New York Yankees Need Help to Win AL East but Still Control Their Own Destiny

Nobody expected the New York Yankees to be in this position with three games left in the regular reason. Up 10 games in the American League East near the end of July, the Yankees lost their lead, which evaporated as they tied with the resurgent Baltimore Orioles.

The O’s have to finish the year in St. Petersburg, Florida, against a Tampa Bay Raysteam that refuses to quit. The Yankees finish their year back home in the Bronx against the lifeless Boston Red Sox.

The rules of the new postseason format state that if a division is tied at the end of the year, there will be a one-game playoff no matter what. Formerly, the rules were if there was a tie and the loser still gets a wild card, the division is decided on head-to-head record instead of a tiebreaker game, as seen in the 2001 and 2005 regular seasons.

The way it is set up right now, the tiebreaker game would be in Baltimore where the Yankees are 6-3. If the Yankees lose this game, they’ll have to hop on an airplane for the wild card game against Oakland the very next day. The result of this game would be the end of the Yankees’ season or Game 1 of the ALDS against either the Texas Rangers or Baltimore, also a day after, and could risk the loss of an off day, which could eventually force the Yankees to play for several games without one if they advance.

If this happens, the Yankees will be forced to use two of a trio of CC Sabathia, HirokiKuroda or Andy Pettitte to make it to the Division Series, and they’ll be ill-equipped if this happens.

They will have to beat a broken Sox team that may view this final stretch as their World Series. The Orioles, however, have to play a Rays team that is more than alive in the playoff hunt. They are currently three games behind Oakland for the second wild card spot.

Meanwhile, the battle for the No. 1 seed in the American League and the right to play the wild-card winner in the Division Series is still up for grabs. The Yankees have won the season series against the Rangers four games to three, so the Yankees would win the No. 1 seed in the AL if both teams finish with the same record.

The Yankees may be tied with the O’s for the division at the moment but control their own destiny when it comes to making the playoffs and may very likely get help from the Rays and A’s to get the division title and the highest possible seed.

Here’s what the schedule looks like for the playoff contenders who affect the Yankees’ season:

Red Sox @ Yankees:

RHP Clay Buchholz (11-7, 4.22 ERA) vs. LHP CC Sabathia (14-6, 3.42 ERA)

LHP Jon Lester (9-14, 4.94 ERA) vs. RHP Ivan Nova (12-8, 5.02 ERA)

Daisuke Matsuzaka (1-6, 7.68 ERA) vs. RHP Hiroki Kuroda (15-11, 3.34 ERA)

Orioles @ Rays:

LHP Wei-Yin Chen (12-10, 4.11 ERA) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (10-9, 4.18 ERA)

RHP Miguel Gonzalez (8-4, 3.45 ERA) vs. RHP James Shields (15-9, 3.62 ERA)

RHP Chris Tillman (9-2, 2.78 ERA) vs.RHP Jeremy Hellickson (9-11, 3.20 ERA)

Rangers @ A’s:

LHP Martin Perez (1-3, 5.03 ERA) vs.RHP Jarrod Parker (12-8, 3.44 ERA)

LHP Matt Harrison (18-10, 3.26 ERA) vs. LHP Travis Blackley (5-4, 4.25 ERA)

RHP Ryan Dempster (7-3, 4.64 ERA with TEX) vs. RHP AJ Griffin (7-1, 2.71 ERA)

The Yankees have a relatively easy final opponent to end the year. They hold the advantage pitching wise against the Red Sox. The Rays have the pitching advantage against the O’s but will be forced to win Monday’s game with Cobb on the mound to keep their season alive. Oakland’s playing for the highest seed possible and will likely have to sweep the Rangers to steal the AL West title.

The ball is in the court of the New York Yankees. They do not want to play several do or die games in a row to keep their season alive. Doing so will significantly hurt their chances in the Division Series, granted that they make it.

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Winning the Triple Crown Should Not Make Miguel Cabrera a Guarantee for AL MVP

Hard to believe Miguel Cabrera has been under the radar for much of his career, even ever since he arrived in Detroit in a trade with the Florida Marlins. You could argue he has taken the baton from Albert Pujols as the best right-handed hitter in the game of baseball.

Just 29 years old, Cabrera has over 300 HRs, almost 400 doubles, over 1100 RBIs, almost 1800 base hits. He has compiled a career line of .318/.395/.562/.957 (average, OBP, SLG%, OPS). He won the AL HR title in 2008, the MLB RBI title in 2010, and the MLB batting title last season after swiping it from Adrian Gonzalez who plummeted along with his Red Sox.

This year, he’s having probably one of the greatest seasons ever for a right handed batter. His numbers are at .331/.396/.614/1.010, 169 OPS+, 42 HRs, 133 RBIs, 40 doubles, 194 hits, 360 total bases,

He could become the first hitter in 45 years (Carl Yastrzemski in 1967) to win the fabled Triple Crown. He currently leads the majors in HRs (tied with Josh Hamilton) and RBIs and is .005 from the MLB batting title (still leads the AL by .008). He also leads the majors in slugging percentage, OPS, OPS+, and total bases.

Such ridiculous numbers absolutely warrant the American League Most Valuable Player award, especially with the hype of the Triple Crown Despite the struggles of his team as a whole, the Tigers are still one game behind the White Sox for the AL Central.

However, winning the Triple Crown has not guaranteed the MVP award previously. Most famous is the great Ted Williams, who won the Triple Crown TWICE and finished 2nd in the voting both times. Other Triple Crown winners who did not win the MVP are Joe Medwick in 1937, Lou Gehrig in 1934, and Chuck Klein in 1933.

In fact, many sabremtrics make an argument that the Los Angeles Angels’ 21 year old phenom Mike Trout is more of a deserving candidate for the MVP than Cabrera.

In the age of advanced statistics and analysis through sabremetrics, a historical achievement may not be a guarantee for any award. While the only stats available for voters when the Triple Crown was commonly won for batters were average, hits, homers, RBIs, runs scored, etc, today’s stats have established the fact that RBIs, batting average, and home runs are not the best measurements for a player’s talent and worth.

In fact, many sabremtrics make an argument that the Los Angeles Angels’ 21 year old phenom Mike Trout is more of a deserving candidate for the MVP than Cabrera.

Trout was called up from the minor leagues on April 28 when the Angels, many experts’ sexy pick to win the World Series, were 6-14. Since, the Angels are 78-55 (.586) and are still in the hunt for a wild card spot, and Trout’s emergence has been a huge reason why.

Trout is arguably a better OVERALL player than Cabrera. Trout’s speed makes him a force on the basepaths, leading the majors in stolen bases and runs scored despite being called up at the end of April. He’s 46 for 50 in stolen base attempts. He also has a ton of power for a 21 year old, popping 28 HRs and 25 doubles and six triples. The rest of his numbers are: .323/.394/.554/.949, 167 OPS+, 169 hits, and 129 runs

Cabrera is a very poor defensive player and has costed his team several runs after being moved back to 3B with the signing of Prince Fielder. Trout saves his teams runs with his ridiculous catches that you have seen weekly on SportsCenter.

The sabremetrical argument seems to weigh Trout’s defense and speed highly equally with his offense. Trout leads the entire major leagues in WAR (wins above replacement) at 9.5. It isn’t even close either. The next closest player is Ryan Braun at 7.9 and Cabrera is at 6.9.

Trout also leads the AL with a wRC+ (weighted runs created) of 172. Cabrera is at 169. This statistic quantifies a player’s total offensive value and measures it in runs scored. Cabrera leads the AL in wOBA, (weighted on-base average), which balances the values of different types of base hits. Cabrera is at .421, and Trout is right behind him at .418.

Trout’s defense is also proved to be significantly better than Cabrera’s through sabremetrics. Trout is 2nd in the AL and 4th among all MLB OF in UZR and 2nd in the AL and 8th among all MLB OF in UZR/150. Cabrera is dead last among AL 3B in both categories and second worst among all MLB 3B. Basically, UZR and UZR/150 are estimates of how many runs a player saves or gives up playing their position. Zero is exactly average at the position.

This is a new age of statistical analysis in all of sports, and baseball has the most use and understanding of these “sabremetrics”. Many people in the sport and business of baseball have moved on from using the use of traditional statistics such as HRs, RBIs, average, runs scored, and other counting statistics. The voters also seem to be starting to move on from traditional stats when they selected Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez as the AL Cy Young award winner despite a dismal 13-12 record on the last place Mariners.

The fact is Mike Trout has been a better and more valuable overall player than Miguel Cabrera has been this year. He does a lot more things than Cabrera does when you’re talking about a combination of hitting, running, and defense.

Many people think because of the month of September Cabrera has had, he should be a slam dunk. However, he entered the month at .329/.393/.591/.983 and Trout was at .335/.399/.580/.979, so it should be a lot closer as they were for the rest of the season.

The rest of the season could very well decide it. Both the Angels and Tigers are looking on the outside of a playoff spot. The Tigers are one game behind the White Sox for the AL Central lead and the Angels, six games better than Detroit, are three back of division rival Oakland in the loss column for the 2nd wild card spot

NFL Picks: Week Three

Already picked the Giants and they won 36-7 over Carolina.

1:00pm, on Fox:

@ Chicago Bears (-4.5) over St. Louis Rams OVER

@ Dallas Cowboys (-4) over Tampa Bay Buccaneers OVER

Detroit Lions over @ Tennessee Titans (+7) OVER

San Francisco 49ers over @ Minnesota Vikings (+10) OVER

1:00pm, on CBS:

New York Jets over @ Miami Dolphins (+1.5) OVER

Buffalo Bills over @ Cleveland Browns (Even) OVER

@ Indianapolis Colts (-6.5) over Jacksonville Jaguars UNDER

@ New Orleans Saints (-9.5) over Kansas City Chiefs OVER

@ Washington Redskins (-2.5) over Cincinnati Bengals OVER

4:00pm on Fox:

@ Arizona Cardinals (+3) over Philadelphia Eagles UPSET

@ San Diego Chargers (Even) over Atlanta Falcons OVER

4:25pm on CBS

@ Denver Broncos (+3.5) over Houston Texans UPSET

Pittsburgh Steelers over @ Oakland Raiders (+7) OVER

8:20pm on NBC

@ Baltimore Ravens (Even) over New England Patriots OVER

8:30 on ESPN (Monday):

Green Bay Packers over @ Seattle Seahawks (+3) OVER

Andy Pettitte’s return boosts Yankees

Things are starting to come together for the New York Yankees. After a season filled with injuries to several important players, another one came back to lift the Yanks and gave them hope for the stretch run.

Andy Pettitte finally returned today from an ankle injury that had kept him on the shelf since the end of June and delivered. On a 75 pitch count, he did just that, throwing five innings of scoreless, although not exactly dominant, ball, 46 of those 75 for strikes (61.3%).

Pettitte got his fourth win of the year, as the he and the Yankees hung on to knock off the injury-plagued Toronto Blue Jays 4-2. The Jays were without top sluggers Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Pettitte allowed just four hits, walked two and struck out three. He managed to work through some tough jams set up by bloop singles and a couple of errors by Nick Swisher at first base. His best inning was his last, using his last seven pitches in an easy 1-2-3 inning. Andy often touched 90 mph with his cutters and fastballs but got into quite a few 3-2 counts.

The Yankees got to Blue Jays right-hander Henderson Alvarez in the 1st inning, scoring three runs on singles by Ichiro and Nick Swisher, an RBI double by Robinson Cano, a run scoring groundout by the resurgent Alex Rodriguez, and a sacrifice fly by the red hot Curtis Granderson.

Very late NFL predictions

Here we go:

AFC East:

New England Patriots 12-4

New York Jets 10-6

Buffalo Bills 8-8

Miami Dolphins 3-13

AFC North:

Baltimore Ravens 13-3

Pittsburgh Steelers 9-7

Cincinnati Bengals 7-9

Cleveland Browns 4-12

AFC North:

Houston Texans 12-4

Tennessee Titans 8-8

Indianapolis Colts 6-10

Jacksonville Jaguars 5-11

AFC West:

San Diego Chargers 11-5

Denver Broncos 10-6

Oakland Raiders 7-9

Kansas City Chiefs 6-10

NFC East:

Dallas Cowboys 12-4

Philadelphia Eagles 9-7

New York Giants 8-8

Washington Redskins 4-12

NFC North:

Chicago Bears 12-4

Green Bay Packers 10-6

Detroit Lions 10-6

Minnesota Vikings 3-13

NFC South:

Atlanta Falcons 13-3

Carolina Panthers 10-6

New Orleans Saints 9-7

Tampa Bay Buccaneers 5-11

NFC West:

San Francisco 49ers 14-2

Seattle Seahawks 7-9

Arizona Cardinals 5-11

St. Louis Rams 4-12

Seedings:

AFC:

  1. Baltimore Ravens 13-3
  2. Houston Texans 12-4
  3. New England Patriots 12-4
  4. San Diego Chargers 11-5
  5. Denver Broncos 10-6
  6. New York Jets 10-6

NFC:

  1. San Francisco 49ers 14-2
  2. Atlanta Falcons 13-3
  3. Dallas Cowboys 12-4
  4. Chicago Bears 12-4
  5. Green Bay Packers 10-6
  6. Detroit Lions 10-6

Playoffs:

AFC:

Wild Card:

6. New York Jets defeat 3. New England Patriots

5. Denver Broncos defeat 4. San Diego Chargers

Divisional:

1. Baltimore Ravens defeat 6. New York Jets

5. Denver Broncos defeat 2. Houston Texans

Championship:

1. Baltimore Ravens defeat 5. Denver Broncos

NFC:

Wild Card:

3. Dallas Cowboys defeat 6. Detroit Lions

5. Green Bay Packers defeat 4. Chicago Bears

Divisional:

1. San Francisco 49ers defeat 5. Green Bay Packers

3. Dallas Cowboys defeat 2. Atlanta Falcons

Championship:

1. San Francisco 49ers defeat 3. Dallas Cowboys

Super Bowl:

AFC Baltimore Ravens defeat NFC San Francisco 49ers

Super Bowl MVP: Ray Rice, RB, Baltimore Ravens

Awards:

NFL MVP: Philip Rivers, QB, San Diego Chargers

Offensive Player of the Year: Calvin Johnson, WR, Detroit Lions

Defensive Player of the Year: Darrelle Revis, CB, New York Jets

Offensive Rookie of the Year: Trent Richardson, RB, Cleveland Browns

Defensive Rookie of the Year: Chandler Jones, DE, New England Patriots

Comeback Player of the Year: Peyton Manning, QB, Denver Broncos
Coach of the Year: Rex Ryan, New York Jets

My thoughts on the Giants, Yankees, and Jets

September is easily the best month of the year for sports. The beginning of college and NFL football seasons, the winding down pennant races in Major League Baseball, and that’s just about it. It was quite an interesting weekend in the world of New York sports as well.

The defending Super Bowl champions fought back from a 14 point deficit to stun the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers to avoid starting the season 0-2. Eli Manning overcame three interceptions, one returned for a touchdown and the other two setting up TB scores to throw for a career high 510 yards and three touchdowns. Manning tied the game on an 80 yard catch and run to the ridiculous Victor Cruz. Some of the stuff Manning and the G-Men have been well known for the past couple years. Very crucial victory for the Giants as they will hit the road for some tough games in Carolina, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and Dallas.

The Yankees also played host to a Tampa Bay team, their arch rival, the Rays. After dropping Friday’s matchup between Cy Young candidate David Price and struggling Bomber ace CC Sabathia, Ivan Nova returned from the DL and delivered a crucial victory on Saturday, and the Yankees were able to take the rubber match on Sunday thanks to the resurgent Russell Martin and his huge three run homer off Matt Moore which proved to be the difference.

The Bombers will continue their crucial stretch and will send 40 year old Andy Pettitte back to the mound for the first time since June on Tuesday against Toronto. Although he’ll be on an extreme pitch count restriction, the Yanks will hope for positive results against a injury depleted Blue Jays lineup. The Yankees will hope to be able to pull away from the Orioles and Rays in the AL East as they get very close to full strength.

As for the Jets, I really thought they had a good chance to win, especially with Troy Polamalu and James Harrison out for Pittsburgh, and a shaky offensive line protecting QB Ben Roethlisberger confidence got even higher after a brilliant opening drive that led to a Mark Sanchez TD pass to former Steeler and Super Bowl MVP Santonio Holmes. Just like Week One against Buffalo, Gang Green was moving the ball efficiently with some terrific throws by Sanchez.

Once the score was 10-6 NYJ, it all started to fall apart. The Steelers concluded the first half with an 11 play, 5:40 drive ending with a 1 yd TD by tight end Heath Miller from Roethlisberger. The Jets spent the rest of the game being unable to move the ball after the 1st quarter, and the defense was unable to contain Roethlisberger extend plays like he usually does. The Steelers were eight of fifteen on third down. Big Ben finished 24 of 31 for 275 yards and two touchdowns, good for a 93.4 total QBR and 125.1 passer rating the highest against the Jets under head coach Rex Ryan.

All you can do is learn from your mistakes. The loss may be a blessing in disguise as it served as a reality check after the blowout against Buffalo. The Jets will take their talents to South Beach, where their season came to a highly controversial ending last season. The Dolphins are coming off a 35-13 blowout win in a sweltering Sun Life Stadium against Oakland. The key in this game is to contain a red-hot Reggie Bush, who has finally realized his potential in Miami, and force rookie QB Ryan Tannenhill to make mistakes.

Making some changes

Boy, it’s been quite a while since I last updated this thing, and boy, what a long and strange trip it’s been these last five months. From April-May I was caught up in managing the Oakcrest High School Baseball team as we captured our first winning season in a very long time, we won a playoff game on the road at Highland High School, and lost a close one to the top seed Hammonton.

In June, I graduated from Oakcrest High School, worked for a bit at ACME Markets in Ocean City, NJ. But at the end of the month, I said goodbye to the only place I called home in Mays Landing and left for Cross Hill, a small hick lakeville in North-Western South Carolina. And quite frankly, it was quite an adjustment.

In late August, I came back to New Jersey, said one last goodbye to my friends, and departed to here in New York City. I am now a freshman with a major in journalism at St. John’s University. And quite frankly, I am very excited to begin my journey. I’ll do my best to update this as much as possible, but I’ll be pretty busy. Thanks for stopping by.

– Brandon Mauk