The contest should be over. Justin Verlander is the American League Cy Young Award winner for 2011. Baring an unlikely catastrophic collapse in the last month, the only contest that Justin Verlander is in is a race for the A.L. MVP. Don’t believe me? Let me convince you.
Baseball consists of two mindsets, or mentalities. Old school baseball, which scoffs at statistics when solely judging the overall performance of a player. New school ball loves stats. We live it, breath it, and can’t get enough of it. Justin Verlander appeases both in such a dominant way. Statistically, here is why Justin Verlander is the AL Cy Young Award winner and an MVP candidate.
The stats don’t lie.
Currently, Justin Verlander is leading the American League in the following categories.
WHIP (Walks and Hits/Inning Pitched): .88
The next best in all of baseball is at .97, and the league median is 1.28. Justin Verlander has been so impressive that he is reaching historic WHIP numbers. He currently sports the lowest WHIP since the historic Pedro Martinez 2000 season (.74). In fact, if Verlander completes the season at his current WHIP, he will have the 4th lowest WHIP since 1969. 1969 is the year that MLB lowered the pitching mound.
Batting Average Against: .184
It is damn near impossible to hit Justin Verlander right now. The next lowest in all of baseball is Johnny Cueto at .197. Verlander’s BAA would rank 10th lowest since 1969.
FIP (Fielder Independent Pitching): 68
If you need more information on what exactly fielder independent pitching, take a look at Big League Stew’s explanation. The best way to explain it comes from The Hardball Times:
“FIP helps you understand how well a pitcher pitched, regardless of how well his fielders fielded.”
Verlander does not lead all of baseball, as his home runs allowed negatively affect his FIP, however he does have a slight AL lead over C.C. Sabathia. Verlander is 1st in the AL, and 4th in all of baseball at a 68 in FIP.
WAR (Wins Above Replacement): 6.3
For more information about WAR, look no further than Fan Graphs:
Pitchers – Where offensive WAR used wRAA and UZR, pitching WAR uses FIP. Based on how many innings a pitcher threw, FIP is turned into runs form, converted to represent value above replacement level, and is then converted from runs to wins.
Your takeaway, WAR is a singular number using traditional stats that calculates the value of a player. Justin Verlander is 1st in pitchers in WAR in the American League, and 2nd in pitchers behind Roy Halladay. Verlander is 5th in WAR in all of MLB including all batters and pitchers. Certainly a level that is AL Cy Young and MVP worthy.
Strikeouts, Wins, Innings Pitched.
Verlander also leads all of baseball with 212 strikeouts, 19 wins, and 209.2 innings pitched.
Justin Verlander has all of the stats to be the American League Cy Young Award winner. We all know that baseball voters often don’t look at the stats that really matter. The traditional stats, like strikeouts, ERA, and Wins are what stand out to most voters. Verlander is either leading or in 2nd in all of these categories.
The intangibles don’t lie, either.
Justin Verlander has been dominant all season. He has led the Detroit Tigers all season, accounting for 19 of the Tigers 69 victories. Verlander has won 27.5% of all of the Tigers victories. Of those 19 victories, 14 of them have come after the Tigers lost a game. He is a true ace, and a stopper. Where would the Tigers be without him?
In addition, Verlander saves the Tigers bullpen nearly every time he takes the mound. Verlander averages 7.47 innings pitched per outing. Verlander provides his team with not only the chance, but the confidence that they are going to win every time he takes the mound. He has given up 1 run or less in 12 of his 28 starts this season.
With his leadership, the Detroit Tigers are poised to win the American League Central and to face the number 1 overall seed in the American League (most likely Boston or New York). In a short series, I won’t bet against Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers.
A pitcher hasn’t won an MVP award since 1992 (then reliever Dennis Eckersley). Justin Verlander is a very deserving candidate, however he won’t win the MVP. He pitches in Detroit, and isn’t named Ellsbury or Gonzalez. Regardless, with a few more starts still to be made Verlander has all but shored up the AL Cy Young award. Can he draw more attention, and become a legitimate MVP candidate in the eyes of voters? Again, I know not to bet against Justin Verlander.
-Offhanded Dribble Contributor