royals over Indians in 4
ALDS: Yankees over Angels in 5
ALCS: Royals over Yankees in 6

NL Wildcard game: Cubs over Pirates
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 5
NLDS: Nationals over Dodgers in 4
NLCS: Nationals over Cubs in 6

World Series: Royals defeat Nationals in 7
            World Series MVP: Eric Hosmer

AL Cy Young: Chris Sale
AL MVP: Robinson Cano
AL ROY: Daniel Norris
AL Manager of the year: Ned Yost

NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
NL ROY: Kris Bryant
NL Manager of the year: Joe Maddon

My Picks as of October 6th, 2015:
AL Wildcard game: Yankees over Houston
ALDS: Royals over Yankees in 5
ALDS: Blue Jays over Rangers in 4
ALCS: Royals over Blue Jays in 7
            ALCS MVP: Johnny Cueto

NL Wildcard game: Cubs over Pirates
NLDS: Cubs over Cardinals in 4
NLDS: Dodgers over Mets in 3
NLCS: Cubs over Dodgers in 5
            NLCS MVP: Kris Bryant

World Series: Royals defeat Cubs in 7
            World Series MVP: Eric Hosmer

AL Cy Young: David Price
            Guys like Sonny Gray, Chris Sale and Chris Archer will garner votes in this ratce and had extraordinary seasons in 2015 but this race eventually comes down to just two, David Price and Dallas Keuchel.  No one in baseball has been better than Dallas Keuchel was at home this season, going 15-0 across 129.1 innings while striking out 139 batters with a batting average against of only .186 and only allowing 4 home runs but in my opinion even those numbers aren’t enough for him to beat out David Price for this award.  Price finished the regular season 18-5 across 220.1 innings pitched with a FIP of 2.78 good for second best in the American League behind only Chris Sale, while leading all AL pitchers in WAR with 6.4.  When the Blue Jays acquired him at the deadline they did so to win the big games and he has.  Since becoming a Blue Jay he has pitched against the Yankees four times and in those starts he has gone 3-0, throwing 26.1 innings, allowing 5 runs and striking out 27.

AL MVP: Mike Trout
            This race is truly just Mike Trout and Josh Donaldson and no one else is even close.  Many people are looking at this race and saying “Donaldson has run away with it” but if that is far from the truth.  They have the same number of home runs (41), and are both sitting around .300 in terms of batting average but that far from illustrates what is going on in this race.  The main arguments I have heard for Donaldson winning MVP is his RBI production and the Blue Jays making the playoffs.  Both arguments are ridiculous.  RBIs tell you nothing about an individual player’s performance but instead the production of the team as a whole.  Trout and Donaldson’s numbers with runners in scoring position are almost identical in general except Donaldson was provided this situation an extra 14 times.  In fact, with runners in scoring position with 2 outs Trout was much better, his slash line in this situation was .314/.556/.371 while Donaldson had a slash line of .254/.382/.444.  Mike Trout finished with a WAR of 9.0 compared to Donaldson’s 8.7 which is close but wRC+ (quantifies a player’s total offensive value) shows the true difference in their seasons.  Trout finished with a wRC+ of 172 second to only Bryce Harper while Donaldson ended the regular season at 154, good for 7th in all of baseball and 4th in the American League.  It is because of this that I say advantage Trout.

AL ROY: Francisco Lindor
            I previous blogged about this, see it here.

AL Manager of the year: Paul Molitor
            People had the Twins picked to finish last in the AL Central, it took a full 162 games for them to finally be eliminated.

NL Cy Young: Jake Arrieta
            Jake Arrieta was very good in 2014 and very good in the first half of 2015 but his second half is the greatest ever.  He finished 2015 22-6 with an ERA of 1.77 across 229.0 innings with 236 strikeouts.  He threw 107.1 innings in the second half, facing 399 batters and striking out 113 batters.  He only allowed 55 hits, a batting average against of .148 and a WHIP of 0.73.  Oh yeah and he only allowed 9 earned runs (12 total runs).  Since August he has thrown 88.1 innings, he only allowed 4 earned runs, in that same time period 269 pitchers allowed 4+ earned runs in an inning.  So while Greinke and Kershaw were also ridiculously good, I don’t see how Arrieta doesn’t win NL Cy Young.
NL MVP: Bryce Harper
            There is no need to explain this pick he was the best player in baseball in 2015 and produced one of the greatest offensive seasons ever, especially for a player who is still only 22.  He should win this award unanimously.

NL ROY: Kris Bryant
            This award like NL MVP should be unanimous considering he has produced one of the best rookie seasons ever.  According to fWAR his WAR of 6.5 ranks 13/14 all time tied with Dutch Zwilling in 1914.  Since 1990 the only players who produced better rookie seasons are Mike Trout (2012), Mike Piazza (1993) and Albert Pujols (2001).

NL Manager of the year: Joe Maddon
            People laughed at me when I had the Cubs picked to finish second in the NL Central and lose to the Nationals in the NLCS but here we are they won 97 games thanks in no small part to Joe Maddon.