The guy who left Verlander off his MVP ballot admits he ignored the voting standards

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Remember that time you went to work and your boss was all like “you can’t do such and such because it’s expressly against company rules and actually undermines the policies we’ve established” and then you said “screw that, I’ma do what I’ma do” and then nothing happened to you.  Jim Ingrahm of the News-Herald never had a day like that:

I was one of the 28 voters for the American League Most Valuable Player Award … I was the only voter who didn’t include Verlander anywhere on his 10-player ballot. This was my reasoning: The short version is I don’t believe pitchers should be eligible for the MVP Award.  My not voting for Verlander had nothing to do with evaluating what Verlander accomplished this season … I can’t think of any other sport in which a player who didn’t play in 79 percent of his team’s games could be voted the Most Valuable Player in his league.

Except, the very ballot that Mr. Ingrahm fills out says this right on the face of it:

“Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters.”

Note: the rules don’t say that you have to vote for pitchers and many don’t. But pitchers are eligible. Ingrahm says nuts to that.

If Ingrahm doesn’t think that Justin Verlander’s contributions were actually as valuable as ten other players, great, he should leave him off.  But to expressly refuse to even evaluate or consider the possibility and to leave him off his ballot because of that violates the guidelines that the very organization which sanctions the award has established.

That usually gets you in trouble.  I’m guessing it won’t here. It should.

UPDATE:  Was just asked by someone why this matters. The idea: lots of voters probably leave pitchers off their ballots for the same reason. They just don’t admit it. Indeed, no one is required to say why they voted how they voted, so who cares if Ingrahm just gave voice to what happens all the time anyway? My answer: it’s a question of legitimacy.

There are all kinds of rules that get violated by all kinds of people every day. People applying their own standards, be it at work, out in the world, wherever. It’s just part of the deal.   We endure it because, really, we can’t do much about it. The guy isn’t going to hire the woman because he’s sexist? Well, unless he’s an idiot, he’s never going to admit it or otherwise tip his hand, and thus stopping such practices is difficult.

But when someone so clearly and openly flaunts a rule, don’t we have to do something about it? I mean, people are given almost total latitude in some walks of life and we understandably let it pass.  When they push things even further and then expressly admit they’re doing so, don’t we, at some point, have to do something? Otherwise we basically admit that the rules are a total fiction and then what’s the point? This guy is basically taunting the very organization that gives him his vote. He’s telling the BBWAA “your standards are quaint, but I have my own.”

Put differently, he used his vote as a political statement. Not as baseball analysis. They have a BBWAA meeting each year at the Winter Meetings. He should make his political statements there. If he wants pitchers off the ballot, make a motion to that effect and see what his colleagues decide.  Don’t screw around with your protest votes in so openly a manner. To do so undercuts the legitimacy of the organization which you serve.

Seattle Mariners to make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani

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Mariners general manager Jerry Dipoto said in a team-sponsored podcast the other day that the M’s will make a “full-court press” for Shohei Ohtani. To that end, Dipoto said that the M’s would be willing to let the two-way star to pitch and to hit, which is something Ohtani is interested in doing in the United States. Not all clubs are likely to let him do this, with most likely seeing him as a starting pitcher only.

Ohtani, who is expected to be posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, possibly as early as today, can sign with anyone he wants. He is, however, subject to the international bonus pool caps, so the bids on him will be somewhat limited. The Texas Rangers and New York Yankees have the most money available: $3.535 million for the Rangers and $3.5 million for the Yankees. The Twins ($3.245 million), Pirates ($2.266 million), Marlins ($1.74 million) and Mariners ($1.57 million) are the only other teams with more than $1 million left. Twelve teams — including the Dodgers, Cubs, Cardinals and Astros — are limited to a maximum of $300,000, having met or exceeded their caps for this signing period already.

Ohtani, however, is said to be less motivated by money than he is by finding the right situation. While a lot of guys say that, the fact that Ohtani is coming over to the U.S. now, when his financial prospects are limited, as opposed to waiting for two years when he is not subject to the bonus caps and could sign for nine figures, suggests that he is telling the truth. As such, a team like the Mariners that is willing to allow him to hit and pitch could make up for the couple of million less they have in bonus money to spend.

As for how that might work logistically, Dipoto said that the team would be willing to play DH Nelson Cruz a few days in the outfield to accommodate Ohtani, allowing him to DH on the days he’s not pitching. That might be . . . interesting to see, but given how badly the Mariners could use a good starting pitcher, they have an incentive to be creative.

Ohtani, 23, suffered some injuries in 2017, limiting him to just five starts and 65 games as a hitter. In 2016, however, he hit .289/.356/.547 with 22 homers in 342 at-bats and went 11-3 with a 3.24 ERA, and a K/BB ratio of 146/51 in 133.1 innings as a starter.

Five clubs have more money to spend on Ohtani than the Mariners do. None of those teams are on the west coast, which some Asian players have said in the past they preferred due to faster travel back home. The Mariners, owned for a long time by a Japanese company which still retains a minority interest in the club, and long the home for high-profile Japanese players such as Ichiro and Hisashi Iwakuma, likely have a better media and marketing reach in Japan than most other teams as well, which might be a factor in his decision making process. Is all that enough to sway Ohtani?

We’ll find out over the next couple of weeks.