Edwin Jackson has been traded six times and has pitched for seven teams in the past eight seasons. You’d be excused, then, for assuming that there’s something teams don’t like about that guy. But yesterday, when he was announced as the Cubs’ latest acquisition, there was no suggestion of that at all. Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com reports:
“We did all the digging we could do,” Hoyer said. “The reasons for him moving around certainly weren’t (because) he wasn’t a good teammate or didn’t work hard. It was kind of more contractual.”
As Jackson said with a smile: “Everyone likes me.”
For what it’s worth, I’ve never heard anything about Jackson being disliked or anything. In addition to the contractual stuff — which has mattered the past couple of seasons, as everyone has known he would not sign a long-term contract before reaching free agency — I think there is just something unique about him as a pitcher that has made him ultimately tradeable.
He’s a lottery ticket. Or a coin in a fountain. He’s got great stuff at times, and everyone can watch him pitch for a while and imagine him paying off huge. But at other times, when one is being rational, one can see his flaws and risks. In this regard he reminds me of Sid Fernandez. And to some extent Matt Clement. Guys who, at times, look unhittable and at other times, man do they get hit.
Anyway, because of his highs and lows, this back and forth happens with Jackson more than it does with other pitchers. It leads to a greater-than-usual frequency of one team (his own) being tired of him and another team wanting a piece of that lottery ticket. That’s my theory anyway.
Maybe he pays off for the Cubs. Maybe he doesn’t. But it’ll be interesting to see how he’s handled now that he’s a long-term investment rather than a lottery ticket.
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: