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Kate Upton clarifies comments on BBWAA awards voting

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Last week, model/actress Kate Upton criticized the Baseball Writers Association of America — two writers from Tampa Bay, specifically — because her fiancé, Tigers starter Justin Verlander, was snubbed from the 2016 American League Cy Young Award despite getting nearly twice as many first-place votes than Red Sox starter Rick Porcello, who won.

Upton wrote on Twitter, “Hey @MLB I thought I was the only person allowed to [expletive] @JustinVerlander ?! What 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballot?”

She continued, saying, “He had the majority of 1st place votes and 2 writers didn’t have him on their ballots?!! can you pick more out of touch people to vote?@MLB”

Upton added, “Sorry Rick but you didn’t get any 1st place votes? you didn’t win. #ByeFelicia @MLB keep up with the times and fire those writers.” She then retweeted a chart posted by Justin’s brother Ben statistically comparing Justin to other Cy Young candidates.

In particular, Upton was critical of MLB.com’s Rays beat writer Bill Chastain, who sent in his AL Cy Young ballot a week early and left Verlander off entirely, believing nothing could happen that would alter his vote. In Verlander’s final two starts, he pitched 7 2/3 scoreless innings with 12 strikeouts against the Indians, then pitched seven innings of one-run ball with eight strikeouts against the Braves, lowering his season ERA to 3.04. Porcello gave up six runs in 12 1/3 innings in his final two starts, causing his ERA to rise to 3.15. Had the two Tampa writers (Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press) each given Verlander at least a third-place vote, he would have had enough points to overcome Porcello.

Chastain said to the New York Post, “At the time, I thought I picked the best five guys. Maybe I should have waited until the end. When I voted, it looked pretty clear to me.” He added, “I wasn’t out to get Verlander. It was nothing personal.”

Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports asked Verlander about Upton’s “dismissive comments,” but Verlander directed him to his fiancée. She said:

In the time since Upton made her initial comments, she has been dismissed by many for a multitude of reasons. But she does have a point. There really shouldn’t be any reason for a writer to turn in his or her ballot early, especially in a race that was as close as the 2016 AL Cy Young Award.

Some will say that forcing writers to wait until the end of the regular season to vote gives them little time since the playoffs start almost immediately. However, balloting is done via email now, not snail mail.

Others will say that the small window of time gives the writers little time to do research. The process of research should be a continuous process throughout the last month or two of the season. The final week or two of the season won’t invalidate that research and small adjustments — like ranking Verlander above Porcello — can be made.

The BBWAA does its awards voting prior to the start of the offseason because it prevents some players from getting an unfair advantage due to having good teammates. It also somewhat mitigates recency bias. The voting should not, under any circumstances, be moved to the end of the postseason.

Games started between 3 and 3:30 PM EDT on October 2, the final day of the season and all ended by 7:15 PM EDT. The first postseason game, the AL Wild Card game, started at 8 PM on October 4. That’s just over 48 hours, which is plenty of time to send in ballots, barring extenuating circumstances.

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

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United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

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The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.