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September 18, 12:00 PM ET
Chat with Jayson Stark

Jayson Stark
  (12:02 PM)

Greetings and salutations! Some awesome stuff going on out there. So let's take the next hour and chat about it!

Franco (NYC)

RA Dickey is 1st in ERA, 1st in IP, 2nd in Wins (down 1), 2nd in K's (down 1), 2nd in WHIP. he should be the favorite for the Cy Young, no?

Jayson Stark
  (12:03 PM)

I'm actually working on an NL Cy Young piece for later this week, so I'll look at this in more detail then. But right this minute, if I were going to vote for a starting pitcher in the NL, I'd vote for him. But I'm still leaning toward a reliever, to be honest. And at this point, I'd favor Kimbrel over Chapman. Feel free to argue!

Chad (Madison, WI)

Is there ANY way that Braun can win the MVP? I know your odds are highly against him, but writers can be realistic, right?

Jayson Stark
  (12:04 PM)

They can be! But do you really think that's what's going to happen? If even two or three voters leave him off their ballot entirely, that effectively wipes out any chance he has of winning. And I'm betting it will be more than two or three, even though I strongly disagree with anyone who refuses to vote for him.

Tony (Milwaukee)

Concerning Braun and the NL MVP race, someone said it best in the comment section of a previous story. Braun had 3 options during the past offseason:1) Say he didn't do it until the cows come home.2) Agree to a suspension, even though he believed he was innocent.3) Attack a vulnerability in the system to get the desired outcome even though the public opinion would be against you.Which option was he supposed to choose? Whether he did anything wrong or not, it should ABSOLUTELY NOT have any bearing on what he has done this season. Which brings me to my actual question. If there are voters out there that will not even consider putting him on their ballot, should they face consequences for desecrating the honor that has been bestowed upon them?

Jayson Stark
  (12:07 PM)

This is a long question, and not an easy question. It came up in my chat Friday, too. And my stance then was that voters who decline to vote for Braun are wrong, but they shouldn't face any penalties. After all, this is America. And in all types of elections, people cast their ballot with vastly different agendas and philosophies. I don't think there's any justification for withholding a vote for Ryan Braun in this MVP election. But people are allowed to think differently. It's what makes America great. But what also makes America great is that we have every right to argue about it until they send the ballots in!

Kirk (The TC)

What happens with the whole Yunel Escobar thing? Does MLB do anything about it?

Jayson Stark
  (12:09 PM)

I'd be shocked if he isn't disciplined. I'll be curious to hear his explanation. But at this point, I can't conceive of any sort of explanation that would keep him from facing some significant ramifications. Can you?

Paul Lewis (White Plains, NY)

Now that Miguel Cabrera has taken over the batting lead, would you say he's the leader for MVP? After all, in addition to the stats, he has taken on a new position -- and exceeded expectations there. I know Trout has been fabulous, but....

Jayson Stark
  (12:13 PM)

I disagree that he's the leader. This has been a topic in every chat I've done for weeks, and my opinion hasn't changed a whole lot. I think Miguel Cabrera is a tremendous player. I've said that if I had to pick one hitter in baseball to send to the plate with a big game on the line, I'd pick him. And he's been better at third base than most people expected. BUT there's no comparison between his impact and Trout's impact on their teams in the field and on the bases. It isn't even close. I don't view WAR as the holy grail in MVP deliberations to the degree that others do. But Trout's historic 10 Wins Above Replacement don't lie. Not in this case. Sorry.

Rob (Toronto)

How can Braun seriously be up for the award(clearly he got off on a legality, and was not guilty but far from innocent), and apart from that, if Kemp didn't win last year then why does Braun deserve it this year?!

Jayson Stark
  (12:15 PM)

OK, let's count the reasons: 1) He was found NOT GUILTY. 2) We have very little info to help us understand why he tested positive or why his suspension was overturned, so beware of jumping to conclusions. 3) That test occurred last year, not this year. So in some ways, isn't it possible to conclude that this season is proof this guy didn't "cheat" his way to greatness? And 4) the Brewers are 2 1/2 games out, in the middle of September! So I don't understand your point.

Mike (Long Island)

As much as I think Miguel Cabrera is the best right-handed hitter in baseball -- and maybe the best over the past decade -- he'd have to be so, so much better than Trout to win the MVP given how much better Trout has been this year in defense and baserunning. While everyone understands that offense -- especially traditional power numbers like HRs and RBIs -- are the top criterion for MVP voters, defense and baserunning do account for some significant portion of the consideration. With those thrown in, it's Trout's award.

Jayson Stark
  (12:16 PM)

I think I just said that! Completely agree.

george (boston)

What are your thoughts on the 2-3 format of this year's Divisional Series? I realize they "have" to do it to eliminate a travel day in a predefined TV schedule, but I think the format is terribly unfair to the team with the better record. If the other team wins at home like they're supposed to, it leaves the better record team with 3 must wins and little margin for error. Do the results from prior 2-3 Series' back up this claim or is best of 5 really a tossup regardless of home-away format? Thanks.

Jayson Stark
  (12:19 PM)

I don't like it, and I don't know anyone who does. It's just one more reason that, as much fun as the second-wild-card races may be, baseball should have waited a year. I'm warning you now that this will be an October where the yelling and screaming will reach unprecedented heights. Some team is going to have its beautiful season go up in smoke because of the 2-3 format, a fluke play in the wild-card game, tiebreaker games causing an insane travel schedule or possibly all of the above. So better get some ear plugs ready.

Joe (MN)

How do people still claim Braun got off on a technicality? If this case would have happened in criminal court, the evidence would have been thrown out. Plus, they were able to replicate the results of Braun's test, showing that the sample couldn't be trusted. Does innocent until proven guilty exist anymore?

Jayson Stark
  (12:21 PM)

Depends how you define "technicality," I guess. The handling of his sample was ruled to be "not valid." So people can make of that whatever they want, I suppose. But the bottom line was that he wasn't suspended, and if the story hadn't leaked we would never have known that any of that even happened.

GordonSox (Highland, Indiana)

Is everybody over looking the White Sox as a post season contender or is it just me?

Jayson Stark
  (12:23 PM)

They're easy to overlook in some ways. They're last in their division in on-base pct. They're 19th in the big leagues in ERA and 20th in bullpen ERA. And they seem to be way too dependent on home runs to generate offense. But they might actually be a more dangerous team in the postseason than they were in the season. Who would want to face Sale and Peavy in October? I wouldn't.

Don (Berkeley, CA)

Who would you list as the A's MVP? Do they have enough to hold off the competition and make the playoffs for the first time in quite a while?

Jayson Stark
  (12:24 PM)

I'd cast my vote for Josh Reddick. And I think people are vastly underestimating the A's. They're 31 games over .500 since June 10! No team that goes on a run like that is a fluke.

Dan (Washington, DC)

Shouldn't the Cy Young take into account being on a winner like the MVP? How much pressure could RA Dickey face?

Jayson Stark
  (12:25 PM)

The Cy Young is not the Most Valuable Pitcher Award. It's a performance award. So it's about who has pitched the best, period. If everything else were equal, you might factor that in. But it's a whole different argument than MVP.

Brian (Fremont)

Will MLB eventually eliminate tie breaker games? As much as I enjoy them, the extra wild card makes those that much more complicated. Can't MLB just use statistical tie breakers (record against, run differential, etc) instead? We already play 162, we don't need another, crap shoot game to determine which is the better team.

Jayson Stark
  (12:27 PM)

Nope. If anything, we're about to see more of them than ever before. The point of having a wild-card game is to place more importance on finishing first. And that's a great goal. But it also means they have to break almost all ties on the field instead of with a tiebreaker chart, because the wild card is now penalized much more than it ever was in the past.

Chase Utley (Philadelphia, PA)

Jayson what is your take on the Chase Utley at 3rd base experiment? Can he do it? Should he do it? How much would it benefit the Phils if he can do it

Jayson Stark
  (12:29 PM)

I'm skeptical, for a couple of reasons. We're talking about a guy who has issues throwing the ball from second base. And a third baseman's throws have to be true 90 percent of the time. Also, I wonder if his knees will allow him to play that position with the degree of agility you'd want it played. They're clearly serious about going down that road. But I don't see it as a good long-term solution for either side.

Alex (Anaheim)

Who's your ROY in the NL?

Jayson Stark
  (12:30 PM)

Today? I'd vote for Wade Miley, with Todd Frazier and Bryce Harper right behind him. But in two weeks, I might think a lot differently. Stay tuned!

Gary (Atlanta)

Is the AL Central more about the way the White Sox have performed or the Tigers failures?

Jayson Stark
  (12:33 PM)

It's about both, obviously. The White Sox have played better than anyone expected except themselves, and they've played better than their raw numbers suggest they should be playing. But the Tigers have underachieved to an even greater degree than the White Sox have overachieved. They don't catch the ball. They haven't hit well enough to overcome their defensive inadequacies. Because of their bullpen inconsistency, they've lost eight games they led in the eighth inning or later (versus NONE last year). And they're seven games under .500 when any pitchers other than Verlander and Scherzer start. So they've gotten themselves into this mess. And the White Sox have been good enough to take advantage of that.

Alex (OH)

Could the fact that the five Reds starters haven't missed a start all year be a detriment now and in the playoffs? They seem a little off recently, Cueto in particular.

Jayson Stark
  (12:35 PM)

They have time to take their foot off the gas and let guys recharge because they have such a big lead. So I'm not convinced that will be a huge factor. It's interesting that neither the Reds nor the Nationals have had any of their top five starters miss a start because of injury this year. And that, friends, is how teams win.

Rob (Toronto)

At the beginning of the year, which would you scoff at more: A's finishing above the Angels or Sox finishing ahead of the Tigers?

Jayson Stark
  (12:35 PM)

A's over Angels. Never saw that one coming! I could at least have concocted a scenario where the White Sox won more games than the Tigers.

Steve (Auburn)

Another Phillies question - do you think Halladay comes back next year to the level he had been in years past? Because he has never looked right to me all season. What do the Phillies have to do in the offseason to get back in the hunt next year?

Jayson Stark
  (12:37 PM)

I don't know. Excellent question. He never got fully healthy before he came off the disabled list. And you'd think that, with a full winter to recover, rehab and strengthen, he'll be better than this. But that's not a given anymore.

davey (houston)

Do you have any thoughts about the fairness (or lack thereof) of a team like Atlanta being 8-10 games better than the second wild card team but still facing a one game playoff and the potentiality of being eliminated on a fluke or an off day by a starter? I know it creates excitment hut doesn't it also devalue the regular season?

Jayson Stark
  (12:38 PM)

I feel for them, but how does it devalue the regular season. They've had six months to outplay the Nationals and haven't done it. The response to all those questions and complaints is: If you don't want to play in that wild-card game, then win your division. Everybody knew the rules going in.

Jayson Stark
  (12:39 PM)

By the way, I've had complaints from people about auto-refresh issues on the chat page. It's supposed to have been corrected by now. But if you're still having problems, just refresh manually one more time, and that should take care of it. Sorry!

Dan (Kansas City, MO)

Excited to see Jake Odorizzi debut this weekend. What can we expect?

Jayson Stark
  (12:41 PM)

Excited to see him myself. He's not Zack Greinke reincarnate, but he has a great arm, a live fastball and excellent feel. The question is how much progress he's made, and will continue to make, with the rest of his repertoire. Probably projects as more like a No. 3 starter than a No. 1. But the Royals can use all the No. 3's they can round up!

Frank (Philadelphia)

I know alot is possible to change between now and Oct 3. But today, What is the World Series Matchup? Reds v A's makes sense to me now if Chapman is healthy.

Jayson Stark
  (12:42 PM)

I'll go Rangers-Giants for now, in a 2010 rematch. So that pretty much guarantees they'll both lose in the LDS, right?

Kirk (The TC)

If there is a game 163 to determine a wild card team, does the 163 require a set 25 man roster? Or is it all active players?

Jayson Stark
  (12:44 PM)

Game 163 is played under September rules, so teams can use up to 40 players if they have them on the roster. But there's an interesting glitch in the wild-card-game roster rules that Buster wrote about today. If teams can designate 25 men just for that wild-card game and then reset their roster for the LDS, it means they don't need to activate any of their starters other than the guy who's pitching that day. That's an issue that MLB needs to address.

Adam (St. Louis, MO)

Who do you like winning the 2nd NL wild card spot?

Jayson Stark
  (12:46 PM)

Still like the Cardinals. The Dodgers are in trouble, between their schedule and losing Clayton Kershaw. The Pirates have a worse record since Aug. 8 than the Astros. The Phillies killed themselves over the weekend. And let's compare the Brewers' schedule over the next week and a half with the Cardinals'. The Brewers have the Pirates, Reds and Nationals. The Cardinals play nine in a row against the Astros and Cubs. I'm always wary of reading too much into strength of schedule. But things are still lined up great for the Cardinals. And I haven't even mentioned the Chris Carpenter factor.

John (Cincinnati, Oh)

How concerned should Nationals be about Espinosa's shoulder?

Jayson Stark
  (12:48 PM)

Too soon to say. He's clearly hurting. But they're another team with a big enough lead that they have time to let players like this rest and heal. Hopefully, this is an issue that can be addressed with anti-inflamatories, and he'll be good to go for the postseason. But we'll know more after the MRI.

Corey (STL)

What do you expect from Carpenter? Who do you think the Cards send out to pitch IF they reach the WC game to face Medlen(?)...Loshe, Waino, Carp??

Jayson Stark
  (12:51 PM)

I expect Carpenter to be great. I always expect him to be great. If he's really able to pitch without physical restrictions and he's built up his pitch count, what would make us think he won't be great? I haven't worked through the Cardinals' rotation yet. But it looks to me as if Lohse would be set up to start that wild-card game as we speak. But they need to get there first.

Mike (San Diego)

Just hopped into the chat. Kimbrel? Really? And all 60 of his innings?

Jayson Stark
  (12:53 PM)

Seems like I've been through this 50 times in these chats. Why a reliever? Here's why: I'm the guy who proposed to the Baseball Writers Association that we create a separate award for relievers so we don't run into these sorts of conversations, and because relievers never win any of our awards -- even Mariano Rivera. I was shot down and told, "The instructions say you shouldn't discriminate against relief pitchers, so if you think a relief pitcher deserves to win, then vote for him." So I'm following instructions. If I'm going to answer the question, "Who has pitched the best?" without factoring in whether a guy is a starter or a reliever, then tell me anyone has pitched better this year than Craig Kimbrel -- unless the answer is Aroldis Chapman. Four strikeouts for every hit? That's almost impossible!

Jeffrey (Sacramento )

I predict that on October 2nd, when the Orioles are preparing for a playoff game, at least one writer will denigrate their season by pointing out their run differential. Isn't it time yet for the writers to embrace the Orioles' season instead of constantly bashing them?

Jayson Stark
  (12:55 PM)

Hey relax, Jeffrey. I haven't cited their run differential in weeks. They're a different team now than they were in April or May or June. And they've got something special going. There might not be a more fun team to watch in the big leagues right now. So there. Was that a good enough embrace?

Jay (Baltimore)

Not a fan of the CY for a reliever, but if you do, wouldn't you then have to agree that Rodney and Jim Johnson have been the pitchers keeping their teams in the pennant race in the AL?

Jayson Stark
  (12:57 PM)

My friend Dan Connolly of the Baltimore Sun interviewed me last week for a story on this very topic. They deserve to be in the argument, especially Rodney. But in a year where you have several truly dominating starters to choose from in the AL, it's hard for me to place those two above Verlander, Price, Weaver, Sale, Felix, etc. The level of domination from the NL starters we're considering isn't quite the same, it seems to me.

Begging You To Answer (AL West)

What are your thoughts on the AL West race? It seems to me that this is an under-reported story. The two teams with the 2 best records in the AL (and 2 of the top 4 records in all MLB) are both in the AL West, and play 7 times over the last 10 days of the season. Who finishes on top, and does 2nd Place win the wild card?

Jayson Stark
  (12:58 PM)

I'm now all in on both the A's and Rangers. I think Texas wins the division. But as I said earlier, the A's have proven to me they're the real deal. To repeat: They're 31 games over .500 since June 10. That's amazing. It's also convincing. This team is no fluke, even if nobody in the Eastern time zone could name six A's.

Jayson Stark
  (12:59 PM)

Well, it's that time again. I can only take one more. Sorry.

Rob (Toronto)

Obviously stuff never plays out exactly as it appears on paper, but do you remember a team either making the playoffs or at the very least being in contention this late in the season with a starting rotation like the Orioles? They're using 3 journeymen and 2 rookies!

Jayson Stark
  (1:01 PM)

They're an amazing story, all right. They've literally changed rotations on the fly all season. Heck, they've practically changed their roster on the fly. Lew Ford? Nate McLouth? This is incredible. And they used 75 players in triple-A, too, remember. One of the greatest stories of the millennium.

Jayson Stark
  (1:01 PM)

Gotta run, gang. But thanks for a fun hour. See you down the road in Chat Land!