Pitchers deserve MVP just as much as other players

He secured the Cy Young Award around late August and won 20 games before the month of September, yet Justin Verlander will be left off the ballot for the American League’s Most Valuable Player by numerous voters.

Detroit’s stud starting pitcher recorded a 24-5 record, 2.40 ERA and WAR of 8.6 in 2011, leading the league in strikeouts (250) and innings pitched (251). Every time he took the mound he had a legitimate chance at a no-hitter, which he did do May 7.

He went 22-2 after the no-hitter, sparking the Tigers, who were below .500 and behind in the American League Central, to improved play that led to a division title.

But this argument is not whether Verlander had a phenomenal season. The overarching question is if a pitcher is eligible to win the MVP Award.

The best argument against Verlander is that starters only pitch every five days, compared to position players being in the lineup for much more of the 162-game season.

Most position players may have four plate appearances and eight plays in the field a game. These are completely estimated numbers, but lets say a position player is involved in 60 legitimate plays every five days.

Verlander was a workhorse this year, averaging 7.38 innings and 115.9 pitches per start. That’s 115 times a game Verlander had direct impact on the game. If a position player is successful 30 percent of the time (a .300 batting average) it’s a good hitting year. If Verlander only threw good pitches 30 percent of the time he’d be out of a job.

Nowhere does it say that pitchers are exempt from the MVP award, but that hasn’t stopped many from thinking otherwise. MLB Network analyst and former pitcher Al Leiter said on The Dan Patrick Show last week that he doesn’t even consider pitchers players and the Cy Young should suffice as the sole award pitchers need. By that logic, what’s the purpose of the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove awards? Baseball’s infatuation with the past is usually charming, but this old-school style of thinking is hindering fans’ ability to think correctly.

The MVP should be viewed as the player whose absence from his team would have the biggest negative impact, and if the Tigers were without Verlander they wouldn’t have made the playoffs and have a shot at winning the World Series.

And isn’t that the most important stat of all?

_Jeff is a junior in Media. He can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @jkirsh91._