As the calender turns to September, the weather turns as well (although this year seems cooler than normal). Along with the cool air comes a cooler and more poised Cole Hamels on the mound.
As I rewatch the Phillies game on my recently acquired MLBtv (which is frustrating at times, but when it does work, I love it), Cole seems very relaxed on the mound and had great control of his fastball last night. When he has good fastball control, then his changeup conpliments it. When he can control both pitches, he’s as good as anyone on the mound, as we saw last night and last October.
Hamels went the distance last night allowing only two hits, a double in the second inning to Ryan Garko and ninth inning single. He only walked one, and it was in the ninth inning, to a pinch-hitting Pablo Sandoval.
Nothing against Cliff Lee and the fantastic pitcher he is, but when Cole is on like he was last night, he is the true ace of this staff. The constant for when Cole pitches is that the Phils don’t score runs. It has been the case his whole career, especially when he pitches well.
But the way this offense can put up runs, I’m not too concerned for the stretch run.
Speaking of the stretch run, with it being September, here’s who I think will be playing past October 4th…
AL East: Yankees
At 6.5 games up with a little over a month to go, it’s really theirs to lose. They are on too much of a roll and have way too much offense for that to happen though. The Red Sox would have to go on an 2007 Rockies kind of roll in order to overtake this division. Yankees win the division by seven games.
AL Central: Twins
This team doesn’t give up and they play hard until the end. Even with a depleted pitching rotation, I’ll choose Minnesota at 3.5 games back of the Tigers. They get seven more games against Detroit. The final year at the HHH will be seeing playoff baseball as the Twins win the division by two games.
AL West: Angels
With a 4.5 game lead over Texas, the Angels play the game offensively too well to not win this division. However they do have a losing record against their own division (who they face a majority of September) and they play the Red Sox and Yankees this month leads me to think that this division is going to be a close race. Angels win the division by two games.
AL Wildcard: Red Sox
They seem to be hitting their stride at 8-2 in their last ten games and currently riding a four game win streak. Clay Buchholz is really coming through as the pitcher they hoped he would and I’m not concerned about Josh Beckett’s recent struggles. Sox grab the wildcard by three games.
NL East: Phillies
I’ve already mentioned Cole earlier and the Phils have a top-ranked ERA since the All-Star break. Mix in the offense and the Phillies take it by seven games.
NL Central: Cardinals
Too much pitching and this offense picks eachother up. They seem to be the most complete team in the NL, if not the entire league. Cards win the division by thirteen games.
NL West: Dodgers
At 5.5 games up on the Rockies, even if they keep playing bad baseball, they’ll just let the rest of the west beat up on eachother as they win the division by four games.
NL Wildcard: Rockies
They’re “sick” and when their offense returns, which it will, they’ll win the wildcard. For once the Rockies have great pitching. Ubaldo Jimenez has developed into an ace and Jason Marquis is a winner. With the Giants pitching, it will be close. I got the Rockies by a game over Giants.
First of all, congratulations to Albert Pujols, although I don’t agree with the decision, great year.
But I know you’ve heard it all before, Ryan Howard propelled his team in September (the most important month). He batted .352 in September with 11 homeruns and 32 RBI. He accounted for a quarter of the Phils RBI in the month and almost twenty percent of their RBI total for the entire season. In September, fellow lefty Chase Utley had one homerun, Jayson Werth hit .242 with one homerun, and Pat Burrell wasn’t at his best. Pujols accounted for only about fifteen percent of the Cards RBI total for the season. Fellow teammate of Pujols Ryan Ludwick mirrored Pujols production numbers and also accounted for about fifteen percent of the Cards RBI. Trot Glaus also had 17 homeruns and 99 RBI. The next closest Phillie other than Utley in RBI count was Pat Burrell with 86. I don’t like to lean on homeruns either but Howard did have 11 more along with 5 more runs scored.
Where did the Cardinals finish in the NL Central? Fourth. Where would they have finished without Pujols? Probably fifth if not stay at fourth. Where is the value in that? There is no chance the Phillies would have won the division without Ryan Howard.
The MVP is very opinion-based because everyone has their
own definition about what the MVP should be. In my mind, I think that unless there is a player who had a majestic, record-breaking season–it should go to a player that had the largest contribution of getting his team into the playoffs. That ballplayer is Ryan Howard.
Here is how I would have voted..
First: Ryan Howard (PHI)
Second: Manny Ramirez (LAD)
Third: Albert Pujols (STL)
4th: Ryan Braun (MIL)
5th: Lance Berkman (HOU)
6th: Brad Lidge (PHI)
7th: Chipper Jones (ATL)
8th: CC Sabathia (MIL)
9th: Aramis Ramirez (CHC)
10th: Carlos Delgado (NYM)