Friday, December 15, 2017
Tampa Bay Rays

A little clarity to AL Cy Young flap

After all the coarse words, dismissive insults, assorted threats and one heck of a raunchy tweet by model Kate Upton, the American League Cy Young Award on Thursday still belonged to Boston's Rick Porcello, who finished five points ahead of the future Mr. Upton, Detroit's Justin Verlander.

That the race was so close made it controversial, and the storm centered over Tampa Bay. The two voters who left Verlander off their five-man ballot were from the local chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America: Bill Chastain, who covers the Rays for mlb.com; and Fred Goodall, who covers the Rays, Bucs, Lightning and more for the Associated Press.

Amid all the Twitter posts and emails suggesting scandal and screaming voter ignorance, here are two important things to know:

One, the voters in question are veteran writers who put time, research and effort into casting their ballots, and they voted for the five pitchers they thought were most deserving.

That is not to defend their choices, but their right to choose.

As chairman of the local chapter, I assigned Chastain and Goodall to vote for the award, and I was confident then, as I am now, that they handled the assignment thoughtfully and responsibly.

Would I have made the same picks? Likely not. Would I have voted a week early, as Chastain did? No, I went right to the Oct. 4 deadline with my AL MVP ballot.

But it was their vote. And they had the right to pick who they thought most deserving. All five pitchers on their ballots appeared on others. It wasn't as if one voted for someone undeserving, such as Chris Archer of the hometown team.

The other thing to know: Despite what you might have read — on fake or real news websites — their ballots didn't necessarily cost Verlander the award. For the result to change, Verlander would have not just had to be included on their ballots but also elevated to third place or better on both. And it's worth noting that seven other writers (from Baltimore, Boston, Los Angeles, New York, Seattle and Texas) had Verlander fourth or fifth on their ballots.

Verlander got 14 first-place votes and Porcello eight, but Porcello got 18 for second, so maybe he got the popular vote. Put another way, 47 percent of the voters had Verlander first, but 30 percent didn't have him in their top three

That both voters who omitted Verlander were from the bay area was just coincidence in an overall odd tally, done by 30 members of the Baseball Writers' Association, two from each AL city. Nothing more, nothing else.

Marc Topkin can be reached at [email protected].

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