Verlander Back on Top

November 25th, 2019 by Kevin

Embed from Getty Images
The current decade began with Justin Verlander as one of the best pitchers in baseball. A few years later, he appeared to be a pitcher in decline. Not surprising for someone who was on the wrong side of 30. But then in 2016, he began to return to his old form. By the time he was traded from Detroit to Houston in 2017, he was basically back to being one of the most dominant pitchers in the game. That late career resurgence was taken to a new level in 2019. This year, he recorded a career high in strikeouts and won over 20 games for the first time since 2011. The longtime Kings right-hander was a major contributor to the team winning their second consecutive DTBL Championship. Justin Verlander is the 2019 DTBL Cy Young award winner.

The 2019 season saw DTBL pitchers compile a 3.87 ERA, the highest cumulative ERA since 2006.  Despite the improved offensive environment in baseball, Verlander managed to compile one of the best seasons of his career.  His 2.58 ERA was fourth best in the league.  But he was the league leader in WHIP (0.80) and wins (21).  He struck out exactly 300 batters, a career high.  Only his Astros teammate Gerrit Cole topped him in whiffs.  His 17.3 Pitching PAR is a new record (among seasons that have been calculated).  In fact, Cole’s 16.4 also surpassed the old record, previously held by… Verlander in 2011.  Verlander and Cole became just the fourth and fifth DTBL pitchers to record 20+ wins and 300+ strikeouts in a season, joining Pedro Martinez (1999), Randy Johnson (2001, 2002) and Curt Schilling (2002).  Verlander’s 0.80 WHIP is the second lowest among qualified pitchers in league history, trailing just Martinez’s ridiculous 2000 season (0.74).  He clearly had one of the greatest pitching seasons this league has ever seen.

To the best of my knowledge, Verlander has set a record for longest gap between Cy Young wins.  He is a second time winner, also receiving the award in 2011.  That 2011 campaign is the only other on his resume that could possibly be compared favorably to 2019, though he did finish third for the award just last season as well.  Originally drafted by the Demigods in 2007, he was dropped by them following a very rough 2008 season.  The Kings selected him in the third round in 2009 and have been reaping the benefits ever since.  Although they also came close to dropping him following his mediocre 2014 and 2015 seasons.  All told, he is a six time All-Star and now a two time Cy Young winner.  His case for one of the top pitchers in DTBL history is an easy one to make.  Earlier this season, he became just the fifth pitcher to reach the 200 win plateau and currently sits tied with Tom Glavine for fourth all-time.  He is third on the career strikeout leaderboard.  With a decent season in 2020, he should move up to second, trailing only Randy Johnson.  And he has a pretty good chance of joining Johnson as the only DTBL pitchers to record 3,000 strikeouts.  Speaking of Johnson, the Big Unit is the only pitcher ahead of Verlander on the Kings all-time wins and strikeouts lists as well. Verlander has now been a key piece of three different Kings title winning squads (2013, 2018, 2019).

As expected, this Cy Young race turned into a two way battle between Astros teammates.  Verlander and Cole were the only two pitchers to receive first place votes.  Verlander grabbed seven of them and was placed second on the other three ballots for a total of 91 points.  The Jackalope’s Cole probably would have won this award had he put up his same numbers any other season.  He ever so slightly trailed Verlander in wins, WHIP and PAR.  But he had a slightly lower ERA and 26 more strikeouts.  He received three first place votes and six seconds.  That garnered him 77 points, putting him significantly ahead of everyone but Verlander.  This shook out similarly to the AL Cy Young race where Verlander also edged Cole.  On the other hand, the two time defending NL Cy Young award winner, Darkhorses righty Jacob deGrom, is still looking for his first DTBL Cy Young.  He led the league in ERA (2.25), but trailed Verlander and Cole in the other categories.  DeGrom was the majority choice for third place, receiving six of those votes and a point total of 42.  Coming in fourth was another veteran pitcher who had arguably the best season of his career.  The Mavericks’ Stephen Strasburg recorded a career high 18 wins and 251 strikeouts before cementing his status as an elite postseason pitcher as he helped the Nats win the World Series.  Strasburg received one second place vote and appeared on all ten ballots, finishing with 26 points.  Those were the four pitchers who appeared on every ballot, but the fifth place finisher received significant support as well.  Moonshiners veteran Zack Greinke has experienced a bit of a career resurgence in his own right.  He had his best season since 2015.  Greinke appeared on eight ballots and tallied 14 points.  So three of the top five finishers completed the season as members of the Astros rotation.  And building off a year-long theme of veteran starters leading the way, four of these five pitchers are over 30 years old and none are younger than 29.

Click here to view the full voting results.

You can expect the Most Valuable Player award winner to be announced on Wednesday. That figures to be an extremely competitive race as three players, in particular, have incredibly strong cases to be made for the honor.

Leave a Reply