Having established that ERA is an unhelpful number, we now need to answer the question: How should pitchers be judged?
A number of very good new stats capture the value of pitchers more effectively than the standard ones, and it's not all about WAR.
FIP: This stat takes into account only strikeout, unintentional walk and home-run rates, avoiding the vagaries of batted-ball luck and bullpen support issues. According thereto, CC Sabathia was better than Verlander in 2011. So were Dan Haren and Brandon McCarthy.
xFIP: Theorizing that even home-run rates are sometimes beyond a pitcher's control (ballparks have a big influence; so does weather), xFIP adjusts the pitcher's homer rate based on the percentage of his total flies that leave the park. By this measure, Verlander again trails Sabathia, and Felix Hernandez pulls roughly level.
WAR: I said it wasn't all about WAR. It's hard to compare ballplayers. Ballparks, team support and schedule all play a tough role to judge. Even if we can prove Verlander is better than all other AL pitchers, is he the best PLAYER in the league?
WAR comes as close to answering that question as any number we have, and it responds to the above question emphatically: No.
Bautista, Ellsbury and Pedroia were all a full win better than Verlander, or more. Sabathia was marginally better. For that matter, Ian Kinsler, Miguel Cabrera and Curtis Granderson were as good or better than Verlander, and Alex Gordon was within WAR's margin of error. Verlander simply did not dominate the league the way the writers thought he did.