Tigers’ Verlander Wins First MVP as Pitcher Since Dennis Eckersley in 1992

The Detroit Tigers’ Justin Verlander became the first pitcher to be named a league Most Valuable Player since Dennis Eckersley in 1992.

Verlander, the unanimous winner last week of the Cy Young Award as the American League’s best pitcher, was named the AL’s MVP today in voting by the Baseball Writers Association of America.

Verlander received 13 of 28 first-place votes and 280 total points, topping runner-up Jacoby Ellsbury of the Boston Red Sox, who received four first-place votes and 242 points. The Toronto Blue Jays’ Jose Bautista was third with five first-place votes and 231 points.

“I want to say it was a dream come true, but really, the Cy Young was a dream come true,” Verlander said in an interview with ESPN. “I couldn’t have even dreamt of this.”

Six players received first-place votes, including the New York Yankees’ Curtis Granderson, the Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera and the Texas Rangers’ Michael Young.

Granderson finished fourth with 215 points and Yankees second-baseman Robinson Cano was sixth with 112. New York pitcher CC Sabathia received 10 points for 14th place, with first-baseman Mark Teixeira getting five points for 19th.

Eckersley was a relief pitcher when he won the award with the Oakland Athletics after recording 51 saves. Verlander is the first starting pitcher named MVP since Roger Clemens, who won the AL award in 1986 after going 24-4 with a 2.48 earned run average for the Red Sox.

Triple Crown

Verlander, 28, won pitching’s so-called Triple Crown this season by leading the AL with 24 wins, a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts. He was 24-5 and the win total was the highest in the AL since 1990, when Bob Welch won 27 games for the Athletics.

Along with victories in his final 12 starts, Verlander pitched a no-hitter on May 7 against the Blue Jays. He was also 14-1 in the AL Central, helping the Tigers to the division title.

Verlander won the award even though he wasn’t listed on one writer’s ballot, which gives points for the top 10 players.

Some members of the writers’ group have said over the years that they won’t vote for pitchers as MVP. They have argued that pitchers have had their own award, the Cy Young, since 1956 and that other players are on the field virtually every day.

“I hear people saying all the arguments,” Verlander said. “It’s such a fine line, I didn’t know how the writers were going to go.”

History Ignored

Major League Baseball’s biggest individual honors have traditionally gone to players whose teams made the playoffs or competed well down the stretch, or who had standout statistical seasons. The baseball writers ignored that history last season when they voted the Seattle Mariners’ Felix Hernandez as the AL Cy Young Award winner even with a 13-12 record, paying more attention to his 2.27 ERA.

The previous three most recent Tigers named MVP also were pitchers -- Willie Hernandez in 1984, Denny McLain in 1968 and Hal Newhouser won in 1944 and 1945. Other Detroit players named MVP were Hank Greenberg in 1935 and 1940, Charlie Gehringer in 1937, Mickey Cochrane in 1934 and Ty Cobb in 1911.

Ten pitchers have won the Cy Young and MVP awards in the same season, including seven in the AL.

The National League MVP will be announced tomorrow.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mason Levinson in New York at mlevinson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net.

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