I am a sports and music fanatic from Farmington, CT, currently attending Saint Joseph's University in Connecticut. I am mainly interested in College Basketball, CIAC High School Basketball, and Major League Baseball, though I follow just about all sports closely.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Josh Beckett: Post Season God, or Regular Season underachiever?

Personally, I'm kind of wondering about Josh Beckett right now. It's like the story Ray Allen once told about Jim Calhoun in a speech that he gave once. According to Ray, Calhoun once told his players to reach their hands in the air as high as they could. Everyone raised their hands. Then Calhoun asked if they could raise them higher, and then higher, and higher. The players all continued to raise their hands higher to impress their coach. But Calhoun wasn't impressed. He, instead wondered why they couldn't raise their hands to their highest the first time like he had told them to. This is what I'm feeling with Josh Beckett right now.

Now we all know how good Beckett has been in his young postseason career, throwing an amazing 3 postseason shutouts in just 6 postseason starts. We also know that Beckett is a strong contender for the Cy Young Award this year after winning 20 games and acheiving an E.R.A. of about 3.20, but from the way he pitched yesterday, his numbers should have been much, much better than that. I don't think I've ever witnessed a pitching performance quite as strong as Beckett's last night, not Buchholtz's no hitter, Schilling's ALCS bloody sock performance, or the Pedro shutout I saw live in 2004. Hitters were already in a whole when the went up to the plate for Los Angeles, as almost no matter what Beckett would get ahead 1-0. His fastball was reaching 98 on the gun, his sinker was dropping off and staying at 96 MPH, and his off-speed pitches were extremely effective as well. With the way he was pitching yesterday, he wasn't ever going to give up a run, no matter how long he had to pitch, but yet he still gave up more than 3 runs per 9 innings in the regular season.

The question to pose is, why does Josh Beckett appear so much better in the postseason than in the regular season. I understand the concept of adrenaline, but as a Red Sock he should feel that same adrenaline rush in Yankee games, but he does at time struggle against the Yankees during the regular season. Maybe he's just conserving his energy in the regular season, waiting for October to come the whole time. If so, I respect him for that, and if he can put up those kind of regular season numbers with even better postseason numbers, than I'll be happy. But, I don't think Beckett's the type of guy to do that. Maybe it's just pure luck. Maybe he always just happens to have his best stuff during October, or maybe it's the colder weather. Whatever it is that's advancing his play, in one way I can't say I mind it, but I'm still confused as to why he isn't as dominant during the regular season. I'd love to see Beckett's final stats in a season if he threw a shutout every other game in the regular season like he does in the playoffs. We'll probably never know.

Here's a stat to close out with that absolutely blows my mind. In the postseason Josh Beckett has thrown 3 shutouts in 6 starts, a 1:2 ratio. But amazingly in regular season play he has only thrown 2 shutouts in 166 starts, a 1:83 ratio. Explain that.

Monday, October 1, 2007

Major League Baseball Post Season Awards

So, as we wrap up this long and stressful Major League Baseball season and get prepared for the always exiting postseason, there is one subject from the regular season that still remains. The MLB's awards races this year are tighter than ever, with so many people having such superb years, and it's my job to only predict who should win each award. There will be some bias in here, but, I don't really care.

American League MVP:

Alex Rodriguez, 3B NYY .314 54 HR 156 RBI
Now of course I hate to admit it, but A-Rod's winning of the MVP award should probably be very close to unanimous. He absolutely destroyed the rest of the league in Home Runs and RBI's, and had an extrememly respectable batting average as well. Maybe some crazy Tiger fan on the panel will give Magglio a 1st place vote, but whoever does deserves to be smacked across the face. Remember though, this is the regular season MVP, so it won't count his future choke in the playoffs

Mike Lowell, 3B BOS .321 24 HR 121 RBI
Magglio Ordonez, OF DET.363 28 HR 139 RBI
Vladimir Guerrero, OF LAA .324 27 HR 125 RBI

American League Cy Young:

Josh Beckett, SP BOS 20-7 3.27 ERA 194 K
Now, this may be where a little bit of the bias has to come in. As much as I'll be the first to say Beckett probably hasn't been the most dominant pitcher in the American League, I think that reaching that valuable 20 win marker will put him over the edge. Also, Sabathia will split votes with Carmona, while Lackey and Escobar may split some votes, giving Beckett the edge.

C.C. Sabathia, SP CLE 19-7 3.21 ERA 209 K
Fausto Carmona, SP CLE 19-8 3.06 ERA 137 K
John Lackey, SP LAA 19-9 3.01 ERA 179 K

American League Rookie of the Year:

Dustin Pedroia, 2B BOS .317 8 HR 50 RBI
Pedroia should be an obvious choice here for rookie of the year, as he has been one of the better hitters on one of the strongest teams in baseball heading to the postseason. He plays better than his above average stats show, and is on a popular, winning team, unlike some of the other contenders. He may split some votes with Daisuke or Okajima, but should get enough to win the award.

Brian Bannister, SP KCR 12-9 3.87 ERA 77 K
Delmon Young, OF TBD .288 13 HR 93 RBI
Joakim Soria, RP KCR 2-3 2.48 ERA 75 K 17 SV

American League Rolaids Reliever of the Year

J.J Putz, RP SEA 6-1 1.38 ERA 82 K 40 SV
Although not on a playoff team, Putz showed throughout the entire season (minus the all star game) that he was the most dominant reliever in the major leagues. His WHIP was an incredible .698, as he walked just 13 batters in the 71 innings he pitched. Putz should be the obvious choice for this award, so obvious that even my Papelbon bias is beaten out.

Francisco Rodriguez, RP LAA 5-2 2.81 ERA 40 SV
Bobby Jenks, RP CHW 3-5 2.77 ERA 40 SV
Jonathan Papelbon, RP BOS 1-3 1.85 ERA 37 SV

American League Silver Sluggers
C: Jorge Posada, NYY
1B: Carlos Pena, TBD
2B: Placido Polanco, DET
SS: Derek Jeter, NYY
3B: Alex Rodriguez, NYY
OF: Magglio Ordonez, DET
OF: Vladimir Guerrero, LAA
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
DH: David Ortiz, BOS

American League Gold Glove
C: Kenji Johjima, SEA
1B: Kevin Youkilis, BOS
2B: Placido Polanco, DET
3B: Akinori Iwamura, TBD
SS: Orlando Cabrera, LAA
OF: Coco Crisp, BOS
OF: Ichiro Suzuki, SEA
OF: Melky Cabrera, NYY
P: Chien Ming Wang, NYY

National League MVP

Matt Holliday, OF COL .340 36 HR 135 RBI
This decision may change if the Rockies don't win their playoff game tonight, but for now it's a pretty sure fire thing that this guy deserves the MVP. He's put up the best numbers out of any hitters in the league, and the way he's led the Rockies to a possible playoff spot with such a dramatic late season run has been remarkable. His biggest competition would have been David Wright or Prince Fielder, both of who did not make the playoffs.

David Wright, 3B NYM .325 30 HR 107 RBI
Prince Fielder, 1B MIL .288 50 HR 119 RBI
Jimmy Rollins, SS PHI .296 30 HR 94 RBI

National League Cy Young:

Jake Peavy, SP SDP 19-6 2.36 ERA 234 K
Although he does play in the National League, Peavy has definately been the most dominant pitcher in all of baseball this year. His ERA of 2.36 is almost a full point lower than Beckett's in the American League, and unlike any of the contenders in the AL his has over 210 strikeouts. If he struggles in the one game playoff today, though, his chances may be hurt.

Brad Penny, SP LAD 16-4 3.03 ERA 135 K
Brandon Webb, SP ARI 18-10 3.01 ERA 194 K
Carlos Zambrano, SP CHC 18-13 3.95 ERA 177 K

National League Rookie of the Year:

Ryan Braun, 3B MIL .324 34 HR 97 RBI
Obviously this year rookies have made a much bigger impact in the National League than in the American League, and this guy has been by far the best. Although his fielding has been subpar at best, his offensive numbers put him almost MVP worthy, and is the best offensive performance from a National League Rookie since Albert Pujols in 2001.

Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL .287 24 HR 98 RBI
Josh Hamilton, OF CIN .292 19 HR 47 RBI
Hunter Pense, OF HOU .322 17 HR 69 RBI

National League Rolaids Reliever of the Year

Jose Valverde, RP ARI 1-4 2.66 ERA 78 K 47 SV
This was a very close one for me between Valverde, who had more saves, and Takashi Saito, who had a better ERA. I went with Valverde because he led all of baseball this year with 47 saves, put up a pretty dominant ERA, and was on a winning team. The funny thing is that this year Valverde almost put up as many saves (47) as he had his previous four seasons as

Takashi Saito, RP LAD 2-1 1.40 ERA 78 K 39 SV
Francisco Cordero, RP MIL 0-4 2.98 ERA 86 K 44 SV
Trevor Hoffman, RP SDP 4-4 2.53 ERA 44 K 42 SV

National League Silver Sluggers:
C: Russell Martin, LAD
1B: Prince Fielder, MIL
2B: Chase Utley, PHI
SS: Jimmy Rollins, PHI
3B: David Wright, NYM
OF: Matt Holliday, COL
OF: Carlos Lee, HOU
OF: Barry Bonds, SFG
P: Micah Owings, ARI

National League Gold Glove
C: Josh Bard, SDP
1B: Todd Helton, COL
2B: Brandon Phillips, CIN
SS: Omar Vizquel, SFG
3B: Ryan Zimmerman, WAS
OF: Aaron Rowand, PHI
OF: Jeff Francouer, ATL
OF: Andruw Jones, ATL
P: Greg Maddux, SDP

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Pat Kelly's NFL Power Rankings: Week 3

Okay, you'll learn as this blog get's started that I have a mini obsession with lists, and for many of my posts I will make a ranking to get my point across. You may like it, you may not, but I really don't care because that's how I like to do it and this is my blog. I'll be trying to do a week-by-week power ranking for the NFL. This year the NFL has been so interesting because there has been a huge shift in the powers in the NFL as many teams that had struggled in the past few years (Houston, San Francisco, Green Bay) are potentially playoff teams, while some of the powerhouses of last year (San Diego, Chicago, New Orleans) are struggling a bit. I'm not going to say that my list isn't biased, because it is completely based on what I believe, but I personally think my biased opinions are prtty accurate (maybe it's just me). Have a look at the list:

1. New England Patriots (3-0)
I don't think there's any argument about this one. Cheating or not, the New England Patriots are by far the most dominant team in football this year.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (3-0)
Maybe this is biased because the Steelers absolutely crapped on my 49ers last week, but the Steelers are easily among the leagues best.
3. Dallas Cowboys (3-0)
Tony Romo has shown that he is among the elite quarterbacks in the NFL, and the defense has done enough to stay with the elite teams. By far the best in the NFC.
4. Indianapolis Colts (3-0)
Peyton Manning may have the best offense in football, but back to back close games at Houston and Tennessee, put them a step behind Dallas and Pittsburgh.
5. Green Bay Packers (3-0)
Although there may be better teams out there, Green Bay is the only other undefeated teams, and San Diego and Philadelphia are not cheap wins.
6. Tennesse Titans (2-1)
My favorite sleeper team. I think the Titans, and Vince Young, proved a great point by beating New Orleanes by a lot on Monday night.
7. San Diego Chargers (1-2)
Definately the best of the teams with only 1 win. Once Phillip Rivers gets things figured out, look for the chargers to go on a huge roll and win 12-13 games.
8. Houston Texans (2-1)
I like the Texans this year. They really did need a change of pace at quarterback and Matt Shaub is doing a good job at that role. Look for a possible 10 win season.
9. Seattle Seahawks (2-1)
Should be a great game as Seattle goes into San Francisco next week. Should prove who's the best team in the NFC West.
10. San Francisco 49ers (2-1)
Gave Pittsburgh a decent game up until the end, and Alex Smith, although he has not excelled, has shown he can win close games. Plus, they're my team so I've got to rank them high.
11. Baltimore Ravens (2-1)
Many other lists will have them higher but I don't see anything in them. I just can't see a team with Kyle Boller playing as their best QB, winning more than 9 games this year. Good chance for a Wild Card though.
12. Carolina Panthers (2-1)
Haven't beaten a team that has won a game yet, but Carolina has a chance to contend in their weak NFC South division. Needed to win at home against Houston though.
13. Chicago Bears (1-2)
Brian Griese won't bring anything special to the table, but that's not what the Bears need. They need a quarterback who won't turn the ball over and let the defense do the work.
14. Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1)
Jacksonville proved that they could beat a decent team with there win at Mile High last week, but Week 1's loss at home against Tennessee hurt them.
15. Philadelphia Eagles (1-2)
Donavon McNabb and the Philadelphia offense showed me something by abosolutely destroying a weak Detroit defense. Now let's see them beat someone decent.
16. Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2-1)
Tampa Bay hasn't beaten a team that's won a game yet, but both New Orleans and St. Louis are respectable wins. An upset at Carolina this week could be big.
17. Washington Redskins (2-1)
Yes, the Redskins are this high. They were undefeated going into this week's tough loss at home against the Giants, and winning at Philadelphia on Monday night last week helped out their spot.
18. Cincinatti Bengals (1-2)
Probably will drop to 1-3 next week as they play New England, but look for Carson and the boys to get hot. As long as they get some defense, they should be okay.
19. New Orleans Saints (0-3)
Easily the best team remaining without a win. Still look for New Orleans to make a playoff run as there toughest competition in there division is the Houston Texans.
20. Arizona Cardinals (1-2)
Ah, NFC West bias. To go in and almost beat the San Francisco 49ers at their own field, should rank this team higher, but I'll keep it at 20 for now.
21. New York Giants (1-2)
The Giants defense at least showed to be better than that of an average Division 1AA college team last week, but it's not like the offense is super either.
22. Denver Broncos (2-1)
The Broncos record is a lot better than they've played. Their two wins were both close games against horrible teams (Buffalo and Oakland) and couldn't even stay close with Jacksonville.
23. Detroit Lions (2-1)
Detroit was unbelievably 2-0 going into their annihalation by Philadelphia, but neither of their wins came against high quality opponents.
24. St. Louis Rams (0-3)
The Rams haven't look very good in there first three weeks, but with Steven Jackson and Marc Bulger they are bound to win some games.
25. Kansas City Chiefs (1-2)
Losses to Houston and Chicago put them at 0-2, and it took a tough win at home against a weak Minnesota team to pick up a win. Look for a rebuilding year.
26. New York Jets (1-2)
The Jets are actually the second best team in their division. That's really not saying very much.
27. Minnesota Vikings (1-2)
When you lose to Detroit and Kansas City in back to back weeks, you aren't a good team. Plus, Minnesota's only win is against Atlanta.
28. Cleveland Browns (1-2)
You would think a team would gain a lot of momentum after scoring 50+ points on an above average team, but they didn't...at all.
29. Buffalo Bills (0-3)
They've played 3 possible playoff contenders, but got absolutely destroyed by 2 of them.
30. Oakland Raiders (1-2)
Better than last year, still not very good. Maybe they'll win 3 games this year.
31. Miami Dolphins (0-3)
It's been such a horrible string of events for the Dolphins since Ricky Williams "retired", and they aren't looking like they're going in the right direction yet.
32. Atlanta Falcons (0-3)
Have fun, Atlanta. The last time an NFL superstar had such a sudden halt to his career was in Miami with Ricky Williams. See above.
Well, this is my list for this week. You may agree, you probably disagree, but who cares, you're wrong. I'm pumped for Week 4 as we have really no good games except my Niners playing Seattle. But you can never trust Fox, they'll probably put Philadelphia vs. Detroit on again!