In my final column of the baseball season, here is an assortment of bloop hits to wrap up this year's missives.
Moneyball & Adam Dunn:
I've written of Dunn in this space, about our frustration being a price worth paying for his production. Most any team would want that guy, in his typical year.
But looking at his 2012 numbers now in full, it's clear he's pushing the allowable boundaries of the modern day slugger. Dunn finished with an OPS (on-base percentage plus slugging) of .800, the absolute worst of anyone who has ever hit 40 homers in a season.
Yes, he led the AL in walks with 105, but his OBP of .333 was 33rd best, and one of the lowest ever for a walks leader. That's what happens when you hit .204.
Curtis Granderson of the Yankees had a similar season with his .811 OPS. But he played an error-free center field, adding plenty more than a DH and part-time bad first baseman.
The Dunn bashers among you have a bit more to stand on. He needs to make fewer outs.
90% of life is just showing up:
Woody Allen was not speaking of Starlin Castro, but he could have been.
Castro's year had its ups and downs, with lineup movement, mental errors, slumps, and torrid streaks, too. But the man played 162 games at shortstop for the Cubs, passing Ivan Dejesus' club record of 160. Castro is the first Cubs infielder to play in all 162 since Ron Santo in 1968.
He signed a big contract, welcomed a running mate in Anthony Rizzo, survived 101 losses, and never stopped doing his job.
We all know he can get better, but that frequency of presence and effort ought not be dismissed.
Eyes, stats & awards, oh my!
Mike Trout is the best pure five-tool player since Rickey Henderson. His WAR (Wins Above Replacement) is astounding, but you can simply trust your eyes as well. Since when did base running and defense become "Sabermetrics?"
There's no need to denigrate Miguel Cabrera in making a Trout MVP case. Cabrera's consistent production is astounding, especially considering Detroit has the worst 5-6-7 hitters in the AL. Cabrera and Prince Fielder had to produce if the Tigers were to win, and they both did. There's value in that.
But his team sneaking in to the playoffs is not enough to put Cabrera over the top. When Trout arrived, the Angels were 6-14, and since then had the best record in baseball.
Amazingly, a triple-crown winner probably won't win the MVP, as Ted Williams did not in 1942 and 1947.
Try on some yellow and gold:
If you're someone who needs a dog in the postseason fight, consider Oakland.
In the off-season the A's traded away their best two starters and their closer. Along the way, two more starting pitchers were lost to suspension and injury.
Oakland used rookies to start 103 games and still charged back to take the division from the Rangers. Texas had been in first place for 176 days, but Oakland's lone day on top was the most important.
Yoenis Cespedes is even better than advertised.
And if they get a save situation in their home ballpark, you'll see 30,000 fans doing the Grant "Balfour Rage," where they seem to fight invisible monsters in a dream state for about 10 minutes.
Unless the Tigers beat them up, I bet it's one of the lasting images of the playoffs.
A final word -- thanks:
I've enjoyed this inaugural season's worth of columns, joining a rich lineage of Sunday baseball writers. I didn't even mind if you read other sections first, and just stuffed me in the rack next to the recliner.
See you next season, if not before.
• Matt Spiegel co-hosts "The McNeil & Spiegel Show" 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday-Friday on WSCR 670-AM, and The Score's "Hit and Run" at 9 a.m. Sundays with his Daily Herald colleague, Barry Rozner. Follow him on Twitter @mattspiegel670