And now a positive note about the MVP award voting

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The MVP award voting has brought about a lot of disgusting negativity, abject absurdity and borderline criminal levels of ignorance. And some people besides Mitch Albom decided to write about it too! But there was one positive thing to take away from the vote totals yesterday, and that’s Ryan Braun’s showing.

I would have voted Buster Posey over him, but it’s pretty clear that he was a top MVP candidate in the National League. Good arguments could be made for him as the second best player, but it would certainly be within the realm of reason to have him anywhere in the top four, along with Posey, Yadier Molina and Andrew McCutchen. And that’s where he finished. Second overall and present on all 32 MVP ballots. Indeed, no voter placed him lower than fourth.

I view this as a very good thing because I was convinced that someone — perhaps many someones — was going to either leave him off their ballot entirely or put him way down the list as some sort of extra-judicial punishment for the whole PED test thing last year, much the way PED guys are punished by the Hall of Fame voters. Which, as I’ve written ad nauseam over the years, is stupid.

The Hall of Fame electorate and the awards electorate are very different beasts so I don’t expect, say, Jeff Bagwell, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens or Barry Bonds to get a fair shake next month when the Hall ballots are submitted, but I do view this as a positive step forward for BBWAA voters.

MLB executive: Bruce Maxwell’s kneeling may keep him from finding work, not his arrest

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In September 2017, former Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league player to kneel during the national anthem, joining the handfuls of NFL players who had been doing the same to protest police brutality and racial inequality. Maxwell’s effort was laudable, but he got into trouble a month later when he was arrested for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon and disorderly conduct. Maxwell allegedly pointed a gun at a food delivery person.

Maxwell, 27, played sparingly for the Athletics in 2018 and then was designated for assignment at the beginning of September. He officially became a free agent on November 2 and has had trouble finding work in the month-plus since.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Maxwell fired his agent, Matt Sosnick on Thursday because he’s still jobless. According to an unnamed MLB executive Slusser spoke to, “It’s the kneeling thing that might keep him from getting another job, not the arrest. Owners aren’t going to want to deal with that whole anthem issue.”

That makes a lot of since since abusive players haven’t had too much trouble finding new work otherwise. Addison Russell, Jeurys Familia, and José Reyes, among others have either stayed with their teams or quickly found new work. Given the relatively weak catching market, had Maxwell only had the assault charge, there is no doubt he would have been signed to be a backup catcher somewhere.

In the NFL, Colin Kaepernick — who popularized kneeling during the anthem — has remained unsigned even though teams have opted to sign and start clearly inferior quarterbacks like Mark Sanchez, Josh McCown, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Jay Cutler, Matt Barkley, and Sam Bradford, among many others. Team owners tend to run conservative in terms of politics, so they may not like the protest to begin with, then there is the public blowback to signing such a player as those who dislike such protesting make up a slight majority in the U.S., according to various polls including one done by the Washington Post.

It’s worth noting that Maxwell has a career .240/.314/.347 triple-slash line in 412 plate appearances. We’re not talking about J.T. Realmuto or Buster Posey here. That being said, there have been 15 other catchers to have put up a lower aggregate OPS since 2016 (min. 400 PA). One of those players, Derek Norris (.600 OPS since 2016), signed a minor league contract with the Tigers just three months after being suspended by Major League Baseball for violating its domestic violence policy. Makes you think.