You can stuff your “pitchers can’t win the MVP Award” nonsense in a sack, mister, because Justin Verlander just won the 2011 MVP Award.
Verlander — the first starting pitcher in 25 years to be named MVP — got 13 of 28 first place votes. He only got 27 of a possible 28 overall votes, however, meaning someone left him off because they want to make their own rules for the MVP and not follow BBWAA guidelines. Which is fun. In other hilarious voting totals, Michael Young got a first place vote. You’ll never guess who cast it. Seems boneheaded to me.
Following Verlander in order: Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson, Miguel Cabrera and Robinson Cano.
As we noted last week when he took the Cy Young, Verlander won the AL’s Triple Crown of pitching with 24 wins, a 2.40 earned run average and 250Ks. He also led the AL in winning percentage, innings and opponents’ batting average. His 24 wins is the most for a pitcher since 1990 when Bob Welch won 27 games. Of course Verlander’s season was way better than Welch’s, which tells you all you need to know about wins.
There are going to be people who rant and rave about this. Don’t listen to them. No, Verlander’s season was not historic for a pitcher, but that’s not the standard for making a pitcher an MVP. He was outstanding and each of the position player candidates had a flaw, either in their legitimate candidacy or in the accepted narratives voters tend to like (e.g. they play for a winning team, etc.).
A perfect storm, if you will, blowing the MVP hardware in Justin Verlander’s direction.
People are the absolute worst sometimes. The latest example: someone stole one of Jose Fernandez’s high school jerseys, which had been displayed in his old high school’s dugout for a vigil last night.
That report comes from Anastasia Dawson of the Tampa Bay Times who covered the vigil at Alonso High School in Tampa yesterday. Her story of the vigil is here. Today she has been tweeting about the theft of the jersey. She spoke to Alonso High school’s principal who, in a bit of understatement, called the theft the “lowest of the low.”
The high school had one more Fernandez jersey remaining and has put it on display in the school. In the meantime, spread this story far and wide so that whatever vulture who stole it can’t sell it.
In an earlier post I made a joke about the Indians starting Dennis Martinez if forced to play a meaningless (for them) game on Monday against the Tigers. On Twitter, one of my followers, Ray Fink, asked a great question: If you had to hand the ball to a Hall of Fame-eligible pitcher to give you three innings, who would it be?
The Hall of Fame-eligible part gets rid of the recently-retired ringers, requiring a guy who has been off the scene for at least five years, ensuring that there’s a good bit of rust. I love questions like these.
My immediate answer was Mike Mussina. My thinking being that of all of the great pitchers fitting these parameters, he’s the most likely to have stayed in good shape. I mean, Greg Maddux probably still has the best pitching IQ on the planet, but he’s let himself go a bit, right? Mussina strikes me as a guy who still wakes up and does crunches and stuff.
If you extend it to December, however, you may get a better answer, because that’s when Tim Wakefield becomes eligible for the Hall. I realize a knuckleball requires practice to maintain the right touch and subtlety to the delivery, but it also requires the least raw physical effort. Jim Bouton went well more than five years without throwing his less-than-Wakefield-quality knuckler and was still able to make a comeback. I think Tim could be passable.
Then there’s Roger Clemens. I didn’t see his numbers for that National Baseball Congress tourney this summer and I realize he’s getting a bit thick around the middle, but I’m sure he can still bring it enough to not embarrass himself. Beyond the frosted tips, anyway.
So: who is your Space Cowboys-style reclamation project? Who is the old legend you dust off for one last job?