Archive for July, 2012

h1

Mac’s MLB First Half Awards

July 10, 2012

MVP

AL – Mike Trout, Angels: Since his arrival in late April, Mike Trout has been one of the top two or three most productive players in baseball. More importantly, his impact on the Angels gives him the edge over Josh Hamilton for first half MVP. On April 27th, the Angels were scuffling to a 6-14 record and sitting in the AL West basement with super slugger Albert Pujols posting a monstrous 4 RBI so far. Enter Mike Trout. Since April 28th, Trout’s season debut, the Halos have posted a 42-24 record and have climbed into the American League Wild Card lead while Pujols has rediscovered his confidence, knocking in 47 runs since Trout arrived. Not only does Trout lead the American League with a .341 average and 26 steals, but he also sits a mere 6 runs scored behind MLB-leader Ian Kinsler despite spending almost all of April in AAA. But wait, there’s more! Trout isn’t just a speedy lead off guy… he’s also blasted 12 homers in 258 ABs, a pace that would give him 30 over a full season of 650 at bats. This dude is so sick that I can’t help but talk about him in Chuck Norris-like hyperbole: “I’m going to switch my entire wardrobe to nothing but Mike Trout jerseys.”

Honorable Mention: Josh Hamilton, Adam Jones, Miguel Cabrera

NL – Andrew McCutchen, Pirates: The only player in MLB that has rivaled Mike Trout since May 1st is the dreadlocked Pirates outfielder. After inking a multiyear deal with the Bucs prior to the season, McCutchen has rewarded the normally cheap franchise with outstanding production. McCutchen leads MLB with a .362 average, is stealing bases and hitting homers at nearly a 40/40 pace, and also ranks in the top 3 in the NL in both runs scored and RBI. After a modest April, this kid’s bat has been scorching hot, raising his average from .302 and hitting all 18 of his homers since May 1st. Thanks to McCutchen’s emergence fantasy baseball’s most valuable asset in the first half and an early MVP candidate, the Pirates are not only a surprise atop the NL Central standings, but actually look like legitimate players for a playoff berth.

Honorable Mention: David Wright, Carlos Gonzalez, Ryan Braun

Cy Young

AL – Jered Weaver, Angels: The Halos righty might not be as dominant as Justin Verlander (6.8 K/9 vs 8.7 K/9), but one would be remiss to suggest Weaver hasn’t been as effective. Weaver is the only starting pitcher with at least 90 innings pitched to post an ERA under 2.00 and also leads all starters with a 0.90 WHIP. Weaver has also posted a 10-1 record for a team that has climbed its way into playoff contention. Oh, and he threw a no hitter.

Honorable Mention: Justin Verlander, Chris Sale

NL – R.A. Dickey, Mets: Who is this guy? Where did he come from? At age 37, Dickey is having an unprecedented breakout season, taking a career 4.15 ERA and 1.34 WHIP and turning those numbers into 2.40 and 0.93, while posting a career high in wins (12)… in 17 first half starts. More improbably, Dickey and his ridiculous knuckleball are striking out batters at unfathomable rate, fanning more first half batters than notable strikeout artists Clayton Kershaw, Zack Greinke, and Matt Cain.

Honorable Mention: Matt Cain, James McDonald, Stephen Strasburg

Rookie Of The Year

AL – Mike Trout, Angels: No explanation needed here.

Honorable Mention: Yu Darvish, Will Middlebrooks, Ryan Cook

NL – Bryce Harper, Nationals: The most highly touted prospect since Alex Rodriguez has been Mike Trout-lite for the NL East leading Nationals. Harper has burst into the nation’s capital by flashing all five tools and posting an .826 OPS at age 19. Harper could easily score 100 runs this season despite spending April in the minors and will probably post a 30/30 season as early as 2013 if his health holds up.

Honorable Mention: Norichika Aoki, Wade Miley

Comeback Player

AL – Adam Dunn, White Sox: It’s a close call between Dunn and teammate Jake Peavy and I’d say that Peavy’s resurrection has been more valuable to his team, but Dunn has come back from depths of suckdom that few sluggers have ever reached. In 2011, Dunn posted an inexcusable .159 average and 177 strikeouts in 415 ABs while hitting a career low 11 homers. While his inability to get base hits hasn’t improved much (.208 average) and he’s on pace to shatter the all-time strikeout record, he’s at least helping his team score runs in bunches and win games by smacking 25 homers in 84 games and getting on base at a .357 clip.

Honorable Mention: Jake Peavy, Alex Rios, Joe Nathan

NL – David Wright, Mets: To put this comeback in perspective all you have to do is compare Wright’s first half numbers to his totals from all of 2011: he’s posted more hits and doubles and almost as many runs, homers, RBI, and steals in 87 less at bats. While Wright may never again approach 30/30 status like he did in 2007, it seems as if he’s become more selective at the plate, drastically increasing his average while bumping his walk rate to a career high and his strikeout rate to a career low.

Honorable Mention: Aaron Hill, Chris Capuano, Jason Heyward

Biggest Disappointment (Injured players ineligible)

AL – Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox: Expecting Gonzalez to hit .338 again is probably unfair and his current .283 average isn’t too far off his career number, but the complete lack of power is quite shocking, especially in a favorable park like Fenway. Gonzo is on pace for a career low in homers–by a long shot–and could post his lowest runs scored and RBI since his breakout season in 2006 despite holding down a premium spot in Boston’s potent line-up. Most alarmingly, Gonzalez has walked at least 74 times in each of the last four seasons, but has a mere 23 free passes through 86 games this year.

NL – Tim Lincecum, Giants: For whatever reason, The Freak has been tossing beach balls on the mound and opposing hitters have been teeing off on him. With a 3-10 record, 6.42 ERA, and 1.58 WHIP through 18 starts, it’s difficult to blame his results on bad luck. While Lincecum is still striking out his fair share of batters, he’s on pace to obliterate his career highs in both hits and walks allowed. With his funky delivery and so many teams doubting his sustainability before he started his professional career, there could be some reason to be concerned for his long term productivity.

Silver Sluggers

C – A.J. Pierzynski, White Sox (.285-16-49)
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies (.350-13-46)

1B – Paul Konerko, White Sox (.329-14-49)
Joey Votto, Red (.348-14-48-5)

2B – Robinson Cano, Yankees (.313-20-51)
Aaron Hill, Diamondbacks (.300-11-40-7)

3B – Miguel Cabrera, Tigers (.324-18-71)
David Wright, Mets (.351-11-59-9)

SS – Derek Jeter, Yankees (.308-7-25-7)
Ian Desmond, Nationals (.285-17-51-11)

LF – Mark Trumbo, Angels (.306-22-57)
Ryan Braun, Brewers (.306-24-61-15)

CF – Josh Hamilton, Rangers (.308-27-75-6)
Andrew McCutchen, Pirates (.362-18-60-14)

RF – Jose Bautista, Blue Jays (.244-27-65)
Carlos Beltran, Cardinals (.296-20-65-8)

h1

The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

July 5, 2012

Starring: Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Martin Sheen, Sally Fields
Director: Marc Webb (500 Days Of Summer)

Quick Thoughts: There’s some redundancy here since we’re rebooting a franchise that only started ten years ago and the origin story portion of the film feels a little tiresome, but pretty much everything else is an improvement over the original series, especially the casting of Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone in the two lead roles. The execution of The Lizard is a bit questionable, but Rhys Ifans is solid in the human role. The best aspect of the movie was giving Peter Parker a little swag and having Spider-Man verbally abusing his opponents. As a whole, The Amazing Spider-Man is quite enjoyable and, at the very least, hopefully a springboard to even more entertaining sequels.

Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Repeat viewings should tell how good this movie really is as the original didn’t hold up nearly as well over multiple viewings.
Sequel Potential: The next one is scheduled for release in 2014 with at least one more to follow.
Oscar Potential: Might get some visual effects love but something tells me this won’t be top shelf for 2012.
Nudity: N/A
Grade: 6.5/10 (Recommended/Must See)
RottenTomatoes Scores: Critics: 72% Audience: 84%
IMDB Rating: 7.8/10
Recommendation: I think this is an improvement on the Sam Raimi films, especially the cast, and an enjoyable but not great superhero flick.