WHALEY’S DRAFTS ARE ONE BIG REASON WHY THE CURRENT BILLS ARE HURTING

The two main reasons for Buffalo’s 17-year playoff drought are painfully obvious: 1-The domination of the AFC East by the New England Patriots...2-Lousy college drafts.

Doug Whaley of course can’t be blamed for the entire playoff drought of the Bills. He wasn’t hired until Feb. 10, 2010 and the first draft he could be “blamed” for was 2013, when Buddy Nix was in his final days as general manager and successor Whaley was calling the shots on player personnel.

But there is no denying that the four “Whaley drafts” from 2013 through 2016 were collectively awful.

Gone are (in alphabetical order) Kiko Alonso, Ross Cockrell, Ronald Darby, Marquise Goodwin, Chris Gragg, Dustin Hopkins, Cardale Jones, Randall Johnson, Cyrus Kouandijo, Kolby Listenbee, EJ Manuel, Jonathan Meeks, Reggie Ragland, Cyril Richardson, Tony Steward, Sammy Watkins, Duke Williams, Karlos Williams and Robert Woods.

The only players still with Buffalo from those 2013 through 2016 drafts are (again in alphabetical order) Preston Brown, John Miller, Seantrel Henderson, Shaq Lawson, Dezmin Lewis, Kevon Seymour, Nick O’Leary, Adolphus Washington and Jonathan Williams. A couple of those players might not make this season’s 53-man roster.

Here are the sad draft facts: Of the 55 players picked in the Bills in the NFL college draft from 2010 through 2016, only 11 are still on the roster.  Five of Buffalo’s first picks in those seven drafts no longer are on the team: C.J. Spiller, Stephon Gilmore, EJ Manuel, Sammy Watkins and Ronald Darby.

That’s not good. Hopefully, the new regime will get better results in the college draft.

DUSTIN PEDROIA AND CARLOS CORREA ARE ALMOST READY

Two of the American League’s most significant players – Boston second baseman Dustin Pedoia and Houston shortstop Carlos Correa – should be playing again this week after missing considerable time with injuries.

Pedroia (.303; 103-for-340); 37 runs; 54 RBI in 86 games) has missed 27 of Boston’s last 28 games. The Red Sox surprisingly went 18-9 in the 27 games he missed. They obviously should be better with them. He is recovering from a sore knee and hopes to see action in the upcoming series against the Yankees.

Correa (.320; 104-for-32 5; 64 runs; 20 HRs; 67 RBI in 84 games) is coming off a thumb injury and is wrapping up a brief rehab stint at Triple-A Fresno. He last played July 17, when the Astros won to build their record to 62-31. They are a mere 17-21 since and it is no coincidence. The injury cost him a shot at American League MVP.

SALUTING A FEW OF MLB’S UNSUNG HEROES

Here are some MLB players who’ve made major contributions under the radar this season:

Melwin Gonzalez (Houston) – His sixth season with the Astros has been by far his best...can play second base, third base and left field...a solid hitter, he’s batting .296 with 21 HRs and a team-most 73 RBI...He’ll probably be on a few 10-name MVP ballots.

Ronald Torreyes (Yankees) – A rare underrated Yankee...He’s listed at 5-foot-8 but sure looks shorter...has been a huge surprise for the Yankees...solid defensively at second base (47 games), shortstop (27) and third base (24)...his offensive production is the big surprise: .302 (86-for-285) with a lot of clutch hits...selected off waivers from the Angels Feb. 1, 2016...2017 salary: $561,900.

Anthony Rondon (Washington) – Overshadowed by teammates Bryce Harper, Ryan Zimmerman and Daniel Murphy...leads the Nationals in games played (123)...good glove at third base and a .303 hitter (128-for-422) with 33 doubles, 22 HRs, 85 RBI and .949 OPS.

Andrelton Simmons (Angels) – An excellent shortstop defensively and an improving hitter: .288, 32 doubles, 2 triples, 14 HRs, 61 RBI, 19 steals in 23 attempts...Spent 3 ½ seasons with Atlanta and the Bravers must regret trading him to the Angels for a package including veteran SS Erick Aybar...He’s only 27 and I suppose Atlanta regrets letting him get away.

HANDICAPPING BASEBALL’S MAJOR AWARDS

With one month remaining in Major League Baseball’s regular season, here are my pacesetters (in order of preference) for the major individual awards:

American League

MVP – Jose Altuve (Houston)...Mike Trout (Angels)...Jose Ramirez (Cleveland)...Carlos Correa (Houston)...Jonathan Schoop (Baltimore)...George Springer (Houston)...Didi Gregorius (Yankees)...Aaron Judge (Yankees)...Marwin Gonzalez (Houston)...Justin Smoak (Toronto).

Cy Young Award – Corey Kluber (Cleveland)...Chris Sale (Boston)...Craig Kimbrel (Boston).

Rookie of the Year – Aaron Judge (Yankees)...Andrew Benintendi (Boston)...Trey Mancini (Baltimore).

National LeagueMVP -- Giancarlo Stanton (Miami)...Paul Goldschmidt (Arizona)...Charlie Blackmon (Colorado)...Bryce Harper (Washington)...Joey Votto (Cincinnati)...Nolan Arendao (Colorado)...Cody Bellinger (Dodgers)...Corey Seagar (Dodgers)...Anthony Rizzo (Cubs)...Anthony Rondon (Washington)...Marcell Ozuna (Miami).

Cy Young Award – Clayton Kershaw (Dodgers)...Max Scherzer (Washington)...Alex Wood (Dodgers)...Zack Greinke (Arizona)...Kenley Jansen (Dodgers).

Rookie of the Year – Cody Bellinger (Dodgers)...Josh Bell (Pittsburgh)...Kyle Freeland (Colorado).

SHORT SHOTS

Believe It Or Not: The Buffalo Bills, despite all of their apparent problems, now are favored by 7 points over the New York Jets in the season-opening game Seprember 10 at New Era Field.

Apologies to Dave Gassner, who was shortchanged in this space as Red Wings pitcher Aaron Slagers roles up the victories (14-4 record this season with one or two starts to go).  Gasnser was 16-8 for Rocheter in 2004.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO...

Wednesday, August 30

Joe Staley (33)...Andy Roddick (35)...Adam Wainwright (36)...Cliff Lee (39)...Shaun Alexander (40)...Manu Tuiasosopo (60)...Robert Parish (64). Cameron Diaz (45) and Warren Buffett (86) are invited to the birthday party...Ted Williams was born on this date 99 years ago (1918) and died in 2002...78 years ago today (1939), Atley Donald (Yankees) pitched a baseball a record 94.7 mph...133 years ago today (1884), Jack “Nonpareil” Dempsey won the middleweight boxing title in the first fight with boxing gloves.

Thursday, August 31

Nick O’Leary (25)...Matt Adams (29)...Charl Schwartzel (33)...Ryan Kesler (33)...Larry Fitzgerald (34)...pro wrestler Jeff Hardy (40)...Scott Niedermayer (44)...Padraig Harrington (46)...Mike Caldwell (46)...Hideo Nomo (47)...Bob Mongrain (58)...Von Hayes (59)...Tom Candiotti (60)...Kent Nilsson (61)...Frank Robinson (82). Richard Gere (68) is invited to the birthday party...Rocky Marciano died in a small-plane crash on this date 48 years ago (1969) at age 45...On this date 30 years ago (1987) Curtis strange set a golf earning record of $697,385 for one year. That would rank on thePGA Tour money list for 2017...45 years ago today (1972), Russia’s Olga Korbut won Olympic gold in gymnastics.