Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez

Justin Verlander IS NOT single-handedly carrying the Tigers into the playoffs

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Before I say what I’m gonna say, please understand: I do not think an MVP vote for Justin Verlander is silly. It is not an outrage. This is one of those years where there are multiple defensible choices and the arguments for some candidates I wouldn’t personally support are nonetheless totally valid.  Verlander may win the MVP and if he does it will not be a travesty.

That said, this sort of argument in his favor — offered by Mitch Albom in this case — doesn’t do much for me:

Let’s just focus on the word “valuable.” The “V” in MVP. That is what the award is supposed to signify, right? Not biggest bat, niftiest glove or flashiest numbers. Valuable? Is there any question that, if you took Verlander off this Tigers team, it would not be making the playoffs?

The Tigers lead the AL Central by 12.5 games. I don’t care what method of quantifying you prefer, including the old eyeball test: if you took Justin Verlander off this team and replaced him with a regular old starter, it is pretty damn certain that the Tigers make the playoffs.  Sure, they may still be in a mild fight with another team and, no, I wouldn’t give them much of a chance against the Rangers and Yankees of the world, but they’d be in the playoffs.

This isn’t some point of statistical analysis. It’s simply reflective of my anger that everyone wants to pretend that the presence of Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch, Victor Martinez and Jose Valverde means nothing.  To the contrary, that is a team, performing as it has this year, that fairly easily wins the AL Central.

Verlander is obviously having a fantastic season. And there’s a valid argument to be made that he’s the MVP. But it’s not because he’s single-handedly carrying Detroit into the playoffs. That’s simply not true.

President Obama pardons Willie McCovey

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - APRIL 06:  San Francisco Giants legend Willie McCovey  waves to the crowd while seating between Jeff Kent (L) and Willie Mays during a ceremony honoring Buster Posey for winning the 2012 National League MVP before the Giants game against the St. Louis Cardinals at AT&T Park on April 6, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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The big presidential pardon news today concerns the commutation of Chelsea Manning’s sentence. We’ll leave that aside. For our purposes, know that someone in the world of baseball was pardoned: Willie McCovey.

Yes, Hall of Famer Willie McCovey, who in 1995 pleaded guilty to income tax fraud related to the non-reporting of income received from memorabilia and autograph shows. Duke Snider pleaded guilty alongside McCovey. They were given two years probation and fines of $5,000. Snider died in 2011. McCovey still works with the San Francisco Giants as a senior advisor and goodwill ambassador.

President Obama’s release of McCovey’s pardon was pretty succinct. But it’s enough to scrub the record of one of the greatest sluggers of all time.

 

Jake Diekman will miss at least half of the 2017 season

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 9: Jake Diekman #41 of the Texas Rangers works against the Toronto Blue Jays in the sixth inning during game three of the American League Division Series at Rogers Centre on October 9, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. (Photo by Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
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Rangers reliever Jake Diekman will have surgery on January 25 to help alleviate ulcerative colitis, an inflammatory bowel disease. As a result, the lefty will miss at least half of the 2017 regular season, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports. Diekman was diagnosed with the illness when he was 11 years old. He has brought awareness to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America with a “Gut It Out” campaign.

Diekman, who turns 30 years old on Saturday, finished the 2016 campaign with a 3.40 ERA and a 59/26 K/BB ratio in 53 innings. He came to the Rangers from the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade on July 31, 2015.

The Rangers and Diekman avoided arbitration last Friday, agreeing to a $2.55 million salary for the 2017 season.