Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Justin Verlander.

The ace starting pitcher for the Detroit Tigers is having a phenomenal year. At last count, he was 21-5, has been virtually unbeatable for the last couple months, threw a no-hitter, had another near miss 1 hitter, and shows no signs of letting up. Ever since pitchers like CC Sabathia in NY and Josh Beckett in Beantown showed they were human after all, unless Verlander crashes and burns for the next month, which is highly doubtful, he's a no-brainer for the American League Cy Young award.

But MVP? No way. Loyal Tiger fans will disagree but let's gets real about this. Verlander's the best pitcher going this side of the Phillies' starting rotation but, after all, he's just that. A pitcher. A one dimensional player.

He doesn't hit for average and he doesn't hit for power. In fact, he doesn't hit at all. He can't steal bases because he's never ON base. Nobody knows if he has the speed and range required of an outfielder to go catch fly balls. For that matter, nobody knows if he can even handle a pop up, because he doesn't have to. Besides catching the ball the catcher keeps throwing back to him, can he field at all? Unknown. For the most part, his fielding consists of one-hoppers hit back to the mound and a lob toss to first base.

Yet there's a much more important reason he should not be considered as an MVP candidate. Given a 5-man starting rotation, an occasional rain-out, and a day off in the schedule here and there, Verlander only plays roughly once a week. Out of 162 games, he'll probably only appear in maybe 35 of them. That leaves 120-some games where he makes absolutely no contribution whatsoever. On the days he doesn't pitch, the Tigers might as well let him wear a T-shirt, bermuda shorts and sandals because he's not going to play anyway.

What about if something weird happens, like a 20-inning game, where they need every last guy,. you say? That would likely be a 6-7 hour affair. Maybe along about the 17th-18th inning  JV could  go throw on a uniform. They might stick him out in right field and hope for the best, but I'll flat out guarantee you he wouldn't be pitching on his off days. He might get a chance to bunt, though. That's another thing nobody knows if he can do.

I heard a stat from a "homer" talking head a few days ago. 14 times this year Verlander has won a game when the Tigers had lost the previous one. Is Verlander that good or is the last guy in the starting rotation that bad? Half empty or half full? All depends on how you want to look at it.

When it comes to MLB players, there's the big 5. Hitting for average, hitting for power, running, fielding, and throwing. Verlander can throw with the best of them, at least from 60 feet, 6 inches, about once a week. That's about it.

Verlander might run the table and go 26-5 this year, which would be highly impressive for a starting pitcher. But let's not forget his teammates who are fielding grounders, making some specatcular plays in the outfield , stealing bases, turning double plays, and giving him some serious run support. If they don't score runs, it's impossible for him to win.

Verlander's a terrific pitcher, but I don't care if he went 35-0. He's still a one dimensional player that only appears about once a week. It seems silly to me that a pitcher would ever be considerd for the MVP. Yeah, I remember, Willie Hernandez won both the Cy Young and the AL MVP for the very same Detroit Tigers back in 1984, and Roger Clemens pulled it off in 1986, but that didn't make it right. I can think of several relief pitchers (how's Mariano Rivera grab ya?) since then that have outdone anything Willie  ever accomplished, and while Verlander may be very good -- The Rocket in his prime he's not.

Verlander for the AL Cy Young? Absolutely. That should be unanimous. He should be marked #1 on every ballot.

But MVP? No way. That should also be unanimous. He should not be considered on any ballot.

Doesn't it just make sense the Most Valuable Player should be very good at more than just one thing and, for crying out loud, at least play in most of the games?

Would we be having this same conversation if an NFL QB threw 6 TD passes every game but only played in 3? I don't think so. How about an NBA player putting up 50 points or an NHL player scoring a hat trick every game, but only playing in 15? Would you consider them for MVP? I doubt it.

Cy Young yes.

If MVP stood for Most Valuable Pitcher, or Most Valuable Parttimer, I'd be all for it.

But Most Valuable Player? No way..


  1. Most Valuable Player ! MLB gives out many individual awards. Just to name a few ! Defense Gold Glove. Offense Silver Slugger . Pitcher Cy Young. The award is given base on their individual accomplishments. Their teams may not have achieved great success but they have. JL is it possible a Most Valuable Player! not only achieved great individual success but that success translated to the success of his team ? If you think it may. Then where you the Tigers be without JV. I am just Tumbling The Dice.

  2. Stoner from the House of Tudor. Per usual, your points hit hard. Should MVP be based on what a player meant to his team and/or where they might be without him? That would certainly apply to the Tigers. Take away JV and plug in another guy with maybe only half as many wins and they'd be looking up at the Tribe and Chisox. Or should it be based on who is the most valuable -- all around? I suppose it's a matter of semantics. JV might well win it, but I reserve the right to disagree. Give me an every day player with multiple skills. Then again, as you noted, MLB gives out several awards. Perhaps they could solve this dilemma by creating one more. Best Player. Just a thought. JL

  3. did you notice that in the latest issue of sports illustrated, cole hamels, a pitcher, completely agreed with you that the cy young is a pitcher's mvp and they should not be considered for the real mvp?