Carlos Santana and Jesus Montero were catchers once upon a time. Not particularly great catchers (in Montero’s case a pretty lousy one). But they could hit. Well, both hit in the minors and Santana has hit everywhere. Montero is something of a dumpster fire at the moment.
Either way, neither of them will be catching much going forward. Santana is slated to the Indians’ third baseman after playing third in winter ball. He’s doing that to make room for Yan Gomes, who wow’d ’em in 88 games last season. Terry Francona would love to get his bat in the lineup.
Montero is a different case. He’s moving to first base mostly to keep himself out of harm’s way. He’d likely be fourth on the depth chart at first base behind Justin Smoak, Corey Hart and Logan Morrison, but it’s probably too early to give up on his bat just yet and he has to play someplace. Ultimately he’s a DH at best. Smart money has him washing out if he doesn’t hit this season.
But no matter where the two of these guys are going to end up, they’re going to start spring training wearing the tools of ignorance, reports Paul Hoynes and Greg Johns, respectively. Partially because their managers don’t want them to completely lose their catching chops, but also because in the first week or two of spring training you need all the catchers you can get.
I give Santana a good chance of sticking at third. I give Montero little chance of anything. But it’ll be interesting to see the conversions.
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: