The MLBPA Player’s Choice Awards aren’t as big a deal as the BBWAA awards, but they’re not nothing. The players certainly think they’re significant as anyone who is awarded something by their peers is likely to feel. Justin Verlander certainly feels that way, as his comments after being awarded the MLBPA’s Player of the Year award last night make clear.
What interests me is whether this award is a harbinger of Verlander winning the MVP.
In the 13 years the Player of the Year Award has existed, the players voted for a guy who went on to win the MVP award six times, with all six of them coming in the last ten years. The players, like the BBWAA, are likewise not crazy about voting for pitchers, having given the Player of the Year award to a pitcher only once: 1999 to Pedro Martinez. Martinez should have won the MVP that year too, but that’s another rant.
Another potential harbinger is the Sporting News Player of the Year award, which Verlander also won this year. In the past ten years, the winner of that award has gone to be win the MVP award seven times. And again, the award is not handed out willy-nilly to pitchers, so the fact that Verlander won it is somewhat significant.
Obviously anything can happen with this stuff and obviously we won’t know for sure who wins the MVP award for a couple of weeks. But I can’t shake the notion, based on how the season ended — Boston flaming out and Jose Bautista’s second half being somewhat less-electrifying than his first — and based on the sentiment from the non-BBWAA award givers, that Verlander is gonna take home the hardware everyone cares about.
Blue Jays’ outfielder Anthony Alford will miss at least 4-6 weeks after undergoing surgery on his left wrist, the team announced on Saturday. Alford was placed on the 10-day disabled list earlier in the week after sustaining a left hamate fracture on a foul pitch, and could miss significant time in what looks to be a lengthy rehab process. MLB.com’s Gregor Chisholm reports that the procedure has been scheduled for next week and will be performed by Dr. Donald Sheridan in Arizona.
Alford, 22, was called up to the majors from Double-A New Hampshire last Friday. He went hitless in his first three outings, finally catching a break against the Brewers on Tuesday when he pinch-hit a leadoff double in the seventh. The injury occurred two innings later when Alford fouled off a pitch in the ninth inning, fracturing his wrist in the process.
Alford will join eight other players on the Blue Jays’ disabled list, including outfielders Steve Pearce (calf strain), Dalton Pompey (concussion) and Darrell Cecillani (partial shoulder dislocation). He’s expected to be replaced by 24-year-old outfield prospect Dwight Smith Jr.
Good luck getting a hit against the Nationals this weekend. Stephen Strasburg followed Max Scherzer‘s 13-strikeout performance on Friday with a dazzling outing of his own on Saturday afternoon. The right-hander whiffed a career-best 15 batters in seven innings, allowing just three hits and a walk in the Nats’ 3-0 win.
It took Strasburg several innings to get into a groove after pitching into (and out of) a jam in the first inning. The Padres loaded the bases with Allen Cordoba‘s leadoff single, a throwing error by Ryan Zimmerman and a four-pitch walk to Cory Spangenberg. By the third, Strasburg was cruising, striking out the side on 18 pitches and keeping the Padres off the basepaths until the sixth. He recorded his 15th and final strikeout in the seventh inning, catching Padres’ prospect Franchy Cordero swinging on a 1-2 pitch to effectively end his outing.
While 15 strikeouts set a new career record for the Nationals’ ace, he came close to reaching the mark twice before. The first time, he struck out 14 of 24 batters during his major league debut against the 2010 Pirates, though the 5-2 win did little more than keep the Nationals neck-and-neck with the Marlins at the bottom of the NL East. Five years later, he tied his 14-strikeout record against the 2015 Phillies, tossing a one-hitter in eight innings to cement his ninth victory of the season.
The only one who doesn’t seem overly enthused by the new record? Strasburg himself, who told MLB.com’s Jamal Collier and AJ Cassavell: “It’s pretty cool, but there’s another game five, six days from now. I’ll enjoy it tonight, but back to work tomorrow.”