Friday, September 25, 2009

The Case For Justin Verlander

If I had a vote for the American League Cy Young Award, and the vote were held today, I'd vote for Justin Verlander. This is why:
- Name me one game either Zack Greinke, who has emerged as pretty much everybody's darling for the Cy Young, or Felix Hernandez, who has also been brilliant, has pitched under pressure?
Every outing, Verlander has been on the spot. The Tigers don't score a lot of runs. They've been in this constant struggle to hold onto first place since May 10. Seems like every game Verlander takes the mound holds a "must win" meaning to it. Verlander has pitched tough innings under difficult circumstances. That means a lot more than splitting hair with stats.
Oh, and by the way, Verlander does lead the league in strikeouts. He does have a 17-9 record.
Verlander's overall ERA is 3.41, but he allowed 21 earned runs in his first 21 innings and four starts this season. Since then, his ERA is 2.83.
Then there is the matter of the best pitcher. Do Greinke or Hernandez throw harder than Verlander? No. Are their off-speed pitches better. Not really. What about track record? Overall, who has been better in their careers. Despite last season, Verlander is still 20 games over .500 in his career - and the winningest pitcher in the major leagues 26 or younger.
Not to belittle Greinke or Hernandez. They are both having great seasons. It just seems like all the focus is on one stat - ERA. I'm not sure, in the same circumstances, Greinke and Hernandez would be able to perform as successfully as Verlander has this season. He's won. His team is in first place.



Anonymous Anonymous said...


I woke up almost certain that your post was going to be regarding this topic. I absolutely agree with all of your points. This guy has been an absolute dominating, workhorse for a division leading tema. I guess great minds think alike HA.

lil rob

3:56 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

lil rob,
It's not just stats. It's about being clutch. Verlander has definitely been that this season. I think he is their MVP and merits some AL MVP consideration, too. Without him, Tigers might not even be above .500.

4:09 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...


As usual, I agree with you. Unfortunately, I don't think the national media is going to. The game last weekend at the Metrodome where Don Kelly lost the ball in the lights seems to have sealed the deal on JV not winning the award. I believe that he gave up 5 earned runs in his last 2 starts before last night, with one of those being that Metrodome game I mentioned.

Regardless, he is having the best pitching season I have seen out of a Tiger in my 26 years on this earth, and I think he's the most talented pitcher the Tigers have had since Denny McLain. He should be top 3 in the voting at the very least, but I think CC, King Felix, and Greinke are gonna edge him out.


7:00 PM 
Blogger Fred Brill said...

Hey Book, I'm renowned for not disgreeing with you - and today is no exception.

But, the vote wasn't held today - and by my count, Verlander has 2starts left before regular season's end.

And those 2 starts will make or break his chances.

The boiler has been on medium so far - now it's cranked up high.

By the time this is over - I will be addicted to antacid tablets, bald, and wearing my lovely wife's fake fingernails.

One bad outing and his rep for being clutch goes out the window.

It ain't fair - it's what was remembered. And last night was against a very weakened Indians team.

By my count he should be up again for game 2 vs. the Twinkies at home.

His second start should be the very last game of the season with the ChiSox

If that last game is the decider - and throw's lights out - they might as well put a podium on home plate and give it to him then.

7:42 PM 
Anonymous Michael C said...

Great article (one of your best), and great point about pitching under pressure, Pat. You've convinced me he deserves it because its true that he's been under so much pressure almost every start.

But Grienke has been a bit more dominant and consistent overall, and I'm not sure the voters put as much emphasis on meaningful games in Cy Young voting.

As is I think we'd probably both think Grienke was the obvious choice if we were Royals fans.

The truth of the matter is both guys deserve it with the years they've had.

3:06 AM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

I don't think Verlander will win the award, either - for the reasons you just gave. But there is a difference between what will happen - and what should.

12:52 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Fred Brill,
No question - if Verlander pitches lights out in one or two of the pennant race games it would go along way toward him possibly getting the award.

12:54 PM 
Blogger Pat Caputo said...

Michael C,
Greinke doesn't have as good a stuff as Verlander. That was one of my points, but he does have more consistent command. But that is probably easier to pull off under less pressure.

12:56 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Grienke has a lot better off speed pitches than Verlander but no where close to an overpowering fast ball ...

Grienke is a lot more poised than Verlander ...

Verlander pitches way too quickly, almost spasticially (is that a word?).

Bob Gibson pitched quickly but with total confidence ... and like Drysdale, would throw it in your ear if you took too much time screwing around.

Can't deny, though, that Verlander is a great pitching talent.

11:01 AM 

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