Justin Verlander completes rare double, winning MVP to go with Cy Young

Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander, the unanimous choice for the American League Cy Young Award this year, added the AL Most Valuable Player Award trophy to his collection as well in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Verlander, 28, became the first starting pitcher in 25 years to be named MVP and only the second player in the history of BBWAA voting to win all three player awards. He was the AL winner of the Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award in 2006. The only other player to do so was pitcher Don Newcombe, the National League Rookie of the Year in 1949 and the NL MVP and Cy Young Award winner in 1956, all with the Brooklyn Dodgers.

The election marked the first time any pitcher won the MVP since Oakland Athletics reliever Dennis Eckersley in 1992. The previous starting pitcher honored was Roger Clemens with the Boston Red Sox in 1986. Verlander won the AL’s Triple Crown of pitching with league-high figures in victories (24), earned run average (2.40) and strikeouts (250). The righthander also led the AL in winning percentage (.828 based on a 24-5 record), innings (251) and opponents’ batting average (.192). His victory total, which included a no-hitter May 7 at Toronto, was the highest in the majors since 1990 when Oakland’s Bob Welch won 27 games.

Verlander was listed first on 13 of the 28 ballots, cast by two writers from each league city, and totaled 280 points, based on a tabulation system rewarding 14 points for first place, nine for second, eight for third on down to one for 10th. He won despite not being named on one ballot.

Toronto Blue Jays right fielder Jose Bautista, who led the league in home runs (43), slugging (.608), on-base plus slugging (1.056) and walks (132), received five first-place votes and placed third overall in the balloting with 231 points, behind Red Sox center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (.321, 32 HR, 105 RBI, 119 R, 83 XBH, 39 SB), who had four first-place votes and was the runner-up with 242 points.

New York Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson (.262, 41 HR, 119 RBI, 136 R) received three first-place votes and was fourth in the voting with 215 points. Tigers first baseman Miguel Cabrera (.344, 30 HR, 105 RBI, 48 2B) got two first-place votes and ranked fifth with 193 points. The other first-place vote went to Texas Rangers designated hitter Michael Young (.338, 11 HR, 106 RBI, 213 H), who finished eighth in the voting and received votes in all 10 spaces on the ballot.

Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano (.302, 28 HR, 118 RBI, 104 R) finished sixth, followed by Red Sox first baseman Adrian Gonzalez (.338, 27 HR, 117 RBI, 213 H), Young, Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia (.307, 21 HR, 91 RBI, 102 R, 26 SB) and Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria (.244, 31 HR, 99 RBI), rounding out the top 10. In all, 23 players received votes. Ellsbury, Bautista, Granderson and Cabrera were named on every ballot.

Verlander was the 10th pitcher to win the MVP and Cy Young Awards in the same season and the seventh in the AL, joining Eckersley, Clemens, Guillermo (Willie) Hernandez in 1984, Rollie Fingers in 1981, Vida Blue in 1971 and Denny McLain in 1968. NL pitchers to do it were Newcombe, Bob Gibson in 1968 and Sandy Koufax in 1963.

It marked the 11th time a pitcher has been named MVP in the AL as Verlander joined Eckersley, Clemens, Hernandez, Fingers, Blue, McLain, Bobby Shantz, Spud Chandler, Lefty Grove and two-time winner Hal Newhouser. Nine pitchers have won in the NL but none since Gibson in 1968. Verlander was the eighth former AL Rookie of the Year to win MVP, joining Pedroia, Rod Carew, Thurman Munson, Fred Lynn, Cal Ripken Jr., Jose Canseco and Ichiro Suzuki. Lynn in 1975 and Suzuki in 2001 won both awards in the same season.

The election was the ninth won by a Detroit player. In addition to Newhouser, Hank Greenberg also won twice. Other Tigers winners were McLain, Hernandez, Mickey Cochrane and Charlie Gehringer.

The voting:

2011 AL MVP

Player, Team1st2nd3rd4th5th6th7th8th9th10thPoints
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers13334121280
Jacoby Ellsbury, Boston Red Sox41341411242
Jose Bautista, Toronto Blue Jays574441111231
Curtis Granderson, New York Yankees3448612215
Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers2955241193
Robinson Cano, New York Yankees22364511112
Adrian Gonzalez, Boston Red Sox11268331105
Michael Young, Texas Rangers111111474296
Dustin Pedroia, Boston Red Sox414648
Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays212327
Ian Kinsler, Texas Rangers1211125
Alex Avila, Detroit Tigers112213
Paul Konerko, Chicago White Sox5111
CC Sabathia, New York Yankees210
Adrian Beltre, Texas Rangers2119
Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays117
Victor Martinez, Detroit Tigers1127
James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays157
Mark Teixeira, New York Yankees115
Asdrubal Cabrera, Cleveland Indians124
Alex Gordon, Kansas City Royals33
Josh Hamilton, Texas Rangers11
David Robertson, New York Yankees11