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Willie Hernandez Jersey

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That Ronnie Warner nearly made it to this year’s World Series as a third base coach for the St. Louis Cardinals — beaten in the National League Championship Series by Washington — begs the question.

Has there ever been Redlands participation in the Fall Classic?

Best anyone can attest to a local ballplayer being part of the World Series dates back to former Angels’ catcher Dan Whitmer, a Redlands High product, who was a Detroit coach.

Whitmer’s playing career concluded in the early 1980s, but somehow he attracted the attention of Detroit Tigers’ eventual Hall of Fame manager Sparky Anderson.

By 1984, Whitmer was bullpen catcher for the Tigers, a team that won 35 of their first 40 games en route to beating San Diego in the World Series. Whitmer wasn’t around for that hot start, though. He picked up his coaching job at mid-season, having started 1984 playing in Detroit’s minor league system.

Among Whitmer’s duties was warming up relief pitchers.

Willie Hernandez, a southpaw, had a monster year out of the Tigers’ bullpen. He was that year’s Cy Young Award winner, not to mention the American League’s MVP off a 9-3 record, 32 saves, 1.68 ERA, 140 innings over 80 relief appearances.

There was Whitmer, sitting in the Tigers’ ’pen, waiting for that call from Sparky to crank up his bullpen ace.

That’s one reason they won the World Series. Warner came close. Whitmer pulled off a ring.

While Warner, an infielder, never made it to the majors as a player, Whitmer’s brief appearances for both the Angels and Toronto totaled seven RBI and a .229 average.

­Ever since Rod Anzai left as a Redlands High School track/cross country coach, truthfully, there’s been a downward spiral in the distance-running success from that campus.

Hate to say it, but Anzai had some significant naysayers. Which relates to the fact that he’s now long since departed.

Too bad.

Anzai coached 800, 1600 and 3200 runners on those Lady Terrier 2014 and 2015 CIF, Division 2 track & field championships. He made his mark as a cross country coach for years.

Throw Lew Farwell into that coaching mix. He had plenty of connection — still does, in fact — with the sensational hurdler-sprinter-jumper Juanita Webster.

Anzai, now the cross country at Irvine Portola High — new school with no senior class — had his team is ranked No. 5 in CIF Division 3.

He spent one season at Banning, taking second in the 2018, eight-team Desert Valley League, for a longtime weak program.

There was some significant success at Moreno Valley Vista del Lago.

Anzai-coached teams racked up plenty of success at Redlands. Tough, tough guy. Believes strongly in a disciplined approach. It could’ve led to his undoing.

Anzai, now 79, sold his Redlands home, moved to Laguna Beach, not that far of a jump from his current Irvine coaching digs.

So much more to all those stories — amazing, in fact. Good stuff. Questionable stuff. You name it.

* * *

Recent interviews conducted:

Redlands High’s Doug Haugh, playing his red-shirt sophomore season at Valparaiso in Indiana.

Former REV cornerback Isaiah Armstrong, a BYU graduate this past spring, playing his final collegiate season at Northwestern Louisiana.

Armstrong, incidentally, went up against LSU, then ranked No. 2, earlier this season for NWL.

Look for their stories in coming weeks. Still waiting for something with Arizona State’s Claire Kovensky, a one-time Citrus Valley volleyballer. Hasn’t called back.

Wonder if ASU will take on Auburn next season? We’ll check. It could be that Kovensky and soon-to-be-graduated Jackie Barrett, who is Auburn-bound, will cross paths in college. * * * ­Lance Evbuomwan, a significant piece in Redlands East Valley High’s football past, also played basketball for the Wildcats. It’s that background that’ll carry him into this season as Arrowhead Christian Academy’s boys’ hoops coach. ACA’s Russ DeKock, incidentally, was on the lookout for a tennis coach to replace the departed Ronnie Griffin.

* * *

Maybe it’s time, noted a significant Redlands-area coach, that the trio of Redlands-based public high school shouldn’t all be participating in the traditionally significant Citrus Belt League.

Nothing official, especially since the 2020-21 school year will enter into a newly aligned league that ushers in Beaumont High and ushers out Rialto Carter — with Citrus Valley, Cajon, Redlands, Yucaipa and REV rounding out the six-school grouping.

Nothing — repeat, nothing — has even been discussed yet, at least officially. Truth is, athletics could be taking a serious dive in talent over various sports.

Looking ahead, here’s a fair head start for a six-team CBL: San Gorgonio, Fontana Kaiser, Citrus Valley, Yucaipa, Cajon and, well, name that sixth school. Beaumont has the numbers.

Dick McAuliffe Jersey

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The 1968 Detroit Tigers finished the regular season with 40 victories in which they were either trailing or tied in the seventh inning or later. Of those wins, 28 featured the Tigers taking the lead in the final inning. Free Press special writer Bill Dow takes a look at those games:

April 11: Gates Brown hits a pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Red Sox, 4-3, in the second game of the season.

April 14: Bill Freehan singles with the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth to beat the White Sox, 5-4.

April 17: Willie Horton hits a two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th to beat the Indians, 4-3.

More: Detroit Tigers great Denny McLain has regrets, but damn he could pitch

Dick McAuliffe, an infielder for the 1968 World Series champion Detroit Tigers, died May 13, 2016. He was 76 years old.
Dick McAuliffe, an infielder for the 1968 World Series champion Detroit Tigers, died May 13, 2016. He was 76 years old. (Photo: File photo)

April 20: Dick McAuliffe’s two-run single, followed by Norm Cash’s forceout to score McAuliffe in the top of the 10th beats the White Sox, 4-1.

April 28: Bill Freehan and Jim Northrup hit solo home runs in the top of the ninth to beat the Yankees, 3-2.

April 29: Don Wert’s single scores Norm Cash in the bottom of the ninth to beat Oakland 2-1.

May 1: Willie Horton’s sacrifice fly scores Dick McAuliffe in the bottom of the eighth to beat the Twins, 3-2.

May 7: Tom Matchick’s pinch-hit, two-run double in the top of the ninth beats the Orioles 2-1.

May 17: Jim Northrup’s grand slam in the bottom of the ninth beats the Senators, 7-3.

May 19: Gates Brown’s pinch-hit single scoring Dick Tracewski in the bottom of the eighth beats the Senators, 5-4.

May 20: An error on a Bill Freehan ground ball scores Al Kaline in the top of the 10th inning to beat the Twins, 4-3.

Mickey Stanley
Mickey Stanley (Photo: Detroit Free Press)

June 7: Mickey Stanley’s two-out, two-run triple in the bottom of the ninth beats the Indians, 5-4.

June 11: Tom Matchick scores on Cesar Tovar’s throwing error in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Twins, 3-2.

June 12: Dick McAuliffe’s home run in the top of the ninth beats the Twins, 2-1.

June 14: Don Wert’s home run in the top of the 14th beats the White Sox, 6-5.

July 7: Willie Horton’s solo homer in the bottom of the ninth beats the Athletics, 5-4.

July 19: Tom Matchick’s pinch-hit, three-run homer with two outs in the bottom of the ninth beats the Orioles, 5-4.

Aug. 6: Dick Tracewski single scores Bill Freehan in the bottom of the 17th to beat the Indians, 2-1.

Aug. 10: Norm Cash’s home run in the bottom of the 8th beats the Red Sox, 4-3.

Aug. 11: Gates Brown’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the 14th beats the Red Sox, 4-3, in the first game of the doubleheader.

Aug. 11: Gates Brown’s single in the bottom of the ninth beats the Red Sox, 6-5, in the second game of the doubleheader.

Bill Freehan’s homer on Aug. 17, 1968, was a game-winner for the Tigers.
Bill Freehan’s homer on Aug. 17, 1968, was a game-winner for the Tigers. (Photo: Detroit Free Press)

Aug. 17: Bill Freehan’s home run in the top of the ninth beats the Red Sox, 10-9.

Aug. 21: Jim Price’s pinch-hit home run in the bottom of the 10th beats the White Sox, 3-2.

Sept. 2: Bill Freehan’s home run in the top of the ninth beats the A’s, 4-3.

Sept. 3: Jim Northrup’s two-run single in the top of the ninth is the game-winning hit that beats the A’s, 6-3.

Sept. 14: Willie Horton’s single in the bottom of the ninth beats the A’s, 5-4, and gives Denny McLain his 30th victory.

Sept. 17: Don Wert’s single scores Al Kaline in the bottom of the ninth to beat the Yankees, 2-1, as the Tigers win the pennant.

Sept. 25: Gates Brown’s three-run homer in the top of the ninth beats the Orioles, 4-3.

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The Twins will — and have been — slowing down C.J. Cron and pulling back on his number of at-bats as they try to let his sore thumb heal.

Cron’s thumb has been bothering him for months, despite two stints on the injured list.

“C.J.’s been dealing with this for a very long time,” manager Rocco Baldelli said. “I’d like to say it’s getting better. It’s probably not getting better, and he kind of pretends like he’s doing OK and he mans up and he goes and plays and he continues to swing. I think we’re at a point where we might slow him down a bit.”

Cron first landed on the injured list on July 6 and missed just 10 days, but when he came back, he didn’t sound confident that he was fully healed. He landed on the IL again less than 10 days later and received a cortisone shot for the pain.

Although he came off the IL on Aug. 3 and has been playing since then, the results haven’t been as good as early in the season. Cron slashed .266/.326/.495 with 17 home runs and 54 runs batted in in the 78 games before his first stint on the IL. From Aug. 3 on, he is slashing .230/.293/.410 with six home runs and 21 RBIs.

Chief baseball officer Derek Falvey described the injury as a bone bruise and said the only recourse was rest and time.

“No one can play with what he’s playing with right now and swing the bat with the intensity that you need to swing the bat with to play at this level,” Baldelli said. “I think we’re still going to see him out there at times, but I think pulling him back a little bit I think makes sense.”

The Twins have been pulling back on his starts already, though he has entered a couple of games in the late innings recently. Cron was not in the starting lineup for Monday’s game against the White Sox.

“There’s not really a playbook for this one. It’s kind of a unique situation. He’s going to find himself into games. He’s going to go out there. We could turn to him potentially for an at-bat,” Baldelli said. “We could turn to him for some defensive play. We could do some different things with him. As far as regular at-bats in the starting lineup, they might be fewer.”

GONZALEZ RETURNS

The Twins did get good news on the injury front, as Marwin Gonzalez returned to the lineup for the first time since Aug. 27 in Chicago, when he injured his oblique/abdomen.

“It was frustrating to be out for this long,” Gonzalez said. “I wanted to be back a little sooner than this, but everything is done for my own good. I let it heal and, obviously, I’m going to be kind of scared the first couple games, but I feel good.”

Gonzalez started at first base Monday night as Cron rested. He will also be called upon in the outfield as Max Kepler deals with a lingering injury. Gonzalez’s return is especially important to the Twins as Ehire Adrianza, another option to play multiple positions, is dealing with an oblique strain.

“When you add him back into the fold, you’re not adding a player,” Baldelli said. “You’re not adding a first baseman. You’re adding a first baseman and a second baseman and a third baseman and an outfielder and a guy, if he’s not starting, you can hit him for a number of different people in a number of different spots. He just gives you a ton to work with, and it’s very helpful.”

BRIEFLY

Adrianza said he had started lifting weights and doing some “upper body stuff and some core” for the first time since suffering the strain on Thursday and felt good. He remains optimistic that he could return before the season ends.

Kepler (shoulder) was again out of the lineup after sitting Sunday. He did play in Saturday’s doubleheader. “We’re going to get him looked at again, and it’s something that we want to find a way to wipe out,” Baldelli said.

The Tigers claimed pitcher Marcos Diplan after the Twins had designated him for assignment over the weekend. Diplan, who was at Double-A this season, was acquired for cash by the Twins on July 31.

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Hall of a class?

Hall, yes!

Shortstop Alan Trammell and right-handed pitcher Jack Morris will be inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., on Sunday, marking the first time two players have entered the Hall as Detroit Tigers in the same year. Trammell and Morris were etched into Tigers lore when they helped Detroit win the 1984 World Series, but it wasn’t until December that the Hall’s Modern Baseball Era Committee finally selected them for induction.

No harm. Trammell and Morris will become the 12th and 13th players inducted as Tigers and the first since Hal Newhouser in 1992. Here’s a look at the rest of the franchise’s inductees, along with other ex-Tigers players and coaches inducted with other teams:

Ty Cobb

Inducted: 1936 (inducted by Baseball Writers Association of America).

Position: Center field

Years with Detroit: 1905-1926

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1927-1928

Career stats: .366 average, 4,189 hits, 897 stolen bases, 3,034 games

Overview: The “Georgia Peach” was the arguably the greatest player in baseball history. In the first year of balloting for election to the National Baseball Hall of Fame, Cobb received the most votes of the first five inductees (including Babe Ruth).

Cobb won nine consecutive AL batting titles from 1907 to 1915, three more in his career, and hit .320 or better for 22 consecutive seasons, including over .400 three times. When he retired, he held 43 regular-season career records.

Mickey Cochrane

Inducted: 1947 (BBWAA)

Position: Catcher

Years with Detroit: 1934-37

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1925-1933

Career stats: .320 average, 1,652 hits, 119 home runs, 1,482 games

Overview: Known as “Black Mike” for his intense competitiveness, Cochrane played nine seasons with Philadelphia, leading the A’s to three pennants and two world championships, before he was sold to Detroit for $100,000 in 1934. As player/manager he led the Tigers to the AL pennant in his first two seasons and their first world championship in 1935. Fittingly, he scored the winning run to win the Series on Goose Goslin’s walk off single in Game 6. Cochrane, the AL MVP winner in ’28 and ’34, sadly had his career end at age 34 when in 1937 he was beaned at Yankee Stadium.

Sam Crawford

Inducted: 1957 (Veterans Committee)

Position: Right field

Years with Detroit: 1903-1917

Years with other teams: Cincinnati 1899-1902

Career stats: .309 avg., 2,961 hits, 97 HRs, 309 triples, 2,517 games

Overview: Although he played in the shadow of Ty Cobb, “Wahoo Sam” helped lead the Tigers to three consecutive AL pennants in 1907-09 in the dead ball era. Especially known for legging out triples, Crawford led the league in three baggers six times, home runs twice, runs batted in three times, and once each in runs and doubles. He still holds the major league mark for career triples with 309, 14 more than Cobb.

Charlie Gehringer

Inducted: 1949 (BBWAA*)

Position: Second base

Years (all with Detroit): 1924-1942

Stats: .320 avg., 2,839 hits, 184 HRs, 574 doubles, .976 fielding percentage, 2,323 games

Overview: Considered one of the greatest second basemen for fielding and hitting, “The Mechanical Man” helped lead the Tigers to three pennants (1934-35, 1940) and the 1935 World Championship when he hit .375 in the Series. Gehringer led all AL second baseman in fielding percentage and assists seven times, had seven seasons with more than 200 hits and played every inning of the first six All-Star games (’33-’38) as the starting second baseman for the AL while hitting .500. In 1937 he was the AL batting champion (.371) and was named the AL’s MVP.

*Inducted after a run-off vote, which occurs when no player on the initial ballot gets the requisite 75 percent of votes.

Hank Greenberg

Inducted: 1956 (BBWAA)

Position: First base

Years with Detroit: 1930, 1933-41, 1945-46

Years with other teams: Pittsburgh 1947

Career stats: .313 avg., 1,628 hits, 331 HRs, 1,274 RBIs, 1,394 games

Overview: As one of greatest sluggers of his era while leading Detroit to four pennants (1934-35, 1940, 1945) and two world championships (1935, 1945), “Hammerin’ Hank” led the AL in home runs three times, RBIs four times, and nearly broke Babe Ruth’s season home run record of 60 in 1938 when he hit 58. The five-time All Star and two-time AL MVP winner (1935, 1940) lost four years of his career while serving in WWII. Three months after returning to the Tigers, Greenberg’s signature moment occurred when on the last day of the 1945 season he hit a grand slam to win the pennant.

Harry Heilmann

Inducted: 1952 (BBWAA)

Position: Right field

Years with Detroit: 1914, 1916-29

Years with other teams: Cincinnati 1930, 1932

Career stats: .342 avg., 2,660 hits, 183 HRs, 1,543 RBIs, 2,147 games

Overview: Next to teammate Ty Cobb, “Slug” was the Tigers’ greatest hitter. Heilmann is one of only six AL players in history to win four or more batting titles and was the last Detroit player to hit over .400 (.403 in 1923). He has the highest lifetime batting average in AL history for a right-handed hitter (.342) and is only surpassed by Rogers Hornsby and Ed Delahanty among right-handed hitters in all of baseball. During his peak from 1921 to 1927, Heilmann compiled a .380 batting average and averaged 116 RBIs. He was also more than a baseball hero. On July 25, 1916, he saved a woman from drowning in the Detroit River.

Al Kaline

Inducted: 1980 (BBWAA)

Position: Right field

Years (all with Detroit): 1953-74

Stats: .297 avg., 399 HRs, 3,007 hits, 2,834 games

Overview: One of the best right fielders in baseball history, the 18-time All Star and 10-time Gold Glove winner was the greatest Tiger player in the last half of the 20th century. At age 20 in 1955, Kaline became the youngest player in AL history to win a batting title with a .340 average. The key moment of his career occurred in Game 5 of the 1968 World Series when, in storybook fashion, his clutch two-run single in the bottom of the seventh was the game-winning hit that extended the Series. In the Fall Classic he shined, batting .379 with two homers and eight RBIs.

George Kell

Inducted: 1983 (Veterans)

Position: Third base

Years with Detroit: 1946-52

Years with other teams: Philadelphia A’s 1943-46, Boston Red Sox 1952-54, Chicago White Sox 1954-56, Baltimore 1956-57

Career stats: .306 avg.; 2,054 hits, 1,795 games

Overview: Acquired in May of 1946 from the Philadelphia A’s for Barney McCosky, the 10-time All Star won the 1949 batting title (.343) on the last day of the season, beating out Boston’s Ted Williams by a few decimal points, and holds the record for the fewest strikeouts by a batting champion with 13. He twice led the AL in hits, in 1950 (218) and 1951 (191). For 37 seasons Kell was a popular Tiger broadcaster.

Heinie Manush

Inducted: 1964 (Veterans)

Position: Left field

Years with Detroit: 1923-27

Years with other teams: St. Louis Browns 1928-30, Washington Senators 1930-35, Boston Red Sox 1936, Brooklyn Dodgers 1937-38; Pittsburgh 1938-39

Career stats: .330 avg., 2,524 hits, 110 HRs, 2,008 games

Overview: In his rookie season with Detroit, Manush batted .334, and from 1923-1927 was a part of one of the greatest outfields in baseball history playing alongside fellow Hall of Famers Harry Heilmann and Ty Cobb. Manush won the 1926 batting title on the last day of the season by going 6 for 9 in a doubleheader to beat out the Yankees’ Babe Ruth and Tiger teammates Heilmann and Bob “Fats” Fothergill.

Jack Morris

Inducted: 2018 (Veterans)

Position: Pitcher

Years with Detroit: 1977-90

Years with other teams: Minnesota 1991, Toronto 1992-93, Cleveland 1994

Career stats: 254-186 record, 3.90 ERA, 2,478 strikeouts, 175 complete games, 549 games

Overview: The five-time All-Star and four-time World Champion (Detroit 1984; Minnesota 1991; Toronto 1992 and 1993) was the pitching ace for the Tigers for 12 seasons. His no-hitter on national television in April 1984 was part of the team’s amazing 35-5 start on the way to the world championship. He is best known for arguably the greatest single-game World Series pitching performance — Game 7 in 1991. Morris beat the Braves (who started Hall of Famer John Smoltz), 1-0, allowing seven hits in a 10-inning, complete-game performance and was named the Series MVP.

Hal Newhouser

Inducted: 1992 (Veterans)

Position: Pitcher

Years with Detroit: 1939-53

Years with other teams: Cleveland 1954-55

Career stats: 207-150 record, 3.06 ERA, 1,796 strikeouts, 212 complete games, 2,993 innings pitched

Overview: The teenage phenom from the Detroit sandlots was one of the most dominant pitchers in the major leagues during the 1940s. The seven-time All Star won back-to-back AL MVP awards in 1944 and 1945, leading the Tigers to a world championship in 1945 while winning the pitching triple crown by leading the league in victories (25), ERA (1.81) and strikeouts (212). In the World Series, “Prince Hal” won complete-game victories in Games 5 and 7.

Alan Trammell

Inducted: 2018 (Veterans)

Position: Shortstop

Years (all with Detroit): 1977-96

Career stats: .285 average, 2,365 hits, 185 HRs, 2,293 games

Overview: The six-time All-Star, four-time Gold Glove winner and the recipient of three Silver Slugger awards will forever be linked with second baseman Lou Whitaker as the duo formed the longest continuous double play combination in baseball history (19 years). Trammell earned the 1984 World Series MVP award after batting .450 with six RBIs, including two homers in Game 4, as the Tigers captured their fourth world championship. His best season was in 1987 when he helped Detroit to a division title, nearly winning the AL MVP award after hitting .343 with 28 homers and 105 RBIs.

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It’s understandable if you have never heard of Charlie Maxwell. A terrific player for the Detroit Tigers in the 1950s and ’60s, Maxwell’s peak was fairly short. This was largely due to circumstance, though. Maxwell had the misfortune of being stuck behind some of the greatest players of his day, and all-time. With the Boston Red Sox, Maxwell rode the bench as veterans Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio put up MVP-caliber numbers. At the end of his career, Maxwell was supplanted by Tigers legends Al Kaline and Rocky Colavito. Even during his prime, Maxwell had to fend off Harvey Kuenn and Larry Doby for playing time.

He did, though. Maxwell was a rarity as a ballplayer: a power-hitter who rarely struck out. He fanned just 432 times in 3150 plate appearances in a Tigers uniform, and walked 394 times. He hit 133 home runs and drove in 435 RBI. His 19.2 fWAR rank 28th among position players in Tigers history, wedged between modern fan favorites Curtis Granderson and Carlos Guillen.

Year PA HR RBI SB BA OBP SLG wOBA wRC+ fWAR
1950* 9 0 0 0 .000 .111 .000 .082 -72 -0.2
1951* 89 3 12 0 .188 .270 .313 .276 49 -0.4
1952* 18 0 0 0 .067 .222 .133 .194 2 -0.2
1954* 117 0 5 3 .250 .328 .308 .302 70 -0.3
1955** 126 7 18 0 .257 .315 .522 .366 120 1.0
1956 592 28 87 1 .326 .414 .534 .417 148 5.8
1957 580 24 82 3 .276 .377 .482 .378 132 4.9
1958 466 13 65 6 .272 .369 .426 .354 117 2.2
1959 611 31 95 0 .251 .357 .461 .363 122 3.1
1960 549 24 81 5 .237 .325 .440 .338 101 1.8
1961 153 5 18 0 .229 .333 .405 .327 92 0.4
1962*** 319 10 52 0 .271 .365 .440 .356 117 1.3
1963*** 165 3 17 0 .231 .370 .362 .330 111 0.4
1964*** 2 0 0 0 .000 .000 .000 .000 -100 0.0
Career 3796 148 532 18 .264 .360 .451 .360 117 19.9
*Played for the Boston Red Sox from 1950 to 1955.
**Played for the Baltimore Orioles from April 1955 to May 1955.
***Played for the Chicago White Sox from June 1962 to 1964.

Charles Richard Maxwell was born on April 8th, 1927 in Lawton, Michigan. A basketball and baseball star in high school, Charlie went on to pitch for Western Michigan University — a baseball powerhouse at the time — in 1945. He was drafted into the army at the tail end of World War II and served for two years. Following his military service, Maxwell signed with the Boston Red Sox. He spent three years in the minors, where he hit .321 with 41 home runs in just under 900 at-bats at Class B Roanoke.

Maxwell made his MLB debut in 1950, but did not impress. He only played in three games towards the end of the season and did not record a hit in nine plate appearances. However, he hit .320 with 25 home runs for the Birmingham Barons that year, earning him more playing time with the Red Sox in 1951. It did not go well, as Maxwell hit just .188/.270/.313 in 89 plate appearances.

With Ted Williams and Dom DiMaggio manning two of Boston’s three outfield spots, there were not many spare at-bats to go around, and Maxwell was the low man on the totem pole. Maxwell had just 233 plate appearances for the Red Sox from 1950 to 1954 (he did not even appear for the Red Sox in 1953), and hit a disappointing .203/.289/.285 in the sparse playing time. He showed promise in the minor leagues with an .893 OPS in over 1400 plate appearances from 1951 to 1953.

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Maxwell finally got his break in 1955. The Red Sox sold him to the Baltimore Orioles before the season, who waived him after just four games. Maxwell’s hometown Tigers came calling, purchasing his contract in early May. He continued to split plate appearances, but the 28-year-old lefty hit .266/.325/.541 in 122 plate appearances. He finally got a full-time starting job in 1956 and put together an All-Star season opposite right fielder Al Kaline, hitting .326/.414/.534 with 28 home runs and 87 RBI in 592 plate appearances.

He finished a distant 23rd in the MVP voting (Kaline was third) in 1956, but Charlie quickly became a fan favorite. He earned the nickname “Paw Paw” after he and his wife, Ann, built a home in Paw Paw, Michigan. Maxwell’s size also probably played a role in his popularity. While Kaline was well-built at six-foot-one and 175 pounds, Maxwell, was generously listed at five feet, 11 inches tall. Maxwell had surprising power for his size, though. He led the Tigers in home runs on three separate occasions, and his 24 home runs in 1960 were second to Rocky Colavito’s 35 dingers.

Maxwell made a second All-Star team in 1957, hitting .276/.377/.482 with 24 home runs and 82 RBI. He did not start in either of his career All-Star appearances, and singled in his only plate appearance. His numbers dipped in 1958, but he bounced back with a career-high 31 home runs and 95 RBI in 1959. Maxwell hit four home runs in four consecutive plate appearances during a doubleheader on May 3rd, a pair of wins over the New York Yankees. Maxwell also walked and hit an RBI single. He drove in eight of the 12 runs the Tigers scored that day. Maxwell’s 31 home runs were a Tigers record for a left-handed hitter at the time, though it would be broken by Norm Cash two years later.

The 1960 season would be Maxwell’s last as a full-time player. He hit .237/.325/.440 with 24 home runs and 81 RBI in 549 plate appearances. His usual contact skills and plate discipline remained, but the aging Maxwell seemed to have lost a step. The Tigers traded for center fielder Billy Bruton prior to the 1961 season, leaving Maxwell to serve in a bench role. As he did in a similar role with the Red Sox earlier in his career, Maxwell struggled. He hit just .229 with a .738 OPS in 153 plate appearances. The team didn’t lose a step and won 101 games, a franchise record at the time.

Maxwell turned 35 as the 1962 season opened, and his days with the Tigers were all but over. Al Kaline and Rocky Colavito were mainstays in the Tigers’ outfield at that point, and Bruton hit well enough to support his superior defense in center field. Maxwell only saw 77 plate appearances before he was traded to the Chicago White Sox in late July, but he roared back with nine home runs and an .889 OPS for the Sox down the stretch.

It didn’t last, though. Maxwell hit .231 with a .731 OPS in 165 plate appearances the next season, and appeared to grow tired of the long travel involved in the MLB season. This was the reason he cited for his decision to retire shortly after the 1964 season began. He enjoyed a quiet retirement with his family in Paw Paw (naturally) and was inducted into the Michigan Sports Hall of Fame in 1997.

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The Detroit Tigers are a rebuilding team with a plethora of promising pitching prospects. As of a few weeks ago, they also have a director of pitching development and strategies, and a coordinator of player development analytics. Each is a new position within the organization, and both are a step in the right direction. Dan Hubbs was hired to fill the first of those roles, Jordan Wergiles the last.

Who are Hubbs and Wergiles, and what will be their primary responsibilities? I asked those questions to Al Avila during the recently completed GM Meetings.

“Dan came from the University of Southern California, where he was the head baseball coach,” answered Avila. “Before that he was the pitching coach there for 12 years. He comes with a good knowledge of the technology that’s being used now. He understands the analytics that can help a pitcher get better. Basically, his challenge is to set up our pitching system.”

Addressing Wergiles — a recent Wake Forest University graduate who’d been interning for the Tigers — Avila spoke of the organization’s attempts to keep up with an ever-changing game.

“There are obviously some things that your average instructor, or pitching coach… those guys aren’t analysts,” said the GM. “Those guys don’t work with numbers. They work with human beings, so it’s more of, ‘Hey, here is what the numbers are telling us about this pitcher.’ [Wergiles] can be deciphering that to the coaches, so that they can make those adjustments with the pitchers.”

Requests to speak to Wergiles and Hubbs about their new roles were declined by the Tigers.

Avila name-checked another of his new hires — several have been announced — when asked to elaborate on the ramping up of his team’s analytical efforts.

“It’s a full-blown situation where you’re working with strength and conditioning, you’re working with trainers, you’re working with biomechanics,” said Avila. [Director of performance science] Georgia Giblin has got all the gadgets to put on the players, to test them for fatigue and whatnot. Then there is the video and what the numbers from Rapsodo are saying. It’s a pretty involved process. We’ll have all these people working as a unit, with Dan Hubbs in charge.”

That’s on the pitching side. The Tigers have also brought on board a new director of player development whose responsibilities will skew heavily to the offensive side of the ball. Kenny Graham spent the last four years as Milwaukee’s minor league hitting coordinator.

“It’s the same as what led to our pitching changes,” Avila explained. ”Kenny’s expertise is in hitting. He’ll set up our hitting systems, just like Dan Hubbs will be challenged with the pitching. Kenny’s first order of business is going to be hitting, and from there it will spread out to the other areas of player development. We’ll have a system for basically everything.”

——

The Oakland A’s have made a notable change. Last month it was announced that Ed Sprague will be replacing Keith Lieppman as the team’s director of player development. The latter had been in that role for nearly three decades.

I asked David Forst how the change came about, and how it might impact Oakland’s prospect pipeline.

“Keith came to me and said, ‘I think it’s time to take a step back,’” the GM told me. “This will be his 50th year with the organization, so he’s entitled to take whatever steps he wants. But he’s still going to be involved — he’ll serve as an advisor to Ed — so it’s as seamless a transition as you can have. It will just be a different look without Keith running the farm system.”

Sprague has been the team’s assistant director of player development, so the transition should indeed be smooth. That doesn’t mean that the department will be run in exactly the same manner.

“Any time there is a different voice at the head of a department, some things are going to change,” agreed Forst. “Ed has already come to me with ideas about managing people, and some of the technology he wants to use. He was really involved in all of our technological exercises over the last couple of years, so I think that’s something he’s going to push heavily. He’ll do some different things within our system.”

Sprague played 11 big seasons after being drafted out of Stanford University in 1988, and later served as the head baseball coach at the University of Pacific from 2004-2015. He joined the A’s player development department in 2016.

——

How soon do the Seattle Mariners expect to contend? Jerry Dipoto didn’t answer that question directly, but he did hint at a timeframe during the GM Meetings.

“Through our own intentions, [2019] was going to be measured by what we were doing developmentally,” Dipoto told a small group of reporters. “Much less so than by what we were doing in the big leagues. Our owners understood that. There’s going to come a point in time where that’s no longer the case. I don’t know when that point in time is, but I suspect that it’s sometime in the next year, year and a half. That’s when we believe that our young players will be better prepared for us to go out and add to them.

“Our payroll was about 136 [million],” added Seattle’s GM. “Over the last four years we’ve probably been 11th or 12th in MLB in overall payroll, and we’re probably not going to be too dissimilar from that next year.”

——

RANDOM HITTER-PITCHER MATCHUPS

Babe Ruth went 1 for 21 against Gordon Rhodes.

Homer Smoot went 2 for 7 against Charlie Rhodes.

Carlos Pena went 0 for 10 against Arthur Rhodes.

Tuffy Rhodes went 0 for 10 against Ken Hill.

Dusty Rhodes went 5 for 10 against Brooks Lawrence.

——

Ashton Goudeau was one of four players the Colorado Rockies added to their 40-man roster this past week. Had that not happened, the 27-year-old right-hander would have been eligible for the upcoming Rule 5 draft, which will take place in San Diego on December 12, at the conclusion of the Winter Meetings.

He’s come a long way in a short time. Twelve months ago, Goudeau was signed as a minor-league free agent on the heels of a 5.79 ERA, which he put up in his first season in the Seattle Mariners system. Prior to 2018, he spent six wholly nondescript years as a Kansas City Royals farmhand.

He found a new level in 2019. Working as a starter for the Double-A Hartford Yard Goats, Goudeau logged a 2.07 ERA and a 2.64 FIP, and more strikeouts than baserunners allowed. He then punctuated his breakout campaign with 13 scoreless innings in the Arizona Fall League.

Asked about the acquisition of the former 27th-round pick, GM Jeff Bridich said that while Goudeau’s track record had been spotty, Rockies scouts liked “some of his measurables,” as well as his sturdy 6-foot-6 frame. It was a matter of adding polish, and Yard Goats pitching coach Steve Merriman provided plenty of it.

“The work he did with [Merriman] put him in a position to throw harder, and to locate his fastball better,” explained Bridich. ‘He’s always had a plus breaking ball. The added consistency, due to the mechanical stuff, and some of the sequencing we worked with him on, have put him in position to where he can be thought of as a guy who could get to the big leagues in the near future.”

The righty now relies on a fastball, a curveball, and a changeup, whereas “he used to be a four- or five-pitch guy.” Bridich said that Goudeau — his repertoire simplified and more-refined — will report to spring training as a starter.

——

NEWS NOTES

Renowned baseball historian Dorothy Seymour Mills died a week ago today at age 91. Along with her late husband, Harold Seymour, she researched and wrote the groundbreaking “Baseball: The Early Years,” which was followed by “Baseball: The Golden Age,” and “The People’s Game.” In 2017, SABR established a lifetime achievement award in her name, to honor women’s contributions to baseball.

The Milwaukee Brewers have hired Ed Lucas as their new minor league hitting coordinator. A Dartmouth graduate and former big-league infielder, Lucas spent this past season as a player information assistant with the Phillies. He was featured in Sunday Notes on September 2, 2018.

Kristopher Negron has been named as the new Assistant to Director of Player Development for the Seattle Mariners. The 33-year-old former infielder played parts of six big-league seasons, appearing in 30 games for the Dodgers this past season.

The Baltimore Orioles have hired Eve Rosenbaum as their new director of baseball development. A Harvard graduate, Rosenbaum has spent the past two years as the international scouting manager for the Houston Astros.

Omar Vizquel will no longer be a part of the Chicago White Sox player development system. The former shortstop, and current Hall of Fame candidate, managed high-A Winston-Salem in 2018, and Double-A Birmingham in 2019.

The Yomiuri Giants, a team that has historically eschewed the posting system, have reportedly agreed to post pitcher Shun Yamaguchi. A 32-year-old right-hander, Yamaguchi is coming off a season where he went 15-4 with a 2.91 ERA. More information, including a breakdown of his pitch mix, can be found here.

——

The following paragraph appeared in my July 21 Sunday Notes column:

Tim Mayza has appeared in 99 big-league games, all with the Toronto Blue Jays, and has a won-loss record of 3-0. Over the past century, only Clay Rapada (8-0, 152 games) and Buddy Boshers (3-0, 100 games) have more pitching appearances without incurring a loss.

It took all of zero days for the jinx to rear its ugly head. That very same afternoon, Mayza allowed a walk-off home run — on the only pitch he threw, no less — and suddenly his unblemished record was history. Then it was Boshers’ turn. Called up from Triple-A by the Blue Jays on July 31, the lefty suffered his first defeat less than a week later.

Rapada is free from any such jinxes. The former journeyman southpaw threw his last professional pitch four years ago, and is now a coach in the San Francisco Giants organization.

What does he think of his obscure big-league record?

“It’s a crazy record,” Rapada told me earlier this week. “’But I’ve always believed that relievers shouldn’t be judged on wins and losses, or on ERA. If I gave my team a chance to win by keeping us in striking distance, I felt that I did my job. I also had a lot of good relievers coming in behind me, who saved my butt.”

Used almost exclusively as a LOOGY, Rapada threw just 93 innings in his 152 appearances. His splits were striking. Lefties logged a .486 OPS against his deliveries, while righties scorched him to the tune of 1.074. Would he have pitched in the big leagues, which he did for parts of seven MLB seasons, had that role not existed?

“I’d like to think I still would have,” said Rapada, who likened situational-relievers to football kickers. “When I was coming up, that’s all they told me to focus on — getting lefties out. Now that relievers are going have to face three hitters, there will be a need for a different focus.”

There will also be more opportunities for relievers to incur losses, as an increased number of batters faced means more baserunners allowed. Rapada’s record is likely to remain unbroken for a long time.

——

A Twitter poll I ran earlier this week asked the following question:

A player is considered elite, a probable Hall of Famer, throughout his playing days. Some years later, to his detriment, value is being measured differently. Is he a Hall of Famer?

The poll received 735 votes, with an overwhelming majority — 73% to be exact — choosing Yes. The result isn’t what I expected, but I agree with said majority. Today’s standards aren’t yesterday’s standards. Moreover, they aren’t tomorrow’s standards either.

———

Another Twitter poll I ran this week asked which of Dwight Evans and Larry Walker had the better career. Walker won in a landslide, garnering 87% of the support.

Some of their numbers are quite close. To wit, Walker had 383 home runs, 3,904 total bases, and 68.7 fWAR, while Evans had 385 home runs, 4,230 total bases, and 65.1 fWAR.

Expanding on the above, Evans has a slight edge in doubles (483 to 471), triples (73 to 62), and RBIs (1,384 to 1,311). Walker has a clear edge in wRC+ (140 to 129) and wOBA (.412 to .375). If awards float your boat, Walker has more All-Star berths (five to three), Evans more Gold Gloves (eight to seven).

Which of the former right fielders would I give the nod to? Quite honestly, I think it’s a coin flip. Are they both Hall of Fame worthy? In my opinion, yes.

———

LINKS YOU’LL LIKE

At Bat Flips and Nerds, Ben Carter talked to Twins outfielder Max Kepler about baseball in Europe, past and future.

At Beyond the Box Score, Sheryl Ring wrote that Roger Clemens doesn’t belong in the Hall of Fame, and PEDs aren’t the reason why.

Baseball America’s JJ Cooper wrote about Major League Baseball’s proposal to dramatically, and injuriously, change the shape of Minor League Baseball.

Who was the greatest first baseman in Kansas City Royals history? Bradford Lee offered his opinion at Royals Review.

———

RANDOM FACTS AND STATS

Jose Abreu came to the plate 693 times this year and grounded into a league-high 24 double plays. Yoan Moncada came to the plate 559 times and grounded into one double play.

Nick Markakis has 499 career doubles. Sixty-three players have hit more, including John Olerud and Goose Goslin, with 500 each.

Nicholas Castellanos has 140 doubles over the past three seasons, the most in the majors. JD Martinez has the most home runs (124). Charlie Blackmon has the most triples (28).

Curtis Granderson leads all active players with 95 triples.

The Pittsburgh Pirates have gone the longest with a league leader in RBIs. Willie Stargell led the senior circuit in that category in 1973. (per @JamesSmyth621)

Barry Bonds had 12,606 plate appearances and 5,976 total bases. Stan Musial had 12,718 plate appearances and 6,134 total bases.

On this date in 1953 it was announced that Walter Alston would be the new manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, replacing Chuck Dressen. The Dodgers were coming off a season where they went 105-49 before falling to the Yankees in the World Series for the second year in a row.

The Dodgers have played in 20 World Series and come out on top six times. Their 14 Fall Classic defeats are the most for any franchise.

Mickey Lolich slashed .110/.215/.121, with no home runs, in 1,017 regular-season plate appearances. He homered his first time up in the 1968 World Series.

Dave Righetti played 16 seasons and had 16 career plate appearances. The first of his two hits came as a pinch-hitter.

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Joe Vavra’s job has already begun.

Earlier this month, Vavra — the Detroit Tigers’ new hitting coach — traveled to the Dominican Republic to meet with a few of the team’s young hitters near the organization’s academy in the country: infielder Jeimer Candelario, shortstop Willi Castro and third baseman Dawel Lugo.

“We spent a lot of time,” Vavra said. “I know those guys, but I spent more time getting to know them on the offensive side, seeing how much they know about themselves and analytics and everything that goes with it.”

Vavra, who served as Tigers quality control coach the past two seasons, was moved to a familiar role for 2020: He spent six seasons as Twins hitting coach from 2006-12, working with a number of American League All-Star players.

[ Tigers mailbag: Assessing Miggy's ceiling, chances of 'blockbuster' deal ]

But perhaps Vavra’s trip to the Dominican Republic was more than just an information-gathering session.

“Trying to send a message,” Vavra said. “That’s the intent — to get a jump start. More or less, the clock is ticking. The opportunity is in front of those guys and I don’t know how much you can accelerate the program, but just getting to know who they are, what they’re capable of and what they took out of last season.

“It’s still fresh enough, so they got time this winter to work on stuff that’s fresh and maybe point them in the direction of what we know in the analytical side is some of the things that maybe they’re not used to trying to catch up on.”

Vavra is tasked with turning around an offense that struck out more than any team in major league history in 2019; an overwhelmingly inexperienced, impatient, powerless offense that figures to be returning a similar bunch.

Detroit Tigers quality control coach Joe Vavra (52) poses for a headshot on media day at Joker Marchant Stadium.
Detroit Tigers quality control coach Joe Vavra (52) poses for a headshot on media day at Joker Marchant Stadium. (Photo: Reinhold Matay, Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports)

Recently, Vavra spoke to the Free Press about his hitting philosophies and how he hopes to impact the Tigers’ young hitters in 2020:

On the primary point he will hammer home to Tigers’ hitters: “This is going to be all about you. This is your deal, but you have to know what you’re up against and who you’re up against on a daily basis, and you have to come up with plans. And your plans have to be solid, because you’re going to be called out in front of your teammates every night on your plan. So, if you’re not prepared to have your plan or understand what a plan is, that’s what we’re here for, to get you through that, so you can actually understand what you’re planning. And that’s not an easy task.”

What exactly is the plan he hopes for hitters to adapt? “Player by player. Everybody’s different. Everybody’s from all different aspects, mentally, physically, emotionally and they’re challenged in different ways by the pitcher. …

Detroit Tigers third baseman Dawel Lugo (18) hits a RBI double during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019.
Detroit Tigers third baseman Dawel Lugo (18) hits a RBI double during the eighth inning against the Minnesota Twins at Comerica Park on Tuesday, Sept. 24, 2019. (Photo: Raj Mehta, USA TODAY Sports)

“If you commit to a plan, you still have to understand what two strikes are about, you can sell out for the entire at-bat, which so many guys do, on one particular pitch or one location, that so many people do, I don’t think it gives them a very good foundation because they’re so young. So I’m still going to try to get them a little more fundamentally sound.”

On his main goal: “Our goal is to try to get them to use more of the center part of the plate and there’s some things, per guy, per individual that we’re going to have to do and understand themselves and it’s case by case, but everybody’s going to have to come up with a solid plan on a daily basis and they’re going to have to give us answers and do their homework on what they’re up against.”

Joe Vavra, the Detroit Tigers’ quality control coach, works on finalizing the team’s spring training workout plans on Wednesday.
Joe Vavra, the Detroit Tigers’ quality control coach, works on finalizing the team’s spring training workout plans on Wednesday. (Photo: Anthony Fenech/Detroit Free Press)

How important is hitting the fastball? “That’s my philosophy, you can’t get off the fastball. You just can’t get off the fastball. You have to be able to hit the fastball, good plus fastballs. A lot of people say hunting heaters. I had Jim Thome. It was about hunting heaters. Don’t get off the fastball, so yeah, never get off the fastball. You get guys guessing too much. We had a lot of guys guessing because from pitch to pitch, their plans would change and young guys are always known to get a fastball inside or to get something inside and it gets them excited and once you get them excited inside, you don’t think you can get to a (fastball) inside and also, they go something soft away so now you’re on the other side of the plate, you lose control and balance of the strike zone real quick. That’s why you just stay on the fastball, look for it down the middle.”

Rule 5 draft: Tigers protect six players. Here are their selections

On the intersection between analytics and coaching, and how it has changed the modern-day hitter: It’s even before that. We’re just a product of society, but that’s what’s happening in the game, your amateur, junior level, high school, college guys, they’re all going to be feeding off it and teaching it so it’s kind of what we are. But if you understand from Ted Williams, I mean, I believe in launch angle, I’ve always taught it but I also believe in how you have to understand to get on the plane of the ball and how to get plate coverage, you have to know where your outside corner is, you have to pretty much know the parameters of the strike zone to have a good solid base, you know what you can handle, what you can’t, first and foremost, before you can think about launch angle.”

What do you look for at batting practice? “I just think (players) have to know their strike zone, where the points of contact are, out in front of the plate, whether it be going the opposite way or pulling the ball, they have to learn how to get the bat on the ball. I don’t want any foul balls in BP. I don’t want to see them. I want to go right-center field gap to left-center field gap. … In BP, it’s about slow reps, slow speeds and you’re not getting your head out, you’re never going to be able to get that thing in the game. I’m all about spins off the bat. I want true spins coming off the bat. I don’t want side spins or angle spins, I want them to learn how to get the bat head out in the right way.”

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After more than seven years of ups and downs in the Detroit Tigers system, Drew VerHagen is trying his luck overseas.

The Tigers released VerHagen on Monday so that he could sign a contract with the Nippon Ham Fighters of the Japan Pacific League.

In a related move, the Tigers acquired Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander Dario Agrazal for cash considerations.

VerHagen, 29, was drafted by the Tigers in the fourth round in 2012 out of Vanderbilt University and made his Major League debut with the club in 2014.

He spent the next five seasons bouncing between the big-league club and Triple-A Toledo, working as both a starter and a reliever. VerHagen was designated for assignment and outrighted in each of the last two seasons, but he bounced back both times and found late-season success at the big-league level.

It was that late success that likely attracted international interest. VerHagen is reaching the age where pitchers typically try to cash in on international opportunities to get a guaranteed income that isn’t available to borderline big-leaguers.

Agrazal, a 24-year-old Panamanian, has spent his entire career in the Pirates system, making his big-league debut in 2019. He went 4-5 with a 4.91 in 15 appearances (14 starts), striking out 41 and walking 18 in 73 1/3 innings.

The Tigers have 39 players on their 40-man roster.

Left-handed pitchers: Tyler Alexander, Matthew Boyd, Matt Hall, Daniel Norris, Gregory Soto.

Right-handed pitchers: Dario Agrazal, Beau Burrows, Anthony Castro, Jose Cisnero, Marcus Diplan, Buck Farmer, Michael Fulmer, Kyle Funkhouser, Bryan Garcia, Joe Jimenez, David McKay, Franklin Perez, John Schreiber, Spencer Turnbull, Jordan Zimmermann.

Catchers: Grayson Greiner, Jake Rogers.

Infielders: Sergio Alcantara, Miguel Cabrera, Jeimer Candelario, Harold Castro, Willi Castro, Brandon Dixon, Niko Goodrum, Dawel Lugo, Isaac Paredes, Ronny Rodriguez.

Outfielders: Daz Cameron, Travis Demeritte, Derek Hill, JaCoby Jones, Victor Reyes, Christin Stewart, Troy Stokes Jr.

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Justin Verlander edged his Houston Astros teammate, Gerrit Cole, to win the American League Cy Young Award.

It’s the second trophy for Verlander, who won the honor with the Detroit Tigers in 2011. He’s also finished as the runner-up three times and been in the top-five in voting five times.

This year, Verlander got 17 of 30 first-place votes; Cole got the other 13. Every voter had Verlander and Cole in the top two spots.

Rays pitcher Charlie Morton finished third. The fully tally is here.

This is the first time in the history of AL Cy Young voting that teammates have finished first and second, according to the Baseball Writers Association of America, which administers the awards.

Verlander is the second Astros pitcher to win the AL honor, joining Dallas Keuchel (2015). Members of the Astros have twice won in the National League: Mike Scott in 1986 and Roger Clemens in 2004.

In the National League, Mets starter Jacob deGrom won his second consecutive Cy Young.

He’s the seventh NL pitcher to win the award in consecutive seasons, joining Greg Maddux (1992-95), Randy Johnson (1999-2002), Sandy Koufax (1965-66), Clayton Kershaw (2013-14), Tim Lincecum (2008-09) and Max Scherzer (2016-17).

deGrom is the fourth Mets winner, joining Tom Seaver (1969, 1973 and 1975), Dwight Gooden (1985) and R.A. Dickey (2012).

DeGrom, 31, went 11-8 with a 2.43 ERA in 2019, striking out 255 and walking just 44 in 204 innings.

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ Hyun-Jin Ryu got the only other first-place vote and finished second. Former Tiger Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals was in third place. The full tally of votes is here.

Verlander and deGrom are the 20th and 21st pitchers to win multiple Cy Young awards. The list includes: seven-time winner Roger Clemens; five-time winner Randy Johnson; four-time winners Steve Carlton and Greg Maddux; three-time winners Sandy Koufax, Tom Seaver, Jim Palmer, Pedro Martinez, Clayton Kershaw and Max Scherzer; and two-time winners Denny McLain, Bob Gibson, Gaylord Perry, Bret Saberhagen, Tom Glavine, Johan Santana, Tim Lincecum and Roy Halladay.

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The Rule 5 draft won’t take place until the end of the MLB Winter Meetings in early December, but the deadline for teams to protect prospects from Rule 5 eligibility is fast approaching. Teams must add players to their 40-man rosters by Wednesday at 8:00 p.m. ET.

There are certain restrictions on which players and prospects are eligible; for example, Casey Mize and Matt Manning will not be added to the 40-man roster this week because neither is eligible to be selected in the Rule 5 draft. To brush up on the rules, check out Patrick’s excellent rundown we published on Tuesday.

Now, let’s get to the fun part.

This week’s question: Who should the Tigers add to their 40-man roster ahead of December’s Rule 5 draft?
Adam: Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, and Beau Burrows are all no-brainers. After those guys, however, it gets murky really quick. I worry a little about Anthony Castro, as he could pretty easily be stashed in a bullpen by another team and brought out to get his reps in mop-up duty. Because of that, I think I’d want to protect him as well. Kyle Funkhouser, on the other hand, I’m not quite as sure about, as I think there’s still a desire to keep him as a starter and being stashed away would be a severe detriment to his development.

Brady: Seconded on Paredes, Cameron, and Burrows. Castro could so easily be hidden by an MLB team in the bullpen because of the new 26-man rosters. Whichever team hypothetically picks him up can just use him on a wait-and-see basis from there. I still don’t know whether I would actually prefer to protect him or not, though.

Brandon: I think the extra roster spot might kill off the Rule 5 draft eventually. The talent pool was already shallow, and teams can now stash an extra borderline player on their 26-man roster. That makes it riskier to expose anyone talented, and also dilutes the pool of players exposed. Picking first helps, but it may be getting time to take a pass on the Rule 5 draft.

Paredes, Burrows, and Cameron all have to be protected. I wouldn’t like to see Derek Hill stashed by another team. Funkhouser and Castro aren’t likely to stick anywhere else, however, as the size of pitching staffs remains the same. The latter three players (Hill, Funkhouser, and Castro) wouldn’t be major losses, but there are a lot of players on the 25-man roster who I’d cut in their favor. There’s no real reason to expose anyone like them when you could cut Ronny Rodriguez, Brandon Dixon, etc.

The trend toward late FA signings may also mean it’s best to just hang onto your guys, and just shed them as you add elsewhere. There may be better guys available as teams make those tough free agent decisions in late January and early February.

Zane: I am going to assume the team will protect Paredes, Cameron, and Burrows. Any team would protect their top 10 prospects. I agree with Brandon — I don’t want to see Derek Hill go away just yet. I could see another team viewing him as a Victor Reyes-type project and forcing him onto their roster as a defensive replacement and possibly even getting him some at-bats next season. I don’t think the odds are high of that happening, but I worry about that a little bit more than Castro or Funkhouser. I would also cut guys such as Ronny Rodriguez or Brandon Dixon in favor of protecting those two, as well.

Patrick: I would protect Paredes, Burrows, Cameron, Funkhouser, and Elvin Rodriguez. Derek Hill, Anthony Castro, Jose Azocar, Jake Robson, and Cam Gibson would be unprotected. I base the decisions on what players have upside that we would hate to lose and the chances they would be taken by another team. The Tigers have the openings on the roster for these five players and one more to select another player. If they need another roster spot for real major leaguers from free agency or trades, they can cut Ronny Rodriguez, Harold Castro, and others.

Jay, with a lot to say: I’m torn between two lines of reasoning. On the one hand, the Tigers are mired in a rebuild, which means they should be protecting their prospects at all costs. These are the guys they have invested in to construct a legitimate team at the major league level. By that logic, they should be cutting dead weight from the 40-man roster and protecting anyone with any legitimate shot at making an impact in the majors.

On the other hand, I’d like to make the best use of the available roster spots to try to make some intelligent value signings and reclamation projects that can either stick around for the long haul if they work out, or be flipped to the deadline for a lottery ticket prospect or two. Of course, I’m not advocating for more re-treads on the roster, but guys who slip through the cracks of the market, minor league free agents that the team likes, Rule 5 selections, guys that have been non-tendered, or the like. The majority of minor leaguers never even make it to the major leagues, let alone make any significant contribution there, so the odds of any of these prospects actually hurting the Tigers, outside of Paredes, is very small.

Rob: The Tigers currently have seven available spots on their 40-man roster and plenty of players already there that could easily be cut after the fact, so I wouldn’t mind seeing the Tigers fill up their 40-man roster for the time being. Protect Paredes, Cameron, Burrows, Funkhouser, Castro, Hill, and a lottery ticket like Carlos Guzman or Elvin Rodriguez. If the Tigers find a Rule 5 guy they like, or decide to sign any free agents in between now and the Rule 5 draft, they can cut someone else — plenty of names have already been mentioned in this thread — to make room.

Jay again: In the end, I think I’d stick with my second plan and protect Isaac Paredes, Daz Cameron, and one of Anthony Castro or Beau Burrows. I think the dark horse to be selected by another team is Wilkel Hernández. There always seems to be a team that snags a young pitcher from the low minors with projectable stuff in a good frame. For example, the Blue Jays took Elvis Luciano out of rookie ball last year. Hernández has a similar profile, but again, the odds of a plan to hide him for a season and then resume his development as a starter in the minors actually working out is very low. I can see logic behind protecting any of Hill, Rodriguez, Hernández, Funkhouser, Robson, Castro, and Burrows. I really don’t see any point in protecting Jose Azocar, Cam Gibson, or Carlos Guzman. If another team wants to take a shot any these guys, they can go right ahead.