To underscore the earlier post about where we are now with PEDs in baseball, check out what Skip Schumaker had to say after the Dodgers game last night:
“I can’t stand it. It (PED use) needs to be eliminated from the game. I have an autographed Ryan Braun jersey hanging in my baseball room at home that I’ll be taking down now because I don’t want my son connecting this with what I had to do to get to to where I am and to have what I have. In my opinion, it should be an automatic lifetime ban. One strike — you’re out. … It’s ridiculous. They’re still doing it?
“He lied. He lied to a lot of people. I was actually convinced after that MVP year that he didn’t do anything. I think he should give that MVP trophy to Matt Kemp (runner-up in 2011). Suspend them all. It needs to get out of baseball. Watching him talk now — it makes me sick.”
We’d never hear anything like this just a couple of years ago. We’re in a totally different world now. People (including Schumaker himself) are saying that tougher penalties are needed. Well, tougher penalties are being assessed, both in hard and soft ways. This kind of public criticism from players’ peers matters. One need only look at the overall culture of baseball and how conformity — for both good and bad reasons — is so, so powerful in the game. It’s a society in which shunning matters.
It won’t work magic. There will always be some cheaters. But don’t think for a minute that this isn’t a powerful development in baseball’s policing of its sport.
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: