Another blank ballot from a Hall of Fame voter

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This one, from Jorge Ebro of el Nuevo Herald, is explained in Spanish. The translation, courtesy of JRVC of the Baseball Think Factory community:

“This year is my first one as a member of the BBWAA in which I can vote for the HoF. I turned in a blank ballot. This is all very confusing to me, and I think that MLB has weighted down the press with a very large responsibility.  It’s MLB who should determine the historical fate of this generation, regarding which there is so much suspicion. Not reporters. When I first started out (AS A MEMBER) of the BBWAA, I dreamed of someday voting for the HoF. Today, I can’t help but feel somewhat discouraged.  Maybe for 2014 I will have changed my mind and position. Today, I simply left my ballot blank.  I first I considered voting for Craig Biggio, but now I a unsure about everybody. I know that this whole HoF thing can stir passions, but I am trying to be honest with myself.”

Too bad he doesn’t realize that by submitting a blank ballot he is, in fact, rendering a judgment, as that will count as vote against everyone.  If he truly thought voting for the Hall of Fame was too great a responsibility and if he truly wanted to abstain from the process he should have, you know, abstained.

I’m starting to think that, as opposed to 10 years BBWAA membership, Hall of Fame votes should be given to people who have spent ten minutes understanding the simple logic of their actions.

Justin Verlander changed his mechanics to prolong his career

Justin Verlander mechanics
Leslie Plaza Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Last week, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reported that Astros starter and reigning AL Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander changed his mechanics in order to prolong his career. Specifically, Verlander lowered his release point from 7’2″ to 6’5″.

As Brooks Baseball shows, Verlander drastically altered his release point after being traded to the Astros from the Tigers on August 31, 2017. The change resulted in a huge bump in his strikeout rate. Verlander’s strikeout rate ranged between 16% and 27.4% with the Tigers, mostly settling in the 23-25% range. With The Tigers through the first five months of 2017, Verlander struck out 24.1% of batters. In the final month with the Astros, he struck out 35.8% of batters. He then maintained that rate over the entire 2018 and ’19 seasons with respective rates of 34.8% and 35.4%. Just as impressively, the release point also resulted in fewer walks. His walk rate ranged from 5.9% to 9.9% with the Tigers but was 4.4% and 5.0% the last two seasons with the Astros.

Verlander finished a runner-up in 2018 AL Cy Young Award balloting to Blake Snell before edging out teammate Gerrit Cole for the award last season. Despite the immense success, Verlander described his mechanics as unsustainable. Per The Athletic’s Jake Kaplan, Verlander said, “I changed a lot of stuff that some people would think was unnecessary. But I thought it was necessary, especially if I want to play eight, 10 more years.”

Verlander is 37 years old, so 10 more seasons would put him into Jamie Moyer territory. Moyer, who consistently ranked among baseball’s softest-tossing pitchers, pitched 25 seasons in the majors from 1986-2012.  He threw 111 2/3 innings with the Phillies in 2010 at the age of 47 and 53 2/3 innings with the Rockies in 2012 at 49. But aside from Moyer and, more recently, Bartolo Colon, it’s exceedingly rare for pitchers to extend their careers into their 40’s, let alone their mid- and late-40’s.

The Astros have Verlander under contract through 2021. The right-hander will have earned close to $300 million. He’s won a World Series, a Rookie of the Year Award, an MVP Award, two Cy Youngs, and has been an eight-time All-Star. Verlander could retire after 2021 and would almost certainly be a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2027. That he continues to tweak his mechanics in order to pitch for another decade speaks to his highly competitive nature.