A Chase for the Ages

  1. You have chosen to ignore posts from Marioguy424. Show Marioguy424's posts

    A Chase for the Ages

     Overall, in the last dozen or so years, pitching has grown more dominant due to steroid testing removing most (but not all) juiced-up sluggers from the league. Case in point: in 2000, the league E.R.A. was at a rather high 4.77, and the A.L.'s was even higher, at 4.91. Last year, the MLB E.R.A. was significantly lower, at 4.01, which was raised by the A.L's mark of 4.08. Yet, despite 10-strikeout games becoming more common for aces and no hitters being pitched with greater frequency than we have seen in decades, the highlight of this summer is a batting chase.

     I am assuming that, being Red Sox fans, most of you know about Carl Yastrzemski's historic 1967 triple crown campaign, when he led the league with a .326 average and 121 RBI, and tied Harmon Killebrew for the league lead with 44 home runs. Because Yaz had a stake for first in all 3 categories (you can tie for a league lead and still be considered the "leader"), he won the triple crown. Despite the fact that it had also been won the previous year (by Frank Robinson), the next 44 years went by without a winner. Then, last year, Miguel Cabrera outran rookie Mike Trout for the batting title and slugger Josh Hamilton for the homer and RBI titles to win the triple crown (the first Tiger to win one since Ty Cobb). This was enough to give the slow footed, somewhat erratic Cabrera MVP honors despite Trout's five-toolness.

     Now, usually, a triple crown requires two things: a career year, and luck. Babe Ruth, the best hitter of all time, never even won a triple crown: his sole batting title came in a year when someone else lead the league in RBI. Rogers Hornsby and Ted Williams, two of the most dominant hitters of all time, are the only two people to ever win multiple triple crowns. Hornsby won them in 1922 and 1925 (and came within two homers of one in 1921, when he led the league in average and RBI but his 21 home runs were second to the league lead of 23.) Hornsby won the MVP in 1925, and again in 1929, but there was no NL MVP in 1922, or else it would have certainly gone to Hornsby. Ted William's 2 came in 1942 and 1947, but he likely would have won one or two more had he not gone to war (hey! I rhymed!), and came close in 1941. His .406 average (obviously) and his 37 home runs (not as obviously) led the league, but his 120 RBI fell short of Dimaggio's total of 125. Amazingly, Williams' 2 triple crowns, .400 season, and 2 MVP seasons were 5 seperate seasons! Williams lost 2 MVPs to Dimaggio despite Williams doing better both times, and somehow lost an MVP to Joe Gordon. The sportswriters, of course, never liked Ted, and he never liked them.

     However, it looks like Cabrera is following the footsteps of those two great hitters, and not other triple crown winners: his .365 average at the break, if sustained for the rest of the season (which is no small feat, even for a hitter of Cabrera's caliber), would be over 20 points higher than his career high of .344, which he achieved in 2011 as the first of 2, and likely 3, consecutive batting titles. It is also over 20 points above the NL leading Yadier Molina's .341 and over 40 points above the second highest average in the AL, owned by Mike Trout at .322. He has an MLB leading 95 RBI, and other than Chris Davis, no one is even near him- after Davis's 93 RBI, the next closest total is Paul Goldschmidt's 77, and, in the AL, Edwin Encarnacion's 72. Having less games played than RBI, he is on pace for a ridiculous 165 or so RBI. He also has 30 homeruns, and, having played 93 games, that puts him on pace for about 51 homeruns, which would be the second highest single-season total by a third baseman ever. He also has a league-leading 73 runs, which puts him on pace for about 126 runs- not as great as 165 RBI, but still great.

     51 homeruns, 165 RBI, 126 runs, 101 walks. A slash line of .365/.458/.674. An OPS of 1.132. That would be a season for the ages, and a practical guarantee of an MVP award- except for the season Chris Davis has thrown together.

     Everyone who followed the Rangers knew that Chris Davis had power. The problem was, he wiffed at rates that make Adam Dunn look like Ty Cobb. As a result, the Rangers traded him in 2011 in a package for Koji Uehara. In 2012, for the Orioles, Chris Davis had 85 RBI- a good total for a first season with over 500 plate appearances- and 33 home runs, a very impressive total for the post-steroid era. This year, along with a .315 BA, he is second to Cabrera in RBI with 93, and he is actually AHEAD of Cabrera with 37 home runs at the break- tied with Reggie Jackson for the AL record for home runs pre-break, and just 2 behind Barry Bonds' tainted record of 39 before the break. This puts him on pace for EXACTLY 62 homeruns- which would break the AL record (and, in the eyes of a significant proportion of baseball followers, the true MLB record) of 61 home runs, set by Roger Maris in 1961. However, Jackson fell off after the break in his big power year, hitting only ten after the break, when he had to hit 25 in order to break Maris's then-new mark. Of course, Davis doesn't have the track record that Jackson does, and wiffs just as much as Jackson. Davis could break the mark, but it would take a second half as ridiculous as his first. Now, Davis has the lead in HR and is right behind Cabrera in RBI, but is nowhere near Cabrera in average. Therefore, Davis has no chance of winning the crown himself, but is just playing spoiler to Cabrera's hopes of winning an unprecedented second straight crown.

     I am asking the following questions:

     1: Who do you think will end up winning the MVP: Cabrera, Davis, or someone else, and why?

     2: Do you think that Cabrera will win a triple crown? If not, does Davis have any chance, or is he just playing spoiler?

     3: Will Davis break the AL mark? If so, would you consider that the real home run record, or do you consider 73 to be the record, despite steroid use?

     4: Both the Tigers and the Orioles have a chance of making the playoffs. If the Red Sox make the playoffs, who would you rather face? Keep in mind that there are other players besides Cabrera and Davis.

     5: Do you think that either of them are using steroids? The last time we had a chase like this was... Sosa and McGuire. Cabrera has a track record of excellent hitting, and Davis has changed his swing significantly, so I would say no, but I would like to hear your opinions.

     
  2. You have chosen to ignore posts from fl+adam,. Show fl+adam,'s posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

    Cabreara would win the MVp easily, and is the tougher guy to face by far.  73 is still the record.  How many of those 73 came against pitchers who were juicing?  Davis will not hit 62 anyhow.  Davis has a good chance to play spoiler to Cabreara in the triple crown.

     
  3. You have chosen to ignore posts from southpaw777. Show southpaw777's posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

    Good thread topic. Good information as well.

    1: Who do you think will end up winning the MVP: Cabrera, Davis, or someone else, and why?

    Miggy should win the MVP, but what Davis is doing is pretty special.

     2: Do you think that Cabrera will win a triple crown? If not, does Davis have any chance, or is he just playing spoiler?

    I think he has a chance if Davis falls of in the 2nd half. He will have some competition with RBI.

     3: Will Davis break the AL mark? If so, would you consider that the real home run record, or do you consider 73 to be the record, despite steroid use?

    I think hes in the 50's, but doesnt get to 62. Im kinda in the middle on the record. Bonds was obviously cheating and although a few pitchers were on the juice, not everyone he faced was. In fact Id say more were clean than not. With that said, Id lean towards virewing 61 as the true record.

     4: Both the Tigers and the Orioles have a chance of making the playoffs. If the Red Sox make the playoffs, who would you rather face? Keep in mind that there are other players besides Cabrera and Davis.

    Both witll be tough and give us a battle. I dont think it matters.

     5: Do you think that either of them are using steroids? The last time we had a chase like this was... Sosa and McGuire. Cabrera has a track record of excellent hitting, and Davis has changed his swing significantly, so I would say no, but I would like to hear your opinions.

    As of right now, I think both are clean. Both are big guys and have proved to have legit power in the past. Davis has worked on some mechanics and over the last couple years has really put it all together. I believe they are clean.

     
  4. You have chosen to ignore posts from slasher9. Show slasher9's posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

    1.  Cabrera

    2.  No one will win triple crown this year

    3.  No, davis will not hit more than 55.  regardless, 73 is the record and he wont come close to that.

    4.  Orioles.  it's the devil we know.

    5.  it wouldnt surprise me in the least if one or both of them were using something.  i would like to think they are clean.

     
  5. You have chosen to ignore posts from Marioguy424. Show Marioguy424's posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

     Well, these are my opinions on the matter, since I only answered one of my own questions:

     1: Cabrera wins the MVP. They are both on playoff caliber teams, but Cabrera is more than a bomb machine: he is the best hitter in baseball, period. Hitting evolves, and Cabrera has taken the former dominance of Pujols and adjusted it to the American League, which Pujols himself has been unable to do. NL pitching having a lower ERA is the result of the lack of a DH: AL pitching is better, partly as a response to the DH. In particular, AL pitchers have more velocity: this means that they strike out more hitters, but that the hits they give up go farther, because the speed that goes into the bat comes off of the bat. Cabrera, with the brute strength he has, can now use a somewhat heavier bat than before to ensure better contact: he is strong enough to achieve a quick bat without a light bat. This is why his strikeouts have gone down and homers have gone up with the Tigers: while on the Marlins, he probably (this is mainly guesswork, so don't quote me) used a lighter bat so that he could hit the ball farther, because NL pitchers have less velocity. Of course, this meant that there was less surface area on the bat with which he could hit the ball. As a result, strikeouts were more common for him and his average was a little down. With less hits come less homers, as you can see with Cabrera: his career high for homers in Florida was 34, and he has either matched or surpassed that in all but one of his years in Detroit. Using a bigger bat to make more contact against slower fastballs will raise your average but push down home run totals, as shown by his '06 season: he had a then-career high in average, with .339, but had his only full season with less than 30 home runs that year. The AL has more tools to use in order to utilize a hitter's full potential, and from the evidence, it seems that Cabrera has used those tools to perfection. This has resulted in the best clean season we have seen in a long time, and a fairly obvious MVP choice. Davis has been a great hitter this season, but Cabrera is putting up Foxx-like numbers.

     2: I don't know. Davis could fall off, but so could Cabrera, so I'll leave this up in the air. If Cabrera doesn't win, no one will: Davis has no chance at the batting title, so is merely playing spoiler.

     3: Like 2, I don't know. Davis has been hot lately, and is on pace for 62, but paces are not always trustworthy. I do consider 61 to be the mark to beat. Bonds was a great player even before steroids, but because (nearly) every part of his body grew 2 years before his record season, I just cannot respect that particular mark. 73 is not humanly possible: in fact, I am still amazed that multiple people managed 60 bombs without steroids. Maris got an extended season and expanded league that could boost his totals, and even Ruth needed to hit 17 home runs in September to reach 60. In my opinion, if you purposely upgrade your natural abilities, you have violated both the moral and technical bans against cheating: Maris could not control the league's size or season's length, so it is not his fault, and Rose's bets on games did not improve his play, so he should be in the Hall of Fame. Bonds, however, willingly violated an unofficial code against upgrading performance and actually used an artificial peformance upgrade to break a record, so he is guilty of cheating. Of course, there is not much of a point in arguing this: 61 is still the AL record, giving Davis a mark to shoot at. Therefore, I respect the opinions of those who disagree with me.

     4: The Orioles. They have engineered their own rivalry with us, and they always seem to challenge us more than most other teams, Yankees included. Facing the Tigers would be pure business, although they do have more star power than Baltimore.

     5: Cabrera is a Hall of Fame hitter in his prime who, like I explain, has manipulated the secrets of hitting in the post steroid-era American League to the extreme, so I would be shocked if he was on steroids, even with the season he is having. Davis is a little more likely, but he has refined his swing considerably and is the same size (plus a few pounds, but that makes no difference) that he was in high school, so I doubt it for him as well. If either of them is juicing, though, it is definitely Davis.

     
  6. You have chosen to ignore posts from TheExaminer. Show TheExaminer's posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

    Davis will cool off. Thats one thing I like about his monster first half. No way he continues at this pace. Anyone here believe hes actually going to hit 70+ HR? Not me, and if he does, MLB should meet him at home plate with a cyrenge and lab kit.

     
  7. You have chosen to ignore posts from notin. Show notin's posts

    Re: A Chase for the Ages

    1: Who do you think will end up winning the MVP: Cabrera, Davis, or someone else, and why?

     

    Cabrera is looking like the MVP.  The dark horse for the award is Mike Trout, especially since voters today are embracing the use of advanced metrics as opposed to simply looking at home runs and RBI.  As it stands now, Trout does have more WAR than Davis and is second in MLB, behind Cabrera.

     

    2: Do you think that Cabrera will win a triple crown? If not, does Davis have any chance, or is he just playing spoiler?

     

    Doubtful he wins the Triple Crown again, ironic because he is crushing last year’s numbers.   But Davis has a very good chance to take HRs and even RBI from him.  Baltimore is a higher scoring team than Detroit, and Davis has that advantage going forward.

     

    3: Will Davis break the AL mark? If so, would you consider that the real home run record, or do you consider 73 to be the record, despite steroid use?

     

    He certainly could break the AL mark, but it is unlikely.  In 1989, Kevin Mitchell his 31HRs before the break, and tailed off with only 16 after.  Davis is very much like Mitchell as a hitter, and will probably drop off similarly.  The Oriole record is 50 (Brady Anderson, 1996) and I see him breaking that.

     

    The MLB record is 73, regardless of any opinions regarding steroid use.  Baseball did not have a solid policy prior to 2003 for steroid use, and it can be questioned if any of the activities broke the extremely lax rules, which basically said “don’t break the law” and were not aimed at steroid use, but implemented in 1991 to clean up MLB’s extremely rampant cocaine problem. 

     

    And baseball rules, even those regarding home runs, are far from consistent.  Do we consider Babe Ruth to the single season pre-foul pole leader in HRs?  Wasn’t that an even harder accomplishment worthy of any recognition?  Don’t any of baseball’s grey area rules, such as a lack of a standard size playing field, influence records moreso than any drug use?  Arguments like these are put forth by Bill Jenkinson in his book “The Year Babe Ruth Hit 104 Home Runs.”  Yet we think only steroids matter for home run records, for some odd reason

     

    It is interesting how baseball is the only sport where we think performance from steroid users needs to be segregated.  What is the non-steroid career sack record in the NFL?  Are we sure it is Bruce Smith, who certainly played in an era rampant with steroid use?   In 1980, Lester Hayes intercepted 13 passes, missing the single-season record by one.  Had he broken it, would we have a “Non-Stickum” interception record still held by Night Train Lane?

     

    4: Both the Tigers and the Orioles have a chance of making the playoffs. If the Red Sox make the playoffs, who would you rather face? Keep in mind that there are other players besides Cabrera and Davis.

     

    The Sox are probably better off facing the Tigers, despite the edge Detroit has over Baltimore in SP.  The Tiger bullpen is weak and the lineup has much less depth.

     

    5: Do you think that either of them are using steroids? The last time we had a chase like this was... Sosa and McGuire. Cabrera has a track record of excellent hitting, and Davis has changed his swing significantly, so I would say no, but I would like to hear your opinions.

    Both players are innocent until proven guilty, so they are clean until testing or confessions (yeah, right) tell us otherwise.  The comparison to Sosa / McGwire is way off base, as both were then chasing a 37 year old record and one of the “magic numbers” in baseball history.  That we have seen 61 broken several times already does lessen the impact.  So if both are merely chasing a HR title, how exactly is this different than, say, last year’s home run battle between Cabrera and Hamilton?  The Triple Crown was at stake then, too.  And unlike now, most of us had never seen a hitting Triple Crown before. 

    “Listen to the mustn'ts, child. Listen to the don'ts. Listen to the shouldn'ts, the impossibles, the won'ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me. Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

    -Shel Silverstein

     

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