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Jim Leyland clarifies comments on Justin Verlander for MVP

Aug 27, 2011, 4:43 PM EDT

Detroit Tigers v Colorado Rockies Getty Images

Tigers manager Jim Leyland made some waves earlier this week when he said that pitchers shouldn’t win the MVP award. This was a very bold statement considering that one of his own starters, Justin Verlander, is quickly gaining momentum for MVP consideration in the American League.

Despite his opinion on the topic, Leyland told Chris Iott of earlier today that he would support Verlander for MVP under the current system.

“I will support Justin Verlander for the MVP to the hilt,” Leyland said. “I want to make that perfectly clear. The question that was asked of me was if I thought a pitcher should be the MVP. And my answer to that is no. But under the way the system is, I certainly will support Verlander to the hilt.”

To be fair, what else did we expect the guy to say? No need to continue to the controversy for another minute.

Anyway, Dennis Eckersley was last the pitcher to win an MVP award in 1992. While we can look back now and argue that it was a bit of a stretch to give the MVP to a relief pitcher, is it really that crazy to consider someone who has faced 803 batters coming into today’s action compared to a hitter who has maybe 700 plate appearances over the course of a season? I don’t think so. I still think Jose Bautista deserves the award at this moment, but we should leave the door open for special seasons from starting pitchers.

By the way, Verlander is currently going for his 20th win against the Twins. If you are into that sort of thing.

  1. cambodianbreastmilk - Aug 27, 2011 at 5:18 PM

    Bautista over Adrian?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Aug 27, 2011 at 7:27 PM

      Every day of the week and twice on sunday

      • Kevin S. - Aug 27, 2011 at 7:29 PM

        Gonzalez isn’t even the MVP of his own team.

  2. halladaysbiceps - Aug 27, 2011 at 5:25 PM

    D.J., I learned the other day that you are a Mets fan. Are you in New York? What precautions are you taking with this hurricane? I’m just a couple of miles outside Philly and the wind and rain is starting to pick up.

    • D.J. Short - Aug 27, 2011 at 5:43 PM

      I’m in the D.C. area. Not so bad so far.

      • halladaysbiceps - Aug 27, 2011 at 5:56 PM

        Yeah, but you are still in the path of this thing. Good luck (lol!!!). I think for the northeast, this thing is a little overblown by the media. Remember, D.J., it’s the weekend and there is no fault in having a couple of provisions (beers) while you brave the storm and blog. It’s logical and sensible.

      • mornelithe - Aug 28, 2011 at 11:47 AM

        I’m in Vermont, it just started to rain this morning. Nothing major yet though. Just a steady constant downpour. It’s not hugely heavy, but it’s definitely constant.

        @ Halladay: The biggest concern right now is that it’s traveling so slowly (~15mph), and 300 miles in diameter. In Vermont’s case, they’re worried about a 24hr downpour hitting the mountain ranges (Adirondack and Green Mountains) causing widespread flash flooding. The wind is actually not that big of a deal (forecasted between 30-40mph w/ 60mph gusts).

        Still, it missed my friends Wedding yesterday by a wide enough margin that we had clear skies well into the night. So, it’s worked out well thus far.

  3. alexandercartwright - Aug 27, 2011 at 5:48 PM

    Bautista over Adrian, Granderson, Verlander???

    • Kevin S. - Aug 27, 2011 at 6:36 PM

      Right now, yes. And this comes from a Yankee fan. Jose Bautista has been the best player in baseball this year.

      • mornelithe - Aug 28, 2011 at 11:52 AM

        So, is the MVP awarded mainly on personal stats, or value to the team when playing? I guess I always get this one confused. Bautista’s having a crazy year, for sure, but I’m always surprised at how much better the Sox (simply an example) play when Elsbury’s in the lineup. I’m sure other teams have similar break-out talent that bring noticeable life to their line-up. Anyway, just curious.

      • Kevin S. - Aug 28, 2011 at 4:40 PM

        Looking at the right stats tells you what you need to know about how valuable to his team a player is when he’s playing. His OBP is 25 points higher than anybody else in the AL. His slugging percentage is 59 points higher than anybody else in the AL. The people closest to him in OBP are not the same people who are closest to him in SLG. He leads baseball in HR despite the Barry Bonds treatment leaving him only 102nd in at bats. He obviously isn’t that great of a fielder or baserunner, but the guys who are closest to him offensively aren’t really gaining any ground on him in those areas. He’s pretty clearly the best player in baseball this year. That also makes him the most valuable player, despite what those cretins who try to parse value into meaning only players on teams within a couple games of the playoff cut line. Yeah, Toronto’s only on pace for low-80s wins, but without Bautista, they’d probably be looking at low 70s. That’s the difference between having a reasonable chance to win most of the games you play and being a heavy underdog in most of the games you play. That keeps fans coming to the ballpark. Winning those extra ten or so games with Bautista helps management decide whether to buy, sell, or stand pat, affecting the team’s competitiveness in the immediate future. In Toronto’s case, Bautista is the difference between continuing the rebuilding project and, say, using the extra money freed up in the Vernon Wells heist to go after, say, a certain superstar first baseman who would immediately make Toronto a legitimate contender in 2012, even given how loaded the Beast is. The wins Bautista provides are absolutely meaningful, and he provides more of them than anybody else in baseball. If that doesn’t make him the MVP, I don’t know what does.

        Oh, and Jacoby Ellsbury has missed four games all year. I would sincerely hope you wouldn’t use Boston’s performance in those four games as a gauge for how much value he provides.

      • mornelithe - Aug 29, 2011 at 12:09 PM

        @ Kevin: Thanks for the clarification and the numbers rundown, do appreciate it. I was still drunk from a wedding on Saturday, so I wasn’t thinking at 100%. I did however consider at a later more lucid time, that Bautista might be every bit (and more) as important to the Jays winning as Els, or Gonzo or (insert other player from other team here), so it makes sense.

        I don’t argue his performance and numbers this year either, was simply asking which is more important in the MVP discussion, personal stats vs team value.

  4. newyorkmetsfan - Aug 27, 2011 at 6:27 PM

    Eric Gagne win the the Cy Young Award in ’03 as a relief pitcher for the Dodgers.

    • FC - Aug 27, 2011 at 11:19 PM

      And what does the Cy young award have to do with the MVP?

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