What has been a hot-button debate throughout the baseball world the past few weeks has now been settled: Justin Verlander is the MVP of the American League. The 27-year old Tiger’s ace now has an MVP trophy to put on his mantle along with his 2011 AL Cy-Young, four All-Star selections and the 2006 Rookie of the Year Award. Quickly becoming one of baseballs elite pitchers, this honor has put him on a level of his own.
Verlander went a phenomenal 24-5 in 2011 with a 2.40 ERA and a staggering 250 strikeouts to boot, taking the AL pitcher’s triple crown and leading his team to the AL Central division title (Not to mention pitching a no-hitter for the second time in his career). Verlander unanimously won the Cy Young award this year, but won by a closer margin when it came to the MVP, winning by 38 points over the RedSox’s Jacoby Ellsbury.
Verlander becomes the first pitcher to win the MVP award since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starter since Roger Clemens in 1986.
Meanwhile, Ryan Braun beat the Dodgers’ Matt Kemp to become the first Brewer to win a league MVP award since Hall of Famer Robin Yount won for the second time in 1989, when Milwaukee was still an American League franchise according to MLB.com.
He received 20 of a possible 32 first-place votes from members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, two from each NL city, for a total of 388 points. Kemp received 10 first-place votes and 332 points. Braun’s teammate, Prince Fielder — currently a free agent — was third with one first-place vote and 229 points, giving the Brewers two players in the top five for the first time since Yount won and Cecil Cooper ran fifth in the 1982 AL vote.
On one side note, Mets shortstop Jose Reyes finished 11th in the MVP voting. If not for the injuries, he probably could have finished in the top 3 or 4.