Detroit Tigers: Why Verlander Deserves to Be the Highest Paid Pitcher in History

Josh Berenter@JBerenterCorrespondent IMarch 29, 2013

Mar 11, 2012; Lakeland, FL, USA; Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Justin Verlander (35) pitches during the first inning against the New York Mets at Joker Marchant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports
Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Verlander will be a Detroit Tiger for life.

The 30-year-old right-hander is the best pitcher in baseball, and on Friday, the Tigers made the best possible move they could make, ensuring Verlander will don the Old English D for the rest of his career.

The Tigers signed Verlander to a five-year extension, making his contract a seven-year deal worth $180 million with a vesting option for an eighth year that could push the deal over $200 million.

And Verlander deserves every penny.

In 2011, he became the first pitcher to be named MVP since Dennis Eckersley in 1992, and became the first MVP starter since Roger Clemens in 1986.

Verlander went 24-5 with a 2.40 ERA and 250 strikeouts in 2011 and added a 17-8 record with a 2.64 ERA last season , finishing second in Cy Young voting. He had led MLB in strikeouts three of the last four seasons and recorded the most wins in the league twice since 2009.

In his seven major league seasons, he's redefined greatness and there isn't another pitcher who has come close to his level over the last several seasons.

His contract is $5 million more than the $175 million deal Felix Hernandez inked in February, and Verlander has proved to be much more valuable than Hernandez the last two seasons.

In the last two years, Hernandez has a record of 27-22 with a 3.26 ERA, 445 strikeouts and 123 walks in 465.2 innings.

Comparatively, since 2011 Verlander has a 41-13 record, with a sub-2.50 ERA, 489 strikeouts and 113 walks in 489.1 innings.

Verlander has been better than the previously highest-paid MLB pitcher across the board.

And perhaps the best thing for Tigers fans is that Verlander wants to be in Detroit.

"I love this city & the fans -- couldn't be more excited to spend my career here! We're going to bring a World Series to Detroit!!!" Verlander tweeted, shortly after announcing the extension.

Verlander has been the ace of the Tigers staff since the beginning of his career and has led Detroit to back-to-back AL Central championships as well as World Series appearances in 2006 and 2012.

He's been one of the biggest factors in the Tigers' return to prominence and is one of the most respected and feared players in baseball.

"Justin is one of the premier pitchers in baseball and we are thrilled to keep him in a Tigers uniform for many years to come," Tigers general manager Dave Dombrowski said to "Justin has been a Tiger for his entire career and he is on pace to be one of the greatest pitchers in this illustrious franchise's history."

There's no doubt he deserves to be the highest-paid pitcher in baseball.