The 2010 World Series gives us a great pairing between two teams that few expected to be here. The San Fransisco Giants defied the odds by beating the two-time National League Champs, a team that also had the best regular season record in Major League Baseball this year. The Texas Rangers surprised many by eliminating the teams with the two best regular season records in the American League. The Giants-Rangers series will be present us with the age-old battle of good pitching versus good hitting. Does good pitching beat good hitting? I say yes!
2010 World Series Champions: San Fransisco Giants. The young gunslingers of the San Fransisco Giants will be challenged by the young and exciting line-up of the Texas Rangers, but pitching will prevail. Home field advantage will play a major role in this series. Where are the Rangers going to hide Vladimir Guerrero in the field when they play in San Fransisco? They need his bat, but will his defense pose a liability? How are the Rangers’ pitchers going to handle the task of hitting in the 9th spot? Can they bunt a man over to 2nd, or 3rd? The Rangers’ speed will create problems, but they’ll need base runners, and base runners may be few and far between against the Giants’ pitching. If it weren’t for Cliff Lee, I’d say the Giants would take this series in five games, but Lee will be tough to beat and will likely see three starts in a seven game series. And when they play in Texas the Giants will get an extra bat on an offense that always seems to do just enough to win. Buster Posey will show everyone why he should be the NL Rookie of the Year and Giant pitching will stifle the hot bats of the Rangers.
Advantage Giants: San Fransisco Giants in 7 games.
ALCS Winner: Texas Rangers. I was surprised that the Twins were unable to overcome the Yankees’ starting pitching issues in their ALDS series. I was not surprised that the Rangers defeated the Rays in their ALDS series. The Rangers will do what the Twins could not, expose the holes in the Yankees’ starting rotation, and on the other side of the coin, the Rangers have the starting pitching to shut down the Yankees’ bats. Rangers in 6 games.
NLCS Winner: San Fransisco Giants. It was no surprise that the NLCS is between the Phillies and the Giants, but it may surprise many people when the Giants score runs on the big three starting pitchers of the Phillies. On the other end of this equation, we will see the Giants’ starters shut down a Phillies lineup that has been anything but spectacular of late. Giants in 6 games.
In the National League, the choice is obvious, but in the American League, it is as unclear as it has ever been.
AL Cy Young Award Winner: Felix Hernandez. I know the arguments against a 13 game winner taking home this award, and guys like CC Sabathia and David Price can make a case for this award, but no AL pitcher dominated opposing batters and lineups the way Felix Hernandez did this year. If Felix had the run support that Sabathia and Price got this year, he might have won 28 games this year. This award is not about wins and losses, but about who was the best, most dominant pitcher in the league, and let there be no doubt, that guy is Felix Hernandez. Best ERA among AL starters (2.27), most IP in the AL (249.2), the most Quality Starts in all of Baseball (30 in 34 starts), 2nd in Strike Outs in all of Baseball, one K behind Jered Weaver (232), and the 2nd best WHIP amongst AL Starters behind Cliff Lee (1.06). On any other team, Felix would have been a 20 game winner and there would be no doubt about who should win this award.
NL Cy Young Award Winner: Roy “Doc” Halladay. This one is easy! Roy Halladay is, hands down, the best pitcher in the National League. This guy isn’t just any old doctor, he’s a surgeon, the Surgeon General! If his inning-eating, strike-throwing domination all year wasn’t enough, or his Perfect Game wasn’t enough, then just look at the numbers: 21 Wins, 2.44 ERA, 9 Complete Games, 250.2 IP, 219 K’s, and a 1.04 WHIP! This guy is as good as it gets!
This year’s MVP picks are tough. Several guys in each league can make a strong case for winning the MVP this year.
AL Most Valuable Player: Josh Hamilton. I think a legitimate case could be made for both Miguel Cabrera and Jose Bautista, but Hamilton was out of this world this year. Even though he missed 29 games late in the season, he was the main reason the Rangers ran away with the AL West. Had Cabrera or Batista been on a Pennant winner, one of them might run away with the voting, but Hamilton was the key player on a Pennant Winner and his numbers, despite missing 29 games, were still among the league leaders across the board. AL Batting Champ with a MLB best Batting Average (0.359), tied for 5th in the AL in HR (32), 12th in the AL in RBIs (100), 2nd in the AL in OB% (0.411), and an AL Best Slugging % (0.633).
NL Most Valuable Player: Albert Pujols. Again, a legitimate case could be made for both Joey Votto and Carlos Gonzalez. Pujols edges out both Votto and Gonzalez largely due to his consistency throughout the season. And the numbers, for the tenth straight year, are just what we’ve all come to expect from Pujols. Tied for 5th in the NL in Batting Average (0.312), 1st in the NL in RBIs (118), 1st in the NL in HR (42), 2nd in the NL in OB% (0.414), 3rd in the NL in Slugging % (0.596), and for a Power Hitter, he only strikes out once every 7.72 AB (whereas Votto and Gonzalez strike out every 4.38 and 4.35 ABs, respectively).
Let there be no doubt about it. The AL and NL Rookies of the Year are easy picks this year! These players aren’t so much hype, just steady, top notch results.
AL Rookie of the Year: Neftali Feliz. The numbers might speak for themselves, but this kid did it for the AL West Pennant winning Texas Rangers! He was BIG in BIG games all year long! 40 Saves in 43 Save Opportunities, Opponent’s Batting Average just 0.178, and a WHIP of 0.88.
NL Rookie of the Year: Buster Posey. Like Feliz, the numbers really speak for themselves, and yet there is so much more to this guy than numbers. Posey anchored the NL West Pennant winning San Fransisco Giants lineup, hitting clean-up, and he managed an electric starting pitching staff and bullpen without a hitch, a real testament to his maturity and baseball smarts. Those who think Jason Heyward should win this award need only to compare the players without bias. In 34 fewer games, Posey hit the same amount of Home Runs (18), just 5 fewer Rbis (67 to 72), hit for Average 28 points higher (0.305 to 0.277), and struck out around half as much as Heyward (every 7.38 ABs to every 4.08 ABs).
After one of the most exciting MLB regular seasons in in recent memory, prepare for a great post season. Both leagues have exciting Divisional Series matchups that should all produce game five, winners take all games. I expect the following outcomes:
Rangers over the Rays in five games.
Twins over the Yankees in five games.
Phillies over the Reds in five games.
Giants over the Braves in five games.