Dave’s Free Play, Monday 9/29/14
The curtain has come down on the 2014 MLB regular season, so time for me to chime in with my award winners for the year. It looks to me like most of these are pretty clear cut, with only a couple of tough calls.
AL MVP: Mike Trout. No brainer. He’s the best position player in the game, and the Angels ended up with the best record in the majors.
NL MVP: Clayton Kershaw. This was heading toward being a great debate with advocates that pitchers shouldn’t be considered for the MVP stumping for Giancarlo Stanton. Unfortunately, the Marlins star went down with the scary injury. Regardless, Kershaw put together the best single season for a pitcher since Pedro Martinez about 15 years ago, and he’s the clear choice to me.
AL Cy Young: Corey Kluber. This one is tough, as a good argument can certainly be made for Felix Hernandez. But Kluber is my pick. He actually finished ahead of Kershaw in WAR, which is close to unbelievable. Kluber also had what I’d consider a below average defense for support and his consistency was phenomenal. It’s close to a coin flip here between Kluber and the King, but I’m siding with the Indians righty.
AL Rookie: Jose Abreu. No contest once Masahiro Tanaka went down, and when considering what the White Sox lineup looked like, Abreu’s numbers become even more impressive.
NL Rookie: Jacob deGrom. This looked like Billy Hamilton all the way at mid-season, but not anymore. deGrom went from a barely on the radar prospect to what appears to be a potential staff ace. As for Hamilton, he’s a blast to watch and his best years are still to come. But that .297 OBP is not good, and while he’s clearly dangerous on the bases, he also wasn’t automatic, getting nabbed 22 times trying to steal. I actually think this is fairly clear cut with deGrom on top.
AL Manager: Buck Showalter. Very easy choice here. I can’t see any argument.
NL Manager: Clint Hurdle. From this vantage point, the most difficult choice. Props to Matt Williams, who took the Nationals to the number one NL seed in the upcoming playoffs. Kudos to Don Mattingly, who had to manage what seems to at times be a fractured clubhouse and sure appears to be improving as an in-game skipper. But Hurdle, in spite of occasionally getting locked into “by the book” strategies that are outmoded, has been really good in Pittsburgh. Lots of good lineup adjustments throughout the campaign, and someone has to get some credit for the Josh Harrison breakout as well as the Edinson Volquez revival.
Got some different choices? Follow me at Twitter (@davecokin) and please chime in!
Okay 2-1 with my Sunday NFL sides. Lost the Jets, won the Vikings and a late add on the 49ers when the number got to -4 paid off. Ah yes, the value of a point or even a half point on display yet again. Excellent football week overall, and an okay profit for the fourth straight month is locked up.
Just a couple more days to sign up for the six-week special. I’ll come up with something new for October, but at what works out to $100 weekly for all my plays, this six-week deal is pretty solid. Also, feel free to inquire about what I believe is the most unique net winners program in the industry. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for all the details.
In spite of a very nice overall weekend, the two free plays were misfires. I don’t have a strong feel for tonight’s Patriots/Chiefs game, but there is a huge winning trend that comes into play here, so I’ll explain that and also will use it as the Monday comp.
09/29 05:30 PM NFL (273) NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS at (274) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Take: (274) KANSAS CITY CHIEFS +3
I’m not sure what to make of the Patriots right now. Belichick and Brady are still there, and the Pats are 2-1 out of the gate. But there are some items of concern here, and it’s at least conceivable that there’s a bit of decline taking place on this roster. There’s just no getting around how inefficient the New England offense has been thus far. If this continues, the Pats are going to lose some games, and it’s certainly a possibility tonight.
Kansas City was about as phony as it gets for much of last season, and the consensus that they’d take a step or two backward this season looks like it’s going to be on target. The Chiefs look destined for a third place finish in the AFC West. I don’t think this is a terrible team, but they’re clearly not as good as the Broncos or Chargers, and if they go 1-3 against those two in divisional play, I’d consider it a victory of sorts.
Despite the poor offense, the Patriots are the better team here. But they’re up against what should be a fired up home crowd in what can be a very difficult venue for visitors. And there’s a significant trend in play here.
The angle in question teams that are dogs in Game Four after getting their first win of the season the prior outing. I think there’s a reasonable rationale here that takes this out of the complete fluke category. Getting that initial win after starting 0-2 is a major confidence boost for any team, and grabbing points with a team that’s at least gaining some momentum is not a terrible thing. In any event, backing underdogs in this scenario has been remarkably productive for several years, and it’s tough to argue with the success rate.
This is not a powerful opinion on my part. Belichick vs. Reid is still lopsided from my perspective and it’s really weird to see Tom Brady sitting at #28 in the NFL QB ratings. Maybe it’s a great spot to fade a team that’s no longer what it was, and there is that big winning trend to factor into the equation. But I’m not brimming with confidence on this call. Chiefs +3 is the choice, but this is definitely not top play material for me.