AL MVP: Curtis Granderson or Justin Verlander - Leading League in RBI/R or Pitcher Triple Crown?

There is a heated debate going on in the world of baseball over the legitimacy of Justin Verlander as an MVP candidate. There is no debating that what he has done is special - he is leading the AL in Wins, ERA and strikeouts... the triple crown for pitchers. The pitcher's triple crown has been accomplished 36 times in baseball history (15 times in the AL and 21 times in the NL). Since the Cy Young Award was introduced in 1956, it has been done 11 times and in every occasion, the pitcher earning the triple crown won his respective Cy Young award. In my opinion, you can etch Verlander's name on that award. It is truly remarkable what he has done but does that warrant an MVP award?

Since the introduction of the split Cy Young award (giving one award to one pitcher from each league- which started in 1967), there have only been four instances where a starting pitcher has won both the Cy Young award and the MVP award so the odds aren't in his favor there. In my opinion (and my colleagues share this opinion), the MVP award should be awarded to the best position player unless you believe that the rest of the field is completely unworthy. So the key to this might be assessing the other candidates. For simple argument's sake, I'm going to pass on Jacoby Ellsbury, Jose Bautista and Adrian Gonzalez, although you could make an argue for any of them, and take a look at Curtis Granderson because he and Matt Kemp are on the verge of doing something very historic.

As of this moment, Matt Kemp and Curtis Granderson are both leading their respective leagues in runs batted in and runs scored. Since 1920, there have only been 26 players that have finished a season leading their respective league in both of those categories in the same year (five players have done it multiple times - 35 total occurrences). There have only been three instances since 1920 that a player from each league has led the league in RBI and R in the same year - 1947 (Johnny Mize and Ted Williams), 1931 (Chuck Klein and Lou Gehrig) and 1921 (Rogers Hornsby and Babe Ruth). If they can keep it up, that would be pretty impressive company for Kemp and Granderson.

The historical significance of this doesn't bode particularly well for Justin Verlander's MVP candidacy. Consider this - of the 28 occurrences since 1930 where a player led his league in both runs scored and runs batted in, 21 times that player has won the MVP award.

The bottom line is that you could argue that Granderson might not be the best candidate (Bautista is the league leader in WAR and Ellsbury/Gonzalez have had great years in Boston) but he IS most definitely a worthy candidate based on history and since he is a worthy candidate, he is starting a 100 meter race with a 30 meter head start. It might not seem fair but that's why they created the Cy Young Award.

My vote would be Granderson and then Bautista and then Gonzalez... Verlander doesn't creep into the picture for me until that point.

What about you... what do you think?


  1. Agree, Granderson should be MVP. Maybe they should create an award for best position player. Baseball is mired in tradition, so this probably won't happen. It would allow for a more equal playing field for MVP. Many people, myself included, believe pitchers have their own award which determines best pitcher in the league. There's precedent too. Some really great pitching seasons were not honored with the MVP in favor of a hitter. In 1999, Pedro had one of the greatest seasons ever 23-4, 2.07 ERA, 313 K - No MVP. 1990, Bob Welch wins 27 games, finishes 9th. Most wins since Steve Carlton who won 27 in 1972 and finished 5th. Carlton had 46% percent of the Phillies wins by himself that year. My thought, make a best hitter/position player award and then everyone vies for MVP, or keep it the way it is where pitchers win the Cy and hitters win MVP.

  2. Normally, I would 100% agree w/ both of you but in this case, you gotta look beyond the peripheral numbers. Yeah, the pitching triple is quite a feat on its own, but consider the Tigers situation w/o Verlander. They won there division by fourteen games. Almost exclusively bc of Verlander's 24 wins (ok, Miguel Cabrera doesn't hurt either). Next closest, Max Scherzer w/ 15. The Tigers are a possible playoff team w/o him and division runaway w/ him. Isn't MVP supposed to be the most valuable player to his team? Graderson, Gonzales, Ellsbury, Bautista, Pedroia, Cano are all viable options but w/ the exception of Bautista, all have other players on their team that have contributed equally as much. If your gonna give it to a hitter, Bautista, to me is the clear winner. Unfortunately for him, his team blows and that certainly hurts his chances. I'm not saying Verlander should definitely win, but it warrants further consideration.

  3. I don't think there's a formula that you can use to determine who should win the MVP... it's not entirely individual performance and it's not exclusively players from winning teams. I don't know if you can define what an MVP is. In my opinion, the Cy Young award is the pitcher award and the MVP is the player award. It didn't start out that way but it has gradually evolved into that. Maybe Granderson is not the guy... I could see Ellsbury or even Bautista but I really don't feel like it's fair to the every day players to give the MVP award to a starting pitcher. 162 games is grueling... you have to reward the best position player. That's my opinion. In terms of what a player has meant to his team's success, there probably isn't a better pick than Verlander... 24 dominant wins... it is really a matter of opinion. Thanks for commenting.


Copyright © 2012 FOR BASEBALL JUNKIES.