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Five Reasons To Hand The NL Cy Young To Clayton Kershaw Right Now

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Clayton Kershaw has been one of the best pitchers in baseball over the past two seasons. In 2013, he was the only bright spot through what was a miserable first half of the year. As the Dodgers have started winning, Kershaw’s profile has done nothing but improve throughout the months of July, August and September. With that being said, there are some compelling reasons why he should be awarded the NL C.Y. Young award without any second thoughts.

1) He Gives You At Least Six Innings A Game

The first thing that you need to see out of the top pitcher in his league is the ability to go deep into games. Since July 21st, Kershaw has failed to go six innings in a start only twice. During that span, he has averaged roughly seven innings a start with an average of seven strikeouts per appearance. Most importantly, he has given up more than three runs only twice in his last 10 starts. That is consistency that few pitchers offer these days.

2) He Leads The NL In Strikeouts And ERA

Pitchers who strike a lot of batters out tend to throw more pitches than those who get ground ball outs or outs via the fly ball. During the course of a game, a higher pitch count wears a pitcher down and causes him to throw pitches that hitters can make contact with. With Kershaw, it doesn’t really matter how many innings he goes. He is going to keep batters swinging and missing throughout the entire game. For the season, Kershaw hs 208 strikeouts and an ERA of 1.92.

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3) Batters Are Hitting .208 Against Him This Year

Hitters are having a terrible time trying to get on base against Kershaw this year. If you are playing at Dodger Stadium, you might as well just skip your turn at bat as hitters are only batting .197 when he pitches at home. Another sign of his greatness at home is his WHIP of .110. That means only one batter gets on base per inning on average when Kershaw takes the mound.

4) The Bats Are Starting To Heat Up For L.A

A pitcher is judged by the number of wins that he gets during the season. While this may be unfair, many great pitchers have been ostracised for having a down year simply because their team wasn’t providing enough run support for him to win games. That was exactly the case with Kershaw earlier this year. However, now that the Dodgers are starting to score runs on a regular basis, it is more likely that Kershaw will pad his win total. Over his last 10 starts, he is 5-2 compared with the 9-6 record he had during the first 3+ months of the season.

5) There Aren’t Many Great Pitchers In The NL

On paper, it looked like Matt Harvey of the New York Mets was the only pitcher who was giving Kershaw a serious run for the honor. While Jose Fernandez of the Marlins is going to be a great pitcher going forward, he doesn’t have the track record needed to sway voters in the 2013 race. When Harvey went down with an elbow injury earlier in the year, it signaled the end of the C.Y. Young race before it had the chance to develop into something more dramatic.

The 2014 Cy Young race should be a three person battle between Kershaw, Matt Harvey and Jose Fernandez. However, it is prudent to reward Kershaw this year for the work that he has done to keep the Dodgers afloat until reinforcements were able to arrive. Now that the Dodgers are poised to make the playoffs, he will have a grand stage to show just how deserving of the award he is.

Check out past CY Young Award Winners at Baseball Almanac

Three Reasons Why Teams Should Avoid Handing Out Big Contracts To Players

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It seems like the cool thing to do these days to hand ridiculously large contracts to professional athletes. In 2013, several major league players have been handed contracts in excess of $20 million per year. However, is it worth it to pay one player so much when the entire team needs to play well to win games? Let’s take a look at a few reasons why it may not be the best idea to overpay a player.

It Prevents Roster Flexibility

If your star player gets hurt, how do you replace that player without spending too much money? Unless you have a player already on the roster who can replace the production that you were getting from your star player, it will be hard to trade for or sign another player of equal productivity.

On the flip side, if that player doesn’t play well, you can’t sit a player who is making $10,000 or more per game. That is a waste of money, and the fans will remind you about that each game that the struggling player sits. Therefore, you have no choice but to put a struggling player in the lineup when someone else could be getting the job done in his place.

Team Chemistry Can Be Altered

Over the past several seasons, teams in all sports have tried their luck at assembling rosters full of talented players in the hopes of making the playoffs. However, most of those efforts failed or took awhile to get going.

The Philadelphia Eagles of the NFL went 8-8 with a supposed dream team in 2011, the Miami Heat started 9-8 the first season that LeBron played for them and most recently, the Dodgers and Blue Jays have stumbled out of the gate after acquiring many high priced players.

Why is it hard to win when you spend so much money? Part of it is the pressure of living up to the contract as well as having never played with your teammates before. Ideally, a team wins when it has players who have grown up together and have learned a single style of play together.

Athletes Get Old Quickly

Alex Rodriguez is the perfect example of why you don’t give an older player a long-term contract with a lot of guaranteed money. At the age of 38, Rodriguez is still owed $100 million over the next five years. However, there is little chance that he will see the field much for the Yankees this season or any season after that. He is doing nothing but holding the team hostage at this point. Unfortunately, the Yankees have no one to blame but themselves in this case. It should be a warning sign to teams in the future to offer either many years or a large annual salary instead of both.

Justin Verlander has over 200 million reasons to smile over the next several seasons. However, if he doesn’t bring a World Series to Detroit, the fans may wonder if he is worth the money. Management may be on the hook as well if the deal doesn’t pan out as the team hopes it will. Overall, players who earn large guaranteed contracts have everything to gain and almost nothing to lose.

MLB Power Rankings Updated as of 07-22-13

After a bit of a layoff here, we’ve finally updated our MLB rankings for 2013. Here is a peak at the top 5. Click here to read the rest.

1. St. Louis Cardinals

A run differential of +129 in an indication of a well rounded team that is going to be dangerous in the playoffs.

2. Boston Red Sox

The wild card winner is not going to want to head to Boston to face a red-hot Red Sox team at home.

3. Oakland Athletics

Bartolo Colon continues his career renaissance in Oakland with 13 wins this season.

4. Tampa Bay Rays

Tampa Bay is proving the naysayers wrong with a strong month of July. Could they be World Series contenders?

5. Pittsburgh Pirates

Pittsburgh needs to make sure that they don’t let the Reds or Dodgers catch them in the next 60 days.

Why The All-Star Game Shouldn’t Determine Home Field Advantage In The World Series

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For the past several seasons, the winning league in the all-star game has been granted home field advantage in the World Series. While this rule was created to make the all-star game more interesting, is it really a good idea? It may be time for Bud Selig to reevaluate this rule to see if it still fits the goal of making the game more interesting.

All-Star Teams Aren’t Always Comprised Of The Best Players

There is a rule for the all-star game that says that each team must have one representative. While that is great for the teams and players that get a chance to represent their teams, the players from teams such as Houston or Kansas City should not be determining who gets home field advantage in the World Series. It is doubtful the managers of the Cardinals, Braves and Giants want to be playing a series deciding game on the road because Billy Butler managed to sneak a single past Ricky Nolasco late in the all-star game.

Most All-Star Games Are Unappealing These Days

It isn’t necessarily a bad thing that the all-star game isn’t as interesting as it used to be. With the advent of interleague play, fans have seen many of the match-ups presented in the all-star game already. Additionally, free agency means that players could wind up playing for multiple teams in their careers. This reduces the loyalty that players have toward their team and their league. When you take a look at other leagues, you see that the NFL has almost abandoned the Pro Bowl while the NHL seems to revamp their all-star format each year.

It’s Still An Exhibition Game

Players don’t want to risk getting injured in an all-star game regardless of what may be on the line. Owners don’t want to pay their best players $10 million for the rest of the season to sit on the bench thanks to an injury in an exhibition game. Most players these days consider it a bigger honor to be named to the team as opposed to actually playing in the game. If the general attitude surrounding the game is to have fun and hopefully not get hurt, is it fair to put home field advantage for the biggest series of the year on the line in July?

There Are Better Ways To Determine Who Gets The Final Game At Home

Most leagues determine who gets the extra game at home by which team has the better record. The Heat were awarded home court in the NBA finals because of their best overall record in 2013 and the Blackhawks were given home ice because they had the best record in the NHL this season. Baseball should eliminate the silly way that they determine who gets the extra game at home by awarding it to the team with the better regular season record. If baseball didn’t want to use best overall record, it could use best interleague record or who won the season series between the two teams if they met during the season.

All-star games should not determine home field advantage in the biggest series in baseball. It is an exhibition game for the fans to see a fantasy match-up between the best players in both leagues. For the players, it is a chance to unwind and enjoy playing baseball for a night. The result of the game should have no bearing on the season whatsoever.

Five Teams That Need The All-Star Break To Come ASAP

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The All-Star game is a great event for fans and players alike. Players get to experience playing with the best in the league while representing their team and fans back home. Fans get to watch what amounts to a fantasy league game with home-field advantage on the line for the World Series. For some teams, the All-Star break represents a merciful stop in the action that can help them regroup.

1) Baltimore Orioles

The Orioles are looking to go to the playoffs for the second year in a row. While they are in good shape overall as the All-Star break comes closer, they have lost four of their last five games. They are dealing with injuries and a dearth of talent at starting pitcher that has put too much pressure on their offense to perform each night.

2) Oakland Athletics

The Athletics are 6-9 in there previous 15 games entering play on Tuesday. Although every team is going to slump at times, the As have lost a majority of those games to division opponents. In fact, the Athletics have ceded three games in the standings to the Rangers and have fallen into a tie for first place in their division.

3) St. Louis Cardinals

St. Louis has the best record in baseball by a wide margin at this point. Unfortunately, a majority of their wins recently have come against the likes of the Marlins, Cubs and Mets. Those are not teams that will be making the playoffs. If St. Louis doesn’t get it together soon, they could be relegated to being a wild card team in what has become a competitive NL Central.

4) Colorado Rockies

Remember when the Rockies were the surprise team in baseball? They have fallen hard since then. Hovering around the .500 mark, Colorado is in a fight just to make the playoffs. Despite a recent winning streak, the team is only 9-11 in its last 20 games. Hopefully, the Rockies will use the All-Star break to rest up and get back to their winning ways from earlier this season.

5) Washington Nationals

Despite everything that has happened to them this season, they still have a chance to make a run at a division title. Bryce Harper is beginning a rehab stint that will hopefully see him return to Washington shortly. To get back on track, Washington needs to give starters Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez more run support. Despite respectable ERAs and strikeout totals, the two are a combined 7-9 this season.

These five teams are certainly ready for a break. Although none of these teams are out of the playoff hunt yet, there may not be enough time for all of these teams to turn it around unless the turnaround begins soon. This means that players will have to use their upcoming time off to regroup and come back more focused than ever for the second half of the season.