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 (1:05 PM)
Greetings! I'm guessing I'm going to get grilled on my award picks. So should be a fun chat! I only have a half-hour today, so let's get started.
Mahdi Ali (Rochester, MN)
I agreed with most of your predictions besides the MVP. I still think Trout deserves an edge. Trout has been right there with Cabrera in offense stats & has blown him out the water in defense/base running...As for the playoff thing, Angels didnt make the playoffs because hamilton, pujols, pitching staff screwed it up.....trout shouldnt be punished because he has hamilton
Jayson Stark (1:09 PM)
I hear this a lot. And as I wrote in my column, you're not wrong -- because there are no wrong answers here. But the MVP debate has always been about how to define "value." I know there's a shift in that tide now, that a lot of people think value should be just about how much more valuable a player is than an average replacement. But if we use that formula, I think we're just picking a Most Outstanding Player, not a Most Valuable Player. I don't necessarily think a candidate's team has to make the postseason. But I do place a premium on players who have huge, and especially historic years, in the context of a race. Trout's team hasn't played a big game since May. True, that's not his fault. But it's what makes the Trout-Cabrera debate different from last year, for me at least.
Thanks for breaking through the anti-win rhetoric surrounding Scherzer. Do you think enough writers will agree for Max to take the prize?
Jayson Stark (1:12 PM)
I do. I understand the assault on "Wins." In an age when starters get pulled so early in games, the Win means less today than it's ever meant at any time in baseball history. But in Scherzer's case, even if you throw out 21-3 (which is tough to do!), I still think he's pitched the best. He's leading the league in WHIP and he's allowed the lowest opponent OPS. He's striking out 10 per 9 innings. He's been dominating, no matter what stat sheet you look at. I expect him to win, and probably win fairly handily.
Paul Goldschmidt will go down in the record books as one of the biggest MVP snubs in MLB history & it shouldn't even be close.
Jayson Stark (1:14 PM)
I've heard this from Diamondback fans. And they point to the huge gap in RBIs. But if you compare him to Andrew McCutchen, there's a gigantic difference in ballparks and, even more, in lineups. Last time I looked, Goldschmidt had come to bat with about 50 more runners on base than McCutchen had. And that accounts for much of the RBI gap. If you measure everything, as stats like Adjusted OPS and WAR do, it's clear there's not the same gap the more traditional stats would seem to indicate.
How does the best player in the league not also provide the most "value"?
Jayson Stark (1:16 PM)
I just went through this, Mark. If that's how you define "value," that's fine. But ask any player who has ever been in a race if there's a difference in pressure, and a different meaning to the numbers, when you're playing to get to October versus when you're playing on a team going nowhere. There's nothing wrong with any MVP voter who takes that into account. But again, you don't have to convince me of how great Trout is. And I'll never say you're wrong. We just disagree.
I also agreed with most of them, but Molina has got robbed the last few years for the MVP award. Look at what he has done over his career! He is going to go down as the greatest catcher of all time
Jayson Stark (1:18 PM)
He was on an MVP track before he got hurt, Tyler. And I thought about him long and hard. He's still going to be really high on my ballot and he's going to finish way up there in the balloting. Wouldn't shock me at all if he wins an MVP one year. He's amazing, how he impacts that team.
Dan (Canton, Ohio)
Could you please explain the scenario if the Indians, Rangers and Rays all finished tied at the end of the season?
Jayson Stark (1:20 PM)
Sure. I'll get back to the awards in a minute. If there's a three-way tie, the teams are "seeded" based on their overall head-to-head record against each other. And that comes out this way: 1) Indians, 2) Rays, 3) Rangers. The Indians then have a choice of playing two home tiebreaker games or playing one road game. They'd almost certainly choose to play one game. The Rays and Rangers would then play in Tampa Bay on Monday. And the survivor would host the Indians on Tuesday. That's my understanding anyway.
Chris (Raleigh, NC)
Can you explain the NL wildcard situation as well ?
Jayson Stark (1:21 PM)
OK, that one is simple. Assuming the Pirates don't sweep and the Cardinals don't get swept, whichever team wins the Pirates-Reds series this weekend hosts the wild-card game Tuesday.
Rick (Madison, WI)
AL MVP is my only gripe. I certainly respect your opinion that success in meaningful games can be counted in favor of Cabrera. I just don't feel it's enough to surpass Trout's resume. Also, most outstanding player and most valuable player are clearly the same thing.
Jayson Stark (1:22 PM)
Rick, I disagree with you. The BBWAA has made it clear to those of us who vote that this is NOT the Most Outstanding Player award, that we're supposed to consider a player's value to his team. It's right there in the instructions.
Sean (New York)
Will the wild card games be played on Tuesday and Wed night?
Jayson Stark (1:23 PM)
That's the plan, barring some sort of extenuating travel circumstances. Last year, because the calendar dictated that both games had to be played the same day, one had to be a day game. This year, they're both scheduled to be in prime time.
Steven (Orange County)
Do you think Kershaw has a chance to break Roger Clemens cy young award record, it looks like he will get his 2nd (should be 3rd) at age 25?
Jayson Stark (1:24 PM)
I don't know if he's going to break the record for most Cy Youngs. But I agree with you that he easily could have won three in a row, and very possibly should have won three in a row. He's clearly been the best pitcher in baseball over that period. And there shouldn't even be an argument about who's the best this year.
Why did you go with Cabrera over Chris Davis even though Cabrera was injured but didn't go with Yadi over McCutchen because of Yadi's injury?
Jayson Stark (1:26 PM)
Because Yadi's numbers tailed off significantly. And while Cabrera's obviously did, too, if you read the piece it's clear he's still having a historically great season.
Brandon (Washington, DC)
Do you think Cabrera's winning the MVP last year, and Trout no longer being a rookie, could help Trout's chances at the MVP since some voters may now think it's his "turn" to win?
Jayson Stark (1:27 PM)
I haven't talked to anyone, heard from anyone, or read anyone who seems to be thinking that way. It's his second season in the big leagues. Might be a little early for any voter to think he deserves a career achievement award.
What are your thoughts on Joey Votto's performance this year? He has an insane OBP but a lot of fans in Cinci don't like his timidity, since he's supposed to knock runs in.
Jayson Stark (1:29 PM)
I find this debate fascinating. The guy is going to reach base more than 300 times. He's an on-base machine. He produces an incredible amount of runs because he's always on base. And he's just not wired to expan his zone and chase non-strikes, merely because fans think he should. I think Joey Votto is one of the most underappreciated offensive forces in the whole sport. But I know not everyone in Cincinnati sees it that way.
As a going away present, should the MLB now name a new award for the best reliever in each league - the Mariano Rivera award - the "reliever" version of the Cy Young award? It is these kind of decisions I wish I would see Selig (or the next Commissioner) have the marketing and vision for...
Jayson Stark (1:30 PM)
I'm the guy who proposed that award! Got shot down by the Baseball Writers. So I don't see much chance of it happening. But that's not Bud's domain. The writers control their own awards. Period.
NOT_Ghost_Stein (Yankee Stadium)
If Mariano Rivera can get two outs without giving up a hit, he'll have a career WHIP under 1.00. Would this be his most remarkable stat?
Jayson Stark (1:31 PM)
Wrote about this the other day. I don't know if it's his most remarkable. But considering no one has done this in over nine decades, it would be amazing. I hope he does it!
How special was it last night at Yankee Stadium? Only wish Posada could have gone out there with Jeter & Pettitte.
Jayson Stark (1:32 PM)
I'll go with what I tweeted last night: Coolest pitching change in baseball history.
Barry Zito as the Cy Yuk was just piling on for a bad 7 years. Yes he was horrible but you probably could have picked him for this award 6 of the last 7 years.
Jayson Stark (1:33 PM)
I specifically wrote in the column that I WASN'T piling on. The guy made 11 road starts. His team won none of them. He had the worst opponent average and OPS in the history of his franchise. Sorry, man. That's what Cy Yuks are made of.
Silvpak (NY, NY)
Jason, a couple of LAD related awards questions: (i) any reason why Kershaw wouldn't be an MVP candidate for you; and (ii) I think I'd be more likely to vote for Puig as an MVP candidate than a ROY candidate - make any sense?
Jayson Stark (1:34 PM)
Kershaw was totally an MVP candidate for me. Just not over McCutchen. And how is Puig not a ROY candidate? Because he didn't reach the big leagues until June? What he did after he got there was too remarkable to overlook.
Unlikely scenario...St. Louis gets swept, Pittsburgh sweeps = who wins the division?
Jayson Stark (1:35 PM)
They play it off on Monday.
Jayson Stark (1:36 PM)
Sorry to do this, but I have a really busy day ahead of me. So I only have time for one more. Sorry.
Jay (Long Island, NY)
I think the problem fans have with the MVP voting is that writers have voted for both types of players (outstanding v. most valuable) for MVP and it leaves us wondering what exactly is the criteria.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
If you're talking about the history of this voting, it's pretty clear to me. Voters have almost always voted for the best player on a contending team unless there is no compelling choice among that group. The only years they've deviated was when no candidate fit that definition. Go take a look at the winners and the voting. So I don't think it's as confusing as you do. What I do think is that philosophies are changing, and the thinking on stuff like this is changing at the most rapid rate in the history of the sport. Just look at Cy Young voting. So who's to say where it's heading. But I think it's actually pretty clear where it's come from.
Jayson Stark (1:39 PM)
Thanks to everyone who checked in. Can't wait for October. See you down the road in Chat Land.