Watching the Red Sox play in the playoffs is comparable to sitting in a crock-pot for me: a slow, agonizing, gut wrenching cooking of my nerves. That will be intensified tonight with Dice-K on the mound. I know he doesn't have the greatest stuff, so he has to mix up his pitch selection and location to keep hitters of guard. Still, he so pitches to the edges of the plate and throws ridiculously bad pitches when he's ahead of the count that it pains me to watch. But watch I will.
I wanted to throw in a quick two-cents on the MVP races this year. I'm a fan of "money ball"; for those who don't know, its a statistical approach to baseball that steers away from many traditional stats (particularly batting average and RBIs) in favor of a few other, more influential statistics (like OBP and SLUG) and some completely new stats (Runs Created and Value Over Replacement Player).
I bring these up because in the NL this year many people are calling Ryan Howard the MVP. Certainly, he led the league in home runs (important) and RBIs (almost meaningless). But his batting average is only .250, and this on-base percentage--an even more important stat--is a less impressive .333. That's ridiculously low for a guy with his power since so many pitchers are going to refuse to throw him a single strike. Perhaps that's why he struck out almost 200 times this season! Instead of Howard, I'll go with Pujols (OPS: 1.114, Runs Created: 160, Total Bases: 342, at bats per HR: 14.2) over Howard (OPS: .842, Runs Created: 113, Total Bases: 331, at bats per HR: 12.7). Chipper Jones is a close second place. To me, the MVP stands for the one player who, if removed from a team, would leave their franchise worthless. I think you could make a very strong argument for CC Sabathia this year, because the Brewers would have never made the playoffs without him... maybe I just talked myself out of Pujols!
Slim picking in the AL this year--no one really had the monster year. Perhaps I'm a homer, but I'd give it to Pedroia for the Sox. With all the injuries the team had, he and Youk were the only two consistent players. And Ped stole 20 bases on top of 54 doubles-- that's getting yourself into scoring position. Oddly enough, most of the AL batting leaders in the important categories played for lousy teams this season, so Ped has a chance...