Porcello, Verlander, and Trump

November 18, 2016
 
Last week, a lot of people ended up being very wrong in their predictions about a very important event. Some people were less wrong: FiveThirtyEight was relentlessly mocked on other left-leaning sites for giving Trump a 25-30% chance of winning the election, only to emerge (once again) with the best read of polling data. The Huffington Post, which rated Clinton’s chances at ‘10’ on the John McLaughlin Scale of Metaphysical Certitude, should consider send bottles of spirits around to all of us fooled into anticipating an early night.
 
In the aftermath of that election, there’s been a lot of articled written trying to understand the errors of pollsters and prognosticators. How did so many people miscalculate so drastically? What happened?
 
The answers, in these articles, is usually phrased as a narrative; a ‘story.’ The story of Tuesday is that the Democrats abandoned the white working class. The story is that Latinos didn’t vote enough. The story is that women forgot to vote their gender. The story is that America is racist, or sexist, or both. Rasexist? The story is that the FBI screwed Hillary. The story is that Russia is in the bag for Trump. Bigly in the bag.  
 
This is a natural instinct: constructing a story in the aftermath of an event event. We do this all the time. If we read about a fatal car accident, we look for details that will let us to construct a narrative. Was the driver drunk? Was it raining? What is the road like? Seatbelt? Sunroof?
 
Why do we do that?
 
You know why. We construct stories so that we can assure ourselves that the event can’t be us. I don’t want to die in a car accident, so I look for details to make the car accident not me. I want to know that the poor sap impaled on a tree forgot his seatbelt, or had too many shots of tequila. I want to know that he was driving a convertible, because I don’t drive a convertible. Please, Lord, don’t let it be a minivan.
 
We construct stories to evade the knowledge of our own mortality. That’s the reason stories exist: that’s their root. We tell stories so that we can hold the knowledge of our inevitable death at a distance. Otherwise it's a long plunge towards the abyss. 
 
Saying something like ‘Donald Trump is our future President; it’s the Latino voters fault’ allows us to keep the world at a distance. It makes the event easier to process: something vast and complicated (a year-long campaign with thousands of ebbs and flows, taking place across a massive country) becomes simple (Clinton should have campaigned more in Michigan).  
 
These stories help us: they take the vast universe and give it a manageable order. They free us from the knowledge of our own death. They let us live.
 
That doesn’t mean they’re right.
 
*             *             *
 
Wait a minute….this is a baseball site?
 
Sorry, I forgot. It’s been a distracting couple of weeks in the world, and baseball has been just about the furthest thing from my mind. Also, we’re having a lot of earthquakes down here in New Zealand, so my thinking tends to get sidetracked every time the house jostles about.
 
Let’s talk about baseball.
 
Yesterday the Cy Young Award winners were announced. The American League winner was Red Sox starting pitcher Rick Porcello.
 
Porcello won the award despite netting only eight of thirty first-place votes, a fact so fracturing of the cosmos that supermodel Kate Upton voiced her disapproval on social media. I’m not sure why Kate Upton is so angry about this: Melvin and Justin are position players, not really eligible for the award.
 
You can anticipate the narrative that is going to come from this less-than-consequential event, at least in our saber-circles. The story will be that BBWAA voters are still obsessed with the ‘win’ statistic, and that they gave Porcello the award because he won twenty-two games to Verlander’s sixteen. Somewhere in the world, Brian Kenny is launching a new campaign to not just kill the win, but to dismember its corpse and bury it deep in the Mojave Desert. A little long for a hashtag, I suppose.
 
Is this narrative accurate? Is this the right story?
 
We’re lucky that this is the first year in which the BBWAA has published the individual votes of the writers voting on baseball’s major awards. It’s a useful collection of data to tell us how these voters were thinking.
 
So I looked at the thirty ballots, and started sorting them out.
 
First, I cut out all of the votes for relief pitchers. A bunch of relief pitchers had incredible years in the American League, and two of them (Britton and Andrew Miller) received some votes. I’m just going to ignore those guys now. It’s not because I dislike relief pitchers, it’s just because those votes probably can’t tell us whether or not the BBWAA has an intrinsic bias for ‘wins’ over some of the more advanced metrics used to evaluate starting pitching.
 
And cutting out the RP’s makes it easier to see the ballots. Instead of trying to figure out something like this:
 
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Writer A
Britton
Verlander
A. Miller
Sale
Kluber
Writer B
Verlander
Kluber
Sale
Porcello
Price
 
I can look at this:
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Writer A
Velander
Sale
Kluber
x
X
Writer B
Verlander
Kluber
Sale
Porcello
Price
 
It’s a clarity thing. Both of these imagined writers are probably rating starting pitchers in the same approximate way. It’s just that one of them tossed in a few relief pitchers earlier on the ballot.
 
What I discovered, first, was that most of theballots had the same four starting pitchers on them: Rick Porcello, Corey Kluber, Justin Verlander, and Chris Sale. Porcello and Kluber appeared on every single ballot. Justin Verlander was on twenty-eight of thirty. Chris Sale was on twenty ballots.
 
Just an aside: Kate Upton’s central argument about the AL CY vote was that Justin Verlander derserved the award because he received the most first-place votes. Verlander did receive the most first place votes, and that does matter. But he was also left off two ballots entirely, while Porcello was named on every single ballots. Maybe that matters, too.
 
Anyway…getting to those ballots.
 
For now we’ll call those four pitchers (Verlander, Kluber, Porcello, and Sale) our ‘consensus’ pitchers. All of the voters were in general agreement that they were the best four starters in the American League. All of them ended up on a majority of ballots. It’s a little hard to draw inferences of prejudice when everyone is in agreement.
 
So we can strike, for the moment, all of the BBWAA ballots that only listed those four starters. Here’s a list of those voters, if you’re interested:
 
Name
Chapter
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Roch Kubatko
BAL
Porcello
Kluber
Verlander
Sale
x
Rich Dubroff
BAL
Porcello
Verlander
Kluber
Sale
x
Ian Browne
BOS
Verlander
Porcello
Sale
Kluber
x
Dan Hayes
CHI
Verlander
Porcello
Sale
Kluber
x
Chris McCosky
DET
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
x
Anthony Fenech
DET
Verlander
Porcello
Sale
Kluber
x
Moise Bower
HOU
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
x
Sam Mellinger
KC
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
x
Tim Brown
LA
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
Verlander
x
Mike Berardino
MIN
Verlander
Kluber
Porcello
x
x
Wallace Matthews
NY
Porcello
Kluber
Verlander
Sale
x
Joe Stiglich
OAK
Porcello
Verlander
Kluber
Sale
x
Ryan Divish
SEA
Porcello
Verlander
Kluber
Sale
x
Jeff Wilson
TEX
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
x
Shi Davidi
TOR
Verlander
Kluber
Porcello
Sale
x
 
That’s half the ballots….fifteen. Those ‘x’s are blank spots for relief pitchers of course. Mostly, they’re votes for Zack Britton, but writer Mike Berardino put on Andrew Miller as well.
 
That leaves us with fifteen ballots where a voter selected a starting pitcher not in our consensus group. What pitchers did those voters vote for?
 
They voted for J.A. Happ (6 votes), Mashahiro Tanaka (5), Aaron Sanchez (4), Michael Fulmer (1), and Jose Quintana (1).
 
We can start with J.A. Happ. The one selling point for J.A. Happ being a candidate for the AL CY is that he won a lot of baseball games. He doesn’t have a great ERA or a ton of strikeouts. He didn’t hit 200 innings pitched, and he doesn’t blow anyone away on the advanced metrics. If a voter selected J.A. Happ, it is reasonable to expect that the voter selected him because they give a lot of weight to the ‘win’ statistic
 
And we can draw inferences from that. If a voter liked J.A. Happ over, it’s reasonable to guess they would probably rate someone likeRick Porcello (22 wins) ahead of Justin Verlander (16 wins).
 
Let’s see if that holds:
 
Name
Chapter
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Christopher Smith
BOS
Porcello
Verlander
Kluber
Happ
x
Scot Gregor
CHI
Kluber
Porcello
Happ
Verlander
x
La Velle Neal III
MIN
Kluber
Porcello
Verlander
Happ
Sale
Pete Caldera
NY
Porcello
Kluber
Happ
Verlander
x
John McGrath
SEA
Porcello
Kluber
Happ
Verlander
x
Fred Goodall
TB
Porcello
Kluber
Happ
Sanchez
x
 
All of them preferred Porcello over Verlander. Most of them ranked J.A. Happ over Verlander. If you’re on Team Verlander, you can certainly lay the blame for his loss on this group.
 
But…they’re not totally on team ‘Win’. Two of these voters picked Kluber (17 wins) over Porcello, while another guy ranked Verlander second on his ballot. It leans win, but I don’t think any of these ballots are purely counting the W’s.
 
And that’s only six voters…what about the rest?
 
Tanaka and Sanchez were the other pitchers who received strong support. What kind of voter would support them?
 
Both pitchers had similar years. They both had sparkling W-L records (14-4, 15-2), but neither one managed 200 innings pitched. They both had high WAR tallies (4.6 and 3.9), pitching for teams in the tough AL East.
 
Forced to pick, what kind of voter would be inclined to vote for pitchers like Tanaka and Sanchez? A more sabermetic-leaning fan, or a traditional numbers guy?
 
I’m thinking they’re apt to be a bit more saber-candidates than wins candidates. A 14-4 record screams ‘Felix Hernandez’ more than ‘Bob Welch.’
 
Let’s check the vote:
 
Name
Chapter
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Zack Meisel
CLE
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
Tanaka
Jake Kaplan
HOU
Verlander
Kluber
Porcello
Sale
Tanaka
John Shea
OAK
Verlander
Porcello
Kluber
Tanaka
x
Bill Chastain
TB
Porcello
Kluber
Sale
Tanaka
x
Mark Whicker
LA
Porcello
Verlander
Kluber
Sanchez
x
Gerry Fraley
TEX
Porcello
Kluber
Verlander
Sanchez
x
Brendan Kennedy
TOR
Verlander
Porcello
Sanchez
Tanaka
Kluber
 
It’s not as clear a correlation at the Happ crowd, but this group seems at least a little more Verlander-leaning than Porcello leaning. More telling, this group just likes starting pitchers…three of these voters didn’t list any relief pitchers on their ballots.
 
What about the other two?
 
If you put Carlos Quintana on your ballot, you’re definitely in with big saber. Just one voter included the extremely underrated White Sox hurler. He’s also the only voter to put Chris Sale second. This guy is clearly on team WAR.
 
Name
Chapter
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Jordan Bastian
CLE
Verlander
Sale
Porcello
Kluber
Quintana
 
Finally, one voter wrote in Michael Fulmer:
 
Name
Chapter
1st
2nd
3rd
4th
5th
Jeffrey Flanagan
KC
Kluber
Porcello
Verlander
Sale
Fulmer
 
I don’t know how to interpret a vote for Michael Fulmer, honestly. I don’t know if it indicates a saber-lean or a wins-lean. Probably, it just represents a Michael Fulmer lean. I think this voter is someone who just enjoyed Fulmer’s season, and felt like tossing the Tigers rookie a little down-ballot love. There’s nothing wrong with that.
 
So what kind of conclusions can we make so far?
 
Nothing definitive, of course. Six voters went strong for Porcello and Happ, which suggests that some of the voters had a slight bias towards the ‘win’ metric. But it’s not that typical to see guys like Tanaka, Sanchez, and Quintana post 13- or 14-win seasons and draw votes for the Cy Young. Those guys landed more votes than Happ, so I think we’re at least seeing a balanced scale.
 
I don’t think the real story of the 2016 American League Cy Young Award vote is that ‘wins’ carried the day. If you want to figure out what metric really drove the AL vote, I’d encourage you to check out the pitching leaderboards over at FanGraphs, and see what conclusions they drew.
 
Here, I’ll post the top of the table for you:
 
Name
Team
W
L
ERA
WAR
Rick Porcello
Red Sox
22
4
3.15
5.2
Justin Verlander
Tigers
16
9
3.04
5.2
Chris Sale
White Sox
17
10
3.34
5.2
Corey Kluber
Indians
18
9
3.14
5.1
Jose Quintana
White Sox
13
12
3.20
4.8
Mas.Tanaka
Yankees
14
4
3.07
4.6
David Price
Red Sox
17
9
3.99
4.5
Aaron Sanchez
Blue Jays
15
2
3.00
3.9
 
Didja notice anything?
 
The four consensus starters who showed up on the majority of the ballots cast happen to be the same four starters who show up at the top of FanGraph’s WAR leaderboard. They’re dead-even: nothing separates Porcello, Verlander, Sale and Kluber according to fWAR.
 
If you want to complain about the hegemony of one statistic having too much control over baseball awards, it is not ‘wins’ that are the problem…it’s Fangraph’s version of WAR that is swaying the vote.
 
Except that’s not accurate either.
 
Clayton Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard, and Jose Fernandez paced the National League in FanGraph’s WAR, but they finished 5th , 7th, and 8th  in the overall vote. If WAR was really calling the shots in these votes, then Kershaw would have won another trophy for his crowded den. Instead it went to Max Scherzer, a pitcher that no one had ever heard of until this year. He plays for Expos, I think.
 
Scherzer led the NL in wins, just like Porcello led the AL. But if ‘wins’ really shifted the NL Cy Young Award to Scherzer instead of Kershaw, then how come Johnny Cueto’s eighteen wins weren’t enough to push him past teammate Madison Bumgarner, who only won fifteen games in 2016? And if the BBWAA voters are really still fixated on wins, how do you explain Felix's Cy Young in 2010 (13 wins), or Lincecum in 2009 (15)? 
 
What’s the real real story?
 
*             *             *

The real story is this: a lot of pitchers in the American League had good years, and no one had a really great year. No one ran the table on all of the various metrics that exist, and no one put in a performance that seemed to capstone the season. Voters were left to juggle multiple data points in drawing up their ballots. Verlander led in strikeouts, but Porcello led in wins. Sanchez led in ERA, but Price led in innings pitched. Kluber led in shutout, but Sale led in complete games. Four guys tied in fWAR, and two guys tied in Baseball-Reference’s WAR. No one was running the table.
 
No one really deserved to win, but someone has to win. This year, that someone was Rick Porcello.
 
And maybe that the story of the bigger ballot event of this week. Maybe the story of the 2016 election isn’t about Latino voter turnout, or media bias, or white workers with blue collars. Maybe the real story is that no one really deserved to win, but someone had to win.
 
Ah, maybe not. Let’s have a recount.
 
 
David Fleming is a writer living in New Zealand. He welcomes comments, questions, and suggestions here and at dfleming1986@yahoo.com. 
 
 

COMMENTS (18 Comments, most recent shown first)

DaveFleming
Thanks, Davidg32. We're all fine, though it was quite a jolt. We dragged the kids outside (it was around midnight when it hit), and got to see the rare 'earthquake lightning' effect in the night sky. ​
3:01 PM Nov 22nd
 
Davidg32
Having absolutely nothing to do with baseball, Dave...I hope that neither you nor any of your family or friends were close to that big earthquake that hit New Zealand. Be safe!
9:39 PM Nov 21st
 
OldBackstop
They couldn't find the 2.5 billion trees to harvest the Magic Bean Money that makes the whole project look financially tenable, huh?

This is like saying your lemonade stand broke even as soon as dad came home from work.

The Obamacare rates for those without magic beans is going to get so close to private premiums that the plan is going to wind up just providing healthy care for the poor.

We invented that when I was three years old, it's called Medicaid.
8:53 AM Nov 21st
 
sansho1
Among the reasons for the premium increases was Congressional withholding of a scheduled $2.5 billion payment to the insurance companies for high-risk subsidies earlier this year -- its effects to be felt at the height of election season (also known as "the whole of 2016"). That and, of course, the continued effects of predatory capitalism (Skreli, et al) and hospital system consolidation that Obamacare did not address.
7:02 AM Nov 20th
 
DaveFleming
Yeah, that healthcare uptick was a BIG issue in my conversations with relatives and friends, though it sort of got glossed over by the media. I think that had a much bigger role in the election, frankly, than Comey's late letters. I'm betting that a lot of the Trump voters swung to him on that specific issue.

It's a pity, all around. I remember when MA tried to push thru universal healthcare. Romney was the governor, and his advisers told him that a) you needed to get everyone on the books, paying into the system, and b) that forcing people to enroll would be a disaster politically. To Mitt's credit, he pushed that it be mandated.

Americans hate to be told they have to do something, but universal healthcare is good for all of us, and it will be a shame if the efforts to get it into existence end up dying on the table. It was always going to be tough to get off the ground (we are a massive country), but it's a needed step for our country, and I hope that it holds up.

My biggest worry about the coming years is that Ryan is going to bypass an indifferent Trump and gut the entire Medicare/Medicaid system, privatizing everything.


1:49 AM Nov 20th
 
OldBackstop
Maybe this wasn't played up overseas, I think there was another huuuge event that has been buried here, quite possibly the difference maker: Obamacare premiums came out for 2017, effective November 1. Average hike 25%...here are some battleground states:

Georgia: up 32%
Michigan: up 17%
Minnesota: 50-67%
Pennsylvania: 33%
North Carolina: 25%
Arizona:145% number correct.

The Washington Post: [urlhttps://www.washingtonpost.com/news/get-there/wp/2016/11/01/where-obamacare-prices-are-rising-d​ramatically/[/url]

Nobody needed to kill Obamacare, it was flopping around on the deck November 1. Premiums were supposed to drop through competition, but insurers were pulling out.....healthy 20 somethings weren't signing up, and they were supposed to cover all those guys with the nifty preexisting conditions.

Up to then Obamacare was the jewel accomplishment in the crown of the Obama Administration, Hillary and her surrogates crowed about it....until they had to start making excuses for it. The excuses were that the truly needy would get tax credits, which is like saying you are going to pay your kid's orthodontia bill by cutting your salary.

The RCP averages included polls from Nov. 2-5, and the last week hand grenades that weren't really assimilated in the polls, I think.

Hillary's ads, by the way, were terrible. The ones they had bashing Trump fell into loose buckets:

-- him repeating swear words that long ago lost their shock value in fuckin America, and left you wondering why SHE kept repeating them six times an hour during The Voice.

-- Trump saying shocking things about foreign affairs, crescendoing with "ISIS? We are going to bomb the shtt out of them" That should have been a Trump ad....heads were nodding all over America.

-- Scare ads about The Wall, which again had heads nodding.

Then you had Wikileaks....I would love to find polling, but I wonder if the Wikileaks trickle had an effect on the Bernie crowd..the fact that she was getting slipped debate questions, Podesta was calling the Berniacs idiots, etc.

Then you had the low information, late deciders gearing about Huma Abedin...daughter of accused radical Muslims, wife of a definite disgraced weenie wagger who know was cooperating with the Feds and had 650,000 emails.

You said above that no rational person would vote for Trump, but as Hillary was in a daily Oswalk shot by Ruby loop those final two weeks, Trump finally shaddup with the idiocy and spent his time in soundbites in front of huge rallies.

Perfect storm. A weekly earlier, a week later...










1:06 AM Nov 20th
 
DaveFleming
Yeah, Huffpo and Salon were pretty egregious in the slant of their reporting. Slate was better, but they occasionally published headlines that pushed a point too far. There was an echo chamber about Trump that made it seem like no rational person could vote for Trump. I don't know how any rational person DID end up voting for him, but I recognize that we all didn't hear something important.

Silver certainly didn't get a victory lap....I think he was 99 out of 100 in calling individual states for Obama's two elections, so this wasn't a banner year for him. He does (and should) get credit for being a lot closer than just about everyone else. I think even the Trump data people thought it was going to be Clinton.

And that's true, actually...the smearing of 'isms.' Or 'ists'....racist, sexist, etc. It was ugly, and a lot of that was coming from the left. We should own that, if only because it really didn't work as a method to rally the masses.

I'll share with you the most astonishing moment of the election was for me. A couple days after it was called, a commentator noted that Clinton didn't really have a clear platform. She wasn't really advocating FOR something....she was mostly saying 'no' to a lot of the b.s. that Trump was peddling, while making a few non-specific nods to things that Bernie brought up. She ran on continuing the broad moves of the Obama administration, and she ran on 'This Other Guy is a Jerk', but there wasn't anything really tangible that she seemed to especially advocate FOR.

Trump had lots of tangible things. He had a wall. He had 'ban Muslims.' He talked about stopping factories from moving overseas. He talked about tearing down Affordable Care and restarting from scratch. Those of us on the left criticized him because his ideas seemed silly, but we didn't notice that our candidate wasn't offering anything as a counter. A wall isn't the best immigration idea, but Clinton's counter wasn't 'Here's my plan.' Her counter was 'You're racist for wanting that.' Tearing down the ACA and starting from scratch is going to be hard, but at least it's something. Clinton had no counter to that. That, I think, was the real mistake.

10:53 PM Nov 19th
 
OldBackstop
Ah, I didn't catch that HuffPost article, thanks for the link, Dave. I mean, really, thanks. Made my night. That editor deliciously climbed down the next day... [url]http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/note-to-readers-why-were-dropping-our-donald-trump-editors-note_us_5822b734e4b0aac624883e87[/url]

That from a"journalist" site -- the largest -- that peevishly put an editor's note on every Trump story saying he was a racist and the anti-Christ and a poopy-head (they have apparently stripped off a year of them.)

I have a problem giving Nate a victory lap, because I think probabilities are BS -- man up and call it. But I think too many pundits just looked at polls and ignored the last 72 hours -- let's admit it, Trump out hustled Hillary. He was working his ass off in the battleground states, and I think Hillary had a Q factor crash as she screeched her way through victory rallies...gawd, she was irritating.

And I think that last Comey "clearing" actually had a negative effect...it just floated "FBI" and "Hillary" back in front of low-information late deciders...the FBI clearing you really isn't a dream message for a campaign closer. I'm not a crook.

Personally, I have probably come off as a Trump fan here merely filling a vacuum because there were none posting. I voted for Johnson...I wouldn't have voted at all but a pal was running for Board of Education.

However, I was THRILLED at the crushing of Hillary and the embarrassment of the mainstream and lefty media. I hope this election repudiates the whole tactic of smearing people with "isms"...it was terrible when it was communism in the 50s and it is terrible now.
10:23 PM Nov 19th
 
DaveFleming
Ah, that makes sense. Sorry, Sansho.

On OBS's question about 538 versus the other liberal outlets....a lot of the big liberal-leaning outlets were projecting Clinton winning by a comfortable margin, and a few of them posted articles says that 538 giving Trump a 30% chance was Nate Silver playing it safe. I remember Slate had an article on that subject, and HuffPo and one of the other major polling sites kept posting articles that weree really confident that Clinton had it locked up.

Here's a famous HuffPo one: www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/nate-silver-election-forecast_us_581e1c33e4b0d9ce6fbc6f7f

There were a lot of these, which lent to a feeling that it was all wrapped up for Clinton, and anyone who wasn't seeing it that way was protecting their asses, or playing it up so that we'd have something to watch on election night. There was a lot of cockiness on left-leaning sights....a lot of articles in the vein of 'Trump'll Lose, But It's a Shame He Got This Far.'

I bought it. I was sure this was going to bank Clinton's way, which it obviously didn't. I think part of the anger arising from the left now is related to that...to the fact that the sources we trusted to tell the reality were telling the reality they wanted.
9:18 PM Nov 19th
 
sansho1
Sorry Dave, my comment referred to the one immediately preceding. I enjoyed this piece and your work in general.
8:23 PM Nov 19th
 
DaveFleming
Maris: I was probably a little strong on the 'no one deserved to win' statement. Porcello certainly had a fine season, as did the other pitchers listed. I just meant that no one had a season that made for easy picking.

I wanted to add, too, that it's possible that Kluber and Verlander might've ended up splitting the saber vote, allowing Porcello to win. As you mentioned BB-WAR had it as a toss-up between Kluber and Verlander, and I think some voters were probably using that as a guide.

It's a good note about Porcello always keeping his team in games...he was just staggeringly steady. I'm happy he won the award.

As for 'taking issue' with the tone of liberals...I'm not sure what you're talking about, Sansho1. I was writing about our human tendency to create narratives when bad news happens. The election results happened to be bad news for liberals, so we ended up the ones constructing stories to explain that news.


7:24 PM Nov 19th
 
OldBackstop
A HeyBill I just sent in....a message in a bottle here if it doesn't make the cut:

================

HeyBill, I'm not about bashing Verlander, but my inclination at looking at starting pitchers is how many games they gave you at least a shot to WIN. In 33 starts, Porcello gave up more than four earned runs *once*...five runs on June 2nd against the Orioles. He left that game with a 5-5 tie, and didn't even get the loss. He went six innings 30 out of 33 starts, never went less than 5.0, and the Sox won two of the three he did go less than 6.0. In the eight Porcello starts the Red Sox lost, he averaged 6.8 innings and 3.4 earned runs.

Verlander gave up seven or more earned runs three times, Detroit and he took the loss all three times, and the Tigers finished three games out of the wildcard. He was 7-6 with a 4.30 ERA on July 1.

It is a defensible statement to say that if Rick Porcello was on the Tigers instead of Verlander, they make the playoffs.
3:54 PM Nov 19th
 
sansho1
So, it's the insulting tone of liberals you take issue with? Are you not that man?
9:21 AM Nov 19th
 
OldBackstop
Hey Dave, first of all, glad to see you after the summer disappearance and glad to hear you and yours survived the earthquake issues,

1. WAR As far as WAR and its effect on the AL Cy Young, I looked at Baseball Reference's WAR FOR 2016:

Verlander 6.6
Corey Kluber 6.4
Mas.Tanaka 5.4
Jose Quintana 5.2
Porcello 5.0
Hamels 5.0
Chris Sale 5.0

So....that might have helped Verlander.

I'm somebody that despises Wins as a measurement, but....I'm also a huuuge Porcello fan.

I would note the following:

Porcello had one start where he gave up more than 4 runs...a 5 run outing where he went 6.0 innings. He went at least 5.2 innings every start aside from a 5.1 and a 5.0.

Verlander had two outings where he gave up 7 runs and one where he gave up 8 runs. He had four outings under 5.2 and two under 5.

The Tigers wound up three games out of a wild card and Verlander's first half wasn't helping...7-6, 4.30 ERA. They lost five of his first 8 starts.

Porcello was 11-2 in the first half, 11-2 in the second half.

Their innings and ERAs were within a whisker.

Porcello was the clear winner to my eyes,

============================

-- On the Trump thaang. Were lefty outlets reeaallyy raging pre-election at 538 for saying Trump had a 35% chance or something? I'm curious how that berating would go "You damn number guys!!" That is a narrative I saw several times on 538...I couldn't find any criticism of them pre-vote, when, let's admit it, there wasn't much but sweetness and light coming out of the lefty drum circle, shining eyes and triumphant tweets at the Hillary party she punked out of.

-- Personally, I think the "shock" here was simply the last few days of news and continuing momentum the the daily trackers were catching (and being roundily hooted at) and perhaps a mainstream media unwillingness to publicize any such late polling info, and basically ignore everything but the "look at the idiot Trump wasting his time in Wisconsin and Michigan!""

I think your narrative is probably very accurate from a liberal viewpoint, but realize that the Obama elections and the prospect of a Clinton presidency was causing just as much disgust and concern from the middle right.

There just wasn't anyone giving us days off and safe rooms and cry-ins and therapy dogs and coloring books and hot cocoa.

I saw a big piece today about the cry-ins, the guys theme being the same as the article above yours --- "Grow-Up!!"

This is all a result of the heinous demonization gamebook of divisive identity politics the Dems now play...they don't have philosophical adversaries, they have sexists and racists who are going to eat your children.

Well, as a member here said, the lefties cried wolf so many times that the populace tuned them out, unfortunately right when someone came along with wolfish tendencies....








2:12 AM Nov 19th
 
Fireball Wenz
As a Red Sox fan, may I say now I'm GLAD I'm not dating Kate "Kanye" Upton. (She's not a subscriber here, is she?)
7:40 AM Nov 18th
 
steve161
Very nice piece, Dave. Good to see your byline here again.

As a transplanted Southern Californian, I remember earthquakes. Be safe.
6:56 AM Nov 18th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. Just for fun (don't know how this will come out -- doing it as I go along)

Win Shares
Porcello 19
Verlander 20
Kluber 20
Britton 19
Miller 19

Win Share numbers for A.L. Cy Young winners the previous 4 years:
Keuchel 22
Kluber 21
Scherzer 20
Price 19

So, indeed Porcello doesn't stand out way above any of them on Win Shares (not even #1), and all those Win Share numbers for the starters this year are a bit on the low side, but they're not low -- and with the noted trend about relievers, I think it's expected that starters' Win Shares will be a bit less
I'd say Win Shares makes it look like at least 3 starters had great years (and at least 2 relievers did too).

---------

More importantly, I hope you haven't been affected directly by the earthquakes. What with the election and post-election stuff, we over here have stopped hearing much about the situation.​
3:30 AM Nov 18th
 
MarisFan61
Nice! I've been thinking about this myself, because it was such a very interesting vote.
Although I see some of it differently. :-)

Main thing I see differently -- these couple of things you say near the end:

"....no one had a really great year....No one really deserved to win"

Come on. :-)

But you're not the only one I'm disagreeing with. I'm puzzled by the whole vote.

Regarding no starting pitcher having had a great year: To me that's true only if we don't take into account how relief pitching has taken up more and more 'space' and how therefore the impact of starters is decreased. Starters are eating from smaller pieces of the pie, plus it's harder for them to stand out in 'comparative' stats (like "ERA+") because larger amounts of the totality are taken by relievers with ERA's of 1-something and zero-something and with strikeout rates of a million per inning. You might say, well, that's just part of why no starter had a great year. I'd say it means we need to evolve our bar on how we judge the greatness.

Against that background, just look at it this way:
Porcello went 22-4 with an ERA+ that was 2nd in the league, for a team that won its division, which I know a lot of people feel doesn't count at all, but I'd say it does.
Of course I know that a lot of people think Wins should hardly count either, and the sabermetrics field argued this for years. I suppose that's why Porcello got so relatively few 1st place votes. To me, 22-4 with a 2nd-in-league ERA+ (very close to the leader) for a team that won its division -- that's a Cy Young year.

Of course I can see why people would vote for one of the others over him. But it's very hard for me to see how you could not consider that a great year.
2:50 AM Nov 18th
 
 
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