MLB 2011 Season in Review: Detroit Tigers' Justin Verlander's Pure Domination
Detroit Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander's 2011 season was one for the ages. The 28-year-old right-handed pitcher annihilated the competition this season.
2011 was the year that Verlander went from a very good pitcher to a great pitcher. Truth be told, he made it look easy, but what he did was anything but simple.
Verlander's stats for the season are somewhat mind boggling. Watching him pitch this year was like stepping into a baseball time warp for three-plus hours every five days. He is truly a classic throwback MLB player.
For starters, Verlander made 34 starts in the regular season, each of which he threw 100-plus pitches. That is unheard of these days. He presents a certain aura about him that commands attention. He gets thoroughly upset with himself every time he allows a base runner, hates to lose and expects nothing less than the best out of himself every trip to the mound.
Verlander finished the season with the most wins, 24, best win percentage, .828, most innings pitched, 251, most strikeouts, 250, lowest ERA, 2.40, lowest opposing batting average, .192, and best WHIP, .92. Verlander even impressed in the new-age baseball stats, leading the American League in Wins Above Replacement (WAR) at 8.5.
This impressive list seemingly goes forever. Then again, he seemingly never came out of a game.
Verlander's shortest outing on the year was six innings, in which he did this eight times, but only three times after the All-Star break. He pitched eight-plus innings a remarkable 14 times. If one were to look up the definition of "workhorse" in the dictionary, pitcher of Justin Verlander would be present.
Tigers manager Jim Leyland hardly managed Verlander. Most days he let his ace call the shots.
Most impressively, Verlander lost his first game after the All-Star break on July 15—he didn't lose another game for the rest of the season. The Tigers have been known to struggle in the second half of the season, but behind Verlander they flourished to a 46-24 record.
He's one of those guys that his teammates never want to let down—they can sense they're playing with greatness.
Verlander's most memorable moment in 2011 was his no-hitter against the Toronto Blue Jays on May 7. His performance that day proves his dominance. It was the second no-hit effort of his six-year career. To go along with his no-hitter, he allowed three hits or less in eight other outings. Wow.
He's a shoe-in for AL Cy Young this year and has made his case for AL MVP. If he wins MVP, he'll be the pitcher since Dennis Eckersley in 1992 to do so.
Verlander took his game to a level rarely seen in baseball this season—he also took his team to the playoffs. Although he and the Tigers were washed out before they accomplished their ultimate goal, that's all the motivation Justin Verlander needs to continue his domination for years to come.
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