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2016-2017 NFL Wild Card Weekend Picks

The 2016 NFL season has culminated and it’s finally playoff time. The 2016 NFL season saw quite a bit of interesting games and stories unfold. It all started with New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady serving a four game suspension in the “deflate gate” scandal to start the season, which allowed us to see his backup Jimmy Garoppolo lead the Pats to a 3-1 record in Brady’s absence. The Cleveland Browns started the season 0-14 and were poised to become just the second team in NFL history to have a winless season at 0-16 (2008 Detroit Lions) before they beat the San Diego Chargers 20-17 in week 16 and eventually finished the season 1-15 and in position with the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft.Three out of the four teams that were in last years conference title games didn’t even qualify for the playoffs this year (Broncos, Panthers, Cardinals) with the Patriots, the loser of last years AFC Title game, being the lone exception. And speaking of those Patriots, quarterback Tom Brady did come come back in their fifth game and what he did in the 12 games he played was nothing short of phenomenal (3,554 yards passing, 28 TD’s, 2 INT’s, 67.4% completion %, 296.2 average yards passing per game, and set the single season record for TD:INT ratio (with a minimum of 300 attempts) with a 14:1 ratio). The Patriots are also the #1 seed in the AFC and enjoying a first round bye this week as they await to see who they will be playing in the divisional weekend at home. The NFL saw quite a few surprise teams make their returns to the playoffs this year, with the Oakland Raiders returning to the playoffs for the first time since their Super Bowl run in 2002. The Miami Dolphins are making their return to the postseason for the first time since 2008. The Giants, in their first year under new head coach Ben McAdoo, ended their five year playoff drought and handed the #1 seed Cowboys two of their three losses this year. 

That’s just some of the highlights of the 2016 NFL season and I’m sure there will be plenty of more highlights in these upcoming playoff games this weekend and beyond. For any reader that has read my work before, I’m going to spare you the long introduction and get right to what you clicked on the link to see and that is my wildcard weekend picks. And for the record, I don’t see any of these games being very exciting or juicy this weekend outside of Giants-Packers on Sunday afternoon at frozen Lambeau Field. Here are my picks…

#5 Oakland Raiders defeat #4 Houston Texans: This game will be fought and won by stout defenses. The Texans and Raiders both possess two of the same things, strong defenses and starting quarterbacks who are bringing the quite a bit of uncertainty to the field. The Texans have always brought a strong defense to their playoff matchups the last several years and that’s what’s carried them and won them a few playoff games, with the dangerous JJ Watt terrorizing the opposing quarterback every game, although Watt will be missing this postseason after undergoing season-ending back surgery after week 3 this season. The Raiders have quietly built one of the more fearsome defenses over the last few years, led by another dangerous pass rushing threat and another top 3 defensive player in the league in Khalil Mack. Houston will be starting quarterback Brock Osweiler in the game, who in week 15 was benched at halftime for throwing two first half interceptions on top of having a terrible first year in Houston. Osweiler was the backup in week 16 to Tom Savage and came in for the second half in week 17 only because Savage was injured. Savage is still injured and that excuse is probably the only reason Osweiler is being given the chance to start this playoff game, as Savage was as serviceable as can be and the fact that Osweiler has just been that bad in Houston this year. The Raiders will be starting rookie Connor Cook as usual starter Derek Carr, who was playing like an MVP candidate, broke his leg in the week 16 win against the Indianapolis Colts, and usual backup Matt McGloin injured his shoulder in their week 17 loss to the Denver Broncos. Cook did take over in week 17 late in the second quarter when McGloin was injured, as he was 14 of 21 with 150 yards passing, one touchdown and one interception. Cook did show some positive signs in the brief showing and was named the starter for this playoff game this week. I’m going with the Raiders because I like their defense a bit more, believe that their defense is going to eat up Osweiler as they’re familiar with him and the fact that he is just straight up awful. The final reason why I’m picking Oakland is because I actually believe in Connor Cook as I’m familiar with his collegiate work at Michigan State and the fact that Houston has no idea what to expect and have nothing to prepare them for him. Cook was a projected high first round pick before the 2015 season at MSU before having a down year his final season there and seeing himself slip to the fourth round of the 2016 NFL draft before the Raiders took him at pick #100. This will be a low scoring affair and I believe in the Raiders to take this game and head to divisional weekend. (Oakland 17 Houston 13, OAK +4)

#3 Seattle Seahawks defeat #6 Detroit Lions: The Seahawks will take this contest thanks to being at home, having a stout defense, and having been to the playoffs for what is now five years in a row which has allowed them to have an experienced playoff team while also bringing a championship pedigree. The Lions did a lot by shocking many of us in making the playoffs and nearly winning the NFC North championship before Aaron Rodgers showed them he’s still boss in a week 17 division title game beat down. The Lions came out of nowhere to finish 9-7 and make the playoffs. Unfortunately I believe this will finish as a season in which a team shocks us by making the playoffs when we didn’t expect them to but falls flat in their first playoff matchup. The Lions have a capable offense as their led by MVP candidate Matthew Stafford at QB, who has thrown for the fewest interceptions in his career in a full single season (10). I  believe the Seattle defense is just that much better than Detroits offense and will show their experienced ability trumps all. And not for nothing but it’s hard to go against Russell Wilson in the postseason when he’s never missed the postseason in his career, has been to two Super Bowls, and has won a ring, while being the oil that keeps this machine going. Give me the experience. (Seattle 26 Detroit 14, SEA -8)

#3 Pittsburgh Steelers defeat #6 Miami Dolphins: Just like the Lions, but even more surprising in my opinion, the Miami Dolphins snuck into the playoffs as the #6 and final seed in the AFC. The Dolphins started off the 2016 season 1-4 before winning their next six games and feverishly making a playoff push and ultimately finishing the season at 10-6. What’s even more impressive about the Dolphins season is that they lost starting quarterback Ryan Tannehill in week 14 vs Arizona after suffering a sprained ACL and MCL in his left knee on a hit. The Dolphins didn’t play Tannehill the rest of the season but still have some hopes that he can return at some point this postseason. Awhile that’s been going on and continues to go on, the Dolphins are starting Matt Moore in Tannehill’s place and although they only have one loss with him, look noticably different. Moore is a serviceable backup but when having to start in stretches of consecutive games he really proves that he’s just another mediocre quarterback. The Steelers have one of the most high flying offenses in football and one of the best offensive trios in the game in QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB Le’Veon Bell, and WR Antonio Brown. This game will also be taking place from Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA. Although I’m impressed with the way the Dolphins played after starting the season 1-4, I can’t see them marching into Pittsburgh and beating the Steelers with Matt Moore at starter. If Tannehill was starting than I’d give this game more thought because of the defensive inconsistencies of the Steelers and Tannehill’s solid play this year. Alas, it’s Matt Moore starting in Steel City and I think that is just recipe for disaster for the Dolphins, who are finally back in the playoffs for the first time since the 2008 season. The Dolphins defense has been very solid all year but I don’t think it’s enough to hold Ben-Bell-Brown in check and allow Moore to lead the Dolphins to more points. The Dolphins did beat the Steelers 30-15 in week 6 but that game was in Miami, in hot conditions that Pittsburgh had a hard time handling, and Roethlisberger was injured in the second quarter of that game and wasn’t 100% the rest of the way. That’s a nice win, but now Roethlisberger is out for revenge and the game will be in blustery cold Pittsburgh, where I think Dolphins players will have a harder time handling those conditions than the Steelers were in those hot Miami conditions back in week 6. The Steelers are a playoff steady in the NFL, Ben has two rings (three trips to the Super Bowl), is a Hall of Fame bound quarterback, and this Miami team is young and inexperienced, which why I like Pitt’ to take this game. (Pittsburgh 27 Miami 20, MIA +10.5)

#5 New York Giants defeat #4 Green Bay Packers: The most exciting game of wildcard weekend happens to be the final game that will go on. The Giants haven’t been to the playoffs since their Super Bowl XLVI win over the Pats in the 2011 season. The Giants also made the playoffs in the 2007 season where they also won the Super Bowl over a than undefeated Patriots team. Quarterback Eli Manning is as clutch as it gets come playoff time and gives opponents nightmares when he cashes his ticket to the postseason not because of how often they make it (because they really don’t) but because of how dangerous Eli becomes and how clutch he is. In the 2007 and 2011 Super Bowl years, the Giants beat the Packers in both those years, first beating Green Bay 23-20 in overtime in the NFC Title game in ’07, and winning again 37-20 in the divisional round in ’11. The Packers have arguably the best quarterback on the planet and without question the hottest as Aaron Rodgers is playing insane lately in leading the Packers from 4-6 to 10-6 and the division title. This is going to come down to which QB can make fewer mistakes and although I’m a huge fan of Rodgers, I like the way Eli performs in the playoffs and how incredible the Giants defense has been. Take nothing away from Rodgers and the Pack’ but their defense is nowhere near the same level as the Giants’ and I believe that will lead to the Giants putting up points tomorrow while the Giants defense keeps Aaron Rodgers a little more in check. This was also the hardest game for me to pick as both teams are just so good and have such great playoff experienced quarterbacks but I gotta roll with the G-Men because of that top flight defense, Eli Manning’s playoff resume, and the fact that the Giants haven’t been to the playoffs at all in five years, which leads me to believe that the Giants are due to make some noise and perhaps even make a bit of a run towards a third Super Bowl title in 10 seasons. Hopefully this game brings the fireworks that I’m not totally expecting from the other three games. With my thinking of Seattle beating Detroit, the winner of this game would move on to #1 seeded Dallas on divisional weekend. And no matter who wins this game between New York and Green Bay, either matchup with the Cowboys would be extremely enticing and salivating for FOX to have on its network. Again, I expect this game to be back and forth, loaded with excitement, and a great duel between two future (arguable) Hall of Fame quarterbacks. The Giants will punch their ticket for a third meeting with the Cowboys and a trip to the NFC Title game on the line in Dallas. (New York 31 Green Bay 23, NYG +5)

So there we have it, the divisional round playoff matchups according to me are set: #5 Oakland @ #1 New England and #3 Pittsburgh @ #2 Kansas City on the AFC side with #3 Seattle @ #2 Atlanta and #5 New York @ #1 Dallas on the NFC side. Enjoy this weekends games and tune back in next week for my divisional round picks.

2014-2015 NBA Season Predictions

2014-2015 NBA SeasonThe 2014-2015 NBA season is underway and we got a nice trio of matchups on opening night the other night as the we saw Anthony Davis and the rising New Orleans Pelicans take care of the Orlando Magic. We also saw the defending champion San Antonio Spurs narrowly beat the retooled Dallas Mavericks in a fantastic game, 101-100. And last but not least, we saw the Houston Rockets defeat the Los Angeles Lakers at the Staples Center 108-90. Unfortunately, we saw One of the most young promising players in the league get injured in that Rockets-Lakers game as Lakers PF Julius Randle fractured his right tibia in a collision with two Houston players. Randle was the Lakers’ seventh overall pick in this years draft out of Kentucky. Randle is expected to turn into a Lakers franchise cornerstone player and is only 19 years old. Sadly, Randle will miss the rest of this season.

The rest of the NBA action tipped off last night as we got some great games to open the season. We saw the Bulls take care of the Knicks at Madison Square Garden as Derrick Rose made his much-anticipated second return with the Bulls. We got to see the LeBron-less Miami Heat in South Beach narrowly beat the young, rising Washington Wizards in a great Southeast Division clash. And the late night, nationally televised game we saw the rising Portland Trailblazers knock off the Oklahoma City Thunder, who were without Kevin Durant who is expected to miss at least the first month of the season with a broken foot.

So what’s the start of the NBA season without my yearly predictions? Last year I had the Miami Heat over Golden State Warriors as my Finals pick and I ended up being dead wrong. Instead, we got the San Antonio Spurs laying the smack down on the Miami Heat in five games. I was also wrong on my pick of LeBron James winning the MVP award again as that award went to the Thunder’s Kevin Durant. So let’s see how I do this year with my picks.
* Indicates a playoff team who did not win their division. Division winners are noted in bold.

Atlantic Division:
1. Toronto Raptors (49-33)
2. New York Knicks (43-39)*
3. Brooklyn Nets (42-40)*
4. Boston Celtics (33-49)
5. Philadelphia 76ers (15-67)

Central Division:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (57-25)
2. Chicago Bulls (55-27)*
3. Detroit Pistons (41-41)
4. Indiana Pacers (39-43)
5. Milwaukee Bucks (19-63)

Southeast Division:
1. Washington Wizards (53-29)
2. Miami Heat (48-34)*
3. Charlotte Hornets (45-37)*
4. Atlanta Hawks (37-45)
5. Orlando Magic (22-60)

Southwest Division:
1. San Antonio Spurs (59-23)
2. Dallas Mavericks (51-31)*
3. Houston Rockets (50-32)*
4. Memphis Grizzlies (44-38)*
5. New Orleans Pelicans (30-52)

Northwest division:
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (52-30)
2. Portland Trailblazers (49-33)*
3. Denver Nuggets (36-46)
4. Minnesota Timberwolves (28-54)
5. Utah Jazz (17-65)

Pacific Division:
1. Los Angeles Clippers (55-27)
2. Golden State Warriors (54-28)*
3. Phoenix Suns (44-38)
4. Sacramento Kings (26-56)
5. Los Angeles Lakers (23-59)

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 8 Brooklyn Nets 4-1
2 Chicago Bulls over 7 New York Knicks 4-2
3 Washington Wizards over 6 Charlotte Hornets 4-2
4 Toronto Raptors over 5 Miami Heat 4-3

Eastern Conference Semifinals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 4 Toronto Raptors 4-2
2 Chicago Bulls over 3 Washington Wizards 4-3

Eastern Conference Finals:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 2 Chicago Bulls 4-3

Western Conference Quarterfinals:
1 San Antonio Spurs over 8 Memphis Grizzlies 4-3
2 Los Angeles Clippers over 7 Portland Trailblazers 4-2
3 Golden State Warriors over 6 Houston Rockets 4-3
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 5 Dallas Mavericks 4-3

Western Conference Semifinals:
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 1 San Antonio Spurs 4-3
3 Golden State Warriors over 2 Los Angeles Clippers 4-3

Western Conference Finals:
4 Oklahoma City Thunder over 3 Golden State Warriors 4-3

NBA Finals Pick:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers over 4 Oklahoma City Thunder 4-3
Finals MVP: LeBron James, Cleveland.

NBA MVP: LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers.
Top Five With LeBron: Russell Westbrook, PG, Thunder – Chris Paul, PG, Clippers- Anthony Davis, PF, Pelicans – Steph Curry, PG, Warriors.

Defensive Player Of The Year: Anthony Davis, New Orleans Pelicans.
Top Five With Davis: LeBron James, SF, Cavaliers – Chris Paul, PG, Clippers – Dwight Howard, C, Rockets – Joakim Noah, C, Bulls.

Rookie Of The Year: Andrew Wiggins, Timberwolves.
Top Five With Wiggins: Jabari Parker, F, Bucks – Marcus Smart, G, Celtics – Nerlens Noel, PF, 76ers – Elfrid Payton, PG, Magic.

Most Improved Player: Harrison Barnes, Warriors.
Top Five With Barnes: Reggie Jackson, PG, Thunder – Andre Drummond, C, Pistons – Steven Adams, C, Thunder – Eric Gordon, SG, Pelicans.

Sixth Man Of The Year: Jamal Crawford, Clippers.
Top Five With Crawford: Reggie Jackson, PG, Thunder – Draymond Green, F, Warriors – Amar’e Stoudemire, PF, Knicks – Isaiah Thomas, G, Suns.

Coach Of The Year: David Blatt, Cavaliers.

Executive Of The Year: Donnie Nelson, Mavericks.

2014 Week 5 NFL Picks

Andrew Luck Joe FlaccoWeek 5 of the 2014 NFL season is upon us and that means it’s time for my weekly picks. Last week I didn’t post my picks because I had a busy prior week and attended the final Mets game of the season on last Sunday. Last week I went 5-7 with my picks though, which is a horrible week. I went 1-3 against the spread, with my only win being the Colts -7, as they blew out the Titans. I went 12-3 in week 3, so my overall record is 32-25 and I’m 6-9-1 against the spread. Hopefully week 5 will be a better week, so lets see…

Detroit Lions over Buffalo Bills
Indianapolis Colts over Baltimore Ravens
Tennessee Titans over Cleveland Browns
Carolina Panthers over Chicago Bears
Dallas Cowboys over Houston Texans
Pittsburgh Steelers over Jacksonville Jaguars
New Orleans Saints over Tampa Bay Buccaneers
New York Giants over Atlanta Falcons
Philadelphia Eagles over St.Louis Rams
Denver Broncos over Arizona Cardinals
San Francisco 49ers over Kansas City Chiefs
San Diego Chargers over New York Jets
Cincinnati Bengals over New England Patriots
Seattle Seahawks over Washington Redskins

Four Team Parlay:
Philadelphia Eagles (-6.5) against St.Louis Rams
Cincinnati Bengals (-1) against New England Patriots
Tennessee Titans (-1.5) against Cleveland Browns
Indianapolis Colts (-3.5) against Baltimore Ravens

Week 3 NFL Picks

Peyton Manning Richard ShermanWeek three of the 2014 NFL season is ready to begin and that brings forth another edition of my weekly picks. In week one I went 8-7 and 1-3 against the spread. In week two I went 7-8 and 2-2 against the spread. That brings my overall record to 15-15 and 3-5 against the spread. Week three must be a big improvement. The big marquee games this week are the Packers @ Lions, 49ers @ Cardinals, Broncos @ Seahawks, and Bears @ Jets on Monday Night Football. The Super Bowl 48 rematch between Denver and Seattle at CenturyLink Field will be the most watched of course.

Lets get to the picks…

San Diego Chargers over Buffalo Bills
Dallas Cowboys over St.Louis Rams
Philadelphia Eagles over Washington Redskins
Houston Texans over New York Giants
New Orleans Saints over Minnesota Vikings
Cincinnati Bengals over Tennessee Titans
Baltimore Ravens over Cleveland Browns
Green Bay Packers over Detroit Lions
Indianapolis Colts over Jacksonville Jaguars
New England Patriots over Oakland Raiders
Arizona Cardinals over San Francisco 49ers
Seattle Seahawks over Denver Broncos
Kansas City Chiefs over Miami Dolphins
Carolina Panthers over Pittsburgh Steelers
Chicago Bears over New York Jets

Four Team Parlay:
San Diego Chargers (+1) against Buffalo Bills
Dallas Cowboys (-3) against St.Louis Rams
Cincinnati Bengals (-7) against Tennessee Titans
Green Bay Packers (+3) against Detroit Lions

Week 2 NFL Picks

IMG_0279.JPGWeek two of the 2014 NFL season is upon us so that means it’s time for my weekly picks. Last week I posted an abysmal 8-7 record, while going 1-3 against the spread. My only win playing the spread was taking the 49ers -4.5 against the Cowboys. I hope to improve greatly this week, in both departments. There’s a few very interesting games this week that should surely have fans’ eyes glued to the tv. The highlights of this week are the Lions @ Panthers, Falcons @ Bengals, Seahawks @ Chargers, Chiefs @ Broncos, Jets @ Packers, Bears @ 49ers (SNF), and Eagles @ Colts (MNF). That Bears @ 49ers game marks the first regular season game at Levi’s Stadium, the new home of the ‘Niners, in Santa Clara, California.

Let’s get to the picks…

Miami Dolphins over Buffalo Bills
Detroit Lions over Carolina Panthers
Cincinnati Bengals over Atlanta Falcons
New Orleans Saints over Cleveland Browns
New England Patriots over Minnesota Vikings
Arizona Cardinals over New York Giants
Dallas Cowboys over Tennessee Titans
Washington Redskins over Jacksonville Jaguars
Seattle Seahawks over San Diego Chargers
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over St.Louis Rams
Denver Broncos over Kansas City Chiefs
Oakland Raiders over Houston Texans
Green Bay Packers over New York Jets
San Francisco 49ers over Chicago Bears
Indianapolis Colts over Philadelphia Eagles

Four Team Parlay:
New York Jets (+10) against Green Bay Packers
Atlanta Falcons (+7) against Cincinnati Bengals
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (-3) against St.Louis Rams
New England Patriots (-3) against Minnesota Vikings

2014 Week 1 NFL Picks

NFL week 1The 2014 NFL season is less than 10 hours away from starting and that means the return of my weekly NFL picks. I’ll pick every single game for the week that is about to begin and include a four team parlay against the spread as well, for the crazy people who’d actually bet with my picks. Last year I hit two four team parlays through the season. The spreads this first week are very tricky as a lot of them a low and the only high ones aren’t worth it because you can’t bet on possible blow outs on opening week.

A few days ago I released my “2014 NFL Season Predictions” and I picked the Seattle Seahawks to repeat as Super Bowl Champions, except this time they’ll beat Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts in the biggest game of the year. I also predict that Andrew Luck will step up to the next level this season and thrust himself into the category of elite NFL quarterbacks and finish at the top of the MVP voting, although I have Packers QB Aaron Rodgers winning the MVP this season. I also predict the Carolina Panthers to take the biggest step back this season after making the playoffs last season as they will finish out of the playoffs and in dead last in the NFC South. Enough of those kind of picks, here are my week one picks…

New York Jets over Oakland Raiders
New Orleans Saints over Atlanta Falcons
St.Louis Rams over Minnesota Vikings
Pittsburgh Steelers over Cleveland Browns
Philadelphia Eagles over Jacksonville Jaguars
Baltimore Ravens over Cincinnati Bengals
Chicago Bears over Buffalo Bills
Houston Texans over Washington Redskins
Kansas City Chiefs over Tennessee Titans
New England Patriots over Miami Dolphins
Tampa Bay Buccaneers over Carolina Panthers
San Francisco 49ers over Dallas Cowboys
Denver Broncos over Indianapolis Colts
Detroit Lions over New York Giants
Arizona Cardinals over San Diego Chargers

Four Team Parlay:
Saints (-3) over Falcons
Bears (-7) over Bills
Chiefs (-3) over Titans
49ers (-4.5) over Cowboys

Until next week, that’s all she wrote folks…

Who Should Win The NL MVP Award? Clayton Kershaw or Giancarlo Stanton?

Kershaw-StantonWith less than one month to go in the 2014 MLB season we have a great race and debate on who should win the NL MVP award. The top two candidates appear to be Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw and Miami Marlins superstar slugging right fielder Giancarlo Stanton. Those two easily blow everyone else away in the race for MVP and are the main two candidates for the award.

Stanton has led the race for NL MVP all season but over the last month or so Kershaw has gained a load of momentum by pitching absolutely brilliantly and masterful to put his name into the race. Many people, including myself wholeheartedly up until a couple of years ago when Justin Verlander won the 2011 AL MVP award, I was against the idea of pitchers winning the MVP award. As big of a fan as I am of Verlander and how much of an incredible season he had in 2011, I was 100% against him winning the MVP that year. Ever since that year though, I’ve cooled on my stance on pitchers being eligible for the MVP award, although I’m still not 100% sure I’m now okay with the thought of it. Just thinking of and seeing what Kershaw is doing this year though, how could you not consider him a serious candidate for the MVP award? He’s having the best season I’ve seen from a pitcher in my brief life, even better than Verlander in 2011 and Max Scherzer last year with Detroit when he won the AL Cy Young. Kershaw is having this type of season even after missing the first three weeks of the season due to a back injury suffered in Australia during the first series of the year in March vs Arizona. I’ll go on to make a case for each player, Kershaw and Stanton, on why each of them should win the NL MVP award and who my pick would be if the season ended today.

Giancarlo Stanton, RF, Miami Marlins (.291 AVG, 37 HR’s, 105 RBI’s, 88 R’s, .396 OBP, .560 SLUG, .957 OPS, 11 SB’s, 161 OPS+): The offensive season that Stanton is having in an offensively and power lacking era is amazing, especially in such a spacious park as Marlins Park is. Stanton has single-handedly kept the Marlins in the NL Wild Card race (they currently sit 4.5 games back of the second wild card spot held by Pittsburgh). Stanton is on pace to hit over 40 home runs and could be on his way to 45 home runs. The fact that Stanton has kept his team in contention this late in the season, had such a great offensive season in a huge ballpark, and doesn’t have much other competition makes him as legit of an MVP candidate as anyone. The days are long gone where we have numerous 40+ homer hitters in the same season in the NL. The fact that Stanton has this type of power at age 24, on a not so good offensive team, with no protection is eyebrow-raising. Stanton is undeniably the best offensive player in the National League and will contend for many MVP’s before his career is over. Another key factor in this magnificent season by Stanton is the fact that he has stayed healthy all year, a problem he’s had in prior seasons, which just goes to show you that he may have just contended for a couple more MVP’s before this year, because he’s had a few high-powered seasons before this season. If pitchers were barred from winning their leagues MVP award, Stanton would be the clear-cut choice to win the NL MVP this season, but that brings us to the one man who may just knock him off at the very end, and that man is…

Clayton Kershaw, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (18-3, 1.67 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 210 K’s, 27 BB, 177.1 IP, 213 ERA+, 10.7 K/9, 6 CG, 2 SHO): Clayton Kershaw is the best pitcher in the entire sport and has clearly shown it all year this year. Kershaw missed the first month of this season after injuring his back in Australia in March when the Dodgers and Diamondbacks had an opening series there to kick off this season. Upon returning though, Kershaw has been nearly untouchable, even untouchable as seen in his June 18th no-hitter against the Colorado Rockies in which he struck out 15 batters and walked none. The only thing that kept Kerhaw from achieving a perfect game was the fact that shortstop Hanley Ramirez committed an error to just give Kershaw the no-hitter. Kershaw has eight games in which he hasn’t allowed any earned runs and seven games in which he hasn’t given up any runs at all. That’s remarkable. Kershaw hasn’t allowed any more than three runs in-game outside of his May 17th start at Arizona in which he allowed seven runs in 1.2 innings. If you take that horrible start out of his game log, Kershaw would have a 1.32 ERA. That’s astonishing, but alas Kershaw had that one horrific start. A 1.67 ERA is nothing to sneeze at though, as Kershaw can possibly end this season with the best left-handed ERA since 1933 if he can keep it below 1.70 through the end of the season. Kershaw leads all NL pitchers in wins, ERA, WHIP, ERA+, WAR, CG’s, is second in shutouts, and is third in strikeouts. Imagine that, all with missing a whole month of the season. Kershaw is having a better season thus far than Justin Verlander in 2011 when he won AL Cy Young AND MVP. He’s also having a better season as of now than Max Scherzer last year when he breezed to the 2013 AL Cy Young award. The Dodgers sit atop the NL West by 3.5 games over the San Francisco Giants, so just imagine how far back they’d be without Kershaw in their rotation? Kershaw is having arguably the best season I’ve been able to see in my young life by a pitcher and I have a feeling no one will top this season for a very long time. Like I said earlier, I’m not totally on board with pitchers winning the MVP award, but it’s hard to go against Kershaw this year.

My pick if the season ended today? I’d go with Kershaw, he’s just been too dominant.