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Gary Gramling

Verlander's MVP: Yay! The Voters Got it Right! 64


You might have heard that Tigers ace Justin Verlander was named the American League's Most Valuable Player, becoming the first starting pitcher in 25 years to win MVP.

Now, many people think that only position players should win MVP. Of course, those people are wrong. Yes, the top pitcher gets the Cy Young Award. But the top hitter gets the Hank Aaron Award (Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista won it in the AL this year).

Those people might also argue: Hey, position players play 162 games. Starting pitchers only play 34 games! Well, that's true. But it's also misleading. A position player only comes to the plate four, maybe five times in a game. A starting pitcher faces about 25-35 batters over the course of a start. Position players can have a medium impact on some games, but even the best ones only make a minimal impact in most games. A starting pitcher is his team's most important player, by far, any time he takes the mound.

And anyway, Red Sox star outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury came to the plate 732 times this season, most in the major leagues. Verlander faced 969 hitters. Who had the bigger role?

Of course, Ellsbury was great this year. I think he and Verlander were neck-and-neck for MVP, and I would have had no complaints if Ellsbury won. But it's just good to see the voters recognize that the most important players on the field, the starting pitchers, are pretty darn valuable.

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64 Comments

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