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Over at the Sporting News, David Whitley is talking Ryan Braun up as :

…. His stats after Sunday: 40 homers, 103 RBI, a .312 batting average and a couple million skeptics. There’s still suspicion, so much that last year’s MVP might not even finish in the top five this season. But at this point, what more can Braun do? He was cleared by the system. The whole thing was supposed to be confidential to begin with, but Braun’s name was leaked.

That was the first step in a good name going bad. The only way to get it back was to play like the Braun of old. Players may lie, but numbers don’t. Braun not only sounds like an innocent man, he’s hitting like one.

First of all, I’m just wondering when somebody’s gonna start talking about Buster Posey’s MVP claim. You know what, I’ll get back to that in a minute. With all due respect to Braun’s productivity, how in God’s name can any sportswriter sit there and champion a man who just failed a drug test with what was characterized as an “insane high” level of testosterone; after all of the sanctimonious posturing and protecting the children these writers have been guilty of these last ten years, after all the negative, smear campaigns against these guys? Now they’re gonna just

forget about it because he’s a nice guy? Are they kidding somebody?

They drummed Barry Bonds (only one of the five best baseball players of all time) out of baseball because he failed a PED test and the results were leaked… how is this any different? Why, because Bonds was a dick? Bullshit. If they give Braun the award, their hypocrisy will have reached a new low. For crying out loud, there was even talk about taking away Braun’s MVP award at one point. Now, because he’s hit 40 home runs for a team that has the seventh best record in the NL (74-72), he’s gonna win it again? And you know what, forget about the writers. They’ve already revealed themselves as the pandering, march in lock step, keepers of the flame over this last, disgraceful decade. No, it’s the editors, the television producers, and, of course, the members of baseball’s management and ownership that have really shamed themselves. After cowardly allowing players like Bonds, McGwire, Palmiero and Sosa to be blackballed, smeared, shamed and painted as villians for so long, they have set themselves up to face this kind of controversy, and controversial it will be if Braun wins it again.

I don’t give a rat’s ass if he won his appeal. If you run Bonds out of town on a rail, if you talk about erasing him from the record books; you simply cannot vote for Ryan Braun for MVP ever again. I’m sorry, but you can’t have it both ways. And anyway, look, if he was such an obvious choice, a no questions asked, you can’t deny it superstar, like Bonds was those last four seasons, fine. What are you gonna do, ignore reality?

But the Giants are sitting here with an everyday catcher who’s gonna finish with 25 home runs, 100 RBI, a .300/.400/.500 .900+ OPS, who’s probably gonna lead the league in wins above replacement, and has just come back from a career-ending injury last season AND has led his team to the brink of a runaway NL West title (84-63, 8.5 game lead with 16 game left). I mean, come on?

It’s no contest. McCutcheon and Braun and Posey all have about six and half WAR, all three have great numbers; but Posey’s been doing it the whole second half, runnning out a staggering .392/.466/.656 1.121 OPS since the All Star break, while averaging an RBI per game as a catcher. That 1.121 post All Star OPS in .147 points better than the number two guy, and did I mention that he’s a catcher? He’s the one that supposed to be breaking down. Instead, he’s surging, carrying his team leading the NL in hits (what?!?) Apparently, after the season-ending suspension of Melky Cabrera –only the league leader in hits and multi hit games– Posey decided that he would lead the league in hits in the second half.

No, I’m sorry, but Ryan Braun is not the MVP. Buster Posey has been the most valuable player in the NL this season, period.

UPDATE: Well, yeah, I am bitter. I’m bitter about the treatment of Bonds, I’m bitter about the hypocrisy that’s ruining our country over the “War on Drugs” and I’m bitter about the SF Giants being virtually ignored by the MSM.

That said, I wrote about Melky’s sad and stupid positive test before, and I guess I left it out of this piece because it has nothing to do with it.

Braun’s numbers are inflated by his home park, and Posey’s are deflated by his.

Here are their road numbers side by side:

Braun .313/.381/.556 .937 OPS 15 2B 16 HR 45 RBI
Posey .323/.394/.569 .963 OPS 18 2B 16 HR 59 RBI

Again, Posey is the best hitter in the league since the All Star break, and it’s not even close:

Braun .323/.385/.604 .990 OPS 16 2B 16 HR 43 RBI
Posey .388/.466/.650 1.116 OPS 20 2B 12 HR 50 RBI

Sure. Braun’s gonna hit 40 home runs. 24 of them came at Miller Park, a great place to hit. Posey’s got 6 home runs at AT&T Park, an absolute graveyard for home runs. Side by side, Posey’s had a better year away from home, a more accurate representation of his true abilities, and he’s had a better second half, pretty much carrying his team to the brink of an NL West title.

…. What to do…

With Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Melky Cabrera. After reading El Lefty Malo’s post on the way these three players’ fates are intertw

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ined, I started thinking about Cabrera’s upcoming free agency. There’s no doubt that Melky is going to get a very nice payday, and if the Giants seriously want him around, they’d better start talking to his agent soon. The more hits and multi-hit games he keeps piling up, the bigger his deal is going to be.

He’ll be looking for his first big contract, possibly his last, and his agent is going to be arguing that he is an elite hitter; and ask for a contract that is in line with his leading all of baseball in hits over the last two seasons.

His career line of .283/.337/.410 .747 OPS is so out of line with this seasons’ .353/.391/.514 .905 OPS that it’s almost looking at two different players. But after last year’s 201 hits in KC, I think it’ll be easy for his agent to suggest that this is a true indicator of a new level of skill for the 27-year old. That said, my guess is he’ll be looking at a deal in the 5 year, $60 million dollar range. He might take more money for one less year, but that’s probably

not gonna make it any easier for Sabean. At this point, every day that goes by, with him continuing to pile up the hits, after winning the All Star game MVP, it’s becoming obvious that he’s gonna strike it rich.

If the Giants do sign him, that makes it harder for them to deal with the issue of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. As Malo pointed out, Posey has already played first base in 15% of the Giants games. That means Belt is still being shuffled in and out of the lineup. If he’s ever going to become the player the Giants think he is, that has to end. What to do?

Make Posey a left fielder and move Melky to right.
Make Belt a left fielder and move Melky to right.
Trade Belt and make Posey a first baseman.

None of these is really palatable. If Belt is a real hitter, trading him will be a huge loss. If Melky doesn’t want to move to right, then you are looking at putting an infielder in right, which would be very difficult. It’s a tough spot.

…. All Stars

The SF Giants sent four players to the All Star Game, and all four of them made it count:

…. “Thank you,” Matt Cain said with a c

elebratory chuckle, the winning pitcher in the National League’s 8-0 victory over the American League in Tuesday night’s 83rd All-Star Game. “That couldn’t have been any better. I appreciate that, especially on my end of it, to get that lead early with Panda hitting the triple.

“I can’t thank the fans enough to be able to vote them in. That shows the support we have in the Bay Area.”

Panda, a.k.a. Pablo Sandoval, who had zoomed past Mets third baseman David Wright in the final week of All-Star voting, hit a three-run triple to highlight a five-run first inning.

Melky Cabrera, who surged from fourth to first among outfielders late in the voting process, hit a homer and single and was named the game’s MVP.

And Buster Posey, who received the NL’s most votes (7.6 million), caught Cain’s scoreless two innings and drew a first-inning walk. Cabrera, Posey and Sandoval all scored in the first inning.

UPDATE: Yeah, well, I’ve been wrong before, and I’m sure I will again; in defense of myself, my reasons, which I think I did explain, were that Melky had had a single season of effectiveness, and Sanchez was the rare combination of lefty with legit 95 MPH fastball. And historically, for whatever reason, left-handed pitchers tended towards developing later in their careers.

That said, at this point it’s clear that the Giants are winning the trade by a wide margin. But it’s still only half a season. If Sanchez turns it around, there is no doubt that his upside is higher than Cabrera’s, regardless of his 200 hits a season profile. If Sanchez can harness his talents, he could still be a viable front of the rotation pitcher.

Nevertheless, that’s all

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speculation. Cabrera has made great strides, and is proving himself everyday. Congratulations to him and Sabean. Obviously, this trade has been a terrific one for the Giants in 2012.

All commentary is the opinion of John J Perricone unless otherwise noted.
None of the opinions expressed should be construed as being endorsed by the
San Francisco Giants, Major League Baseball, or any other organization mentioned herein.

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