Back in the Saddle

by

After an unannounced hiatus, I’ll grace you with another week’s thoughts on the sporting world.

My All-Star Ballot after May

AL
C Jason Varitek
1B Mark Teixeira
2B Brian Roberts
3B Alex Rodriguez
SS Miguel Tejada
OF Johnny Damon
OF David Dellucci
OF Manny Ramirez
P Roy Halladay

Tino has been nice for the Yankees, but Teixeira has better numbers across the board and has 0 errors to Martinez’s 8. . . . Carlos Guillen tops Tejada in average, but Tejada produces more runs and is far more valuable. . . . The OF is weak in the AL this year; Ichiro’s down a little, and Vlad’s hurt; Man-Ram is actually having an off year average-wise, but still leads AL outfielders in HR and RBI. . . . Halladay has more wins and a better ERA than Johann Santana, but Santana has 91 K’s to Roy’s 57. They are clearly the top two pitcher in the AL this season.

NL

C Ramon Hernandez
1B Derrek Lee
2B Jeff Kent
3B Troy Glaus
SS Cesar Izturis
OF Miguel Cabrera
OF Bobby Abreu
OF Jim Edmonds
P Pedro Martinez

Is Derrek Lee the most unexpected player to utterly dominate a league in recent memory? He leads the league in all the triple-crown categories and has 9 steals to boot. He’s also handsome and fields a slick first base. Maybe Ken Caminiti that one year or Kevin Mitchell in ’89. . . . 2B and SS could have easily gone to Grudzielanek and Eckstein, but the Cards will have two undeserving starters in Pujols and Rolen, so I’ll have my petty revenge. . . . Edmonds gets the nod over Dunn because he’s the superior fielder and Dunn just strikes out too much. . . . Clemens or Dontrelle could easily have been selected to start, but it’s hard to pick a player with 3 wins as a starter, and Pedro is leading the league in K’s and WHIP.

Come again?

A couple nights ago the genii on Baseball Tonight said something to the effect of how ARod was “clearly” the MVP of the AL so far. Pardon? How ’bout clearly not? ARod leads the AL in HR and RBI, which is very significant, but he trails Baltimore’s Brian Roberts, the current AL batting leader, in nearly every other significant category. Roberts has a higher OPS, more hits, more extra-base hits and more stolen bases than Rodriguez. Also, Roberts, while playing a tougher position than ARod and having nearly twice as many chances as ARod, has 4 errors to 8 for Rodriquez, who has inexplicably become a poor fielder after a sparkling 1st season at 3B. Add in the fact that the Orioles are 5 games up on the Yankees, and Roberts is clearly the most deserving candidate.

This is hardly surprising, though, as power hitters have always gotten the nod over top-of-the-order types in MVP voting. Probably the most egregious example of this happened in 1987 when George Bell and Andre Dawson were given the MVP’s over Alan Trammell and Ozzie Smith, in Dawson’s case despite playing for a last-place team. There are rare exceptions (Rickey Henderson beating out Cecil Fielder in ’90 comes to mind), but power hitters tend to get a bonus when it comes to the MVP vote.

It is free after all

The Spurs just wrapped up their series against the Suns, which does not prove you can’t run in the NBA playoffs, but just proves that the best defensive team usually will win in a given series. The Spurs scored over 100 in all of their wins; so there’s nothing wrong with a little offense, but you do have to play some defense, and that, more than an inability to score, sunk the Suns.

But that’s not what I wanted to talk about. The Spurs might have swept the Suns if not for one of the more bizarre phenomena in all of sports — the inability of otherwise good shooters to hit free throws. In this case the culprit was Tim Duncan; who is, in other circumstances among the best shooting big men in the game. He routinely knocks in jumper from the top of the key or the elbow with a 7-footer in his face, but can only toss in from the charity stripe at a 67% clip.

Maybe it’s the fact he uses the glass so much on his jumpers or maybe it’s his unusual over the head shooting style. I honestly am baffled by the whole thing. It’s especially puzzling with Duncan, since you usually associate free-throw shooting with diligent practice and Duncan is otherwise the model of professionalism. Likewise, you don’t think of Duncan as one to be fazed by the pressure of stepping to the line. Bizarre.

Duncan’s not alone, though, on his own team is Bruce Bowen, who’s lead the league in 3-PT% before (2003), yet shoots free throws at 63%. Does this make any sense at all?

11 Responses to “Back in the Saddle”

  1. Al Sturgeon Says:

    The Bowen thing is WEIRD! I think Duncan just got freaked out the other night at the line – which happens – but in someone like Bowen’s case, it shouldn’t happen ALL the time…

    Was Amare a freak last night or what? I bet Duncan was thinking, “Man, let me win a title or two and get out of here before this dude grows up!”

    BTW, I think one of the classiest things I’ve seen in sports in quite some time happened in the previous round when (of all matchups to expect something classy!) the Pistons/Pacers series finished up. When Larry Brown called the timeout and led his team on the floor to applaud Reggie Miller… well, it was just classy.

    As to baseball, I haven’t learned to spell Grudzeielanfkdajfok yet, but he’s on my fantasy team!!!

    Thanks, Andy. Congrats on your graduation – studying for the bar now?

  2. DeJon Redd Says:

    For the sake of argument. Why not vote Neifi Perez NL Short Stop?

    .315 w/ 6 HRs & 24 RBI & .987 FP

    Izturis:
    .345 w/ 1 HR & 20 RBI & .980 FP

    Eckstein:
    .302 w/ 2 HRs & 15 RB & .966 FP

    I’m just saying … its not outrageous.

  3. Al Sturgeon Says:

    Hey, I picked up Neifi on my fantasy team, too!!!

  4. juvenal_urbino Says:

    I’d say because Neifi isn’t in the same league with Izturis, defensively. Yes, his FP is a few points higher, but that’s because he doesn’t get to nearly as many balls as Izturis does.

    As for 2B, I don’t know Grudzielanek’s numbers, but Kent is barely hitting his weight and is striking out at a higher rate than Stevie Wonder.

    On Duncan’s FT shooting, I’m surprised he’s hitting as high as 67%. Wasn’t his percentage during the regular season about 15-20 points below that?

  5. DeJon Redd Says:

    Juvenal: “I’d say because Neifi isn’t in the same league with Izturis, defensively.”

    Respectfully disagree. Neifi was a Gold Glover in 2000 with Colorado…

  6. DeJon Redd Says:

    But you are right about disparity of chances:
    Izturis = 256
    Neifi = 154

  7. Anonymous Says:

    How many at-bats has Neifi! had to post that .315 average?

    Neifi’s fine with the glove, but Izturis leads all shortstops — if not all players, period — in hits. And he’s the reigning GG holder at SS.

    Yet remarkably, he’s not even in the top five of fan balloting.

  8. juvenal_urbino Says:

    The fans must be using those Diebold voting machines.

  9. DeJon Redd Says:

    Neifi:
    181 ABs, 6 BBs, 86 TBs

    Izturis:
    223 ABs, 15 BBs, 91 TBs

    Another point to ponder … What’s worse Nomar leading NL shortstops in voting or Giambi 2nd for AL DHs?!

  10. juvenal_urbino Says:

    Tie. (Appropriate for an All-Star game, no?)

  11. juvenal_urbino Says:

    “After an unannounced hiatus…”

    I had one of those once. Couldn’t walk straight for 3 weeks. Wanna see the scar?

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