FTD: 2018 Awards Edition

I miss baseball, I need baseball. Without baseball, I feel lost.  They streched these awards out over the whole month, but let’s get it over with.  Here is who WILL win each award.

American League Manager of the Year

Alex Cora, Boston Red Sox

A little over 12 months ago, Cora was named Manager of the Boston Red Sox. In those 12 months, Cora took them from a good team to an amazing team. The Red Sox were an unprecedented 108-54 and sat on top of the American League East by 8 games. They improved by 20+ wins this season, which honestly is shocking considering all they added was JD Martinez. They only lost 3 games in a row once, in April. They have a +229 run differential, which is second only to Houston. They have the fourth best ERA in the league as well. All of this has occurred under Cora, who, oh yeah, is in his first year of being a head coach, EVER. Completely unprecedented and he deserves the Manager of the Year. Not to mention that he won the World Series in his first year.

**Cora and Aaron Boone (Yankees) made history by becoming the first, first time head coaches to win 100 games in their first season.

National League Manager of the Year

Brian Snitker, Atlanta Braves

Snitker has been with the Braves since 2016, but first only on an interim basis. When he finally was awarded the full-time position of head coach, he took advantage of it. With the Braves clinching the NL East and having 90 wins. The Braves are a very entertaining team to watch, especially with their rookie success. He led the Braves to their first postseason appearance since 2013. With tons of prospects still in their organization, Snitker has killed it and I believe the Braves will continue their success into the future. It all started with his hiring.

American League Rookie of the Year

Miguel Andújar, New York Yankees

The Yankees spent all off season debating whether or not to get Manny Machado or someone for third base. Little did they know, all they needed was Brandon Drury to get hurt which would force them to call up a little guy named Miguel. In his time in New York, he has 47 doubles, 27 home runs, 92 RBI’s, 83 runs, and is batting .297 with a .527 slugging percentage. Andújar broke Joe DiMaggio’s rookie record with 47 doubles which is 2 more than DiMaggio. Quite the company he is in. You could argue Torres should win this award, but Andújar has made more of an impact, in a position where the Yankees had nobody whatsoever.

National League Rookie of the Year

Ronald Acuña Jr, Atlanta Braves

Acuña has been on a tear all season long. He has a .293 average, 26 HR, 25 doubles, 78 runs, 64 RBI’s 16 stolen bases, and a .917 OPS. Acuña has led his Braves team to a NL East victory and they’re just exciting to watch. Although this team won’t go far in the postseason, look for Acuña and the Braves to make some noise in the next few years.

American League Cy Young

Blake Snell, Tampa Bay Rays

Blake Snell has been a bright spot for the Rays. He’s posted a 21-5 record, an AL leading 1.89 ERA, 221 strikeouts, all in 180.2 innings. He is the most consistent starter but has yet to reach 200 innings due to a cap put on by the Rays. His 21 wins are a franchise record. Opponents have a .178 batting average against him. Of his first 30 starts, 19 of those were quality starts. In his first 30 starts, he only allowed 3 or more runs, 5 times. Snell ran away with this award and it isn’t even close.

National League Cy Young

Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

His record doesn’t show it, but deGrom is so much better than his 10-9. During his first 31 starts, he had 28 quality starts, including a record setting 23 consecutive. A quality start is determined by completing 6 innings, giving up 3 or fewer runs. That alone should win him the Cy Young. With one start remaining, deGrom has a 1.70 ERA and ranked second in the NL in innings pitched with 217. He has the third best WAR (wins above replacement) with a 9.6, only lower than Betts and Trout. He has struck out 269 batters this season and only has allowed 48 runs (41 of them earned). An interesting fact, he has never given up more than four runs in a start. In fact, he has only given up four runs once. If the Mets had scored 4 runs in every start he pitched, he’d be 31-0. If the Mets were at least halfway decent, this year would be considered one of the best ever. Just give him the Cy Young. Right now.

American League MVP

Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox

Betts has had an incredible year, by far his best year (steroids???). He has a league best .346 batting average and is the best right fielder in the game (behind a healthy Aaron Judge). He leads the majors in batting average, extra base hits (84) and runs scored (129). He ranks second in OPS (1.078), third in doubles (47) and got into the 30/30 club with 30 HRs and 30 stolen bases. Wild. He has propelled the Red Sox to a club best 108 wins. The only other option would be Mike Trout, but Betts has run away with it due to his health and never slowing down.

National League MVP

Christian Yelich, Milwaukee Brewers

Two weeks ago, this race was still a race but Yelich has put it to bed. Yelich leads in the NL in batting average (.323), slugging percentage (.596), OPS (.997), and was 10-24 in the last week including four doubles, a triple, two home runs, eight runs, and 11RBI’s. Yelich became the 3rd player ever to hit for 2 cycles in the same season. In fact, they were within 20 days of each other. He also became the first player ever to hit 2 cycles in the same season against the same team, the Cincinnati Reds. Yelich is absolutely insane, and if he does not win the MVP, I will be irate.

Teammate of the Year

CC Sabathia, New York Yankees

This story is insane. Within his contract, CC could earn $500,000 if he had reached 155 innings pitched. First, money doesn’t mean much to the big guy considering he signed a 10 year, 252 million dollar contract 11 years ago. Heading into the 6th inning in Tampa last week, he was pitching a scoreless game, with an 11-run lead. Manager Aaron Boone allowed him to stay in, but then CC did what most people would not. After Austin Romine, the Yankees backup catcher, was thrown at by the Rays, CC came to the mound and hit their catcher getting him ejected immediately. Upon his exit, CC grabbed his dick and said, “that’s for you…bitch.” You have to love CC for that. That’s why he’s so special.

The Way Too Early Bold Prediction for 2019

The Cincinnati Reds will make the postseason. The Reds are a very young team with amazing talent. Their hitting alone, has put them in a place of their own. They are 2nd in grand slams this year, behind only the Red Sox. They are first in grand slams by pitchers, thanks to Michael Lorenzen. They have a top 5 batter in batting average, Scooter Gennett, who is hitting .315 with 23HR’s and 92RBI’s. They have Eugenio Suarez who is hitting .282 with 32HR’s and 101RBI’s, oh and he missed a month due to injury. They have Joey Votto, who is hitting .284 and is nothing but consistent. Their pitching is improving, with Matt Harvey, Luis Castillo, Anthony DeSclafani, Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, and Raisel Iglesias. And they have a ton more talent with the likes of José Peraza, Dilson Herrera, Phillip Ervin, and the 8th best farm system in the MLB (according to mlb.com). Expect the Reds to call up Hunter Greene and Nick Senzel within the first few weeks, and the Reds will go far. I predict the Reds will win the World Series by 2021.

FTD: Power Rankings From Last Week Of The Season

First, I truly believe no team in the National League will win the World Series. The American League is the most dominant and I truly do not see any of the five teams in the American League, losing the them.

Honorable Mention: Milwaukee Brewers, St. Louis Cardinals, Chicago Cubs, Los Angeles Dodgers (in order from 6-10)

5: The Cleveland Indians (87-68)

Cleveland is Cleveland. They are an amazing hitting team with subpar pitching. Trevor Bauer and Corey Kluber will win them at least a game, but after that they really have no one. Andrew Miller is on and off the DL this season and even when he’s off, he is 2-3 with an over 3.00 ERA which is just not usual for him. This Indians offense is dangerous though, they could make a run but they’d have to get past the Astros, which I just don’t think is possible given the Astros strong pitching and hitting.

4: The New York Yankees (95-60)

The Yankees are who everyone thought they would be. A top 5 hitting team (2nd) who would struggle with pitching (10th in the league) but also has one of the best bullpens in baseball. The Yankees are lower on my list than I’d like, but with the chance that DiDi might be out for the year, it scares me. The Yankees have the two best Rookies in the league with Andújar and Torres, but they have no postseason experience, which scares me as well. With Judge coming back, Voit being dominant, Severino returning to his Cy Young self, this team can do some damage, if they can beat the Athletics next Wednesday. ***

3: The Houston Astros (98-57)

The defending World Series Champions clock in at #3 in this week’s rankings. Many people have them at #1, but I couldn’t bring myself to do that. The Astros are amazing. Their pitching alone could secure them a #1 spot with Verlander, Morton, McCullers, Keuchel, and Cole allowing a league best .217 average hit against them. Their run differential is a +249, which hasn’t been achieved since the 1998 Yankees who had a +309 run differential. The Astros are a scary team, but why don’t I have them higher? More, next week.

2: The Oakland Athletics (94-62)

The A’s have been a shock for many including myself. With a 60-25 record in their last 85 games, the A’s have themselves in prime contention from home field advantage in the Wild-Card game against the Yankees. The A’s are 31-13 in games decided by one run and they have the home run leader, Khris Davis. Davis, who has 45 total home runs, has hit 5HRs with 13RBIs and 15 runs in his last 16 games. They rank fifth in total batting in the league and eighth in pitching. The Yankees vs Athletics is an intriguing matchup and home field advantage is a very important factor, but I think the Athletics get home field, considering their remaining schedule. ***

1: The Boston Red Sox (105-51)

It’s hard not to pick the Boston Red Sox as the favorite for the World Series. I’ve expressed my doubts, but they remain the top stop in my rankings, simply due to the resurgence of Mookie Betts. Mookie is looking more and more like his AL MVP self, after a quiet slump over the last month. The Red Sox have the best hitting, top 5 pitching. They’ll be a scary opponent in October. However, I still do not believe they will win the World Series. More, next week.

***The Yankees vs Athletics will be an extraordinary matchup. What sucks is that it’s only one game. Both teams will likely use a starter to begin. Yankees with Severino, Athletics with Friars. But, the leash will be very short. Both teams have dominant bullpens, so I believe this game will quickly become a bullpen battle. This game comes down to the home field advantage. If the Yankees get it, I like their chances and vice-versa. But it won’t determine the game by itself. Whichever offense can get started sooner, will win this game. My official predication will come in next week’s edition. But, I do believe whoever wins this matchup, will beat the Red Sox in the ALDS.

4 Reasons the Rex Sox Should be Scared for October

1: Starting Pitching

The Boston Red Sox have something this year that they haven’t in a while; they have stellar pitching. Chris Sale has posted another Cy Young caliber year, which is what is expected of him. David Price has been surprisingly efficient, pitching like he did when he was in Detroit. Rick Porcello is pitching possibly the best of his career, posting a record a 17-7. Eduardo Rodriguez is posting his best year ever, with a 12-4 record and a 3.53 ERA. And lastly, Nathan Eovaldi. He is their only weakness, posting a 5-7 record, but even he can give you a solid 6/7 innings. So, what’s wrong with it? Their postseason pitching stats. Eovaldi has no postseason experience, so that alone is scary. Chris Sale is 0-2 with an 8.38 ERA in the postseason. David Price is 2-8 with a 5.03 ERA in the postseason. Lastly, Rick Porcello is 0-3 with a 5.47 ERA in the postseason. The postseason pitching stats do not work in the Red Sox favor.

2: Relief Pitching

Probably the one thing Boston does not have is relief pitching. They are the one contender in the AL (Indians, Athletics, Yankees, Astros) that does not have a consistent bullpen. If their starters continue their trend of sucking in the postseason, the early exit is inevitable. Craig Kimbrel, their closer, is posting a 2.29 ERA. That is not exactly what you want from your closer. Their setup man, Joe Kelly, has a 4.45 ERA. Since All-Star break, the Red Sox have blown 12 out of 24 save opportunities. Before All Star Break, they only blew 6. Their bullpen is resorting back to the way it was the last two seasons in the postseason. With an inexperienced manager, Alex Cora, expect the Sox bullpen and Cora to be under scrutiny, especially if they lose quickly.

3: Injuries

One thing the Boston Red Sox have avoided all year, unlike the Yankees. Boston has had their share of minimal injuries, which could potentially be alarming. Chris Sale, Boston’s ace, has been placed on the DL twice in the last month and a half with shoulder soreness. Both Sale and Red Sox manager, Alex Cora, play if off as precautionary. But, going into the postseason with the potential of him re-injuring his shoulder or him not being 100%, should scare every Red Sox fan, especially with him being the only reliable piece of their rotation. Another person to keep an eye on, is Mookie Betts. Betts, arguably the AL MVP, is playing by far his best year. Hitting .334 with 29 HR, Betts is a must have in the lineup. But, on June 1st, Betts went to the DL. He came back quickly and claims that it won’t affect his play, but on September 16, he re-injured his side and has been in and out of the lineup since. But maybe it is affecting Betts more than he claims. In fact, in his last 30 games, Betts has hit only .272 with 2HR. So, that is something to keep an eye on for the postseason.

4: Red Sox History

Let’s face it, the Red Sox have been killing it since they broke their curse in 2004, but what have they done recently? In the past 5 years, they have won one game in the postseason. So what, this team is different? True, but what happened those years? Pitching. Pitching killed the Red Sox. In 2016, they were projected to win it all, but they got swept in the ALDS. In 2017, they were projected to win it all, but they lost 3-1 to the Astros in the ALDS. In order for this team to be different, they cannot give up 8 runs a game like they did in 2017, with essentially the same pitching staff. They can’t score less than 3 runs a game with a top offense, like they did in 2016. And, they have to have a better than a .143 win percentage. Another thing to be worried about, Mookie Betts, the AL MVP, has never recorded a postseason RBI. In fact, Betts, has only hit .269 in postseason history. The Red Sox have to play the same baseball that they play throughout the year. It does not matter if you win 110 games in the regular season. You have to win 11 in October for people to remember you.

The Red Sox will have to play either the Athletics or the Yankees in the ALDS. They are 2-4 against Oakland this year, with a -5 run differential. They are 9-7 against the Yankees with a +14 run differential. If I am a Red Sox fan, I am rooting very hard for the Athletics. The Yankees are 11-8 against the Red Sox in the postseason, while the Athletics are 14-10 against them. But, with the Yankees getting healthy and their pitching finally finding their groove, I do not think there is a scarier team in baseball right now.

Is Matt Carpenter’s Salsa Really HGH?

I’m not a conspiracy theory guy at all, BUT I am a huge connect the dots guy. So, let’s connect some dots.

Everyone is wondering what the hell happened with the Cardinals. Since losing 2 out of 3 to the Cincinnati Reds in mid-July, right before All-Star break, they’ve hired Mike Shildt and their hitting has exploded. It led them to a league best 22-6 in the month of August and won 11 series straight until losing 2 of 3, again, from the Reds. During their resurgence, the Cardinals had an unlikely hero, Matt Carpenter.

Good/okay Matt Carpenter. The lifetime .270 hitter who will get you 20-25 home runs a year with a sprinkle of RBI’s here and there. Now, to his credit, Carpenter is a solid lead-off hitter, but he struggled to begin his 2018 season. He was only hitting .140 through mid-May, but that soon changed.

Now, as of September 16th, Matt Carpenter is hitting .268 with 35 home runs. He places in the top 5 of league HRs and runs, and also set the Cardinals franchise record of lead-off home runs in franchise history at over 21 in his career. So, what happened? How did he have this resurgence? It’s gotta be the salsa.

After returning from a road trip in mid-May, Carpenter came home to a freshly planted garden from injured teammate, Adam Wainwright. From that garden, came a “secret” salsa which led to an unprecedented streak of 6 straight games with a home run, which extended to 8 home runs in 12 games. After his historic streak, he said “maybe it’s the salsa.”

Now don’t come at me saying streaks like this just happen. In fact, they do, but it’s very rare and ALWAYS comes from power hitters. Stanton did in it 2017. but he also hit 59 HR that season and is a known power hitter. Matt Carpenter is no power hitter. Since mid-May, Carpenter hit 30 home runs which doesn’t seem like a lot but considering his career high in a season was 28 in 2015, but since then his highest was 21. Then this season he hits 35 so far? Something’s up. Now here is the interesting part:

Everyone knows MLB drug tests at the end of the season. So, what has Matt Carpenter done in the last month? Well, it’s been less that satisfying. Carpenter has hit 3 HRs in his last 30 games, batting .230 with 29 strikeouts. And the salsa, well there has been zero mention of that since his slump started. And the Cardinals, who were riding his high, just got swept by the Dodgers and are 2 games back of the 2nd NL wild card spot. Again, I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but these dots connect too well.

2018 Hell In A Cell Review

First off, this PPV was, in my opinion, a little underwhelming. They changed the cell to red, which made it damn near impossible to see through it when the camera was outside the ring, and the matches inside of it, were a B- at best. But let’s not jump ahead, we’ll start with the Pre-Card.

New Day (c) vs Rusev Day

This match was extremely boring. Why would Vince put the New Day against some low tier tag team such as Rusev Day? The New Day and the Usos had the best Hell in a Cell Match in 2017, so why not rerun it or at least let the Bar compete in it? Sure, Rusev is one of the most popular entertainers right now, and his Rusev Day ploy is widely loved, but then they put on a 10-minute match and lose via pinfall? Makes no sense whatsoever. Grade: C-.

Hell in a Cell: Jeff Hardy vs Randy Orton

I’ll be honest, behind Braun and Roman this was my most anticipated matchup and it was mediocre. Hardy hit the offensive early, with attempting to hit a suplex on Orton in between an upside-down ladder, but Orton countered and threw Hardy into it. This got my blood pumping, this is what I wanted. Then Orton got angry, smashed Hardy with a chair, then with a belt, and even put his head between a chair and stomped on it repeatedly. Then it got eerie; they did the one thing possible to turn me off this match. Orton took a screwdriver and put it through Hardy’s gauge on his ear. He twisted it and I was turned away. I hate this gimmick, especially from Orton who was my favorite wrestler until the whole Jinder debacle. I attached a video of this at the end. Hardy countered, beat Orton with a belt which drew blood. He then countered an RKO with a Twist of Fate and hit Orton with a Swanton Bomb, which led to a 2 count. He then set a table and placed a smaller ladder next to a larger one. He landed another Swanton and Orton was on the table, helpless. Hardy then did what everyone kind of expected, he climbed on top of the taller ladder, grabbed the cell and began swinging from it and he jumped. Not surprising, Orton moved, Hardy took a horrible spot and smashed through the table. This was unreal. Hardy looked hurt, which WWE said later he suffered abdominal pain and internal bleeding. Orton, much to the dismay of the ref and the crowd, covered Hardy for the 3-count and it was over. I see this spot that Hardy took as a way for him to step away, maybe for good. His brother just retired, he’s getting old, so I would not be shocked. So, thank you Jeff Hardy. Grade: B-.


Smackdown Women’s Championship

Charlotte Flair (c) vs Becky Lynch

This match had a ton of build and I was really excited for it. I hated it. Charlotte is a natural, selling everything. She has had my favorite match of the year against Asuka, hell, Charlotte even made Carmella look good. Becky is usually good, but I was underwhelmed big time. Everything just seemed rushed and it did not look good to me. Becky won, which I expected, and then she continued her heel turn afterwards by refusing to shake Charlotte’s hand. Grade: C.

Raw Tag Team Championship

Seth Rollins and Dean Ambrose vs Dolph Ziggler and Drew McIntyre

Easily the match of the night, which has become the PPV expectation for any Seth Rollins match. He delivered big time, yet again. Rollins and Ziggler started it, which Rollins took early advantage, then McIntyre called out Ambrose and the two “enforcers” went at it. These two work so well together. The back and forth, the spots, everything they do looks so natural. Ziggler tags back in and so does Rollins and they explodes. Rollins was working Ziggler and Ziggler tagged in McIntyre and it became clear that their plan was to tire Rollins and not allow Ambrose to enter again, which in a way, worked. At least for a while. Rollins tagged Dean at one point, but the ref was distracted so he didn’t see it. A blockbuster then cleared the way for Rollins to tag Ambrose. Ambrose then proceeded to beat the shit out of McIntyre and Ziggler but couldn’t get the count. Rollins then tried his suicidal, which was caught by Ziggler and McIntyre so Ambrose did it and finished the maneuver. Rollin’s landed a Falcon’s Arrow on Ziggler and Ziggler rolled out of the count at 2.9999 seconds. Rollins then lines up the Curb Stomp but it’s avoided. It continues back and forth until the Shield tries a double superplex which failed then a few blind tags were made so Rollins and Ziggler were the legal wrestlers. McIntyre knocked out Dean and then hit a Claymore on Rollins as he was lifting Ziggler which knocks then both out, Ziggler had a hand over Rollins, got the count and retained the titles. McIntyre then carried Ziggler out of the arena. This isjust the beginning of many fights between the two, and I am so excited for it. Grade: A.

WWE Championship

AJ Styles (c) vs Samoa Joe

To be honest, this sucked. Samoa Joe sucks, this AJ Styles is so boring to watch. I had no interest in this. There was a ton of action, and we have to watch it again because it ended in controversy with Styles retaining on a rollup even though Joe claims Styles tapped out to the Coquina Clutch (which he did) so Joe ran like a baby to Paige and it looks like we’re getting a No DQ match between the two, probably in Australia. I still won’t care. AJ Styles has not had a good feud since John Cena and the 2017 Royal Rumble. I just hate this feud and the whole Samoa Joe calling out AJ’s wife and kid. I have no interest. Let’s just fast forward this to AJ losing to the Miz and then we get The Miz vs Daniel Bryan at Mania. Grade: D.

But he did tap out?

Mix Tag Team Match

Bri Bella and Daniel Bryan vs The Miz and Maryse

To be honest, I was excited for this match only because it was another chance to see the Miz vs Daniel Bryan. I knew Bri and Maryse wouldn’t do much due to Maryse having a kid recently, and that held true. Miz and Bryan essentially had a replicated SummerSlam match with a few actions from Bri beating up the Miz. It was okay, it was a silly match and a silly ending with Bri attempting to roll up Maryse but she flipped it and the Miz and Maryse won via pinfall. This keeps the rivalry alive between Miz and Bryan, as they fight again in Australia. So, in typical WWE fashion, they’ll ruin a good feud that everyone wanted to see. Grade: C.

Raw Women’s Championship

Ronda Rousey (c) vs Alexa Bliss

This match was a lot better than I anticipated. Alexa brought out Mickie James and Alicia Fox out with her, while Rousey brought Natalya. It could’ve been over very soon when Rousey attempted an early armbar, but James pulled Alexa away, countering the move. Alexa actually put up a really good fight, considering being killed at SummerSlam. She attacked Rousey’s injured ribs a ton, attempted a dive which Rousey caught and caused Alexa to take out her team ringside. Alexa kept going at the ribs and Rousey attempted to reverse it but failed the first time and then counter a superplex and Alexa hit a dropkick. Alexa then wrapped Rousey around the ring, further injuring the ribs. Bliss started taunted Rousey and damn she should not have. Rousey went full ‘roid rage and landing tons of combinations on Alexa, making her weak and eventually led to anarmbar for Rousey as she retained the championship. A much better fight than the Smackdown, which shocked me. Grade: A-.

Raw Universal Championship

Roman Reigns (c) vs Braun Strowman

Special Referee: Mick Foley

This was a huge clusterfuck. The match was subpar at best. Braun chose his cash in at a PPV but set it up weeks in advance, so he had a healthy, prepared Reigns which made no sense. It was your typical Braun is so big and strong match followed by a few holy shit how is Roman alive and landing Superman punches. Honestly, Braun won this match twice but Mick Foley claims he didn’t get Reigns for the full 3 seconds. After the second “2.9” count, Braun sets up a table and Roman spears him through it (very predictable) then all hell breaks loose. For some reason McIntyre and Ziggler come storming down trying to get into the Cell, which of course is followed by Rollins and Ambrose right behind them. They fight forever and for some reason climb to the top of the cell and fight up there (which was awesome, I’ll admit that). Ambrose brings a stick and beats the shit out of Ziggler and McIntyre grabs it, which causes Ambrose and him to fight continuously. Then Rollins and Ziggler climb down, hit each off the Cell and they take out the announcer tables. Then out of nowhere, Brock Lesnar decides to show up. He kicks in the Hell in the Cell door and explodes in there, knocking out both Reigns and Strowman causing the match to end in a no contest. This match was crazy, because of the run-ins. I, for one, am pumped about the future Shield vs Braun/Ziggler/McIntyre matches and storyline. But what the hell is Brock doing? Hopefully we’ll get some answers on Raw tonight. Grade: C+ (would’ve been a D without the Run-ins).

Overall Score: C+/B-. The PPV was not bad, I may be more critical than most. I just hate the current Smackdown title situations, I feel as if they are misusing everyone. Why wouldn’t the Bar or the Usos face the New Day? It would’ve been the match of the night. Becky and Charlotte was boring, and AJ needs to lose the title. They butchered the whole Nakaura feud and they’re ruining Samoa Joe as well. Hopefully things change, see you for the WWE Super Show-Down October 6th.