The best pure hitter — not that I’ve never been clear on what people mean when they say that — of the 1980s speaks to the Boston Globe:
Wade Boggs already owns a piece of the Field of Dreams. But he still dreams that the Red Sox will ease his pain and retire his No. 26 at Fenway Park.
“It would be nice,” said Boggs, 54, who is currently the assistant baseball coach of the Wharton High School Wildcats here, wearing pinstripes. “Am I bitter? I thought when I wore a Boston hat in the Hall of Fame I’d be up there.
“It’s been eight years now. I used to be bitter. But I think those days are over. Was I bitter? Absolutely.”
He probably deserves it on the merits, but having one’s number retired isn’t an exercise in quantitative analysis. Yes, Boggs has a “B” on his Hall of Fame cap, but there were rumors that the Devil Rays included a “wear a Tampa Bay cap” on your plaque provision in his contract there at the end of his career. Boggs denied it, but the Hall of Fame felt it necessary to change its rules afterward to take away the choice on the matter from the players.
Also didn’t help that Boggs rode that horse in the Yankees World Series celebration in 1996. Which was totally cool and if you hold that against him for some reason you’re a heartless feind, but maybe the Yankees associations hurt his number-retirement cause in Boston.
You have to imagine it’ll happen for him eventually — the Red Sox can’t deny how awesome Boggs was for them forever, right? — but it’s not often that anyone gets what they want in this world by going to the press and whining like this either. Play the long game, Wade.
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: