Could Felix Hernandez win the Cy Young for the wrong reasons?

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I’ve written more stuff about the American League Cy Young Award race than I ever wanted to, but the arguments keep going on, and I’m nothing if not a guy who likes to argue, so . . .

The latest incarnation is not about the award itself. It’s about the debates about the award (set phasers for “meta!”). Check out Tom Verducci’s awards column yesterday in Sports Illustrated in which he said:

Hernandez
will win this award fairly comfortably, a measurement of not only how
wins are better understood but also how fast and wide groupthink travels
these days.

To be clear: Verducci himself supports Hernandez, as he thinks he was the most outstanding pitcher. But he’s saying that many other voters who vote for Hernandez will be doing so — not because, like him, they decide he was the best pitcher — but because they’re easily manipulated people who were either tricked or brainwashed or browbeaten or shamed into doing so. 

I know a lot of you tire of the scouts vs. stats debates, but at least this is new wrinkle: Screw both the Sabtahia backers and the Hernandez backers! Only Tom Verducci and a few brave, like-minded men see things clearly here! You’re either wrong or are doing the right thing because you’re sheeple!

I hope Verducci is wrong about the groupthink thing. Because, really, I’d hate it if members of the BBWAA are so spineless that they can be forced into going against their own instincts simply because some statheads make fun of them. I disagree with the Sabathia/Price backers, but I’d hope they wouldn’t back down because they are worried about being ridiculed or something. Take your position and stand up for it, for God’s sake.

But I really hope he’s wrong because Verducci’s whole “I’m doing the right thing for the right reasons, but many will do the right thing for the wrong reasons” brand of commentary is kind of obnoxious. It’s certainly way worse than the whole “I’m right, you’re wrong, nyah nyah!” thing everyone has been complaining about.

Albert Pujols is eighth on the all-time home run list

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Albert Pujols kicked things off for the Angels in dramatic fashion on Friday night, cranking a two-RBI home run off of the Orioles’ Jeremy Hellickson to give the club an early lead in the first inning. The 350-footer was his 18th home run of the year and No. 609 in his 17-season career, tying Sammy Sosa on the all-time home run list for eighth overall and most home runs hit by a player born outside of the United States.

With the home run, Pujols sits just three homers shy of tying Jim Thome’s 612-home run record for seventh on the all-time list. That figures to be the last major milestone still ahead of the designated hitter this season, with Ken Griffey Jr.’s 630-home run mark still a distant 21 blasts away.

The Angels, meanwhile, ran with Pujols’ lead, collecting home runs from Kole Calhoun, C.J. Cron, Kaleb Cowart and Mike Trout. It wasn’t quite enough to quash the Orioles, however, who surged to a 9-7 finale after Manny Machado went 3-for-5 with three home runs and struck a walk-off grand slam in the bottom of the ninth.

Nationals place Max Scherzer on 10-day disabled list with neck inflammation

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The Nationals placed right-hander Max Scherzer on the 10-day disabled list with left neck inflammation, the team announced Friday. Scherzer was scratched from his scheduled start against the Padres and replaced by left-hander Matt Grace, though an official roster move has yet to be made to fill his spot on the roster. The assignment is retroactive to August 15.

Scherzer experienced a similar pain on the right side of his neck at the start of the month, though this is the first official stint he’ll serve on the disabled list in 2017. While comments from club manager Dusty Baker suggest that the injury wasn’t caused by any particular trauma, it seems likely that the ace right-hander will be sidelined for at least one more start.

It’s a terrible time to lose a star pitcher, especially with the Nationals positioned to make a deep run in the postseason, but their 14-game cushion in the NL East should buy them some time while Scherzer’s on the mend. Prior to his bout of inflammation, the 33-year-old looked remarkably healthy this season. He pitched through his fifth consecutive All-Star campaign and currently boasts a 12-5 record in 24 starts, complete with a 2.25 ERA (good for second-best among qualified starters), 2.2 BB/9 and 12.3 SO/9 in 160 1/3 innings.