Tuesday November 22, 2011
A cherry was put on top of Tigers P Justin Verlander’s phenomenal season yesterday afternoon. Verlander became the first pitcher since Dennis Eckersley to win both the Cy Young and MVP awards of the American League. Normally pitchers are not considered for MVP Awards, and some baseball purists believe that award should go to an everyday player and not someone who appears in a quarter of the season. However, you cannot argue that Verlander did not deserve both awards.
Look at the other competitors for the award. Red Sox OF Jacoby Ellsbury and 1B Adrian Gonzalez were strong contenders, but they faltered along with their team near the end of the season. In fact, Gonzalez came behind Yankees 2B Robinson Cano in voting (6th and 7th, respectively). Blue Jays OF Jose Bautista once again was on a team that failed to make waves and came in third. Cano and teammate OF Curtis Granderson also struggled to have amazing seasons. Cano did have an impressive year, but it was nowhere year last season’s superb year. Granderson carried the Yankees and became a reliable bat throughout the year, but his strikeout rate was too high for an MVP contender. The only legitimate contender would be 1B Miguel Cabrera, Verlander’s teammate, but he was not dominant throughout the year. It also hurt Cabrera, Granderson and Cano that were surrounded by big lineups during this season.
How did Verlander win both awards? It’s simple; he was the most dominant player in the league. Verlander won the Triple Crown as a pitcher, leading the American League in wins (24), strikeouts (250) and era (2.40). He also threw his second no-hitter of his career, blanking the Blue Jays early in the season. Verlander never wavered during the season and carried the momentum into the playoffs. These accolades made Verlander a leader by example. He even became more valuable than his teammate Cabrera! How crazy is that!
Justin Verlander is the best pitcher in the game today. Forget the debates! Forget who’s better in the national League. Verlander is a pitcher that comes around once in a sports era. He’s a pitcher that dominates every time he takes the mound, and when he’s on, the game is virtually over before it begins. All Verlander needs now is a championship ring to solidify his legacy as a baseball player.
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