Is there anything Justin Verlander can't do? Maybe... but probably not.
After winning the American League’s pitching triple crown by going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, the Detroit Tigers right-hander officially became the Most Valuable Player of 2011 on Monday. He's the first pitcher to earn the MVP honor since Dennis Eckersley with the Oakland Athletics in 1992 and the first starting pitcher since Roger Clemens won it with the Boston Red Sox in 1986. It's been a while.
Verlander, who also earned the AL Cy Young Award last week, beat out Boston Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury, Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (Verlander's preference other than himself) and fellow teammate, first baseman Miguel Cabrera. Tough competition for sure, but Verlander's season was not only memorable, it was out of control good.
The 28-year-old tossed his second career no-hitter against the Blue Jays on May 7, and went on to have the winningest season since Bob Welch went 27-6 for the Oakland Athletics back in 1990. His pivotal role in the Tigers' quest for the postseason reopened the heated debate on whether pitchers, who already have their own award, should be considered in the MVP voting at all.
Apparently the debate was not quite strong enough this season, as Verlander received 13 of the possible 28 first-place votes and 280 points over, 38 more points than Ellsbury. He's pretty pumped: