Column: Baseball’s playoff, MVP races heating up
Published: Monday, August 26, 2013
Updated: Monday, August 26, 2013 23:08
It is that time of year again. Students return to school, leaves fall off the trees and the temperature drops steadily as the dog days of summer fade slowly into the distance. With college football set to kickoff this week and NFL Sundays right around the corner it is a great time to be a fan regardless of what sport one endears. For those infatuated with America’s pastime, however, there could not possibly be a better time of year. As we leave behind August in favor of September, one of the most memorable and competitive baseball seasons in recent memory enters its final stages. As a dozen teams fight in the standings for spots in the postseason and only a month’s worth of games left on their schedules, many questions will be answered during this final month of the 2013 Major League Baseball season.
Someone said to me the other day that “baseball is boring.” It is “too slow” and “too predictable.” With a simple glance at the standings I could not disagree more. As of August 26, three teams stand tied atop the National League Wild Card race, the first four teams in the American League East are separated by only seven games and it is anyone’s guess as to whom will stand tall come late October (or early November) when all is said and done. The 2013 season has been defined by its competitive nature as five months removed from Opening Day, a clear-cut, Miami Heat-esque type favorite has yet to reveal itself.
The MVP race has been tight as well. NL candidates include the St. Louis Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina and Pittsburgh Pirates centerfielder Andrew McCutchen, the latter of whose ball club looks to re-capture its early-season momentum in hopes of clinching its first postseason birth since 1992. Considering his strong overall numbers and undeniable presence as a team leader, Joey Votto, the 2010 NL MVP, has also made a strong case to bring home his second trophy. Los Angeles Dodger’s pitcher Clayton Kershaw also deserves to enter the discussion with an earned run average of 1.72 through 181.1 innings pitched. It would not be unfathomable to see Kershaw take home the award in the likeness of Justin Verlander two years ago.
The AL boasts two of the strongest MVP candidates baseball has seen in years. Chris Davis of the Baltimore Orioles burst onto the scene this season after belting 37 home runs prior to the All-Star break. While his second-half production has dropped slightly, his stat line still includes 48 home runs and 118 RBI’s making him a legitimate candidate to take home the hardware. The true favorite, however, wears blue and orange. Miguel Cabrera—last year’s Triple Crown winner and the first to accomplish the feat since 1967—has bounced back with an even more dominant campaign. Citing SportsCenter as my source in the fashion of a true baseball nut, Cabrera had accumulated a .324 average with 32 home runs and 106 RBI’s as of August 25, 2012, en route to leading the league in all three categories. At the same date this year, Cabrera’s numbers were significantly better; the third baseman touted a .360 BA with 42 home runs and 128 RBI’s. As he attempts to win the award for the second straight season, it is hard to argue against the idea that the AL MVP is “Miggy’s” to win.
Will Cabrera accomplish the unthinkable and win a second straight Triple Crown? Will Pittsburgh make the playoffs for the first time since before this columnist was born? Could a pitcher possibly win the NL MVP? All questions remain unanswered as the next two months could provide a wild ride for baseball fans everywhere.