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Should pitchers be considered for MLB's MVP award? [Updated]

September 28, 2011 |  9:50 am

Justin Verlander
Writers from around Tribune Co. discuss whether pitchers should be considered for Major League Baseball's MVP award. Check back throughout the day for more responses and join the discussion by voting in the poll and leaving a comment.

Jeff Schuler, Allentown Morning Call

Why wouldn't a pitcher be considered for the MVP?

The award isn't for the most outstanding player, or player of the year. It's for the most valuable player, and the last time I checked pitchers were players too.

Justin Verlander is on the verge of winning pitching's version of the Triple Crown, leading the American League in wins (by five), in strikeouts (by 20) and in ERA. Two-thirds of his 24 wins -– that's 16 for those who don't have a calculator handy -– have come after Detroit losses.

Plus, on the days he's on the mound, the Tiger bullpen can sleep until the seventh inning -– only eight times has he left a game before the seventh inning, just three times since Memorial Day. Who knows how many times a rested bullpen bailed Detroit out the day after a Verlander start.

The argument is that pitchers have their own award. But the Cy Young Award goes to the outstanding pitcher, not the most valuable.

A player's value is supposed to be taken into account by MVP voters. This year, American League voters shouldn’t have to look any further than Verlander to find their man.

[Updated at 12:47 p.m.:

Ben Bolch, Los Angeles Times

Given the discrepancy in the potential impact of a position player and a pitcher, it would take something phenomenal -- a 25-win season or sub-1.00 earned run average -- for a starting pitcher to merit strong consideration for the most valuable player award. Relief pitchers, who show up for an inning or two at a time, shouldn't even be part of the discussion.

It's nothing against pitchers but merely a reflection of the way the game is constructed. Position players compete every day; starting pitchers, once every five days. So in one week, a position player could hit five homers, drive in 15 runs and make several sparkling defensive plays that influence the outcomes of multiple games while a pitcher could, at best, throw a shutout that helps his team win one game.

Being most valuable means having the greatest influence, thus it is almost impossible to fathom a pitcher earning that distinction.]

[Updated at 1:18 p.m.:

Steve Gould, Baltimore Sun

The most valuable player award should go to the person who is just that, regardless of position. That's not an opinion, it's written on the ballot: "Keep in mind that all players are eligible for MVP, including pitchers and designated hitters."

If a pitcher made a bigger contribution to his team than any other player, he is inherently the MVP. Some might argue that a player who takes the field every five days can't be more valuable than one who plays every day, but statistics don't bear that out.

Wins above replacement, a stat that encompasses all facets of the game to measure how many victories a player contributed to his team over a minor leaguer or bench player, is applicable to pitchers and position players.

Who's neck and neck with Jose Bautista in the AL this year, according to Justin Verlander.]


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Photo: Justin Verlander. Credit: Paul Sancya / Associated Press