To the surprise of no one, Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander won the AL Cy Young Award unaminously. Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA striking out 250 batters in 251 innings pitched. He also threw a no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays for good measure. Verlander led the AL in wins, strikeouts and ERA.
The real question is whether Verlander will win the AL MVP. Pitchers are seldom so honored. The argument is that since pitchers have the Cy Young Award, the MVP should be reserved for position players. Yet the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA) have never explicitly rendered pitchers ineligible for consideration.
The last pitcher to win the AL MVP was Dennis Eckersley while he was a closer with the Oakland Athletics in 1992. The last starting pitcher to win the AL MVP was Roger Clemens who did it with the 1986 AL champion Boston Red Sox beating out Don Mattingly of the New York Yankees. In the NL, you have to go all the way back to 1968 when Bob Gibson earned the trophy with the NL champion St. Louis Cardinals. I think Verlander has a pretty compelling case for the AL MVP. Without Verlander, the Tigers would never have won the AL Central.
If Verlander doesn’t win the MVP, the position player most deserving of it is Michael Young of the Texas Rangers. He led the AL with 213 hits, posted a batting average of .338 with 11 homeruns and 106 RBI. Young also stepped up to the plate when the likes of Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, Ian Kinsler and Adrian Beltre went down with injuries and kept the Rangers atop the AL West.
If the Boston Red Sox had reached the post-season I think Jacoby Ellsbury (.321, 32 HR, 105 RBI) would have received greater consideration. The last time an AL MVP winner came from a club that didn’t go to the post-season was when Alex Rodriguez won it with the Texas Rangers in 2003.
The AL MVP will be announced on Monday.