Being hitless the past eight years—a pain shared by Justin Verlander and the late 90s pop-sensation Sugar Ray. Although both droughts were expected, with Verlander being a pitcher in the American League and Sugar Ray being well over their fifteen-minutes of fame by about 2003, we still must speculate about them ever ending their streaks someday.
The love for Sugar Ray is long gone. Needless to say, statues are rarely crumbling for Mark McGrath anymore and no chart-topping hits are on his horizon. The hitless streak will continue indefinitely.
However, there is still hope for Verlander, the Detroit Tigers’ ace, to buck the trend. The Tigers play 10 games this season in National League parks, and, if we assume that Jim Leyland will use five pitchers in his rotation, that would likely be two starts in National League parks for Verlander. Considering Verlander usually goes about seven innings per start, it’s likely he’d get about four at bats during those games.
Do I like his odds? Absolutely not, I’d rather bet on a team managed by Michael Jordan to win the NBA Championship or bet on a non-performance-enhanced Lance Armstrong to win this year’s Tour de France. One instance is a fluke. Two is a coincidence. 24 is show starring Kiefer Sutherland, but in this case it’s a lifestyle in the batting box that Verlander has settled into.
In all honesty, being 0-24 behind the plate is a just a fun running joke to have about Verlander. He is the most dominant pitcher in baseball and, no matter what kind of slump the Tigers are in, he gives them a shot to beat any team in baseball when he’s on the bump. The Tigers certainly wouldn’t ever want him to turn into a Mike Hampton-type pitcher who, yes, hits a few home runs every year but then is still widely considered one of the worst free agent signings in MLB history for never regaining his MVP form.
At the end of the day Verlander knows he’s the best in the game. He doesn’t need hits; he already has a Cy Young Award, an AL MVP, and the companionship of Kate Upton to be content with.
You never know, the lack of hits might just be Verlander’s style; after all, he has already thrown two no-hitters.