November 21st, 2011

Verlander wins AL MVP

Justin Verlander’s case for winning American League MVP is closed. His trophy case, on the other hand, had better be open, because he’s going to need room.

With a no-hitter, an AL pitching Tripe Crown and a Tigers division title on his resume, Verlander became the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century — and the first Tiger since 1984 — to win AL MVP, beating out former teammate Curtis Granderson and others for the league’s highest individual honor.

Verlander received 13 of 28 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. Verlander received three votes for second place and three votes for third. His point total 0f 280 didn’t give him a runaway win, but a safe margin.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who enjoyed a breakthrough season as an all-around hitter for a Red Sox team that fell just short of the AL Wild Card, finished second with 242 points, followed by Jose Bautista and Granderson.

Verlander’s teammate, Miguel Cabrera, finished fifth with 193 points, including two first-place votes. Last year’s runner-up for MVP won the AL batting title with a scorching home stretch in August and September. Alex Avila and Victor Martinez also received votes.

Verlander’s total shows how much voters accepted the idea that a pitcher is worthy of MVP consideration. It would’ve taken just a few voters in adamant opposition to keep him from the honor, since those voters would’ve left him completely off their ballot. That didn’t happen.

Only one voter left Verlander off their ballot completely. Twenty-six of the other 27 voters selected Verlander for sixth place or better, with one vote for eighth.

In a way, it was probably fitting. Verlander became the Tigers’ fifth league MVP in the last 70 seasons. All of them have been pitchers, joining Verlander with former relief great Guillermo Hernandez, former 30-game winner Denny McLain, and back-to-back winner Hal Newhouser.