Justin Verlander, The Cy Young And His Competition

By Chris Hengst


The easiest way to approve of the unanimous Cy Young Justin Verlander won is to consider the outstanding pitchers he overshadowed.

Jered Weaver posted an 18-8 record, 2.41 ERA and 198 strikeouts, numbers that in any other year, garner him the plaudits reserved in 2011 for his Detroit counterpart.

James Shields quietly pushed around the American League East (16-12, 2.82 ERA, 225 strikeouts) and kept Tampa Bay in the wild card chase long enough to allow Evan Longoria a chance at immortality in Game 162.

Ricky Romero, C.C. Sabathia and C.J. Wilson each produced similarly to the previous two but none was remotely close to Detroit pitcher who seems a decent bet to pull off winning the American League MVP as well.

24-5, 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, plus a no-hitter, read like a stat line next to Walter Johnson or Sandy Koufax’s name.

Verlander was a healthy workhorse who logged 251 innings in 2011 and an amazing number of 100 MPH pitches in the late innings of his appearances.

Perhaps that heavy load hindered him in October, because the 5.57 ERA in the postseason was unlike anything the Tigers ace accomplished from April to September.

Later this week, Verlander will find out whether he becomes the first starting pitcher to notch an MVP award since Roger Clemens in 1986.

Like the Rocket, Verlander possesses an uncanny ability to force baseball fans to tune into his starts.

Whether it’s a possible perfect game or the beauty of simply blowing hitter after hitter away, there aren’t many guys capable of pushing an entire League worth of pitchers to the background.

Justin Verlander did in 2011 and there’s no reason to think he can’t continue to do so.

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