Justin Verlander: Was Detroit Tigers Pitcher Robbed of AL Cy Young?

By Chris Katje
Rick Osentoski-US PRESSWIRE

One first place vote separated Justin Verlander from earning back to back Cy Young Awards. The Detroit Tigers pitcher missed out on MLB’s biggest pitching award, won by the Tampa Bay Rays David Price.  The award, decided on by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, was the closest battle since writers began listing more than one pitcher on their ballot back in 1970.

Price won his first Cy Young Award, after posting a 20-5 record, with a 2.56 ERA, and 205 strikeouts. Price’s wins and ERA both led the American League. The twenty wins and 205 strikeouts were career highs for the Rays pitcher. Price had the best season of his young career, but the award should have gone to Verlander.

Verlander posted a 17-8 record, which likely cost him the award. The Tigers ace had a 2.64 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 239 strikeouts. He pitched in 33 games and went the distance in 6 complete games, including a shutout. On the season, Verlander ranked first in innings pitched (238.1), first in strikeouts (239), fourth in wins (17), second in WHIP (1.06), and second in ERA (2.64). Verlander also posted a WAR (Wins Above Replacement) over 8.0 to lead American League pitchers.

The only category in which Verlander did not rank in the top five in the American League was losses. The Tigers ace was called upon by the team to be a workhorse and pitch numerous innings and win games. It seems that the award went to Price because of his win totals or lowest ERA in the AL. I think the writers failed to see Verlander’s position in WHIP, WAR, strikeouts and innings pitched.

A panel of 28 writers makes up the AL voting for the Cy Young. Each team has 2 writers represented on the Baseball Writers’ Association. Members select their top five pitchers for the season. A first place vote is worth 7, a second worth 4, third worth 3, fourth worth 2, and a fifth place vote worth 1 point. Price received 14 first place votes, 12 second place votes, and 1 third place vote. Verlander recorded 13 first place votes, 13 second place votes, and 2 third place votes.

In the 2011 season, Verlander won the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards with a dominant pitching effort. The Tigers ace posted a 24-5 record, with 250 strikeouts. Verlander posted a 2.40 ERA and 0.92 WHIP last season. Verlander won the Cy Young with a unanimous 28 first place votes. The unanimous vote made Verlander the 21st pitcher to receive all 28 votes and only the 9th in the American League.

The Tigers are returning with a strong lineup in 2013. Look for the Tigers ace to post an improved record for the season. Verlander’s name should already be at the top of the list for the 2013 Cy Young.

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