For the first time in 19 years, a pitcher has been properly recognized as the most valuable player in his league. So congrats go out to Justin Verlander, the American League Cy Young winner and MVP. It’s been a long time coming.
It wasn’t perfect. One writer decided that Michael Young, at best the fourth-most valuable member of the Texas Rangers, was worthy of first-place consideration. He listed Verlander seventh on his ballot. Another left Verlander off entirely, somehow not believing the process and the line on the voting guidelines that states that, yes, pitchers are eligible.
But unlike in 1999, when Pedro Martinez was denied his deserved trophy, Verlander was able to overcome those lunkheads, and a more divided field opened the path. And for the most part, it was a worthy field. In another year, Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista, Curtis Granderson or a number of other hitters could’ve walked away with the MVP.
Perhaps the solution is to create a hitter’s equivalent to the Cy Young Award, or bump up the prominence of an already existing honor, like the Hank Aaron Award. It could open up the MVP selection process back to pitchers. Not that a pitcher should win it ever year, but there should not be another 19-year gap between pitchers winning. The last National League pitcher to win the MVP was Bob Gibson in 1968.
As I wrote the other day, pitchers are valuable, and should be winning the award more often. This season, a compelling argument could be made for Justin Verlander, and his victory is a victory for the cause.