There was little question Justin Verlander would unanimously win the AL Cy Young Award. Now, the far more intriguing question: Will he take the MVP, too?
“Do I think it’s possible? Yes. Would I like to win it? Of course,’’ he said during a conference call. “It’s kind of a weird scenario.’’
No starting pitcher has won the MVP trophy since Roger Clemens in 1986, with Dennis Eckersley the last reliever to get it in 1992. Many say pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP, period, contending they already have their own award.
But Verlander’s season - he won the pitching version of the Triple Crown, led Detroit to its first division crown in 24 years, and drew every first-place vote yesterday in the Cy Young race - has ratcheted up the debate in a crowded MVP field that includes Curtis Granderson, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Miguel Cabrera, and more.
“Pitchers are on the ballot,’’ Verlander said. Bolstering the case for all pitchers, Verlander pointed to the “tremendous effect we have on the day of our game.’’
“I’m so different from everybody,’’ he said.
If he doesn’t win, Verlander said he would like to see Granderson, his former teammate, get the award.
Verlander breezed to the Cy Young, much the way the Tigers’ ace humbled hitters with his 100-mile-per-hour fastball, sharp curve, and wicked slider.
Verlander led the majors in wins by going 24-5 and topped baseball with 250 strikeouts. His 2.40 ERA was the best among AL pitchers who qualified for the title.
The 28-year-old righthander was listed on top on all 28 ballots by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America and finished with 196 points.
Jered Weaver (18-8, 2.41) of the Los Angeles Angels was the only other pitcher listed on every ballot and was second with 97 points. James Shields of Tampa Bay was third with 66, followed by CC Sabathia of the New York Yankees with 63. Tigers reliever Jose Valverde, who was perfect in 49 save chances, was fifth with 28.
Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter (May 7 at Toronto), won 12 straight starts down the stretch, and helped the Tigers take the AL Central.
This was the ninth time there was a unanimous winner of the AL Cy Young and first since Johan Santana in 2006, when he won the AL pitching Triple Crown.
This was the fourth time a Detroit pitcher won it, with Denny McLain earning the award in 1968 and tying for the honor in 1969, and reliever Willie Hernandez winning in 1984. McLain, in 1968, and Hernandez went on to win the AL MVP awards, too.
A four-time All-Star, Verlander became the first former AL Rookie of the Year to also take the Cy Young. This win included a $500,000 bonus to his $12.75 million salary in 2011.
Orioles go old school
The Orioles are going retro in 2012, bringing back the cartoon bird for their caps as part of a uniform change for the upcoming season. The new cartoon bird head utilizes elements from the 1970 and 1983 versions. The home cap will feature the bird head on a white front panel with a black back and orange bill and button. The road caps will feature the bird on black with an orange bill and button . . . The Reds announced their opening game has been moved to Thursday, April 5, avoiding conflicts with downtown Cincinnati vendors who sponsor the annual downtown parade and Good Friday observances. The Reds will play the Miami Marlins at 4:10 p.m. Thursday, with Friday now an open date for them.