The best season of the year is here kids — Spring. Crisp air, leaves turning, temperatures in the 60′s (unless you live in Detroit, then they are in the 30′s) and of course pennant race baseball.
Are we going to get the classic pennant race that goes down to the last day of the season like we saw in 2007 and 2008? Probably not. But the NL Wild Card race between the Atlanta Braves and Colorado Rockies and the AL Central race between the Detroit Tigers and Minnesota Twins gave us plenty to be excited about.
September was a great month for baseball fans. Here are the top-10 things we learned about baseball in September…
10. Ichiro can flat-out hit. On September 13th, Ichiro became the first player in major league history to record 200 hits nine straight seasons.
Ichiro is easily in the top-five of the best pure hitters that I have ever seen (last 25 years). He is right up there with Tony Gwynn, Wade Boggs, Edgar Martinez, and Paul Molitor.
Ichiro is unquestionably a first-ballot Hall of Famer. The only question that remains is when it is all said and done, is Ichiro the greatest hitter of all-time?
Speaking guys who get base hits…
9. Chris Coghlan is hitting his way to NL ROY.Guess who lead baseball in hits in September? Derek Jeter? Nope. Ichiro? Nope. Joe Mauer? Nope. It was Florida Marlins rookie Chris Coghlan.
Coghlan had 47 hits in September with a .382 avg. and a .925 OPS. Coghlan is making a strong push for NL Rookie of the Year.
While Ichiro and Coghlan can hit the baseball…
Reynolds is strikeout king once again
8. Mark Reynolds has a hard time making contact. Arizona Diamondbacks 3B Mark Reynolds broke his own record for strikeouts in a single season when he struck out three times against the San Francisco Giants giving him 205 K’s.
Reynolds’ previous mark for strikeouts was 204, which he set last season.
I, for one, thought this was no big deal. Reynolds is having a phenomenal season. Reynolds has 44 homeruns, 101 RBI, 24 SB’s, a .552 slugging percentage, and a .902 OPS.
Reynolds plays on the Diamondbacks, who are having a terrible season. But not as bad as this team…
7. The Washington Nationals will have the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft. The Nationals will finish the 2009 season with the worst record in baseball. There reward? They will have the first pick in the 2010 draft.
All signs point to Bryce Harper being the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft.
The Nationals fired manager Manny Acta earlier in the season. These two teams fired their managers in September…
6. Cecil Cooper and Eric Wedge were handed their walking papers. The Houston Astros fired Cooper with 13 games left in the regular season. When Cooper was fired by the Astros, the Astros were in fourth place and 16.5 games behind the first place St. Louis Cardinals.
Yesterday, the Cleveland Indians fired Wedge with just six games to go. Wedge was 560-568 with one playoff appearance in seven seasons with the Indians. Wedge will finish out the season with the Indians, but him and his staff will not be retained after the season ends.
Staying with Central Division news…
5. The Chicago Cubs suspend Milton Bradley. Is it me or did everyone on the planet see this coming except for Cubs’ GM Jim Hendry? Bradley has been awful with the Cubs in 2009.
The Cubs suspended Bradley because of negative comments he made about the fans in Chicago.
Despite having a .378 OBP, Bradley only hit .257 and had a pathetic .397 slugging percentage.
So much for adding some left-handed pop to the lineup.
While the Cubs floundered in 2009…
4. The Atlanta Braves surged in September. Somebody forget to tell the Braves they were out of it in September. In a 19-game stretch they went 15-4 and pulled within two games of the Wild Card leading Rockies.
Many Braves fans envisioned the Braves doing to the Rockies what the Rockies did to the San Diego Padres in 2007. However, the Braves playoff chances are on life support after losing back-to-back games against the Marlins.
On the subject of playoff races…
The Twins missed Morneau in September
3. The AL Central race heated up. Despite losing MVP candidate Justin Morneau, the Twins have been able to hang with the Tigers neck and neck throughout September.
The Twins entered this weeks HUGE four-game series just two games behind the Tigers. After winning the first game in 10 innings 3-2, the Twins have dropped two in a row to the Tigers — putting their season on life support.
The Tigers can clinch the AL Central crown with a win today over the Twins.
If the Tigers win the AL Central, they will have to face these two in the first-round of the playoffs…
2. Derek Jeter and Robinson Cano each record 200 hits. With over 200 hits apiece, Jeter and Cano became the first middle infield duo to each collect 200 hits in a season.
I am not surprised this has never been done before considering that I would say before 1995 — shortstops and second baseman weren’t considered offensive players. Sure you had your Eddie Collins’, Roberto Alomar’s, Charlie Gehringer’s, and Cal Ripken’s of the world, but they were rarely paired up with anyone who could hit.
That is what made Alan Trammell and Lou Whitaker so special for their era. They were two middle infielders who could hit and field.
Speaking of Yankees, the No.1 thing we learned about baseball in September was…
Jeter is headed to the playoffs yet again
1. Six teams punched their ticket to October. The New York Yankees, St. Louis Cardinals, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Los Angeles Dodgers, Boston Red Sox, and Philadelphia Phillies will all be battling it out for a World Series title.
I thought last year’s playoff matchups were pretty easy to predict. This year? The way the matchups are shaping up, I have no clue who is going to win.
Here is what I do know. When I write my October recap, we will have a World Series champion and all the questions we have had since March will be answered.
I will be writing my first-round preview with predictions next Tuesday.
You can follow The Ghost of Moonlight Graham on Twitter @ theghostofmlg