Blog Entry

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Posted on: November 21, 2011 2:01 pm
Edited on: November 21, 2011 5:04 pm

By Matt Snyder

Tigers ace pitcher Justin Verlander had a historic season for several reasons, and you can now add MVP and Cy Young in the same season to the list. He won the American League MVP, the Baseball Writers Association of America announced Monday afternoon. Verlander becomes the first starting pitcher to win MVP since Roger Clemens took home the honors all the way back in 1986. This also marks the first time any pitcher has won since 1992, when A's closer Dennis Eckersley won. This marks the 10th time a pitcher has won both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.

"Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this," Verlander said. "I want to say this is a dream come true. I can't say that because my dream had already had come true ... to win a Cy Young. And the next dream is to win a World Series. This wasn't even on my radar until the talk started. And then all of a sudden it was a this-could-actually-happen type of thing."

Verlander, 28, was clearly the best pitcher in baseball in 2011. He went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 250 strikeouts in 251 innings. He had four complete games, two shutouts and one no-hitter. He led the American League in wins, winning percentage, starts, innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP, ERA-plus and hits per nine innings.

Verlander racking up awards
The only real question as to whether or not Verlander would win the award was based upon his position. Pitchers only work once every fifth day, so many argued that they shouldn't be allowed to win an award that is traditionally given to players who are seen in the lineup every single game. But Verlander was so good it was tough to ignore. And he tied Jose Bautista with 8.5 wins above replacement, according to

"I think that a starting pitcher has to do something special to be as valuable or more so than a position player," Verlander said. "Obviously, having the chance to play in 160-some games in the case of Miguel, they can obviously have a huge impact every day. That's why, I've talked about on my day, on a pitcher's day, the impact we have is tremendous on that game. So you have to have a great impact almost every time out to supersede (position players) and it happens on rare occasions, and I guess this year was one of those years."

This vote was probably the most intriguing of all the BBWAA votes this season because it felt wide open. Should pitchers be allowed to win? Can a player on a fourth-place team be considered valuable? Can a player on a team who had a historic collapse down the stretch win? There were arguments all over the place for the last six weeks of the season. Here's how the final vote stacked up, with the final points in parentheses:

1. Verlander (280)
2. Jacoby Ellsbury (242)
3. Bautista (231)
4. Curtis Granderson (215)
5. Miguel Cabrera (193)
6. Robinson Cano (112)
7. Adrian Gonzalez (105)
8. Michael Young (96)
9. Dustin Pedroia (48)
10. Evan Longoria (27)

In order: Ian Kinsler, Alex Avila, Paul Konerko, CC Sabathia, Adrian Beltre, Ben Zobrist, Victor Martinez, James Shields, Mark Teixeira, Asdrubal Cabrera, Alex Gordon, Josh Hamilton and David Robertson also received votes.

Verlander received 13 of the 28 first-place votes. Bautista got five, Ellsbury, four; Granderson, three; Miguel Cabrera, two and Young got one first-place vote. Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News gave Young his lone MVP vote.

One voter, Jim Ingraham of the Lake Herald News (Cleveland) completely left Verlander off the ballot. Via the Associated Press, here was Ingraham's rationale:

"I'd wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year," Ingraham said. "He hasn't appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn't appear in 79 percent of his team's games in a year.

"Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team's 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that's part of it. Another part of it is I think they're apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there's a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn't, I don't think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games."

Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal gave Verlander an eighth-place vote while both Chad Jennings of the Journal News (New York) and Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle voted him sixth.

Jacoby Ellsbury was hurt by a 10th place vote from Scot Gregor of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald (Chicago).

Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Don Newcombe (1956), Sandy Koufax (1963), Bob Gibson, Denny McLain (1968), Vida Blue (1971), Rollie Fingers (1981) and Willie Hernandez (1984).

This is the ninth time a Tigers player has won the MVP. The others: Mickey Cochrane (1934), Hank Greenberg (1935), Charlie Gehringer (1937), Greenberg (1940), Hal Newhouser (1944), Newhouser (1945), McLain (1968) and Hernandez (1984).

The National League MVP will be revealed Tuesday. It's likely to be either Ryan Braun or Matt Kemp, but a few others will factor heavily in the voting.

For more baseball news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnBaseball on Twitter or subscribe to the RSS feed.

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:24 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Actually 7 teams besides the Tigers had winning recors and none of them played in the Tigers division.
Verlander won 15 games against teams in his division.He would not win 25 games in the AL EAST.
That doesn't matter though because he plays in the Central.But if he is MVP please answer just one question.

He had a 5.25 era in the playoffs,In 4 post season starts he went 2 and 1 while pitching 20 innings 5 innings a start avg.
and gave up 12 earned runs.With a 1.43 whip and a 5.31 era.Is that what MVP PITCHERS DO??
1st -- his "4 postseason starts" -- it was actually 3, as the rainout in game 1 of the Yankees series put an end to that start after one inning.

2nd -- in a short span -- any runs you let up sky rocket your stats.  if you are going to take what he did in 3 games -- are you saying ARod should have never won a MVP as he is usually HORRIBLE in the postseason??  are you saying CC shouldn't ever be in the conversation for Cy Young, as he has been terrible in the postseason??  CC had a 6.23 era against Detroit and they hit .323 against him.  

3rd -- in 9 starts against the teams with winning records -- he had a quality start in 8 of 9. 

4th -- in 19 games where he started after a tigers loss -- he was 16-3.  in 10 games where the tigers had a chance to be swept and he was starting the final game -- he went 9-1.

5th -- There was no clear cut MVP in the AL this year.  No player dominated the stats -- Verlander did.  No player whose teams went to the playoffs put up monster numbers -- Verlander did.  In the AL where you have to face much more potent lineups -- Verlander still led the MLB in wins, strikeouts, innings pitched, Opp BA and WHIP.  that is almost unheard of.  After the month of April -- Verlander was 22-2, with 17 starts where he gaves up either 0 runs or 1 run.

No player in the AL this year had the kind of affect Verlander had on the overall performance of their team.  Until the trade deadline when Detroit got Fister -- Verlander was carrying the Detroit team on his back.  He had two streaks this year where he won 9 straight starts and then followed it by winning 12 straight starts.  That is also unheard of.

Normally I agree that a position player should win the MVP.  A pitcher has to have an ungodly season coupled with the fact that there wasn't a clear cut favorite to win the award.  THAT is what happened this year and why Verlander won. 

Since: Jul 17, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:20 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Justin was in on ~110 pitches every 5 games, vs position players who are in on average 110 plays (pitches faced + plays in the field) over the same 5 games. Stop with this 1 every 5 vs every game comparison and do the math.  Pitchers SHOULD be considered in MVP voting.

Since: Apr 1, 2010
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:19 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

They can't tell you because that would take logical thinking and that is sadly devoid in many of the posts on here.

Since: Apr 21, 2007
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:18 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

I can understand how Verlander "could" win the MVP award this year - I just don't think he should; and neither did the majority of the voting writers as this was clearly a plurality of under 50%.

To the number of folks posting here and speaking in absolutes (either "no way" he deserves it or "undoubtedly" he "HAS" to be the MVP) - you are the only ones out here who are "absolutely" wrong.  There is fair and reasonable debate to be had here for a number of the candidates.

Here's my two cents (OK, MORE than two cents):

There was no clear-cut "best" every-day player, so you've got four players on four different teams *splitting* most of the other votes, with Ellsberry, Bautista, Granderson and Cabrera all in the 193 - 242 range and JV, the *only* pitcher that mattered, getting 280.

Statistical arguments could go on forever - and *everybody* would be at least "somewhat right"!  But how do you compare a pitcher to a player?  You really almost cannot.  Now before you start throwing obscure sabremetric stats out to try to "prove a point", let me advise that I was buying the Bill James Baseball Abstract back when saying the word "sabremetrics" too fast got you a response of "God bless you". :-)

In my opinion, the best stat for doing the pitcher/player comparison is WAR (Wins Above Replacement).  But the fact of the matter is that this is a contrived "assembled" statistic.  So just because Verlander and Bautista tie at 8.5, does this mean that it's incontrovertible prove that they were the two "most valuable" players in the league.  No, it does not.  Other formulas for other contrived stats can come to different "conclusions".

I find the slant on Verlander's record against winning teams vs. losing teams very interesting.  Isn't this like leading the league in batting average playing in Colorado and experiencing an extreme home/road stats split?  No, of course not, but it's *relevant*.  When you are in just 21% of your team's games - and for that matter, just 17% of the team's innings - having the deck stacked in your favor like that (winning against the inferior teams) certainly suggests some statistical gain.  And maybe this is why Verlander looked not-so-special in the post-season as well.

Finally - and here's another thought for those who wish to grab onto this stat or that stat and make it the basis of their "definitive" case - how about we toss out the stats altogether and make mention of "the intangibles"?  After all, isn't the very phrase "Most Valuable" open to interpretation?  And since the BBWAA does not offer a clear-cut definition of what "most valuable" means, instead leaving the judgment to the individual voters, can we not choose to vote acknowledging (to some *small degree*) intangibles as well as statistics?

How many pitchers are their team's "leader"?  How many team Captains are pitchers?  While Verlander has to face the scrutiny of his and his team's performance from the media every 5th day, is that really comparable to the "role" that other recent MVP winners like Albert Pujols and Joe Mauer faced - playing EVERY day and being looked up to your teammates day-in, day-out in the heat of a pennant race?

In the end, I'm in the camp that says all things being equal, it should be an every-day player getting the award.  All things of course are NEVER equal.  But Verlander, while having a great pitching season, gets the Cy Young award from me and either Ellsberry or Granderson - all-around excellent players, out there every day, picking me up with the bat AND on the bases AND with the glove - gets the MVP.  Not just because I want one award for pitchers and one for players - but because I truly believe they were more valuable over 162 games.

That's my opinion.  I am entitled to state it.  I am entitled to politely disagree with contrary ones.  I am not - and nobody else - is on the right page if we are too rigid about this and get too crazy over this.  After all, was it not the same BBWAA that voted to give Joe Gordon the 1942 MVP award over Triple-Crown-winning Ted Williams?

Since: Sep 23, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:13 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Posting this again. Can any of the people who believe pitchers shouldnt win MVP because they only pitch every 5th day explain how Verlander being tied for the league lead in WAR with Bautista doesn't negate this theory? Seems to me he did more to win more games than anyone else in the league along with Bautista.

Since: Jun 25, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:12 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

He had a 5.25 era in the playoffs,In 4 post season starts he went 2 and 1 while pitching 20 innings 5 innings a start avg.
and gave up 12 earned runs.With a 1.43 whip and a 5.31 era.Is that what MVP PITCHERS DO??

MVP voting takes place BEFORE the playoffs, the results are not released until well after.... so the playoffs DON'T COUNT. 

And like I also said before, doing well in the playoffs is nice but you don't get there without great regular season performances.  Look at CC's game logs for his last 5 post seasons, he's been God awful except for one season... but he's still an awesome pitcher.  Arod has at times been a disgrace in the playoffs..

ARod won the MVP award in 2005, but he hit .133 in the playoffs.  He won it again in 2007 where he hit .267 with one hr in 15 at bats.

CC Sabathia won the Cy Young in 2007 but had an 8.80 era in the playoffs with a whip over 2......

Do we take Arod's MVP and CC's Cy Young away from them because of their post season performances? 

Since: May 29, 2009
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:08 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

The reason why they have a Cy Young award is because starting pitchers sit and watch 126 games.  Verlander was fantastic and deserved the Cy Young,  But he only played in 17.4% of his teams innings.  Granderson played 156 games and produce 255 runs while leading the league in runs scored and rbi.  That's more runs than innings pitched by Verlander.
tell granderson he should hit better than .262 if he wants to win a MVP.  unless you are Roger Maris and you set the single season record for HRs in a year -- you are not winning a MVP with that kind of average (even Maris hit .269 when he won) 

Since: Aug 1, 2008
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:03 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Disgraceful.  The guy only plays once every 5 days.

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:02 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

New York Fans...they are really funny.  They keep talking about things that don't "if Verlander pitched in the AL East"....

WELL GUESS WHAT?  That doesn't matter for MVP voting..I am afraid "what ifs" don't count in any award voting.  It's about what they did.  And Verlander was the best player in the American League.  End of story

Since: Oct 20, 2006
Posted on: November 21, 2011 6:02 pm

Justin Verlander wins AL MVP

Hey Kazi-

Jim Ingraham of The Herald News in OHIO left Justin Verlander off the ballot and Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal had him eighth.

I KNOW that it's Michigan-Ohio State week boys but my God!



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