Sometimes, the writing business is hard. But when difficulty and despair creep in, I remember the fans, or more accurately, the fan who calls out for July’s edition of the MESPY (Matt’s Excellence in Self-Promotion Yada Yada) Awards. Sniff. That’s what makes it all worth while.
AL MVP: Mike Trout. Somewhere, Tim Salmon is crying, realizing the gig is up as the top fish to ever play for the Angels. Trout put up a monster July, hitting .392 with 10 home runs, 32 runs scored (32!), 23 RBIs, and 9 stolen bases, just because he can. His 2.8 WAR (Wins Above Replacement) was 33 percent better than the next highest in July, Ryan Zimmerman’s 2.1 WAR.
AL CY Young: David Price. WAR will tell you that Felix Hernandez had the edge, but that was due in large part to King Felix having one additional start. Take that away, and the Price was Right snitches!
AL Rookie of the Month: Trout. I knew fish was brain food but I didn’t realize it made thinking this easy.
NL MVP: Ryan Zimmerman. Andrew McCutchen must be starting to feel like the Susan Lucci of the MESPY awards at this point, but Zimm edged the Dread Pirate in home runs, runs, and RBIs. Also, McCutchen’s surprising total of zero stolen bases and Zimm’s edge in defensive metrics pushed Ryan over the top in WAR, 2.1 to 2.0.
NL CY Young: Jordan Zimmermann. After the July JZ had, I can’t help but wonder if the other Jaz-Z wrote A Star is Born about Zimm:
And I am one, of one
Can’t you see just how long my run?
NL Rookie of the Month: It would be a real dogfight between Michael Fiers of the Brewers and Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs (both 1.0 WAR), if it weren’t for Rizzo accumulating 153 at-bats last season with the Padres. According to those fun-busters at MLB, that’s 23 too many to be considered a rookie. Sigh.
Nationals’ MVP: Ryan Zimmerman. I guess I was talking about Zimm’s monster July around the office so much I shouldn’t have been surprised when I overheard management discussing whether cortisone shots would increase audit productivity.
Nationals’ CY Young: Jordan Zimmermann. Six starts. Six quality starts, with four wins banked. All he does is throw darts, though his xFIP (3.12) in July does leave some room for an upward ERA correction (.97 ERA in July).
Nationals’ Rookie of the Month: Steve Lombardozzi. No Nats rookie really shined in July, with Lombardozzi pacing all rookies with a 0.3 WAR. But with Ian Desmond going down, Lombard has swung a nice bat and picked it on a pretty consistent basis. I can think of far worse things. Like being the sap donning the Teddy Roosevelt costume everyday, running around in a thousand-degree heat, never winning the Presidents race. Yeah, that would make me hot and bitter. Hot and bitter.
And that’s all folks!
It is sort of remarkable to think that after all that has transpired over the first two days and three games of the Nationals-Braves series, that Washington actually can salvage a series split later today. But that is exactly the position the Nationals find themselves in, even after:
- Friday night’s epic collapse
- Being throttled by Ben Sheets and Atlanta’s pitching staff in game one of yesterday’s doubleheader
- Watching Bryce Harper limp off in the very same game after fouling a pitch off his left ankle
- Falling behind 2-0 in yesterday’s night cap, which featured…
- John Lannan, he of the 4.89 Triple-A ERA, toe the rubber to try to stem the bleeding.
Even Barack Obama thought there was no hope. But somehow, someway, the Nats dug deep and battled to a 5-2 victory, and now improbably stand on the cusp of making this a no harm, no foul engagement for the top of the NL East standings.
Game ball(s): Lannan. Things still may be cozier in TomKat land than they are between John and the Nats, but Lannan pitched a splendidly professional game leading Washington to victory. What was most impressive is how he settled down after surrendering two runs in the first. It could have gotten ugly, like when that girl you know keeps putting on makeup and she isn’t applying to clown college. Hey, hey! No, no!
Goat(s): The doctor who fixed Ben Sheets. This isn’t how the script was supposed to go for Ben:
Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall,
Humpty Dumpty had a great fall.
All the king’s horses and all the king’s men
Couldn’t put Humpty together again
Bryce Harper is still only 19: The rest of the Nationals team. Yep, in a similar vein to yesterday’s tribute to the Braves hitters, each and every member of the team. Sure, Steve Lombardozzi went 0-5 and stranded five base runners. And Adam LaRoche pulled off the same feat with one less at-bat. Still, the Nationals needed the win in a desperate way and managed to summon the collective fortitude to pull it off. Congrats. I will put down the Mao literature now.
Current Record: 54-39
During the off-season, Nationals officials went to great lengths to try to encourage their fans to “Take Back the Park” from opposing team’s fans, specifically, the unwashed from Filthadelphia. I think we can say that after Washington’s 4-3 win tonight, the first salvo in the battle was landed by the Nats on the field, courtesy of Wilson Ramos and his game-winning pinch-hit single in the bottom of the eleventh. Boom!
Game ball(s): Several candidates for the award tonight. The bullpen, which turned in five scoreless innings. Jesus Flores, who came through in the bottom of the eighth with the game-tying double. And finally, his compatriot Ramos. It’s past 11, so let’s get crazy and give game balls to them all!
Goat(s): I have finally figured out why Jayson Werth sports the caveman beard: It’s his getaway disguise after he robbed the Nationals blind for $126 million last year. What gives him swag, as the kids say, is that he has the bananas to hang around the joint after the crime. Tonight he pulled a 0-5 with five runners left on base. Oh, to be a professional athlete.
Bryce Harper is still only 19: Steve Lombardozzi, who scored the winning run after going 3 for 6 including the clutch two-out single to keep the bottom of the eleventh going.
Current Record: 17-9