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Justin Verlander: MVP?

Justin Verlander: MVP?

Photo Courtesy of MLB.com

Justin Verlander

The last time a pitcher won the MVP award was when Dennis Eckersley captured the title in 1992. This year, however, there has been a shift in momentum in Major League Baseball. If the mid-90s and early 2000s were the age of the homerun, then the 2010s should be considered the age of the pitcher. There has been a spike in no hitters over the last two years, one of these coming from Justin Verlander this past May. This gem of a game marked his second career no hitter.
 
Justin Verlander is thriving in the peak of his career. He has a firm lock on the American League Cy Young award, and should definitely be a name on the MVP ballots come the end of the season. This latter award has become a hot topic for discussion as many fans and players (such as Mark Teixeira of the Yankees) do not believe that a pitcher should deserve the MVP. Verlander has had such a profound effect on his team, however, that he should, at the very least, be a name near the top of the list of those deserving the AL MVP.
 
Not much has changed on the offensive side of the ball for the Tigers. For a couple of years now, the Detroit Tigers have shown promise with their hitting, but it wasn’t until this season that they had the defensive measures to prevent teams from scoring even more runs on them. The Tigers finished 2010 with an 81-81 record, finishing third in the AL Central. This year, Verlander is pitching at the best he ever has, creating a powerful team that has already clinched their Division for the first time in years. Slugger Miguel Cabrera led the team with an average of .328 last season, while this year he is at .331--a miniscule difference. The major difference within the Tigers is the fact that Verlander has found his groove, his 24-5 record stands in direct contrast to last season where he won only 18 games. And while wins are not the most accurate of measures for a pitcher’s talent, it does speak loudly about the overall talent of a team; a team for which Verlander has been acting as the driving force.
 
The Tigers have secured a playoff berth and will probably be facing the Yankees in the American League Divisional Series. In a five game series, the Yankees would most likely be facing Verlander twice. The Yankees, who are largely powered by their bats and not their pitching, will be at a severe disadvantage when they go against Verlander. It’s hard to imagine a situation where any team in the American League's hitting can compete with Verlander’s accuracy and velocity.
 
The National League will probably see the Philadelphia Phillies representing them in the World Series. Here, Verlander will be seriously challenged for perhaps the first time this season. The Phillies have two aces of their own: Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. If and when the Tigers make the World Series, they will finally be meeting a team that has just as good of a pitcher as Verlander. It will be hard to deny him as MVP should the Tigers win the World Series, especially since he will be competing against two Cy Young-worthy pitchers.

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