Early this season it looked like it’d be impossible for the Rangers to let Josh Hamilton walk when he hits free agency this fall. Then Hamilton started to skid and he hasn’t stopped. In June he hit .223/.318/.436. In July he’s hitting .172/.242/.345. He has a grand total of seven homers in those two months.
Nolan Ryan was asked about it on a radio show the other day and this is what he had to say:
You’re right that some of his at bats aren’t very impressive from the standpoint that he doesn’t work deep into the count, he’s swinging at a lot of bad pitches, he just doesn’t seem to be locked in at all. So what you’re hoping is that his approach will change and he’ll start giving quality at bats because there’s a lot of those at bats that he just gives away. One of the things I’ve always commented on is I can’t ever say that I ever saw Henry [Hank] Aaron give an at bat away.
He speaks truth. And maybe I’m reading way too much into this, but I get the sense than he’s doing more than just describing what’s wrong with Hamilton. Rather, he’s also laying the groundwork for letting Hamilton walk after this year without Rangers fans going crazy. Reminding them that while Hamilton may be talented, he’s not the sort of superstar [cough] Hank Aaron [cough] that only comes around once in a lifetime and, yes, we will survive without him.
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: