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.