LeBron MVP

Well the Celtics season is over after a heart-breaking loss on Friday to the cocky and arrogant, New York Knicks. The next few months will really show where this organization is headed with the decisions they face with KG and Paul Pierce. However, this story is not about that. Lebron James won his 4th MVP this weekend. He became the second player to get 120 of 121 possible first place votes. Shaq did it 13 years ago. The lone voter, who decided to back Carmelo Anthony instead, was the Boston imagesGlobe’s Gary Washburn.

To me, this is ridiculous. I know everyone in Boston hates LeBron, but the main reason why he wasn’t unanimous, was because everyone thought he would be. Just so happens that it was a guy from Massachusetts to snub him. We all know that he is the best player in the league and by far the most efficient. If he took as many shots as Melo, he would be the leading scorer, but he is more than that, clearly. Plus, Melo sucked against us during the last 3 games of the series and I really thought we had a chance to steal it from those scumbags.

Kevin Garnett did receive one vote for MVP, but not a first place one. This was enough to tie him for 12th in the balloting.

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2012 NFL Awards: Handing Out the Hardware

The votes for this years NFL awards including MVP, Comeback Player Of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Player Of the Year, and Rookie Of The Year have to be in by this week. Like most years the voting is intense, but this year we may see the closest race yet in nearly all the above categories. Let’s take a look at the awards and their nominees:

NFL MVP: The Nominees: Peyton Manning, Adrian Peterson, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, and J.J. Watt.

Of the nominees, two men stand above the rest. Peyton Manning has led the Denver Broncos to home-field advantage in this years playoffs by going on an 11 game winning streak to finish the season tied with the Atlanta Falcons for the leagues best record at 13-3 overall. Manning has also done all of this coming back from a neck injury that kept him out all of last season.

Adrian “All Day” Peterson. Peterson much like Manning, had a simply phenomenal comeback season this year. Last year Peterson was out due to a knee injury. Some wondered how Peterson would respond this season. Needless to say, Peterson answered all the questions and then some. Peterson put on a rushing clinic this season eclipsing the 2,000 yard mark, a feat only 6 other NFL running backs have done in the history of the league. Peterson finished the season with 2,097 yards, just 9 yards shy of breaking Eric Dickerson’ record of 2,105 set back in 1984. All Day’s performance this year has helped put the Vikings in the post season.

My Pick: I have to go with Adrian Peterson. The fact that this man came back from reconstructive knee surgery, and nearly broke a 28-year-old NFL rushing record is enough for me. The selling point on Peterson to win this award though, rests in the fact that he helped lead the Minnesota Vikings to the playoffs.

A feat few thought to be possible when the season began so many weeks ago. Peyton has no doubt had a great year, and is vital to the Broncos success, but Denver could have made the post-season with someone else at quarterback, especially with the awful play by the rest of the AFC West this year. The Vikings don’t do much of anything without Adrian Peterson this year (or any year for that matter).

MVP is the Most Valuable Player award, and in my opinion there’s no one whose been more valuable to a team than Adrian Peterson this year.

Peyton Manning - Seattle Seahawks v Denver Broncos

Comeback Player: This year the award for Comeback Player Of the Year is probably the most clear cut award as only two players fit the bill. The two men mentioned in the paragraph above, Manning and Peterson, have both done more than what anybody expected from them. Both have had great seasons. Both have their teams in the playoffs. Both came back from career jarring injuries. However, only one of them can win the award.

My Pick: I’m choosing Peyton Manning for this one. Peterson could very well win this award, but I’m giving it to Manning because he not only had to comeback from an injury, but he had to comeback with a brand new team, brand new offensive sets, brand new targets to throw to, brand new everything. Manning not only came-back as the Manning we all know, but he made us nearly forget he ever left. With that, Manning is my choice for Comeback Player Of the Year, hands down.

Offensive Player Of The Year: The Nominees: Peyton Manning, Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers, Calvin Johnson, Adrian Peterson.

Like the first two awards this is another one that either Manning or Peterson could win, but given they both may win one of the two aforementioned awards Brady, Rodgers, and Johnson have a higher chance at this award.

Brady and Rodgers have both had solid seasons. Brady threw for 4,827 yards with 34 TDS while Rodgers threw for 4,295 yards and 39 TDS. Both are essential to their offenses overall success. However, I’d like to argue my pick for Offensive Player Of the Year, Calvin Johnson.

My Pick: Johnson has been nothing short of amazing this season. Johnson not only had the most receiving yards of any wide receiver this year, he broke Jerry Rice’ single season record for receiving yards with a 225 yard 11 catch performance against the falcons in week 16 against Atlanta. “Megatron” finished the season with 1,964 yards. Johnson averaged 115 yards and 7 catches per game this season. Those numbers are certainly award worthy. Of course, it will be hard for Johnson to beat out the likes of Brady and Rodgers, but he should absolutely be considered and is my pick for this year’s Offensive Player Of the Year.

Defensive Player Of the Year: The Nominees: J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Aldon Smith.

All of the nominees are no doubt a quarterback, heck lets be honest, these guys have any one on offense scared to death on any given Sunday. But, like any award, only one of them can bring home the hardware. Let’s go to the stats:

J.J. Watt- NFL season sack leader with 20.5 sacks, 81 combined tackles, and 4 forced fumbles.

Aldon Smith- Finished second in total sacks with 19.5, 66 combined tackles, 3 forced fumbles and 1 interception.

Von Miller- Finished 3rd in sacks with 18.5, 68 tackles, 6 forced fumbles, and 1 interception.

My Pick: Again, all of these men wreak havoc on opposing offenses week in and week out, but I have to choose one. My choice has to be J.J. Watt. Watt burst on to scene last year in his rookie season with his tenacious play in the regular season, and really broke out in the Texans playoff win against the Bengals with an interception return for a TD. Watt has , asserted himself as a force to be reckoned with this year in the NFL and has earned the right to this award.

Rookie Of The Year: The Nominees: Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson.

The three rookie QB’s listed above have all had incredible seasons in their own right. Each of them have led their respective teams to the playoffs. Here’s the numbers on these newbies:

Luck: rookie record for passing yards with 4, 374 and 23 TD with a 76.5 QB rating.

RGIII: 3,200 yards passing with 20 TD and  102.4 QB rating, Griffin also rushed for 815 yds and 7 TDS ranking him in the top 20 in rushing yds in the NFL.

Wilson: tied Peyton Manning’ rookie record for passing TDS with 26 and threw for 3,118 yards. Wilson also had 489 rushing yds with 4 TDS.

My Pick: My choice for Rookie Of the Year would have to be RGIII. No disrespect to Andrew Luck, but at the end of the day it’s hard for me to not pick a rookie stud who finishes in the top 5 for QB rating with the likes of Rodgers and Manning. Plus with his versatility in the pocket as a rushing threat he is hard to ignore.

Final Thoughts: Almost forgot an award. Coach Of the Year. Mike Shanahan (Redskins), Leslie Frazier (Vikings), Pete Carroll (Seahawks), and Bruce Arians (fill in for Chuck Pagano and the Colts) all up for the honor. I believe for what Arians accomplished, in Pagano’ honor while he battled Leukemia, is more than deserving of the award and has undoubtedly earned it. Who do you think will take home the NFL Hardware? Leave a comment below.

HOF Ballot 2013

Starting today, the Baseball Writers’ Association of America will begin voting for MLB Hall of Famers which will be announced in early January. However, it is projected to be the most controversial ballot since Pete Rose was ruled ineligible for betting. The reason is simple: Steroids…. Continue reading

Sixth-Man Votes

Jason Terry has been voted as the most likely sixth-man award winner for this NBA season. JET received 11 votes, while Jamal Crawford earned 8. Ray Allen even got 4 of his own. Even Jeff Green was voted for once, even after his rough first game back.

With reigning sixth-man award winner James Harden starting for the Houston Rockets now (scored 37 points and added 12 assists in his debut), the field is wide open. Jason Terry has already won it once before while with the Dallas Mavericks. Leandro Barbosa even won it when he was with the Suns, and if he plays like he did in the first game, he could be a big surprise. But I’ll give my vote to Jason Terry because if he can help get us over the Miami obstacle, he will be seen as one of the key factors since we lost to them the past two seasons.

AL East Position Matchup: Center Field

Today, I will cover the AL East’s strongest position, Centerfield. To the surprise of many Sox fans, Jacoby Ellsbury absolutely broke out last year. The big story throughout the year will be how the Red Sox handle his expiring contract. They avoided arbitration with Jacoby this year by signing him to a one year $8.05 million contract (a big raise from his $2.4 million earned in 2011). I understand that the Red Sox didn’t want to reward him MVP money for the long term after his one year sample of his abilities, but I think they should make moves on a contract early in the season. The bad news for the Red Sox is that Jacoby’s agent is Scott Boras and he’ll be sure to try to squeeze every penny out of any organization for his clients.

For previous positional rankings click here: C1B2B3BSSLF

Here are the rankings for Centerfielder:

1. Jacoby Ellsbury, Red Sox
2. Curtis Granderson, Yankees
3. B.J. Upton, Rays
4. Adam Jones, Orioles
5. Colby Rasmus, Blue Jays

Throughout all 2011, Jacoby and Granderson were fighting to be the best centerfielder in their division, but also were fighting to be the league MVP at the same time. Long story short, Jacoby got snubbed for the MVP and placed second, while Granderson came in 4th place after his monster season for the Bronx Bombers. 2012 should be no different. As noted earlier, Ellsbury will be in a contract year and out to prove that last year was no fluke. Granderson wants to prove the same thing, considering he finally lived up to the hype that was pegged onto him after his breakout year in 2007 with the Tigers. Similar to the MVP race, Ellsbury inched ahead of Granderson in the rankings. Jacoby really looks like he figured out his power stroke last year and has speed for days. I think his steal numbers will bump back up to the 50’s, but not near the 70 he swiped in 2009. Jacoby’s speed on the basepaths and in the outfield coupled with his consistent batting average make him a good choice to repeat another big year. I’m predicting .305/18 HR/80 RBI’s out of Ells, with 53 SB’s and 115 runs in his contract year. Granderson on the other hand has pretty much established what he is capable of in his six full years in the majors. I see his 41 hrs as a bit of a hiccup last year. Last year, Granderson hit 16 home runs against lefty’s, while he had only hit 20 against them in his entire career. I still see him getting around 30 HR in Yankee stadium, which is built for swings like Grandersons. Despite this, Granderson has a lower average than Ells and doesn’t swipe as many bags. He gets slotted into the second spot due to this.

Next up is Rays outfielder BJ Upton. As his career really begins to shape, it is starting to look like his brother Justin got the better genes. He was an absolute monster for the D-Backs last year in the NL West. BJ has been exposed for his flaws at the plate throughout his career. He has been known for his streaky hitting and when he’s on a hot streak no pitcher wants to face him (like the 2008 playoffs). He’s a very similar player to Jacoby from a statistical standpoint, except for his much lower batting average (.243 BA last year).

Upton’s edge in the field gave him the third ranking over number four, Adam Jones of the Baltimore Orioles. Jones is a very dangerous hitter and getting better each year, but he has yet to master his control of the strike zone (.280 BA with a .319 OBP last year).

Rounding up the rankings in Colby Rasmus of the Blue Jays. Colby had an off year last year after a promising first two seasons in St. Louis. He had a horrible batting year last year, with drops in BA, OBP, HR’s, RBI’s and SB’s. If he can figure out how to correct his batting woes from last year, he can provide some power in the sneaky good Blue Jays offense.

For previous positional rankings click here: C1B2B3BSSLF

AL East Position Matchup: Third Baseman

Today, we are going to move over to the hot corner. Two different ends of the spectrum at third base, with the up-and-coming stars in Evan Longoria and Brett Lawrie and the declining talents of Alex Rodriguez and Kevin Youkilis. Also, we have the “Greek God of Walks” in Kevin Youkilis and also the Strikeout King, Mark Reynolds.

For Other AL East Position Rankings: Catcher1st Baseman2nd Baseman

Here are the rankings for third base:

1. Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
2. Brett Lawrie, Toronto Blue Jays
3. Alex Rodriguez, New York Yankees
4. Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
5. Mark Reynolds, Baltimore Orioles

These rankings were tough, especially after Longoria in the first slot. Every single player, Longoria included, has something to be criticized about. Evan Longoria has been one of the top third basemen since his monster rookie season in 2008, where he had a .272 AVG/27 HR/85 RBI line in 122 games. Year after year, we have seen great production out of the young superstar, but he hasn’t had a full year showcasing ALL of his skills. In 2010, he effectively lowered his strikeouts and maintained a good average, but his power was down (only hit 22 HR in 151 games). In 2011, he regained his power stroke hitting 31 HR’s in 133 games, but his average dipped to .244. Despite these issues, Longoria has the talent to maintain his position as the top third baseman in the AL East.

Most Sox fans are probably wondering who Brett Lawrie is, and why the hell is rated above A-Rod and YOUUUK. Brett Lawrie was one the top prospects in the Brewers coveted farm system a few years ago, until he was traded for Shaun Marcum in December 2010. Lawrie was a former catcher, turned second baseman, turned now third baseman. He displays pure athleticism on the field, which has helped him in his transistion between positions in the minors. His bat has never been questioned throughout his short career. Although he was said to be major league ready after camp last year with the Blue Jays, they decided to give him more time to work on his glove at the hot corner in Triple A. Lawrie was called up to the bigs on August 5th and made an immediate impact, hitting 6 home runs in his first month. In 150 major league at bats, Lawrie ended up with a .293 average, .373 OBP, and 9 HR’s. He figures to be a major part of the Blue Jays offense, currently projected to hit in the 6 spot in a dangerous lineup. I was skeptical to give him the two spot in the rankings, but his potential, coupled with the injury problems of A-Rod and Youk gave me the green light on this ranking. I also think this guy has a little bit of Gronk in him. He was said to have attitude issues in Milwaukee and openly has pictures of himself drinking and doing “Edward FortyHands” online. Brett-Lawrie-2His “don’t give a shit” attitude should help him in dealing with some of the increased attention he will get with his elite ability. I don’t see him being as effective as his short major league stint indicates, as most 22 year olds are bound to experience some issues in the first few years in the bigs, but Lawrie will soon become a household name for any AL East fan.

Next up are the walking wounded. With all due respect to Alex Rodriguez (although I don’t believe he deserves much) and Kevin Youkilis, it is quite obvious both are in the “decline” stages of their careers. Due to his incredible past, A-Rod gets the three ranking and seriously contended for second. It was just too hard to justify him above the rising Lawrie. His major league record streak of 13 straight seasons with over 30 home runs and 100 RBI’s ended abruptly last year. He has battled with numerous different injuries in the past four seasons (missed at least 20 games each season and 150 games total). I do see A-Rod making a bit of a comeback, but he has lost a lot of bat speed in the past few years and can’t make pitchers pay for a bad fastball as consistently as he used to.

Kevin Youkilis is more of the same. It seems like every year Sox fans are talking about “If Youk was healthy…” this and that, we’d be such a better team, a more dangerous lineup, etc. At some point, we need to expect him to get injured. Despite his unusual .258 BA last year, he is a great batter and the “Greek God of Walks,” but he is a liability at third base, where he is not nearly as good a fielder there as he is at 1st Base. I love having him in the lineup and he’s just as much the face of the franchise as Dusty, but he has constantly been getting injured in the past few years. I’m expecting a bounce back year for Youk with around a .300 BA, 20-25 HR, 90-100 RBI and of course his .400 OBP. And I, along with every other fan in Red Sox nation, hope that he stays healthy throughout the year and is good to go for a playoff push in September.

Lastly, we have the Strikeout King, Mark Reynolds of Baltimore. In the past four years,  Mark’s home run’s look like this: 28, 44, 32, 37. Along with the good comes the bad, Mark’s strikeout numbers look like this: 204, 223, 211, 196. His average also looks like this: .239, .260, .198, .221. Pretty sure the averages and strikeouts speak for themselves. Yes, Reynold’s is a good power hitter, but as a manager I would never want his mentality of “swing for the fences” every at bat on my team. That being said, Reynold’s always brings fear into opposing pitcher’s and fan’s late in the game due to his big play potential.

It will be very interesting to see how this years young stars at third base end up matching up against the aging (and injured) stars of the AL East.

For Catcher rankings: click here.
For First Basemen rankings: click here.
For Second Basemen rankings: click here.

 

AL East Position Matchup: Second Base

Another day and another position ranking, today I will look into second basemen. First, I analyzed catchers, with Baltimore’s Matt Weiters coming out on top. Next, I analyzed first base, with the Red Sox MVP candidate Adrian Gonzalez filling out the top slot. The AL East’s star position has to be second basemen. It contains 3 of the top second basemen, and two legitimate MVP candidates, who are becoming the face of their respective franchises.

The rankings are as follows:

1. Dustin Pedroia, Red Sox
2. Robinson Cano, Yankees
3. Ben Zobrist, Rays
4. Kelly Johnson, Blue Jays
5. Brian Roberts, Orioles

This has been by far the toughest decision to make in the position rankings. I know every Yankees fan will disagree, as any loyal fan would, but hear me out on this one. Dustin Pedroia and Robinson Cano have been very similar in terms of offensive impact in the past few years (barring Pedroia’s injury shortened season in 2010). While displaying virtually exact career AVG (Pedroia .305 vs Cano .308), Pedroia has consistently reached base at a higher rate (.373  Career OBP vs Cano’s .349). Cano may be able to put up more HR’s and RBI’s than Pedroia, but Pedey has consistently put up many more steals and runs. Cano’s extra RBI’s can mostly be contributed to his spot in the batting order. Last year, 94.9% of his at bats were taken from the 4 and 5 spots in the order, while 77.3% of Pedroia’s at bats were taken from the 2 spot in the order. Yes, Pedroia’s extra runs can be mostly contributed to his spot in the order, but his steals and baserunning are still much better than Cano’s. All offensive prowess aside, Pedroia definitely has an edge on the defensive side ( 2 Gold Gloves in four eligible seasons vs Cano’s single Gold Glove during his 7 seasons). Also, Pedroia has a better fielding percentage and zone rating. Perhaps the most telling fact is WAR (wins above replacement), in which Pedroia 8.0 2011 rating, clearly outshines Cano’s 5.6.

Despite this argument, it should be noted that if either team had the choice, they would not switch second baseman with the other team. Pedroia is a true Red Sox player, never afraid to get his jersey dirty, while Cano is a Bronx Bomber, provided unheard of power from second baseman position since the sloppy fielding former Yank Alfonso Soriano.

Next up is Ben Zobrist, who is a great player for the Rays, but overshadowed by Cano and Pedroia. Zobrist has the talent to fight for the top second basemen spot in any other division. He has the potential to contend with Cano and Pedroia, but his inconsistency gives him the third ranking. He displayed incredible numbers both last year and in 2009, but his steep dropoff in 2010 (.239 BA and a 63.0% HR decrease) leaves room for concern.

Filling out the fourth spot is Blue Jay second baseman Kelly Johnson. Kelly was acquired by the Jays from the Diamondbacks last year in a trade for Aaron Hill and John MacDonald. Johnson has been even more inconsistent than Zobrist, but should give the Jays a good option at second as long as his average stays up. I see him providing about a .275 average and 20-25 HR’s in his first full year at the Rogers Centre.

Lastly, the Orioles have the oft injured Brian Roberts slotted in as their starting second baseman. Although Roberts was once regarded as a top second baseman, those days are gone after only playing 98 games in the last two years combined. Whether he gets injured again and Robert Andino fills in for him remains the true question. Both will provide similar offensive output and show good speed on the basepaths. I don’t see the credentials to rate either one above any of the other second baseman in this stacked division though.

For Catcher rankings, click here.
For First Baseman rankings, click here.

 

Brees Sets Single Season Passing Record

Late last night Saints signal caller Drew Brees passed Dan Marino to set the NFL record for yards passing in a season, a mark that Marino held for nearly three decades. Brees set the mark with 5,087 passing yards, and still has a game left next week to add to his total.

Finally Brees is being recognized this season and it is well deserved. All year I’ve been hearing about Aaron Rodgers, rightfully so. The guy is an incredible quarterback. Brees seemed to just fly under the radar until the past couple of weeks. All the talk was about how Aaron Rodgers was by far the best QB in the league, and the hands down favorite to win the MVP award. I’m going to have to respectively disagree. I don’t see him as the unanimous choice. Brees is averaging just less than an unheard of 340 passing yards per game and has completed over 70% of his passes. Drew Brees is such a rare talent. For a guy that is only an even 6 feet tall and can put up the numbers he does is just amazing.

Rodgers has a shot to break Tom Brady’s mark of 50 passing touchdowns this season, (which I don’t think he will) but if it does happen I’m sure he will be a near lock for the MVP. Rodgers does have the overall better numbers, and his team nearly went undefeated this year so seeing him win the award would come as no surprise to many, but there are at least a few others in the discussion. Even our own Tom Brady has to be in that discussion. I know I might be in the minority here, but my vote would have to be for Brees.