After months of speculation and waiting, it was announced Monday that Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander had won the 2011 American League Most Valuable Player Award. Verlander becomes the first pitcher to win the award since 1992 and the first starter to take home the honor since 1986.
In 2011, Verlander turned in one of the most dominant pitching performances in recent memory. The right-hander compiled 24 wins, 250 strikeouts and a 2.40 ERA to win the AL pitching Triple Crown. If that wasn’t enough, Verlander logged a no-hitter this season and led his team to the playoffs.
Verlander was the only pitcher in the majors to throw more than 250 innings in 2011, maintaining a league-best 0.92 WHIP over that span. The 28-year-old struck out more than a batter per inning while limiting his walks, giving him an impressive SO/BB ratio of 4.39.
In winning the award, Verlander became the first pitcher to be named AL MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher to take the award since Roger Clemens did it in 1986.
Beyond Verlander, there were several names bunched at the top of the voting. Boston’s Jacoby Ellsbury finished second, Toronto’s Jose Bautista third, New York’s Curtis Granderson fourth and Detroit’s Miguel Cabrera fifth. All of these players received at least two first place votes while Verlander had 13 cast in his favor.
Ellsbury was named FanSided’s 2011 AL Player of the Year followed by Bautista, Cabrera, Verlander and Granderson.
Verlander accepted the award Monday, telling reporters that he couldn’t have imagined this even in his “wildest dreams”. Verlander wanted to say the whole event was a dream come true, but he couldn’t. To Verlander, his “dream had already come true – to win the Cy Young”.
Verlander’s next dream? “To win a World Series”.