American League MVP

November 22, 2011 by staff 

American League Mvp, Detroit Tigers ace Justin Verlander struck a blow for pitchers and followed in the footsteps of his idol when he was named as the winner of the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award.

Verlander, who last week won the league’s Cy Young Award as top pitcher, became the first starting pitcher in a quarter of a century to win MVP when a beat a group of worthy contenders in a vote by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

The 28-year-old led the league with 24 wins (24-5), a 2.40 earned run average and 250 strikeouts and threw a no-hitter in becoming the first starter to win the award since Boston Red Sox pitcher Roger Clemens in 1986.

Verlander, who helped boost the Tigers to the AL Central title and a trip to the league championship series, said he felt “pure elation” upon hearing he had beaten Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury and Toronto’s Jose Bautista in the voting.

“Not even in my wildest dreams had I thought of this,” he said in a conference call.

“I want to say it’s a dream come true. I can’t say that, because my dream had already come true to win the Cy Young and my next dream is to win the World Series. This wasn’t even on my radar until the talk started.”

The hard-throwing right-hander, whose fastball routinely hits 100 mph (160 kph), was so impressive that the chatter about him being an MVP candidate began mid-season.

“Somebody that was an idol of mine growing up, Roger Clemens, was the last starting pitcher to do it, and as I grew up into the game, I remember seeing he won the MVP and thinking that may never happen again and how impressive that was.

“That means a lot to me to be the successor to that, to be the next starting pitcher to win an MVP coming from the last starting pitcher, who was my idol,” said Verlander.

Verlander was listed first on 13 of the 28 ballots and received a total of 280 points in the balloting. He was left off one ballot, which can list candidates down to 10 places. Some voters believe that since the Cy Young honors pitchers, the MVP ought to be restricted to everyday players.

Ellsbury, who batted .321 with 32 home runs and 105 runs batted in, finished second in the voting with 242 points while receiving four first-place votes.

Slugging right fielder Jose Bautista, who led the league in home runs (43) and slugging percentage (.608), received five first-place votes and placed third with 231 points, ahead of Yankees’ Curtis Granderson and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera.

The last pitcher to win MVP honors was reliever Dennis Eckersley of the Oakland Athletics in 1992.

Ad Feedback Verlander said he was nervous before getting word he had won the award.

“I was talking myself out of it, saying I’m not gonna win it, trying not to jinx it,” he said. “Then saying, ‘don’t do that, you want this, don’t talk yourself out of it.’ Playing ping pong in my head, really.”

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