In what surely ranks as the year’s biggest slam dunk, the Baseball Writers Association of America named Justin Verlander as their unanimous American League Cy Young award winner.
Verlander posted terrific numbers across the board in 2011, leading the league in innings pitched, strikeouts, WHIP and leverage-neutral WPA. He ranked in the top five for FIP, xFIP while winning the ERA title. He no-hit the Blue Jays in May and won 24 games for a first-place team. It was a near slam dunk, a unamimous vote sweep for JV.
With the writers doing the right thing by sweeping Verlander to the award, it afforded quite a bit of downballot malfescence. Jered Weaver and James Shields rounded out the top three as expected with CC Sabathia finishing fourth and Jose Valverde coming fifth. Valverde picked up one second-place, three third-place, six fourth-place and three fifth-place votes. Which is uniformly ridiculous.
Nearly as ridiculous as the fifth-place vote cast for Mr. David Robertson. Robertson is a damn fine reliever but among the five best pitchers in the AL last year? I’m not so sure.
Just as I’m not sure the Tigers had the two best pitchers in the AL this year, but some writer (from Detroit, one can’t help but assume) apparently did.
So congrats to Justin Verlander, a worthy winner of this year’s prize. And great shame on the voters who use their ballots to make some vague political statement. Except the guy who voted Ricky Romero fourth, that guy is awesome.