A few weeks ago, some fans and the occasional pundit wondered if Justin Verlander could win the American League MVP award. At least -- in the vague terminology of baseball commentators online and off -- he deserved consideration, they said.
Of course, Verlander is a pitcher. It seemed to me consideration -- translate that into "some fifth place votes" -- would be about all Verlander got. Pitchers are very important every fifth day or so. The other 80% of the time, they have great seats to watch the game. So over time voters have taken the Cy Young Award to be the best pitching award, and the MVP award to be the, well, "most valuable" position player.
But a funny thing started happening: Verlander began to gain a bit of momentum for the award. As he drew closer to 25 wins, that momentum only picked up steam. And despite that gobbledygook that Jerry Green wrote about in the Detroit News online about a week back, a lot of support is coming from the younger generation of baseball fans and writers. (By the way, Jerry Green, if you're reading this, the real opposition to Justin Verlander winning the MVP isn't your straw man, it's the people who have voted for the award for years: Old guys sorta like Bob Ryan.)
Just put "Justin Verlander MVP" into your Google News search box and be amazed at the number of articles that you'll find. Earlier in the month, Bill Simmons was an early adopter. Some say Verlander deserves to win, such as a writer at ESPN.com. Some call him the favorite, such as this Sports Illustrated writer. New York Times baseball writer Tyler Kepner was all over Twitter discussing Verlander yesterday. An NESN (Boston) writer notes that believing only position players should win the MVP award is faulty logic. The unscientific poll of fans at MLB.com gives Verlander a wide lead as well. Even Forbes Magazine has gotten into the act.
Like I said, for the longest time I didn't think there was much chance of a pitcher ever winning the MVP award again. Maybe this year is just a special case caused by the combination of a good season by Verlander with an awful season by the Tigers' fifth starters. (The stat that JV is 16-3 following a Tigers' loss sounds great, but it's amazing to see more than half his starts followed a loss. How often does that happen?)
It could happen. You almost expect it to.