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Justin Verlander IS NOT single-handedly carrying the Tigers into the playoffs

Sep 23, 2011, 8:50 AM EDT

Justin Verlander, Victor Martinez AP

Before I say what I’m gonna say, please understand: I do not think an MVP vote for Justin Verlander is silly. It is not an outrage. This is one of those years where there are multiple defensible choices and the arguments for some candidates I wouldn’t personally support are nonetheless totally valid.  Verlander may win the MVP and if he does it will not be a travesty.

That said, this sort of argument in his favor — offered by Mitch Albom in this case — doesn’t do much for me:

Let’s just focus on the word “valuable.” The “V” in MVP. That is what the award is supposed to signify, right? Not biggest bat, niftiest glove or flashiest numbers. Valuable? Is there any question that, if you took Verlander off this Tigers team, it would not be making the playoffs?

The Tigers lead the AL Central by 12.5 games. I don’t care what method of quantifying you prefer, including the old eyeball test: if you took Justin Verlander off this team and replaced him with a regular old starter, it is pretty damn certain that the Tigers make the playoffs.  Sure, they may still be in a mild fight with another team and, no, I wouldn’t give them much of a chance against the Rangers and Yankees of the world, but they’d be in the playoffs.

This isn’t some point of statistical analysis. It’s simply reflective of my anger that everyone wants to pretend that the presence of Alex Avila, Miguel Cabrera, Jhonny Peralta, Brennan Boesch, Victor Martinez and Jose Valverde means nothing.  To the contrary, that is a team, performing as it has this year, that fairly easily wins the AL Central.

Verlander is obviously having a fantastic season. And there’s a valid argument to be made that he’s the MVP. But it’s not because he’s single-handedly carrying Detroit into the playoffs. That’s simply not true.

  1. jarathen - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:00 AM

    It’s hard to understand how Miguel Cabrera has almost no traction for the award. I hear Verlander, Bautista, Granderson, and the three Red Sox. Nary a whisper of Miguel Cabrera, offensive anchor who has played in 154 games this season.

    • Mark - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:29 AM

      He gets overlooked despite posting similar, if not outright better offensive numbers compared to Adrian Gonzalez. I don’t think he deserves to be MVP either, but you’re right, Cabrera should at least get mentioned for having an outstanding season.

      • cur68 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:02 AM

        He should be in the conversation. Definitely be considered.

      • trevorb06 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:43 AM

        Miguel Cabrera is having an outstanding season. There… happy?

        I don’t understand why ‘being considered’ for something everybody knows they won’t win (like the HOF) is such a big deal.

      • cur68 - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:48 AM

        Actually, it was a mild allusion to a previous thread, because I pay some attention to the conversations round here. So, Miggy as MVP is something I consider. :)

        *sigh* feeble attempt at humor, we hardly knew ye…

    • yankeesfanlen - Sep 23, 2011 at 10:20 AM

      Let’s raise our glasses to Miguel Cabrera! Oopsie,
      Really, their offense is GOOOD.

  2. frenchysplatediscipline - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:11 AM

    Well, he sure was the MVP of my fantasy team this year!

  3. dailyrev - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:36 AM

    J’s are in good shape to finish above 500. Without JB, they’re among the cellar dwellers. I personally don’t put much stock in this award, simply because its criteria are so persistently vague, as if by design. But both JB and Kemp (especially JB because the J’s don’t have a Kershaw – yet, though Romero might get there soon) produced the difference between creditable finishes and promising futures for teams that otherwise would be dismal.

  4. dailyrev - Sep 23, 2011 at 9:52 AM

    And I’ve got no axe to grind against Albom because of the New Age Religion thing — I think he’s an outstanding writer. “Tuesdays” was a superb book, perhaps the best of its genre, and “Five People” was pretty good too. It actually makes sense to me that a sportswriter should be the one to produce such material — I’m only a sports fan and amateur writer, but I’ve tried a similar approach to the Potter novels. But in this instance, he’s mistaken. But again, the MVP is, as if by design, a nebulous award.

  5. drewmunny - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:16 AM

    A travesty? I don’t know if his winning MVP would qualify, but it certainly would be a shame. He pitches. Yeah, beyond important, but that’s it. No hitting, little defense, plays every five games or so. Yeah, he’s one of the best out there, and I’d love to have him in navy pinstripes. But that being said, no, not MVP. Cabrera, Bautista (why do I die a little writing that?), Granderson, sure. Not a pitcher, please.

    • philliesblow - Sep 23, 2011 at 1:31 PM

      A starting pitcher with 33 starts facing 30 batters a game has 990 plate appearances against him to aid his team. A position player that plays 155 games and get 4 plate appearances per game has 620 plate appearances to help his team. That gives the starting pitcher more than 50% more chances to aid his team so even though he doesn’t play every day, the days that he does pitch add up to considerable impact on his team’s fortunes.

  6. sabathiawouldbegoodattheeighthtoo - Sep 23, 2011 at 11:56 AM

    Verlander, I served with Jim Abbott, I knew Jim Abbott, Jim Abbott was a friend of mine. Verlander, you’re no Jim Abbott.

  7. foreverchipper10 - Sep 23, 2011 at 12:05 PM

    This is a team I would not want to face in a short series. They have been hotter than hot lately and with Fister to help stabilize the front end of the rotation they could give a team fits.

  8. corecontrarian - Sep 23, 2011 at 2:28 PM

    Sports fans in Detroit stopped reading Mitch Albom (literally) decades ago. He is now a general interest writer with a predominatly female readership. On the oft times he writes about sports any more, nobody really talks about it. In Detroit anyway.

  9. Glenn - Sep 23, 2011 at 6:08 PM

    Craig – you dissin’ Mitch Albom? You better hope you don’t meet him in heaven, or god help you.

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