NEW YORK — Detroit’s Justin Verlander became the first starting pitcher in a quarter-century to win a Most Valuable Player award, adding it to the Cy Young Award he won last week.
Verlander earned the American League MVP honor Monday, receiving 13 of 28 first-place votes and 280 points in voting announced by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.
Boston center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury was second with four firsts and 242 points, followed by Toronto right fielder Jose Bautista with five firsts and 231 points, Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson with 215 and Detroit first baseman Miguel Cabrera with 193.
Verlander won the AL’s pitching triple crown, going 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts, the most wins in the major leagues since Oakland’s Bob Welch went 27-6 in 1990. Verlander pitched his second career no-hitter at Toronto on May 7.
He became the first pitcher voted MVP since Oakland’s Dennis Eckersley in 1992 and the first starting pitcher since Boston’s Roger Clemens in 1986. The 2006 AL Rookie of the Year, Verlander joined the Brooklyn Dodgers’ Don Newcombe as the only players to win all three majors awards in their careers.
Verlander appeared on only 27 ballots and was omitted by Jim Ingraham of The Herald-News in Ohio, who voted Bautista first. Sheldon Ocker of the Akron Beacon Journal voted Verlander eighth.
Ingraham doesn’t think pitchers should be eligible for MVP.
“I’d wrestled with this for a long time. If I was ever going to vote for pitcher for MVP, it would be him this year,” Ingraham said. “He hasn’t appeared in 79 percent of their games, any starting pitcher really doesn’t appear in 79 percent of his team’s games in a year.
“Would you vote for an NFL quarterback for MVP if he only appeared in three of his team’s 16 games, which would 21 percent? So that’s part of it. Another part of it is I think they’re apples and oranges. The guys that are in there every day, there’s a grind to a season that a starting pitcher doesn’t, I don’t think, experience the way the everyday position players do playing 150, 160 games.”
Other pitchers to win MVP and Cy Young in the same year were Newcombe (1956), Los Angeles’ Sandy Koufax (1963), St. Louis’ Bob Gibson and Detroit’s Denny McLain (1968), Oakland’s Vida Blue (1971), Milwaukee’s Rollie Fingers (1981) and Detroit’s Willie Hernandez (1984).
The NL MVP winner will be announced Tuesday.