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Verlander For MVP?

There has been a lot of talk recently, and especially in the wake of his 20th win, about the MVP candidacy of Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Some will argue that the guy has been the most dominant player at baseball’s most difficult and premier position. Some will say that, while he has been the American League’s best pitcher, they already have an award for that honor, and it’s called the Cy Young. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of those two arguments.

In my opinion, it is difficult to rationalize giving the MVP award to a guy who only plays in twenty percent of his team’s games. When a guy can, at most, only have a hand in about 30 victories, it’s hard to say his contributions make him more valuable than a guy who has played in 160. But if a guy has a once-in-a-lifetime kind of season, a season in which he sets records, or wins an exorbitant amount of games, or really does set a tone that the rest of the team follows, I could see awarding the MVP to a pitcher. The last guy to do it in the American League was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. He had a remarkable season, recording 51 saves and allowing just 17 earned runs in 80 innings pitched. But, again, I refuse to believe that there wasn’t a player more valuable to his team’s success than the closer for the Oakland Athletics who merely pitched an inning or two in about half of the games that season. It appears that it is more difficult to win the MVP from the pitching rubber in the National League, where the last guy to do it was named Bob Gibson, way back in 1968. Gibson’s numbers that season were astounding: 22-9, 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, 304 innings pitched, and 268 strikeouts. Yup, those are MVP numbers.

The question is, will Verlander post the kind of numbers by season’s end that will make him more valuable to the Tigers than Curtis Granderson has been to the Yankees, or Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dustin Pedroia have been to the Red Sox, or Jose Bautista has been to the Blue Jays? I doubt it. I love what Verlander has done this season, and he is a lock for the American League Cy Young Award, but in order for a pitcher to win an MVP, two things need to happen: 1) he needs to have a transcendent kind of year, and 2) there has to be a lack of viable contenders among everyday players. Neither of those things has happened so far.

If the season ended right now, my MVP vote would go to Granderson. He has been the most dangerous player in all of baseball when you consider how many ways he can truly defeat you. He may end up leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs scored, and also steal 30-plus bases. And he plays Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field. If you subtract Granderson from that Yankees line-up, there would be a serious hole. Would they overcome it? I’m not so sure.

Verlander should be considered, and I wouldn’t disagree with any sportswriter casting his or her vote for the big righty, but I just think that an MVP should be much more impactful on a season as a whole. Just my opinion.

What do you think? Tweet me @rwags614 .

There has been a lot of talk recently, and especially in the wake of his 20th win, about the MVP candidacy of Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander. Some will argue that the guy has been the most dominant player at baseball’s most difficult and premier position. Some will say that, while he has been the American League’s best pitcher, they already have an award for that honor, and it’s called the Cy Young. I think I fall somewhere in the middle of those two arguments.

In my opinion, it is difficult to rationalize giving the MVP award to a guy who only plays in twenty percent of his team’s games. When a guy can, at most, only have a hand in about 30 victories, it’s hard to say his contributions make him more valuable than a guy who has played in 160. But if a guy has a once-in-a-lifetime kind of season, a season in which he sets records, or wins an exorbitant amount of games, or really does set a tone that the rest of the team follows, I could see awarding the MVP to a pitcher. The last guy to do it in the American League was Dennis Eckersley in 1992. He had a remarkable season, recording 51 saves and allowing just 17 earned runs in 80 innings pitched. But, again, I refuse to believe that there wasn’t a player more valuable to his team’s success than the closer for the Oakland Athletics who merely pitched an inning or two in about half of the games that season. It appears that it is more difficult to win the MVP from the pitching rubber in the National League, where the last guy to do it was named Bob Gibson, way back in 1968. Gibson’s numbers that season were astounding: 22-9, 1.12 ERA, 13 shutouts, 304 innings pitched, and 268 strikeouts. Yup, those are MVP numbers.

The question is, will Verlander post the kind of numbers by season’s end that will make him more valuable to the Tigers than Curtis Granderson has been to the Yankees, or Jacoby Ellsbury, Adrian Gonzalez, and Dustin Pedroia have been to the Red Sox, or Jose Bautista has been to the Blue Jays? I doubt it. I love what Verlander has done this season, and he is a lock for the American League Cy Young Award, but in order for a pitcher to win an MVP, two things need to happen: 1) he needs to have a transcendent kind of year, and 2) there has to be a lack of viable contenders among everyday players. Neither of those things has happened so far.

If the season ended right now, my MVP vote would go to Granderson. He has been the most dangerous player in all of baseball when you consider how many ways he can truly defeat you. He may end up leading the league in home runs, RBI, runs scored, and also steal 30-plus bases. And he plays Gold Glove-caliber defense in center field. If you subtract Granderson from that Yankees line-up, there would be a serious hole. Would they overcome it? I’m not so sure.

Verlander should be considered, and I wouldn’t disagree with any sportswriter casting his or her vote for the big righty, but I just think that an MVP should be much more impactful on a season as a whole. Just my opinion.

What do you think? Tweet me @rwags614 .