The fallout from the 2016 American League Cy Young award voting has been as dramatic as the announcement itself. Boston Red Sox right-hander Rick Porcello was named the winner by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America despite finishing with six fewer first-place votes than runner-up Justin Verlander of the Detroit Tigers. That stunning result has since unleashed a flood of emotions that has people calling out voters and questioning the entire voting process.
The crux of the controversy centers around two ballots that didn’t even include Verlander. We’ve since learned those two voters were Bill Chastain, who covers the Tampa Bay Rays for MLB.com, and Fred Goodall, a Tampa area writer for the Associated Press.
Per BBWAA protocol, two writers are selected to represent each AL and NL city, with each voting on their own league’s award. These two men obviously represented Tampa, but it’s purely a coincidence they were the two to omit Verlander. In fact, Chastain has already stepped forward to acknowledge the controversy and explain his line of thinking before submitting a ballot that didn’t include Verlander’s name.
“I feel bad that people are upset about this; I did the best I could,” Chastain told the New York Daily News on Wednesday. “I went around the clubhouse, I asked guys. I agonized over this. The biggest thing for me was between (Baltimore closer Zach) Britton and Porcello.”
Many believed Zach Britton deserved to be a finalist, if not the outright winner of the award. Five other voters gave Britton first-place votes, so Chastain won’t get any argument for placing him ahead of Verlander. Where he admitted he may have erred though is the timing of his submission.
Chastain says he turned in his ballot one week before the season ended, meaning he didn’t factor in Verlander’s strong finish (one run over 14.2 innings in his final two starts), which lowered his ERA to 3.04 and put him ahead of Porcello (3.15).
“At the time, I thought I picked the best five guys,” said Chastain, who voted for Porcello, Britton, Kluber, Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka in that order. “Maybe I should have waited until the end. When I voted, it looked pretty clear to me.”
Might Chastain’s ballot have looked differently had he waited until the day after the season ended to submit it?
“I don’t know,” Chastain said. “There’s nothing I can do about it now.”
Had Verlander been listed on both ballots, it would not have guaranteed a win. He needed six points to pass Porcello meaning a pair of fourth- or fifth-place votes would have left him as the runner-up. A pair of third place votes though would have changed everything.
None of this will make Verlander’s fiancée Kate Upton feel any better. By the same token, none of it will make Rick Porcello feel any worse. He knows the results. He knows the process. He’s even read Upton’s colorful comments on the subject. But none of it has fazed him or taken away from his moment.
“No. I honestly don’t care. I’m not the one that made that decision as far as who wins the Cy Young. All I know is I’ve got a lot of people around me right now that I love very much and have been instrumental in my success in getting to this point, and on top of that we’ve got some really good bottles of wine that still need to be drank. There’s not really a concern in my mind.
This is undoubtedly one of the craziest fallouts to an MLB award announcement we’ve seen in a good while. The debate is sure to rage on, at least until Thursday, when the A.L. MVP vote takes center stage and takes the craziness to another level.
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