Justin Verlander Named Most Valuable Player
By John Parent
Perhaps more than any other year in recent memory, there was great debate centering around the American League Most Valuable Player Award this season. Justin Verlander, ace of the Detroit Tigers, had been name a unanimous choice for the league’s Cy Young Award last week and there was anticipation that he had a realistic chance to win the MVP as well.
In a vote revealed at 2pm this afternoon, the Baseball Writers Association of American announced Verlander as the winner of the award.
Named on 27 of the 28 ballots cast, Verlander accumulated 280 total points, including 13 first-place votes. A dominating season saw Verlander go 16-3 in starts following a Tigers loss. His 24 wins were the most by an AL hurler since Bob Welch won 27 games for Oakland in 1990.
Verlander became the first pitcher to win an MVP award in either league since Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley won it in 1992 and the first starting pitcher since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986.
Verlander lead the AL in Wins, Strikeouts, ERA, opponent’s batting average, winning percentage, and WHIP. He also threw his second career no-hitter, a feat he accomplished on May 7 in Toronto. Verlander, who also won the Rookie of the Year Award in 2006, became just the second player ever to win all three player awards handed out by the BBWAA, joining former Brooklyn Dodger Don Newcombe.
The final ballot reflected the great debate that has raged on about the award since the start of September. In total, six players received at least one first-place vote, which was the highest total since 2003 when 10 players got at least one first-place vote. Jacoby Ellsbury was listed on the first line of four ballots, but took home second-place honors by way of his 13 second-place votes which helped to push his point total beyond that of Toronto’s Jose Bautista, who received five first-place votes.
The others who were voted first included New York’s Curtis Granderson, who placed fourth, Verlander’s Tigers teammate Miguel Cabrera, who finished fifth, and Texas’ Michael Young, who got one first-place vote but was not named on five ballots and placed eighth.
Cabrera was one of three players (along with Ellsbury and Bautista) to be named on all 28 ballots cast. Alex Avila placed 11th in the balloting and Victor Martinez placed 17th. No other Tigers received votes.
As expected, reaction has been all over the spectrum on Verlander’s award. Several prominent writers have been staunchly opposed to any pitcher even being considered for the honor, but in the end, only one BBWAA member who held an MVP vote this year left JV off the ballot.
That writer, identified as Jim Ingraham of Cleveland, opted to ignore the guidelines of the ballot (which specifically state that Pitchers and Designated Hitters are eligible), but told the AP that “If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year.” For what it’s worth, this doesn’t seem to be an anti-Detroit bias from Ingraham; he voted Miguel Cabrera to win the award in 2010.