It’s been all the hub bub this past week. Keith Law of ESPN released his rankings of MLB’s farm systems and not only did he say that the Anaheim (I know what they are called) Angels were the worst farm system in 2016, but the worst he had ever seen in his eight years of ranking farm systems.
Wow. That’s rough, especially in an era of teams like the New York Mets, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and Kansas City Royals rising to prominence via their Minor League stashes.
Of course almost immediately the internet and bloggers went bananas with the options that he Angels have for the future and the most glaring option may be just the most ridiculous:
When it comes to Major League baseball my friend Jay is second to none. He isn’t simply one of the more knowledgeable when it comes to baseball, he’s one of the angriest fans you’ll meet. Especially when a sportscaster brings up a highly questionable comparison. That’s why I wasn’t surprised by the texts I received this weekend.
Jay: Dude, I have your next blog for you.
Wayniac: I told you I’m not blogging about my thoughts on the new Braves stadium, it’s too controversial.
Jay: Whatever, I’m not talking about that. Check this out. You know I love Trout, but Greg Amsinger on MLB Network just said if Mike Trout wins the MVP again it is the greatest start ever to a career.
Wow. That is a pretty bold statement. So bold that it has gotten The Wayniac riled up a bit. Like Jay, I love Mike Trout. He is one of my keepers on my fantasy team (due to a ridiculous steal of trade concocted by my partner in crime JD) and he is one of the most exciting athletes to watch in sports.
But, what is defining Trout’s start as “the greatest ever”? Back-to-back MVP Awards? Certainly not back-to-back All Star Game MVP Awards, is it?
Jay: Those awards are given by voters. I’d rather go with most home runs through first four seasons or steals, or anything measurable. I don’t care about awards.
He’s right. The MVP Award, whether it is in the regular season, post season, or All Star Game is usually skewed. I mean, come on, Mariano Rivera won the All Star Game MVP three games ago for registering a hold.
Plus, there is always a bias when voters are involved. The Kansas City Royals currently have the best record in the American League. They have a very good shot at repeating as the AL pennant winners, and Lorenzo Cain is a large reason for that. Do you think he stands a chance against Trout at the end of the year? Trout puts up sick numbers, makes those big time wow plays in the outfield, and is just so darn likable.
That being said, the second Jay told me about that statement, I was able to think of five guys in the not so distant past that have had — at the very least — equal starts to their career. Should Trout win that second MVP Award, his trophy cabinet will be the fullest over the shortest amount of time, but greatest start to a career? That’s questionable.
Two things I am excluding from the list below are steroid use and pitchers. I don’t care to hear any of these well they played in the Steroid Era debates. Take a look at the Minor Leagues. There are close to 100 suspensions, many from PEDs. The Steroid Era is still alive and well, and that makes Trout a part of it — although I have no question he is clean. It happened, it’s part of the history, so it has to enter discourse.
Secondly, if hardware is all that matters, Dwight Gooden had one of the sickest starts to any career I have ever seen. Rookie of the Year in 1984, Cy Young in 1985 and a World Series ring in 1986. Let’s not forget that Dr. K’s 1985 season is still one of the sickest pitched seasons I have ever witnessed and he was only 20 years old. A league leading 24 wins to just four losses, a league leading 1.53 ERA, a league leading 16 complete games, eight shutouts, a league leading 268 strikeouts and a 0.96 WHIP. And I reiterate… he was 20 years old. For you SABR junkies, his WAR was nearly 12. It is widely considered one of the single greatest seasons in history. Hardware, history and a World Series ring. Not too shabby.
Howard won Rookie of the Year in 2005 while only playing in 88 games. He blasted 22 home runs in just 312 at bats. That’s a home run every 14.2 at bats compared to Trout’s 18.6 rookie year average.
Howard would never stop hitting home runs, as he would take home the NL MVP Award in 2006 with a league leading 58 home runs and 149 RBI. He wouldn’t win an All Star Game MVP Award, but he would win the Home Run Derby that year, which has to count for something. At the end of Howard’s fourth season — in which Trout is amid right now — he would lead the NL in home runs and RBI again and win a World Series ring.
By the time Howard finished his fifth season, he would be back in the World Series and become the quickest player in history to reach 200 home runs. That’s a pretty good start to a career.
But there was no denying that Canseco was one of the most fun players to watch in the late 80s on one of the most dominant teams of that era. Canseco would win Rookie of the Year in 1986 and two years later would become baseball’s first 40/40 guy en route to the 1988 AL MVP Award. He would get injured (out of juice?) in his fourth season, but returned right in time to slash .357/.500/.571 with a home run in the World Series. Not a bad first four years either, ay?
Am I a homer? So what? Derek Jeter lived every little kid’s fantasy. He won a World Series in four of his first five seasons. Not only was he on some of the best teams of the 90s, he was the centerpiece of them and the spark that made their engine go.
Jeter won Rookie of the Year in 1996 and would go on to hit .361 in his first postseason with a very memorable home run (thanks Jeffrey Maier). He would “digress” in ’97, but comeback with two of his best seasons in ’98 and ’99. Jeter would make history in his fifth season by being the first player to win All Star Game MVP and World Series MVP honors in the same season.
Is his trophy case filled with shiny MVP Awards or fancy bats commemorating other honors? No, no it isn’t. But his hand is certainly too heavy to point that out to you with all those damn rings on it.
Talk about an unreal start to a career? Pujols was amazing. If you were a baseball fan at the turn of the millennium, when you watched Albert Pujols play, you thought you were watching a kid rewriting history.
He won Rookie of the Year (notice the trend?) and would start his career by going 12 — TWELVE — straight seasons before hitting less than 30 home runs. He wouldn’t win an NL MVP Award in his first four years, but he did win the 2003 Major League Player of the Year Award as well as the 2004 NLCS MVP.
Pujols quickly became the heart of the St. Louis lineup, known for his monster power and uncanny ability to hit over .330. People often forget that he led the league in runs scored three years in a row.
Now Trout’s team mate and possibly his stiffest competition for the 2015 MVP Award, Pujols’s first four seasons ended with the following stat line: .333, 500 runs scored, 160 home runs and 504 RBI. That’s not just good, that’s video game good.
People either love him or hate him, but Buster Posey has been Jeter-esque to start his career.
Guess what? Posey won Rookie of the Year in 2010 and would pretty much instantly become the centerpiece of baseball’s current dynasty. Posey would hit .300 with a home run as a 23-year old rookie in the World Series and start a run of winning three rings in his first five years.
Posey was mangled in a play at the plate in his second season and the Giants would miss the playoffs in their title defense. He would return in 2012, win the NL batting title, NL Comeback Player of the Year Award, the NL MVP and his second World Series title. Posey would belt yet another home run in that World Series victory against the Tigers.
Jay: Buster’s start has been pretty damn good and I hate Buster. If Trout gets another MVP, Buster could trade him one of his World Series rings for it… and still have more rings than Trout.
If hardware is what matters, I’ll take an MVP Award and three World Series rings over consecutive All Star Game MVPs and back-to-back AL MVPs. Trout is an absolute stud. I can’t argue that he isn’t the best player in the game right now, because that he is. But to say with such confidence that his will be the greatest start to a career — especially when Pujols put up better numbers, Jeter won more rings, and Posey became immortal — is a bit unfair.
Dum dum dum… another week bites the dust. Unfortunately for sports fans, this week was full of lowlights that overshadowed the highlights. Not much light has been shed in the MLB Wild Card race, and college football had another drab week with only a few solid games being played. The NFL, however, continues to make more news off the field than they are doing on it. It’s quite the sad state of affairs for America’s most profitable sport.
FOOTBALL!!! It’s back, folks, as the NCAA opened its doors for the 2014 college football season. There were some exciting football games for week one, especially amongst the top two spots. Elsewhere, the NFL made some news not by who made certain teams, but more so for who didn’t. Baseball has been creeping along, but Monday is September first and that’s when the final leg of this intense playoff race really heats up. And today, my Nitro League drafts on Labor Day Weekend Sunday for the 17th year in a row. Now, that’s just wacky, my friends. So sit back and get caught up on you Wacky Week in Sports.
Week one is usually filled with some laughers to get the good teams rolling with some decisive victories. It didn’t quite go down that way, especially for the defending champs and Ol’ Saint Nick’s Rolling Tide. Jeremy Pruitt proved to be amongst the best defensive coordinators in the business, not just for what his new Georgia Bulldogs did in the second half of their game, but for how lost the Seminole defense looked without him. The unranked Oklahoma State put a huge scare into the number one seeded Seminoles, scoring 14 points in the final quarter to make Florida State sweat it out. The final score was 37-31 as the Cowboys outplayed the champs in the second half, outscoring them by one point. The Chick-Fil-A Kickoff Classic was almost an instant classic as unranked West Virginia hung around with Alabama for nearly the whole game, losing 33-23. TJ Yeldon made his presence felt as he went off for 126 yards on the ground and two touchdowns. Down the road in Athens, the Dogs came out shaky in their first half of the Hutson Mason/ Jeremy Pruitt era in the matchup of the day that pitted number 12 Georgia versus the number 16 Clemson Tigers. After a first half that saw the Bulldog defense get run over to a score of 21-21, the Dawgs completely shutdown the Tigers in the second half, outscoring them 24-0 for a 45-21 victory. The attack was led by 2014 Heisman Trophy winner (yea, I’m penciling it in already) Todd Gurley who went off for 198 yards rushing and three touchdowns. He also added another touchdown on a thrilling 100 yard kickoff return touchdown. Can I just take Gurley with my first pick in today’s fantasy draft? The Jerry Bowl, the other marquee matchup of the day, must have given my boy Jason Steen a heart attack. His number 13 LSU Tigers were down to the number 14 Wisconsin Badger’s 24-7. With the Badgers notorious clamp down defense and time killing rushing attack, it looked like the Tiger’s day was done. However, behind wide receiver Travin Dural’s 80-yard touchdown and 151 yard day, LSU came roaring back with 21 unanswered points for the 28-24 victory. Finally, my boys in Delaware made a bold move by opening their season against the ACC powerhouse Pittsburgh Panthers. We lost 62-0 and now my football season is over. The Florida Gators game was cancelled due to scary conditions. Aaron Hernandez escaped and was running amok in The Swamp. No official NFL suspension of Hernandez has yet to be handed down.
Which brings us to the NFL. Iron fisted Commissioner Goodell upheld Josh Gordon‘s one year suspension for smoking marijuana. Goodell admitted this week that he blew the Ray Rice domestic violence case in which he inexplicably only suspended Rice for two games after beating his wife unconscious. The punishment has now changed to a mandatory six game suspension for a first offense and a lifetime ban for a second offense. Now, while Goodell made one thing right, he blew a chance to make Gordon’s wrong a right. There is no excuse for a year suspension on any crime that doesn’t endanger someone else’s life. Think about it, a then 22-year old kid who should still be in college, was caught with marijuana. In other words, he was being a 22-year old college kid. He didn’t hurt the face of the NFL like Rice did who had feminist groups up in arms over the decision. He didn’t hurt anyone else, like Aaron Hernandez and his multiple killing sprees (who as I already said, still has no official suspension from the NFL). It didn’t effect his game in anyway as a performance enhancer (unless of course he is like Ki-Jana Carter and openly admits that he can’t play if he isn’t high, dumbass). The only people hurt by Gordon’s one year suspension are Cleveland fans and Fantasy Footballers like myself who now can’t have the second best wide receiver in football on their rosters. Thanks, Rog.
This week was also final cut week for the 53-man Opening Day rosters. There were some surprises, like The Law Firm of BenJarvus Green-Ellis from the Bengals and Daniel Thomas from the Dolphins, but none rang out louder than Michael Sam from the Rams. It was a lousy fit from the get go with the Rams being so deep on the defensive line, but Sam came out and did a lot of things right that gave him a positive grade from Pro Football Focus. In the end, his two sacks (one of which leveled Johnny Football to the tune of Sam throwing that stupid Cash Money Dance right in Manziel’s face) and quarterback hurries weren’t enough to make him the 53rd player on the roster. The Rams hope to keep Sam on the practice squad, however most experts don’t feel Sam will make it through waivers and may join another team this Monday.
You know who it must suck to be? Bryce Harper. He comes up side by side with Mike Trout as the face of the new era of the MLB. The two of them were to rewrite the beloved books of stat filled history for saber metric geeks everywhere. Since then, Harper has become an injury-prone, whiny, little, disrespectful baby, while Mike Trout has become the face of baseball. Yes, Harper’s Nationals are making quite the run at the NL pennant, but Trout’s Angels are arguably the hottest team in baseball, and a lot of that has to do with Trout. And who doesn’t love to watch Trout play? Does anyone outside of the DC area even care about Harper? I know Atlanta fans would love to see him duct taped at home plate so their pitchers could rifle endless fastballs at him. Anyone else?
Anyway, Monday is September 1st and that means two things. One, rosters expand and we get to finally see all of those heralded minor league top prospects we have been hearing about all season. Two, these playoff races are heating up for an exciting finish. The AL has a legitimate six team Wild Card race going on, while the NL is a five team race with the surprise Miami Marlins still in contention. What is even more exciting is that aside from the AL and NL East, four of the divisions are still wide open. Justin Verlander finally put in a Justin Verlander performance to even the Detroit Tigers up with the surging Kansas City Royals atop the AL Central. Now the Michael Brantley led (yea, I actually typed that) Cleveland Indians, who are in a crucial series with the Royals, are creeping back into the hunt just 3.5 games out of first. By the way, is Corey Kluber the best pitcher in the AL? Where did he come from? In the NL, as Yusmeiro Petit keeps retiring batters (46 in a row, seriously?) and Madison Bumgarner continues throwing gem after gem, the San Francisco Giants are looking a lot like those 2010 and 2012 Giants. You know, those guys that wound up putting their one-time ace Tim Lincecum in the pen and got by on lights out pitching and timely hitting? Don Mattingly and his Dodgers better look out behind them!
That’s a wrap for this week, folks, because let’s admit it, no other sports really matter right now. That’s because we are just four days away from the kickoff to the NFL season. Enjoy your last Sunday of the Wacky Week in Sports because next week we move to Monday’s to recap all of your NFL action!