With the exception of Florida, Mother Nature has reminded us all of her power and what she is capable of when pushed to her limits.
What’s the one thing that can make us all feel better about being stuck in polar vortexes along with having to shovel snow until our arms and backs feel like sparred with Zeus? It’s spring training. However, there’s a lot you need to know. Consider this your need to know source.
Simply the best.
1. Mike Trout isn’t just the best young player in baseball, he’s the games best all-around player.
It’s difficult to process how good Mike Trout truly is without just staring at his baseball reference page like you would stare at Jessica Rabbit. But a bit of that is healthy and quite frankly expected. Here’s an example: He’s hit 50 home runs and scored 200 runs in his first two full major league seasons. The list of players who have accomplished this is shorter and more exclusive than any other list in baseball history. The other players are: Joe DiMaggio, Ted Williams and Albert Pujols. That’s the entire list. Willie Mays didn’t do it. Ken Griffey Jr. didn’t do it, nor did Barry Bonds, or even a prime Mickey Mantle. Based purely on his first 2 seasons, Mike Trout has done something that was only done by one of the top 10 center fielders of all time, the top left fielder of all time and one of the best first basemen of all time. All three are immortals of the game.
Despite all of this, there will be people who will argue for someone else as being better. I understand why it was this way with Miguel Cabrera the year he won the Triple Crown. It’s a historic and rare achievement, but last year? When by some measures, he was actually better than he was the year before? The truth is, now, he’s the best all-around player in the game and the best young position player in the sport. Some of you might argue Andrew McCutchen here, but he’s not as good as Mike Trout and I don’t think even Andrew would particularly argue this point vociferously. Yasiel Puig has one half of one good season, so I don’t feel comfortable anointing him to that place yet. The point is with some of the game’s more seasoned stars heading off the stage, this is the year where we can expect Mike Trout’s complete ascendancy to occur. When it does, I can’t imagine what he’s going to do. Everything seems in play. A .345\.455\800 slash line with a doubles title, a stolen bases title, 110+ runs scored, a gold glove, an MVP, and a Silver Slugger all seems in play. Nothing is out-of-bounds.
As a matter of fact, as I’m thinking of stars leaving the stage, that brings me seamlessly to the next thing I think I know.
(Anthony J. Causi/Icon SMI)
How many times will we see this?
2. With Derek Jeter’s retirement, the question of who will be the next great Yankee is more open than it’s been at any time since Mickey Mantle’s retirement.
The New York Yankees have a lineage of immortals which is the envy of most, if not all, franchises in team sports. From Babe Ruth through to Derek Jeter, the chain appears unbroken to the naked eye. However, that’s not always been the case. Think of the Yankees of the post-Mantle retirement until the Munson era, a lot of Horace Clarks and Joe Pepitone’s in there. Now with the retirement of Derek Jeter, the question of “Who’s Next?” is blatantly open for someone, anyone, to come along and answer it.
This is true for all the franchises with runs of glory longer than a few years. The idea of paying respect to what the franchise has already accomplished — of being the next guy to keep that legacy going or give new firewood to make sure it keeps alive — is daunting. It’s why, with very rare exceptions, the next great guy is drafted. Another team almost never cultivates the guy who “gets it” in the way it needs to happen. Exhibit A is Dwight Howard. Being the next great Los Angeles Laker never mattered to him nearly as much as getting as far away as he could from all the pressure that came with the idea of it did. This fact is especially true in sports with a ready-built minor league infrastructure.
As good as they might be and as much as they might have accomplished, no one looks at Alex Rodriguez and sees the next great Yankee. This goes for Rickey Henderson and anyone else not brought up in their minor league system respecting the tradition and understanding they could fit as the guy who was given something great and hand it back to the next generation. Jeter and the rest of that collection of young guys brought up during the last of the Yankee Dark Ages can say they did their part. Who will take it from them? Who will be the guy or guys, to keep the torch lit? I don’t know, but what I do know is. The guy who had the best chance is gone. What’s worse is that now, the cupboard looks bare.
Will that change? I hope so. Though, I’m not sure.
This really is how I picked these.
3. Here are my predictions for NL and AL postseason award winners.
(Author’s note: I’m not picking Rookies of the Year in either league because it’s impossible to know until the season actually starts. Same for Managers of the Year.)
AL MVP: Mike Trout. See above. If I picked the dude to ascend to unquestioned status as the best player in the entire sport, it feels wrong to somehow then pick someone else to be the best player in the league. Other contenders for the throne: Miguel Cabrera, David Ortiz, Evan Longoria.
NL MVP: Yasiel Puig. Something tells me we’re in for something special, and an MVP season in his sophomore year feels like it. Other contenders for the throne: Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen, Giancarlo Stanton.
AL Cy Young: Yu Darvish. He was sparkling last year. He could be even better this year, Other contenders: Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander, David Price.
NL Cy Young: Clayton Kershaw. Nuff said. Other contenders for the throne: Johnny Cueto, Adam Wainwright, Matt Cain.