Chat with Jayson Stark
Welcome to SportsNation! On Friday, ESPN.com senior MLB writer Jayson Stark will drop in to chat some baseball.
Jayson Stark has been a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com since 2000. His regular contributions include the newsy Rumblings and Grumblings column and his tilted look inside baseball's numbers and quirks, the Useless Information Department.
Send your questions now and join Stark Friday at 1 p.m. ET!
Jayson Stark (1:04 PM)
Happy Postseason! I've only got about a half-hour today, but I'm sure I'll take a lot of heat for my awards picks and postseason predictions. So let's get started!
Bill (Iowa City)
How can voters argue that the MVP should come from a playoff team (or a contender at least) and yet put someone like Kemp 2nd on their ballot? If team achievement is a criteria, shouldn't they just exclude him altogether? In your case, would you have given Kemp a 1st place vote if Braun had a lesser season?
Jayson Stark (1:06 PM)
I went back and forth on Kemp versus Braun for days. If you read my column, my logic was that their two seasons were incredibly close by virtually any measure. And if two candidates are that close, I'm a believer that the guy who compiled those numbers in a race, where every game and every at-bat mattered, should get the vote if everything else was virtually equal. But that's why I put Kemp second, because he clearly towered above the rest of the field.
Francona a hot pickup right now... does he make any sense in Baltimore with Buck transitioning to GM? Or do you see that as highly unlikely?
Jayson Stark (1:07 PM)
I don't see that one. Buck is likely to emerge as the guy with the most power/clout/input there. But I don't see him winding up as the GM. So there would be no need to hire a new manager.
Jumpf R. Coq (Brooklyn)
Man, these pennant races sure are boring. Nothing happens at the end of the season! It is *imperative* that the MLB add two more wild card teams to the mix for an unfair and unproductive one-game playoff. Yeah, that's the ticket! #Lovitz'd
Jayson Stark (1:10 PM)
Yeah, I was kind of busy this week. Anything happen in the last couple of days? OK, I've heard this line of thinking a thousand times in the last few days. I don't blame anyone for saying it or thinking it. But I still like adding a wild-card team in each league. It's true that it theoretically wouldn't have given us this drama this year. Then again, you never know how the Giants and Angels would have played things down the stretch if they had something to play for. And the schedules likely would be different. And it increases the incentive to finish first, which is only a good thing. And those two one-game wild-card survivor games will be the equivalent of what we saw this week -- only EVERY year. To start the postseason with two win-or-home games will mean incredible playoff drama right out of the chute. What's wrong with that?
Mike (San Diego)
So if Kemp's games didn't matter, why did he even show up to the park? After all, Baltimore was out of the race so that must've meant their games didn't matter. By that logic, the Sox are in the playoffs.
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
Hey Mike, you're really exaggerating what I just said. Anyone who would argue that every Dodgers game "mattered" as much as every Brewers game, from about Mother's Day on, was watching a different season than I just watched.
Joe Maddon (Arlington)
Did I make the correct decision to go with Matt Moore in Game 1?
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
I love this pick. Talked to so many guys in the game over the last week who said, "This guy has the best stuff of anybody on their team," that I can't wait to see him in this setting. I'm sure he'll have a short leash if it turns out not to be his day. It's so Joe Maddon-ish. You don't even know the meaning of that term, "conventional wisdom." Right, Joe?
Mike (San Diego)
I just think it's flawed logic that Kemp gets penalized because Fielder, Greinke, Marcum, and Gallardo are better than Loney, Kershaw, Lilly, and Billingsley.
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
Mike, Mike, Mike. There's no wrong answer to this question. You see it differently than I see it. That's all this is. We're allowed to disagree. It's the American way. I'm not accusing you of flawed logic. Why is my logic "flawed?" This is why the MVP is the most interesting major award in sports -- because we all have our own interpretation of what "valuable" means.
Josh (St. Petes)
The MVP has to come from a playoff team? Oh, okay. I didn't know it was the player's job to be GM as well and pick his teammates.
Jayson Stark (1:19 PM)
Is that what I said? Of course not. I told you I almost voted for Kemp. I went back and forth for days on this. I don't have some deep-seated philosophical stance that a player on a team that doesn't win shouldn't be the MVP, just as I don't think pitchers should never win the MVP. Every case is different. But the standings have always mattered in MVP elections, from the beginning. If there are now people out there saying this is flawed logic or outdated thinking, it's their right to think that. I just don't happen to agree with it.
Bryan (New Jersey)
Why is everyone doubting the Yankees when they had the best record in the American League? I understand that Verlander has had a remarkable season, but the Yankees have never had trouble against him.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
I was really shocked to see that only one of us resident ESPN "experts" picked the Yankees to win the World Series. Then again, zero of us picked them to win the AL East, and they did. They're very capable of winning this series and winning any series. But as I wrote in my predictions piece, the question is: Can they win a series if CC doesn't win Game 1, or if they don't win every game he pitches? I'm not so sure they can.
I read your comments about the Tigers going 45-45 outside thier division. But isn't that misleading? No team improved via trades as much as Tigers and thier record outside of division after was much better than 500. ((Fistler alone replacing the #5 starter who was 4-17 was worth a TON! if they had Fister all year even winning just 2/3 of those games the Tigers would have had the best record in baseball +10 games 14-7 vs 4-17)
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
That's an excellent point. And they had a really good record against the other playoff teams. On the other hand, if I'm not mistaken, the Yankees went 3-0 this year in games Verlander and Fister started against them. THAT sounded kinda ominous -- but I picked the Tigers to win that series anyway!
Jason (St Louis)
If the Phils lose game one with Halladay on the mound, does that significantly tilt the scales in St Louis' favor?
Jayson Stark (1:25 PM)
I think you're right. The way Tony has his rotation arranged, he's gambling he can steal a game in Philadelphia and then have Carpenter and Garcia lined up to pitch 3-4 at home. So if the Phillies lose either game in Philadelphia, the pressure shifts to them. No doubt about that.
Jim (Monroe, NC)
Didn't the Braves season really turn when they went to St. Louis three weeks ago, lost the opener after leading with 2 outs and no one on for St. Louis in the 9th (Kimbrel walked Furcal and Theriot on 8 pitches to bring up Pujuls), and then got swept? They basically let them back in when they could have buried them in that first game.
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I've thought that many times. That was a week where Venters blew a lead against the Phillies and Kimbrel blew that game against the Cardinals. And that was a signal that the games that had been so automatic all year weren't going to be so automatic anymore down the stretch.
I'm really heated over this... Look at Steve Nash. Guy scored what, under 15 a game. His preparation, health, routine, connecting with each guy, reflected on the court. Oh he also made everyone better on the court. He was the engine which made that team go. MVP.
Jayson Stark (1:28 PM)
Different sport. And I'm not sure there's an equivalent to the point guard in this sport. But I do think great players like Ryan Braun do elevate everyone around them. Not sure why we're not allowed to believe in that concept anymore.
What I don't get about the "games mattering" thing is that teams like the Dodgers and Jays still play again teams that have THEIR game matter. So, for example, if the Dodgers play the Giants or the D-Backs and their game matter, how does the Dodgers game NOT matter? Or When Toronto plays NY, Tampa, Bos, LAA. How can one it matter for one team and not the other, especially when the team in the pennant race, is playing a "meaningful" game and trying to win?
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
Sure, those games matter to both teams, but they matter in different ways. You don't think there was a very different sense of urgency for the Red Sox this week than the Orioles?
Charles (San Jose)
Jayson, Is the difference between the Brewers and D-backs really large enough to justify 20 of 22 ESPN experts picking the Brewers?
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
That surprised me, too. But if you saw my poll of GMs, assistant GMs, scouts, managers and players for my predictions piece, not one of them picked the D-backs. But I do think Arizona is a team nobody should want to play. And the funny thing is, they're so similar to the Brewers in some ways that one of the people I talked to called them "Brewers Lite."
Jayson, completely agree on your MVP rationale. Kemp was NOT that significantly better than Braun when you look across the board at the numbers. And all things being equal, the guy who does it with the pressure of a pennant race should gain an advantage. It isn't that you're punishing Kemp as much as you're rewarding Braun.
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
I'm glad somebody in this chat agrees with me! That's exactly right. FanGraphs actually breaks down how their respective Wins Above Replacement ratings were devised. And you can see they ranked Braun ahead of Kemp in offensive production, baserunning and even UZR. Kemp wound up leading basically because of a positional adjustment. But the MVP isn't the Best WAR Award. If they were that close, why aren't we allowed to weigh other factors -- like the standings -- when we vote?
What made you pick the Rangers to beat the Phillies in the W.S. Did you see what SF pitching did the TX bats last year? Why would you think a better PHI staff wouldn't do the same? Or did you just want be different?
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
First of all, if you read the column, I outline all my thinking. But there are several reasons. The biggest is, I think this Texas team is better. Napoli and Beltre are lineup-changers who weren't there last year. Their bullpen is much better. And they have three lefthanded starters who represent that Phillies lineup's worst nightmare. So much of October is about matchups, I just think they're the team that matches up best against the Phillies.
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
Hate to do this, but I only have time for one more.
Terry Kelly (Albuquerque)
In your guys' "Best Postseason Games" for each round, you chose Game 7 from the 2001 World Series over 1960. What was the reasoning? I understand it was a great game, but if that 1960 game happened this year, ESPN, Twitter and Facebook would all explode, calling it the greatest game ever and nothing will ever top it.
Jayson Stark (1:38 PM)
I didn't agree with that choice, actually. 2001 was the best Game 7 I ever personally attended, with Morris-Smoltz a close second. But I'd have voted for Mazeroski. The bottom line is, picking the best Game 7 is impossible, don't you think? At any rate, I loved going through those Postseason Classics. If folks out there haven't checked that out on our site, it's tremendous. Gave me chills thinking back on some of those games.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
That'll do it for today. Happy Postseason. Ought to be an awesome month. See you down the road in Chat Land.