Over at FanGraphs, Dave Cameron takes an extended look at the question I briefly touched on on Saturday: what position should Jesus Montero play now that he’s a Seattle Mariner?
My quick view, based on the roster more than anything else, was that Montero should at least be given a shot to catch to see how he does and see if he can be made serviceable. Dave’s view: that if Montero can avoid being the worst catcher in baseball, it’s probably worth a shot, citing Mike Napoli as a success story. With success being defined as “no, he’s not great, but his bat at catcher outweighs his defensive shortcomings.”
Of course, there’s an in-depth statistical analysis of all of this which, even if you don’t care about the stats themselves of about Montero or the Mariners, provide a nice walk though all of the ways catchers’ defense matters. It’s not just about throwing out base stealers.
And while we’re on the subject, let me promote myself by noting that I will be on NBC SportsTalk on the NBC Sports Network tonight at around 6:50 Eastern to discuss the Montero-Michael Pineda trade. You should totally watch: I’m sneaky-handsome.
In 2016, Red Sox starter Rick Porcello narrowly and controversially eked ahead of then-Tigers starter Justin Verlander in Cy Young Award balloting, winning on points 137 to 132. Verlander was not included at all in the top-five of two ballots, both coincidentally belonging to writers from the Tampa Bay chapter, MLB.com’s Bill Chastain and Fred Goodall of the Associated Press. Verlander had more first-place votes than Porcello, but being left out of the top-five on two ballots was the difference maker.
In the aftermath, Verlander’s then-fiancée Kate Upton fired off some angry tweets, as did Justin’s brother Ben.
Verlander was again in the running for the 2018 AL Cy Young Award. He again finished in second place, this time behind Blake Snell of the Rays. Snell had 17 first-place votes and 169 total points to Verlander’s 13 and 154. There weren’t any ballots that made a big difference like in 2016, but there were two odd ballots from the Tampa Bay chapter again.
If a chapter doesn’t have enough eligible voters, a voter from another chapter is chosen to represent that city. This year, Bill Madden of the New York Daily News was a replacement voter along with Mark Didtler, a freelancer for the Associated Press. Both writers voted for Snell in first place, reasonably. But neither writer put Verlander second, less reasonably, putting Corey Kluber there instead. Madden actually had Verlander fourth behind Athletics reliever Blake Treinen. Didtler had Treinen in fifth place. Two other writers had Verlander in third place: George A. King III of the New York Post and Paul Sullivan of the Chicago Tribune. The other 26 had Verlander in first or second place.
Voting Kluber ahead of Verlander doesn’t make any sense, especially we finally live in a world where a pitcher’s win-loss record isn’t valued highly. Kluber had 20 wins to Verlander’s 16 and pitched one more inning. In every other area, Verlander was better. ERA? Verlander led 2.52 to 2.89. Strikeouts? Verlander led 290 to 222. Strikeout rate? Verlander led 34.8% to 26.4%. Opponent batting average? Verlander led .198 to .222. FIP and xFIP? Verlander led both 2.78 and 3.03 to 3.12 and 3.08, respectively. And while Treinen had an excellent year, Verlander pitched 134 more innings, which is significant.
Upton had another tweet for the occasion: