The MLB Watch List - Put Away Your Fantasy Draft!
Before you tune out Scully in favor of Michaels and blonde sideline-reporters, let's take one final glance at the notice-worthy and interesting heading into the World Series stretch.
What to watch in between the fantasy draft, and why.
1. Jurckison Profar (2nd base - Rangers) - Top-ten sweet names aside, this young man may be the story of the fall. Anyone - with a lot of time on their hands - eager enough for all-things-MLB may remember this kid in the Future's Game this past July in Kansas City. For those that don't, he homered in his first at-bat of the game. At only 19-years of age, he has got natural power and soft hands - that also help him succeed in the field. Scouts and analysts have been singing the high-notes when it comes to Profar's natural ability. The kicker: He is only 19!
In his first at-bat as a call-up for the Rangers, which was today, he also hit a home run. Regardless if what was against the Cleveland Indians, that is still impressive. Much like Michale Young, a man that was moved from his position in favor of better talent, Ian Kinsler may find himself searching for new turf when his back becomes un-stiff - if it ever does.
Andruw Jones took the MLB by storm at a very young age during crunch-time for the Braves, and Prfoar looks to be headed on the same track. At any rate, it is another bat for the Rangers in an already decent line-up. Profar has the talent to pull his own and, better yet, the youthful-mind to enjoy his journey, as opposed to worrying about it. Keep an eye out for Jurkison Profar down the stretch.
2. The Wild Cards - There are currently nine teams, league combined, that are still directly in the Wild Card hunt as September begins. Bud Selig can waive a small success-flag as the two-team system will definitely play out with a massive amount of drama. Most of the "hot seats" and "lost seasons" will be saved or completely lost within the Wild Card scenario. Out of the nine teams, only five will have the right to call themselves playoff teams; the others will immediately find themselves answering questions for their jobs.
The National League Central will be the one to watch most closely. Both the Prates and Cardinals are fighting for October baseball, and they do not play each other again this season - The fate will be put in what they can do to the rest of the league, not what they can do head-to-head. Thus, leaving only two playoff outcomes; the Pirates for the first time in twenty years; the Cardinals with a chance to repeat and show that Pujols and LaRussa are complete after thoughts.
Watch the Cardinals series against Los Angeles starting September 13. Watch the Pirates series against the Braves starting October 1st. Both series will play a major role deciding, "who's in," and "who's out."
3. MVP - The smack on MVP voters in the past is that they wait until the post-season to decide - A large base of the votes going to players and their accomplishments during the playoffs. However, with so many teams so close to getting in, players that help their team's in September may garner more love from the voters than in years past.
If the Tigers get in, albeit winning the division or Wild Card, Miguel Cabrera will be the front-runner in the American League. He ranks in the top-five in most major statistical categories and he has been the face of the Tigers success; a position that was given to Verlander, previously.
Mike Trout deserves a ton of credit, but the Angeles look to be fading in the West plus, where the real debate will begin for Trout, he will most likely get the A.L. Rookie of the Year - Trout is only technically a Rookie. He played in games during 2011, but only around 40, just sneaking into "not counting" towards a total season. That hardware will be sufficient enough for voters to leave him off the MVP consideration.
The National League is a toss-up. Melky Cabrera was the common pick until he got busted wheezing the juice. Buster Posey may still have a chance to bring an MVP honor to San Fransisco, but that is a long shot, too.
Like the American League scenario, McCutchen may snag the honor if he has a good September and pulls the Pirates into the playoffs. The Cardinals, for the same reasoning, have Beltran, Molina and possibly Holliday making their case to the voter's as well.
For sake of debate, Ryan Braun is on top of most major statistical categories, but can the MLB bring itself to vote for him, post scandal? If yes, then he will have proven his worthiness as a star in the league; If no, then it will prove that the voters need to see a playoff push, first. Either way, he will be in the discussion.
4. The Yankees - Like them, or hate them, it's always fun to watch the Yankees end-of-season unfold. What was once a ten-game lead in the east has gone down to 2.5. What will Girardi do? What will A-Rod do? Can Jeter pull the team together? Will Nick Swisher ever stop smiling for no reason? et cetera!
All good questions. All worth the tube-time.
Consider yourself in the the all-knowing and known.