Justin Verlander has accomplished more than most pitchers dare dream. But after 33 career plate appearances, he has created 34 outs. That may be a record. With 14 strikeouts he rarely makes contact. He has no hits or walks. One of the few times he did made contact, he grounded into a double play. His triple slash line is .000/.000/.000. But Justin is an extremely competitive person. A few years ago he had some rough outings during inter-league play. His pitching coach suggested that he was putting too much effort into batting practice, rather than staying focused on his pitching routine.
Ben Verlander is Justin's much younger brother. He followed in Justin's footsteps by playing baseball at Old Dominion before the Tigers drafted him in the 14th round this season. He had one good season at the plate after focusing on hitting, but he does not make any top prospect lists.
So when I see that Ben is off to a good start with Connecticut in the Class A Short-Season New York - Penn League, we need to take notice. In only eight games he is hitting .300 with two doubles and a home run. He also has ten strikeouts, which screams that the offensive performance will slow down. But if Justin knows that his little brother is looking good at the plate, perhaps it is news that can spark his competitive spirit to get back to his old self on the mound. In any event, Thanksgiving will be a little more interesting this year at the Verlanders' home.