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Justin Verlander achieves rare feat for pitcher: He's the AL MVP

November 21, 2011 | 12:25 pm

Justin Verlander may not have played in every single game for the Detroit Tigers, but he certainly made quite an impact when he was on the mound.

After already winning the American League's pitching triple crown and Cy Young Award, Verlander was named the league's MVP on Monday, receiving 13 of 28 first-place votes from the Baseball Writers' Assn. of America.

He is the first pitcher to win the honor since Oakland's Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and first starting pitcher since Boston's Roger Clemens in 1986. He joins the Dodgers' Don Newcombe as the only players to earn Rookie of the Year, the Cy Young Award and MVP honors in their careers.

Six other pitchers have won the MVP and Cy Young in the same year -- the Dodgers' Sandy Koufax (1963), St. Louis' Bob Gibson and Detroit's Denny McLain (1968), Oakland's Vida Blue (1971), Milwaukee's Rollie Fingers (1981) and Detroit's Willie Hernandez (1984).

But some people feel pitchers should not be considered for the most valuable player award. Voter Jim Ingraham of The Herald-News in Ohio left Verlander -- who went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts -- off his ballot completely.

“I'd wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year,” Ingraham said. But “he hasn't appeared in 79% of their games; any starting pitcher really doesn't appear in 79% of his team's games in a year.

“Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team's 16 games, which would be 21%? So that's part of it. Another part of it is I think they're apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there's a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn't, I don't think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games.”

Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury came in second, garnering four first-place votes and 242 points. He was followed by Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista with five firsts and 231 points, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson with 215 points and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera with 193.

The National League MVP will be announced Tuesday.


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-- Chuck Schilken

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Photo: Justin Verlander. Credit: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images