In this week’s edition of Around the Dorm, the “Ref,” Otto Gomez, asks our panel of experts three questions: Who are the MVPs in the American and National Leagues? Who will disapoint most in the NFL this year and what sports event are you looking forward to most?
1. Who do you think will win the American League and National League Most Valuable Player award?
Kevin: I think the MVP winners in each league will be Josh Donaldson in the AL and Bryce Harper in the NL. Donaldson has been the best hitter on the best offense in baseball this year. He’s the MLB leader in RBI and third in the AL in homers while hitting .300 for the year. Along with being one of, if not the best hitter in the league this year, he’s also played Gold Glove-caliber third base. Donaldson has been one of the major reasons why Toronto is currently leading the pack in the AL East. Harper has been the NL MVP so far this season, whether the Nationals make the playoffs or not. He’s leading the league in average, OBP and slugging while being third in the league in homers. If anyone has any questions about his MVP candidacy, “That’s a clown question, bro.”
Matthew: Without question, Josh Donaldson is the American League MVP. He has already clobbered 36 baseballs over the wall while still batting over .300. By my calculations, he is on pace for 135 RBIs this season. With his stat line, Donaldson is going to have a very bloated baseball card by season’s end. Mike Trout deserves an honorable mention, but Donaldson has the upper hand with better numbers in nearly every statistical category and a playoff run in sight. As for the National League MVP, I would be lying if I said Bryce Harper didn’t deserve to win it. Harper leads the NL in basically every significant offensive category. His Nationals’ playoff hopes are looking bleak, but when a player has this dominant of a season it would be downright dastardly to not give him the honors.
Michael: The AL MVP belongs to Josh Donaldson of the Blue Jays, no question. Last month he hit 11 home runs, blasting his season total to 36. This, along with the fact that he also leads the league in runs with 102 and runs driven in with 108, would honestly be enough to make him at least a top-three contender. However, what sets him apart is his ability to be clutch both at the plate and in the field. That is the biggest quality in someone I consider an MVP. The NL is a tighter race, but I believe Anthony Rizzo of the Cubs is the best choice for the award. The first baseman has blasted 28 home runs for his club, has 83 RBI and is rocking a .910 OPS. The 26-year-old has helped elevate his team into a position they haven’t been in since 2008, and that is a spot in the playoff picture. While the Nationals’ Bryce Harper is the favorite, he doesn’t fit that clutch quality Rizzo has that I touched on earlier.
Matthew gets 3 points for noting how great both players are. Kevin gets 2 points for pointing out Harper’s productivity and Michael gets 1 point for saying Harper won’t win MVP.
2. What team or player is going to be the biggest disappointment this NFL season?
Kevin: As a St. Louis Rams fan, my entire life being a fan has been a disappointment and I expect it to continue. Let’s start with their biggest issue — they can’t block anybody. They have one of the worst offensive lines in football. I think Nick Foles is a talented quarterback but he, like Sam Bradford, has some injury issues and often holds onto the ball too long. He won’t have nearly as much time to throw in St. Louis as he did in Philly. The Rams also don’t have the playmakers and offensive creativity that he enjoyed his first season in Philly. The best thing about new offensive coordinator Frank Zignetti is that he simply isn’t Brian Schottenheimer. All of their problems add up to another below .500 season for the Rams.
Matthew: Usually people classify the “biggest disappointment” as a team that is supposed to perform well but doesn’t. I’m picking a team that won’t even meet their lowly expectations: the San Francisco 49ers. After posting a 44-19-1 record as the 49ers head coach for the past four seasons, Jim Harbaugh packed his bags and headed off to the University of Michigan. But that was only the beginning: Patrick Willis, Frank Gore and Justin Smith are just some of the standouts that have left the organization this offseason. The past four years have been a gold rush for the 49ers, but now all they are left with are a few lumps of coal. Most see this team churning out a six or seven win season, but in one of the toughest division in football, this 49ers team would be lucky to pump out two wins for the year. The mines have run dry.
Michael: Honestly I think New York football in general will be the biggest disappointment in 2015. As a Giants fan, I will gladly support my team, but I worry. The NFC East is a weak division, and you can’t expect much from the Eagles or Redskins, but with the Giants dealing with so many injuries you have to wonder — what can I expect? Jason Pierre Paul, Victor Cruz and Nat Berhe are hurt and the list goes on. Meanwhile, Gang Green has their own issues. They have just cut quarterbacks Josh Johnson and Matt Flynn, leaving Ryan Fitzpatrick as the starter. Combine a lackluster QB with a struggling offense and an inept defense and you have the stage set for another mediocre year, or in Jets terms, another year.
Kevin gets 3 points for being honest. Matthew gets 2 points because the Niners will be awful and Michael gets 2 points for mentioning teams in big markets.
3. As the last third of the calendar year is about to begin, what sporting event are you most looking forward to?
Kevin: There are two sporting events I’m looking forward to seeing toward the end of this calendar year. For starters there is the first Clippers-Mavericks game in Dallas following the unprecedented offseason fiasco we recently witnessed involving DeAndre Jordan. I’m interested in seeing both the player and fan reaction to everything that happened this summer during this game. The second event I’m looking forward to is the first Patriots game this season that Roger Goodell will be in attendance for. It’ll just be interesting to see the reactions of Roger Goodell following each Brady completion and touchdown.
Matthew: If your answer isn’t “the World Series” then you are not a sports fan. October baseball is the best kind of baseball. Winning it all is never a fluke: every managerial decision, at-bat and even pitch could change the tide of the entire series. Heroes rise and etch their names into baseball lore, from Reggie Jackson to David Freese. The World Series contains some of the greatest moments in baseball history, such as Don Larsen’s perfect game and the hobbled Kirk Gibson’s walk-off home run. Just last year Madison Bumgarner put on the greatest pitching performance in World Series history as he posted a 0.43 ERA over 21 innings. There always seems to something special brewing over the diamond in the cold November air.
Michael: For me, it’s either the World Series or the start of the 2015-16 NHL season. The playoff picture in the MLB has the usual guys that we see every year, but this year is special because we have so many teams that we aren’t use to seeing in October baseball. The Astros, Mets and even the Chicago Cubs, America’s favorite losers, are battling for a Wild Card spot. With teams like this I might actually watch the NL playoffs, and that takes a lot for a Yankees fan. As for the NHL season, given how 2015 ended for my New York Rangers, I need something to block it out. Plus, I’m curious as to what the Blackhawks might do with Patrick Kane and also how Toronto and New Jersey handle new management thanks to the off moves they both made.
Matthew gets 3 points for talking about America’s pastime. Kevin gets 2 point for noting off-the-field issues and Michael gets 2 points for reminding us about hockey.
Matthew wins Around the Dorm 8-7-5