Trading carrots for chocolate pudding since 2012
What a crazy final day to baseball’s regular season.
In case you were in a coma or just too busy waiting to hear grown men talk about Big Bird, here’s what you missed:
• The Oakland Athletics completed an improbable late-season rally to stun the Texas Rangers and capture the American League West crown, the team’s first since 2006. The A’s, who trailed the Rangers by five games with nine to play, capped the rally by defeating their division rivals 12-5 on Wednesday. Oh, they trailed 5-1 at one point in that game. Shell-shocked Texas hosts Baltimore in the new, one-game wild card playoff Friday night in hopes of avoiding a total collapse.
• The Nationals, who last week locked up the capital’s first postseason appearance since 1933, clinched the top spot in the National League by defeating the Phillies 5-1. Washington would have still earned the 1 seed with a loss, as Cincinnati fell to St. Louis 1-0 later in the day. The Nationals await the winner of Friday’s Cardinals-Braves wild card tilt in Atlanta.
• The Yankees clinched the AL’s top seed and avoided a one-game showdown with the Orioles for the AL East title by trouncing their hated rival Boston Red Sox 14-2. A New York loss and a Baltimore win (neither happened Wednesday) would have meant a 163rd game for the division crown today.
• Detroit Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera secured baseball’s first triple crown in 45 years. Cabrera posted a .330 average, hit 44 home runs and drove in 139 runs. The last to accomplish the feat: Boston’s Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
• San Francisco catcher Buster Posey became the first NL catcher since Ernie Lombardi of the Boston Braves in 1942 to win a batting title. Posey hit a Major League-leading .336 for the NL West-champion Giants.
I just hope the playoffs can be as fun and wild as the 2012 season, which ended with some interesting races for the four major awards. Here are my predictions for the winners.
This really should be a no-brainer, but it will come down to two players: Cabrera (.330-44-139-109-4) and Los Angeles’ Mike Trout (.326-30-83-129-49). Simply put, despite Trout’s Major League-leading steals total, Cabrera pulled off a legendary feat. Trout will have to settle for Rookie of the Year honors.
My pick: Cabrera.
I see it as a three-player race. Milwaukee OF Ryan Braun (.319, 41 HR, 112 RBI, 103 R, 30 SB), Pittsburgh OF Andrew McCuthchen (.327-31-96-107-20) and Posey (.336-24-103-78-1). Posey, a lock for Comeback Player of the Year, plays the most demanding position of the trio and really turned it on when the Giants lost All-Star MVP Melky Cabrera to a drug suspension. Braun, the reigning MVP, has the most impressive numbers overall but could still face the wrath of skeptics after his appealed positive drug test last season. McCutchen, like his Pirates, seemed to fade down the stretch. Only one of these players isn’t going home just yet.
My pick: Posey.
I’ll give the rest of my picks in quick form.
AL Cy Young: David Price, Rays
NL Cy Young: Gio Gonzalez, Nationals
AL Manager of the Year: Bob Melvin, A’s
NL Manager of the Year: Davey Johnson, Nationals
AL Rookie of the Year: Trout
NL Rookie of the Year: Bryce Harper, Nationals
With no clear frontrunner for the Commissioner’s Trophy, October should be a lot of fun, especially for me if my Braves can win it all. If your team is still in it, good luck and let’s enjoy the ride.