It doesn’t get much better than talking baseball in summertime. Today’s post is the first in a summer-long series of conversations between myself and my good friend Evan Boyd, author of the Major League Baseball 2014 blog. We’ll be talking baseball on a frequent basis throughout the MLB season.
Brendan: Alright, first off, Who are your three hottest teams right now?
Evan: The three teams that are red hot right now are the Oakland Athletics, the LA Angels, and the Toronto Blue Jays. The Athletics look like the best team in baseball, now the only team with 30 wins. They can hit any opponent and have great pitching. They’re the only team that I’ve seen take advantage of pitchers like Yu Darvish and King Felix Hernandez. The LA Angels are a bit surprising to me, but they have really clicked with not only offense as they have been in the past, but pitching has done a lot better since last year. Jered Weaver has an ERA under 3 thus far, Albert Pujols is doing a nice job hitting for most of the power on the team, and Mike Trout has broken out of the slump that he was in at the beginning of May. And how about the Blue Jays? They have won 8 of their last 10 and are in first place in the division. They just swept the Red Sox on the road, too, which is still impressive despite Boston struggling this year.
Brendan: Speaking of the Blue Jays, Mark Buehrle has been incredible this year, frankly. 8-1 with a 2.16 ERA? Did you see this coming? I love Buehrle but I never expected this.
Evan: Yeah I didn’t really either! Last year he put up fine numbers, but nothing like this year. He’s not much of a strikeout pitcher, but his low WHIP has covered that up. Plus the Blue Jays have a great offense and put up good run support for him.
Brendan: WHIP is a highly underrated stat (Walks/Hits per Inning Pitched). Alright, on the topic of pitchers, who are your top three in the game right now, in terms of performance this season. I think you can definitely make the argument for Buehrle.
Evan: WHIP is a great stat, and the guy with the lowest WHIP is Johnny Cueto. He’s only 4-2 but he’s been phenomenal. He is 2nd in ERA only to Jeff Samardzija, who can’t get a break this year. He leads the MLB in ERA and ERA-plus, which adjusts for ballpark effects. Don’t let an 0-4 record deceive how good he is. The other guy I’d say is in the top three is Adam Wainwright, who already has seven wins and right now is my favorite for NL Cy Young. Shout outs to Buehrle, Sonny Gray, Felix Hernandez, and Yu Darvish as well.
Brendan: Samardzija has been phenomenal, it’s really a shame his team can’t score at all for him. You could argue he’s had an even better season than fellow Chicago (albeit White Sox) player Jose Abreu.
Evan: He probably has been, especially since Abreu (like much of the White Sox team) is on the DL. It’ll be interesting to see if the Cubs want to trade Jeff. The Yankees have been interested in him and other Cub pitcher Jason Hammel.
Brendan: I love seeing Samardzija in Cubby Blue, but frankly a trade wouldn’t be too surprising to me.
Evan: They would have to get something really good out of it. The Cubs need pitching as their farm system is already stacked with hitting. The Blue Jays and Red Sox have pitching that the Cubs could use. I also heard that the Marlins could be interested because they have lots of young pitching, but that would be a long shot haha. I would hate to see Samardzija go. I hate to have him go and him become the next star. Its just like what happened with the Cubs when they chose not to resign Greg Maddux.
Brendan: Then again, look at Ryan Dempster. He was older, but he had a great first half a couple of seasons ago, then was traded away before pitching decently but not great until his retirement.
Evan: Matt Garza too. That’s mostly what the Cubs have been doing is sign these guys to one year contracts or trade them with their expiring contracts. So far, it’s worked, but Jeff might not be worth these prospects because he’s that good.
Brendan: Alright, last question: season ends right now, who is the MVP?
Evan: AL is a bit tougher, but two guys that stand out to me are the 3-4 guys in the Tigers lineup, Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez. Both have had incredible months, and up until recently, Martinez had more home runs that strikeouts. I would probably go Cabrera just because V-Mart is a DH, and Cabrera is having just as good of a year. That being said, both of these are subject to change come September.
Brendan: Statistically speaking, Jose Abreu’s basic power numbers are pretty great so far, you could make a case for him. When he’s back from the DL, he may not be hitting as well, but those numbers are very impressive. Alright my man, anything else for this week?
Evan: Both Abreu and Masahiro Tanaka have done very well, but as you said, injuries hurt. Hopefully this week the Red Sox can snap out of their slump, and be sure to check out the A’s vs Tigers series this week. Nice to talk with ya!