Tigers writer goes it alone, gives Verlander his Cy Young vote

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Steve Kornacki of Booth Newspapers was the lone writer to give Justin Verlander a first-place vote in the AL Cy Young balloting announced Tuesday. The decision didn’t cost Zack Greinke a unanimous selection — Felix Hernandez claimed two first-place votes — but it did move Verlander past CC Sabathia into third place in the voting.
Kornacki defended his decision in a blog entry, though he hardly built much of a case:

Verlander received my first-place vote because nobody was tougher on the mound with the season on the line for his team.
Verlander threw at least 120 pitches in six of his last eight outings and won his last three starts, forcing a one-game playoff against the Minnesota Twins with his final victory.
He was an inspirational ‘horse,’ using Tigers manager Jim Leyland’s term for him, on a fading team.

Kornacki is never foolish enough to come out and say that Verlander was the AL’s best pitcher. He knows it’s not true. Instead, he’s trying to use the typical MVP argument for an award that is simply meant to honor the league’s top performer.
Verlander was exceptional for the Tigers down the stretch, and it is admirable that he maintained his performance with such a heavy workload. Still, it’s not a point in his favor that he has so many 120-pitch outings. Verlander just isn’t equipped to record quick outs.
So, Verlander won his last three starts. He lost the two before that. His ERA actually bottomed out in late July. He was 7-4 with a 3.94 ERA over the final two months. That’s impressive, but not exactly dominant.
Overall, Verlander finished with a 3.45 ERA in 240 innings. He had a terrific season, and the Tigers certainly wouldn’t have been in the race without him. He wasn’t, though, the AL’s best pitcher in any way, shape or form. Kornacki deserves plenty of flak for picking him.

Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. goes 4-for-4 with walk-off homer in first game of Double-A doubleheader

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
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Blue Jays third base prospect Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. has gotten a lot of press lately and for good reason. He has absolutely torched Double-A pitching so far this season, entering Sunday’s doubleheader batting .407/.456/.676 with seven home runs and 41 RBI in 170 plate appearances.

Guerrero stayed hot, going 4-for-4 in the first game of the doubleheader, ending it in the bottom of the seventh inning — doubleheaders in the minors can be two seven-inning affairs — with a two-run homer.

Guerrero started off the back end of the doubleheader with an RBI single in the first inning, so he’s overall 5-for-5 with four RBI on the day as of this writing. He also now has 21 multi-hit games out of 39 total games this season. Today’s performance marked his second four-hit game; his other one occurred last Wednesday.

MLB Pipeline ranks Guerrero as the No. 1 prospect in the Jays’ system and No. 2 overall in baseball behind the Braves’ Ronald Acuña. The Jays may be forced to summon Guerrero to the big leagues if he keeps hitting like this. In a similar situation, the Nationals promoted hot-hitting 19-year-old outfield prospect Juan Soto earlier today after just 35 plate appearances at Double-A, skipping Triple-A entirely.