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In most cases calling an athlete a ‘unicorn’ is an overused trope, but in the case of Justin Verlander it fits perfectly.

Verlander is a lot of things. Among them: 39 years old, the undisputed ace of one of the best rotations in baseball and he’s going to be a free agent when the season ends.

The six innings that Justin Verlander spent baffling the Cleveland Guardians Thursday were more than just another six innings in the 3,118 in the future Hall of Famer’s career.

Not only did Verlander hold Cleveland scoreless — allowing only two hits and a walk, while striking out five on 96 pitches — but by reaching 130 innings on the season, Verlander triggered the player option clause that allows him an out for his $25 million deal with the Astros for 2023.

As a 39-year-old, future Hall of Famer, free agent to be, coming off Tommy John surgery, Verlander is indeed a unicorn in the sport. There are no previous precedents for such a player to hit the open market.

What’s the price for a 39-year-old Justin Verlander who’s having a career year?

If that weren’t enough, the year Verlander is putting together after not pitching for more than 600 days would be remarkable for a pitcher in their prime, much less a man that’ll turn 40 before next season begins.

Verlander is 15-3 in 20 starts and almost every number he’s accumulated at this advanced stage of his career are better than his career averages.  A 1.73 ERA is almost half of his career mark of 3.26, an ERA+ of 221 dwarfs a career mark of 131, an FIP of 2.98 is lower than a career average of 3.39, he’s given up less walks, less hits and less home runs per 9 innings than his career averages.

The advanced metrics are good, too.  While Verlander’s pitched with some luck on his 95.0 MPH average four seam fastball that sits at a -16 run value, his slider (.205 xBA), curve (.167 xBA) and changeup (.140 xBA) that he uses a combined 49.6 percent of the time are at a -13 run value.

Meanwhile his wOBA is in the top 4 percent of the league and his BB percentage is in the top 6 percent of the league, with both numbers being better than the season immediately preceding injury and better than his career averages.

Everything is working.

In short, at age 39, coming off Tommy John surgery, Justin Verlander is having a career year and will be a free agent at the end of the season.

If Gerrit Cole is worth $36 million AAV and a 38-year-old Max Scherzer is worth $43.3 million AAV, what is Verlander’s worth on the open market after the season he’s putting together?

No one knows, because it’s never happened before.

It’ll be a fascinating case in the offseason: Who will pay and how much will they pay for a Verlander that has defied both the calendar and knife and wants to continue pitching for several more years?

What’s the price for a unicorn?

Next: MLB executive predicts where Ohtani will land


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British police have abandoned the streets to criminals who know they have little to fear from the woke-obsessed state

THE Tories used to be the party of law and order. But you would not know that from the current surreal leadership contest.

As Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss trade blows about the economy, they are as mute as Trappist monks on the need to step up the fight against crime.

2In too many parts of the country, the police have abandoned the streets to criminalsCredit: SOPA Images/LightRocket via Gett 2This week, Andy Cooke, the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned that public faith in the criminal justice system is collapsingCredit: PA

What makes their silence all the more bizarre is that the need for a tough new approach has become desperate. Offending is out of control, while all sense of purpose and resolution has evaporated from the authorities who should be protecting us.

Only this week, Andy Cooke, the new Chief Inspector of Constabulary, warned that public faith in the criminal justice system is collapsing because of the police’s “dire” response to crimes such as burglary, robbery and theft.

In his first report since he took over as the head of the inspectorate, Cooke wrote that victims were not receiving the service they “expect and deserve” because offenders are “rarely caught and punished".

Cooke is absolutely right. In too many parts of the country the police have abandoned the streets to criminals. The result has been a new wave of lawlessness, as thugs and thieves know they have little to fear from the state.

Read more on the policeCOP A JOKE Watchdog slams cops for failing to investigate burglaries or nab crooks

In a patriotic essay during World War Two, George Orwell wrote that “the gentleness of English civilisation is perhaps its most marked characteristic”.

It would be absurd to use such words about today’s Britain, which saw a record-breaking 6.3million crimes in the year to March 2022. Rapes, stalking, knife possession and fraud are all up. No fewer than 2.1million acts of violence against the person were carried out in that period.


Yet, instead of showing a determination to restore order, the police appear to be increasingly paralysed. The number of crimes now being resolved has hit a record low. Just six per cent of offences now result in a charge.

For many incidents, the figures are even more pitiful. Suspects are charged in just 3.7 per cent of house burglaries, three per cent of vehicle thefts and 1.3 per cent of rapes.

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The reluctance to prosecute means that offences including shoplifting and cannabis possession have, in practice, been all but legalised.

As one study revealed this month, the police have failed to solve a single theft in more than eight out of ten neighbourhoods during the past three years.

The long arm of the law has become the upturned palm of surrender.

In three-quarters of burglaries the police do not even despatch officers to the scene. Just as damningly, 70 per cent of officers in London’s troubled Met Police failed to make a single arrest last year.

Government critics like to blame “underfunding” for these problems. But in reality, total police expenditure this year will be £17billion, a cash increase of seven per cent on the previous year.

'Monitoring social media for offences'

Moreover, the Home Office is well on its way towards meeting the target of 20,000 extra new recruits by 2023.

Indeed, there are far more officers now than there were in the 1950s, when Britain was far more peaceable.

A far more convincing reason why our once proud forces have lost their way so badly is that over the past two decades they have been gripped by fashionable left-wing dogma, turning them into a branch of the social services industry, rather than an agency of law enforcement.

The triumph of woke ideology has badly warped operational priorities, so that time and resources are wasted monitoring social media for offences instead of tackling real crimes.

In one appalling case, businessman Harry Miller was investigated by Humberside Police over a tweet that was deemed to have been offensive about transgender rights. When Miller’s case came to court, the judge said officers had acted like “the Gestapo or the Stasi”.

Altogether, in the five years up until 2020, the police recorded 120,000 so-called “non-crime hate incidents".

In the obsession with identity politics, indoctrination is rife and propaganda abounds.

 A recent “Race Action Plan” from the College of Policing sounds more like a New Labour manifesto than a training document.

Developed in co-operation with the National Black Policing Association, it proposes instruction for all staff “about racism, anti-racism and Black history”, with the aim of “better enabling Black people to have their voices heard”.

 In the brave new world, trendy gimmickry and gesture politics are common, thereby diluting the authority of the police.

In April, the Norfolk constabulary listed 37 gender terms and sexual identities — such as grey asexual (“a person who experiences attraction only rarely”) — to help officers deal with members of the public.

Rainbow logos have been fixed to police cars “to give confidence to the LGBT+ community”, the Gypsy and Roma Traveller flag has been flown at the HQ of Kent Police, and in Manchester in 2019 one officer dressed up as a giant, rainbow-coloured Bumblebee during a Pride march in order to “promote inclusivity”.

The police are supposed to be the guardians of public safety, not the provisional wing of the metropolitan chattering class.

The police are supposed to be the guardians of public safety, not the provisional wing of the metropolitan chattering class.

Perhaps the most sickening aspect of this institutional enthusiasm for political posturing is the contrast with the neglect of the police’s primary duty in tackling the criminal classes.

Justifying the involvement of her officers in a recent Pride event in Brighton, where they were pictured dancing to the gay anthem YMCA, Superintendent Adele Tucknott, of the Sussex constabulary, said her organisation is “a police force of inclusivity, diversity and acceptance” that “stands against discrimination”.

Infused with these values, she continued, we “worked with our partners to provide a safe and secure environment for those attending”.

Her statement dripped not just with jargon but also with hypocrisy.

Beyond their favoured victim groups, the police put nothing like the same effort into keeping the British public safe.

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