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| Hitters || American League || Stat || National League || Stat |
| AVG || Ian Kinsler || 0.331 || Chase Utley || 0.356 |
| OBP || Nick Markakis || 0.435 || Albert Pujols || 0.477 |
| SLG || Miguel Cabrera || 0.595 || Ryan Ludwick || 0.631 |
| OPS || Miguel Cabrera || 1.003 || Albert Pujols || 1.068 |
| R || Curtis Granderson || 137 || Hanley Ramirez || 128 |
| H || Curtis Granderson || 212 || Chase Utley || 217 |
| 2B || Dustin Pedroia || 49 || Chase Utley || 57 |
| 3B || Curtis Granderson || 16 || Jose Reyes || 19 |
| HR || Miguel Cabrera || 44 || Adam Dunn || 48 |
| RBI || Magglio Ordonez || 136 || Ryan Howard || 157 |
| BB || Jack Cust || 121 || Adam Dunn || 123 |
| SO || Jack Cust || 188 || Ryan Howard || 199 |
| SB || Carlos Gomez || 54 || Jose Reyes || 73 |
| CS || Carlos Gomez || 17 || Hanley Ramirez || 23 |
| || || || || |
| Pitchers || || || || |
| IP || Roy Halladay || 245.1 || Brandon Webb || 247.2 |
| W || Chien-Ming Wang || 22 || Brandon Webb || 24 |
| L || Carlos Silva || 17 || Ian Snell || 19 |
| ERA || Zack Greinke || 2.67 || Jake Peavy || 2.14 |
| H || Carlos Silva || 252 || Zach Duke || 241 |
| K || Zack Greinke || 234 || Johan Santana || 221 |
| HR || Brandon McCarthy || 34 || Jamie Moyer || 41 |
| BB || Dana Eveland || 97 || Daniel Cabrera || 121 |
| Sv || Joe Nathan || 47 || Francisco Rodriguez || 51 |
| LSv || Joe Nathan || 6.1 || Brad Lidge || 4.3 |
| Awards || American League || National League |
| Most Valuable Player || Miguel Cabrera (.320/44/123) || Chase Utley (.356/36/137) |
| Cy Young || Zack Greinke (20/2.67/234) || Brandon Webb (24/2.78/189) |
| Rookie of the Year || Travis Snider || Jordan Schafer |
| Comeback Player || Travis Hafner || Chris Carpenter |
| Surprise Player || Brandon Inge || Ryan Zimmerman |
| Disappointing Player || Chris Davis || Cameron Maybin |
| Dave Kingman || Mike Jacobs || Chris Young |
| Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins || Alex Rios || Carlos Delgado |
| Josh Towers || Derek Jeter || Barry Zito |
| Mark Redman || C.C. Sabathia || Tom Glavine |
| || American League || National League |
| Division Series || Red Sox over Tigers, 3-1 || Phillies over Brewers, 3-0 |
| || Twins over Angels, 3-0 || Mets over D'Backs, 3-2 |
| || || |
| League Championship || Twins over Red Sox, 4-2 || Mets over Phillies, 4-3 |
| || || |
| World Series || Mets over Twins, 4-2 || |
Comments on the Upcoming Season
Looking for a Surprise Team in 2009? Here is a brief list of surprise team candidates, at least as I see it:
The Rangers biggest problem in 2008? They led the league in hitting, but were the worst pitching team in baseball. But they didn’t finish last in the majors in pitching on pitching talent alone – the Rangers also led the majors in errors committed and hits allowed per game. Where I come from, those two stats point rather directly to a pitching staff being undermined by their defense.
Fast-forward to 2009. Despite one of the most ridiculous Gold Gloves of all time, Michael Young moves to third base and Elvis Andrus takes over at shortstop. Right away this improves the up-the-middle defense. Throw in what will hopefully be a full season from Ian Kinsler at second, and a stable (if not terribly great) season from David Murphy, Josh Hamilton, and Nelson Cruz in the outfield, and this Rangers defense could improve dramatically in 2009.
On the other hand, the starting rotation itself is pretty much unchanged from last year, which is not good news. But anytime you have a team perform embarrassingly poorly in the pitching-defense category, the following season there could always be a correction. Throw in the fact that the Rangers never hurt for hitting, and it could be something.
The Braves have quietly assembled a shockingly good pitching staff with Derek Lowe (yes, I’ve come around on Lowe), Jair Jurrjens, and Javier Vazquez composing the front three and Japanese import Kenshin Kawakami, Tom Glavine, and (later) Tim Hudson bringing up the rear of the staff. The rotation alone should make the Braves competitive. Throw in Chipper Jones and his ageless hitting, Casey Kotchman and his excellent defense/refusal to be struck out, and Brian McCann’s best hitting catcher in the league routine, and you’ve got the makings of an offense.
The Braves also finished seven games under their Pythagorean Projection last year – 72 wins instead of 79. Unfortunately, Garrett Anderson will probably only hurt the team at the plate and in the field, but if this team can simply replicate what they did last season at the plate while improving on the mound, they should improve by at least 10 games.
While I do not share Keith’s enthusiasm for this squad, I can admit (freely) that interesting things are a-foot at the Great American Ballpark. The Reds could have simply the best up-the-middle defense in the National League in 2009 with Alex Gonzalez of the Marlins, Brandon Phillips, and Willy Taveras patrolling shortstop, second base, and centerfield, respectively. Throw in Joey Votto, an excellent defensive third baseman, and it is almost easy for forget Edwin Encarnacion is still a starter on this team.
The Reds starting rotation is filled with promising pitchers who had bad 2008 seasons. Of Aaron Harang, Johnny Cueto, Edinson Volquez, Micah Owings, and Bronson Arroyo, only Volquez had a good season. If Harang and Arroyo return to form and Owings and Cueto live up to expectations, this will be an excellent rotation.
The Adam Dunn Era is over in Cincinnati, but this team will still score runs in 2009. The Reds finished fourth from the bottom of the NL in pitching last year, and only fifth from the bottom in hitting. If they can improve moderately upon those rankings, this team wins 80 games easily.
New York Yankees
So, the Yankees have gone out with the old, in the new, eh? So long, Carl Pavano, Jason Giambi, and Sidney Ponson. We hardly new ya’, Ivan Rodriguez and Bobby Abreu. Wait until next year, Ian Kennedy and Phil Hughes. Welcome aboard, Mark Teixeira, A.J. Burnett and C.C. Sabathia, and welcome back Hideki Matsui, Jorge Posada, and Chien-Ming Wang.
Expect this team to win, at most, as many games as they did in 2008, and at worst, about 80 games. Why? First and foremost – their best hitter, Alex Rodriguez, is out until at least mid-May with a hip, and then who knows how long it will take him to get back into the swing of things. Second, for some reason this team just does not get that Jose Molina is one of the best defensive catchers in baseball, and Jorge Posada is one of the worst. Last season, Mike Mussina won 20 games for the only time in his career pitching exclusively to Molina, and by the end of the year Pettitte demanded Molina catch him as well.
But the third, and most important, reason to expect the Yankees to backslide this season is up-the-middle defense. The Yankees now have controversy in centerfield, as Brett Gardner has won the starting job but Melky Cabrera is likely to get at-bats – instability in centerfield is no good. Then there is the infield – Derek Jeter actually performed far better than expected last season, which is to say he wasn’t the absolute worst defender at shortstop by a mile, as usual. But he was still bad. And Robinson Cano, whom we’d thought was pretty good, looked awful in 2008.
In my opinion, the Yankees are not going to succeed until they start putting – at a minimum – league average defenders at the most important spots on the field, shortstop, second base, and centerfield. They aren’t doing it in 2009, and there is not much reason to think this team is going to be vastly improved simply because they added some pitching.
Justin Morneau is a strict every other season guy – more strict than A-Rod or Juan Gonzalez. This is a down year for the Twins first baseman.
C.C. Sabathia has never given up over a hit per inning in his entire career. That streak ends in 2009. The New York Yankees defense has not limited opposing teams to less than a hit per inning since 2001, and currently sport two of baseball’s worst defender up the middle in Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano. Plus, the Yankees don’t get that Jose Molina should play every day while Jorge Posada should move to DH full time. Plus A-Rod is out to begin the year.
The Seattle Mariners may feature three of the worst players, by position, in baseball in 2009 – Kenji Johjima, Yuniesky Betancourt, and Miguel Batista.
Derrek Lee declines. Aramis Ramirez does not.
When Carlos Delgado joins the 500 homerun club, it will officially be time to reevaluate what that club means.
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Ron Santo: Cubs Legend
Pat Hughes and Ron Santo were the Chicago Cubs' WGN Radio announcing team for 15 seasons. Their unique on-air chemistry became known as "the Pat and Ron Show" with fans tuning in as much for their eccentric banter as for Cubs baseball itself.
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