Cubs

Shorthanded Mount Carmel team rallies by Seton

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Shorthanded Mount Carmel team rallies by Seton

Friday, Dec. 10, 2010
11:05 PM

By Patrick McGavin
YourSeason.com

The Mount Carmel starting five had a different look at the start Friday night against Seton in South Holland.

The most glaring difference was Tracy Abrams, the Caravans do-it-all guard was on the bench. So was Wyn Bradley, the teams normal starting center.

Tracy missed practice because of an illness Monday, and we have a team rule that if you miss practice, you have to sit the first quarter, Mount Carmel coach Mike Flaherty said. Wyn was late and thats why he was out at the start.

Despite the absence of two starters, Mount Carmel did not skip a beat. Junior guard Alex Austin scored 16 points as the team received scoring contributions from 11 different players as the Caravan rolled to the 74-57 victory.

Junior guard Malcolm Hill-Bey started quickly, scoring seven first-quarter points in propelling the Caravan to a 22-15 first quarter lead. Once Abrams did enter, it did not take him long to make his presence felt.

On the opening possession of the second quarter, Abrams nailed a long three-pointer. Seconds later, his steal and beautiful feed to Bradley jump started the Caravans 10-0 run as Mount Carmel (4-2, 2-0 Catholic East) seized a 40-28 lead at the break.

I knew once I got in there, I had to bring energy and contribute to the team, Abrams said. At the same time, Abrams was comfortable the team would have his back. Coach put a lot of emphasis on other guys having to step up because they knew I missed practice earlier this week, and I wasnt going to be there at the start.

Austin helped turn the game into a rout by sparking a third quarter closing 18-5 run. The Caravan was especially good at the start of quarters. They held the Sting scoreless the opening three minutes of the first, second and fourth quarters. Austin scored eight of his game-high total in the fourth quarter.

We got excellent contributions from different guys at the start, and then once Tracy and Wyn got in there, they just added to it, Flaherty said. We got a little sloppy at times at the end, but otherwise, we played well.

Hill-Bey scored all nine of his points in the first half. Foul trouble limited his play in the second half. Bradley recovered from his slow start to add eight points and six rebounds.

Kamal Sashi scored 11 points to lead the Sting (3-3, 0-2). Sophomore Mark Weems added 10 points.

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

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USA TODAY

Why did Kris Bryant get a first-place vote in this year's National League MVP balloting?

Kris Bryant was the 2016 National League MVP. And despite having what could be considered an even better campaign this past season, he finished seventh in voting for the 2017 edition of the award.

The NL MVP was awarded to Miami Marlins outfielder Giancarlo Stanton on Thursday night, a fine choice, though it was nearly impossible to make a poor choice, that's how many fantastic players there were hitting the baseball in the NL this season.

After Stanton, Cinicinnati Reds first baseman Joey Votto finished second, earning the same amount of first-place votes and losing out to Stanton by just one point. Then came Arizona Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt, Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado, Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon and Washington Nationals third baseman Anthony Rendon ahead of Bryant.

But there was someone who thought Bryant deserved to repeat as the NL MVP. Yes, Bryant earned a first-place vote — as did everyone else mentioned besides Rendon, for that matter — causing a bit of a social-media stir considering the Cubs third baseman, despite his great season, perhaps wasn't as standout a candidate as some of the other guys who finished higher in the voting.

So the person who cast that first-place vote for Bryant, MLB.com's Mark Bowman, wrote up why he felt Bryant deserved to hoist the Kenesaw Mountain Landis Memorial Baseball Award for the second straight year.

"In the end, I chose Bryant because I believe he made the greatest impact, as his second-half production fueled the successful turnaround the Cubs experienced after the All-Star break," Bowman wrote.

"Though I don't believe the MVP must come from a playoff contender, in an attempt to differentiate the value provided by each of these three players (Bryant, Votto and Stanton), I chose to reward the impact made by Bryant, who produced the NL's fourth-best OPS (.968) after the All-Star break, when the Cubs distanced themselves from a sub-.500 record and produced an NL-best 49 wins."

It's easy for Cubs fans and observers to follow that logic, as the Cubs took off after the All-Star break following a disappointing first half. As good as Bryant was all season long, his second-half numbers, as Bowman pointed out, were especially great. He hit .325 with a .421 on-base percentage and a .548 slugging percentage over his final 69 games of the regular season, hitting 11 home runs, knocking out 21 doubles and driving in 35 runs during that span.

Perhaps the craziest thing about this year's MVP race and Bryant's place in it is that Bryant was just as good if not better than he was in 2016, when he was almost unanimously named the NL MVP. After slashing .292/.385/.554 with 39 homers, 102 RBIs, 35 doubles, 75 walks and 154 strikeouts in 2016, Bryant slashed .295/.409/.537 with 29 homers, 73 RBIs, 38 doubles, 95 walks and 128 strikeouts in 2017.

Of course, the competition was much steeper this time around. But Bryant was given the MVP award in 2016 playing for a 103-win Cubs team that was bursting with offensive firepower, getting great seasons from Anthony Rizzo (who finished third in 2016 NL MVP voting), as well as Dexter Fowler and Ben Zobrist. While the Cubs actually scored more runs this season and undoubtedly turned it on after the All-Star break on a team-wide basis, Bryant was far and away the best hitter on the team in 2017, with many other guys throughout the lineup having notably down years and/or experiencing down stretches throughout the season. Hence, making Bryant more, say it with me, valuable.

So Bowman's argument about Bryant's impact on the Cubs — a team that still scored 822 runs, won 92 games and advanced to the National League Championship Series — is a decently convincing one.

Check out Bowman's full explanation, which dives into some of Bryant's advanced stats.

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet

In the latest edition of HandiKapping presented by Xpressbet, NBC Sports Chicago's David Kaplan makes his picks for the weekend.

Kap made his picks with the help of Eddie Olczyk this week.