Now, before we launch into this bad boy, I have to make a very important distinction between the words could and should. I'm not saying the any of following players should have won the MVP, but considering Justin Verlander's stats and that fact that he, himself, just won the AL MVP, the comparison is being made.
In most cases, the player who went on to win his respective league's MVP Award deserved the distinction; this is merely a hypothetical look at pitchers who could have won it given the standard now seemingly set by Verlander as only the fifth pitcher to be named MVP in either league since 1971.
Another important note: I am not a "Baseball Guy." For my rant on "Baseball Guys", I redirect you here.
That being said, I focused primarily on pitchers from 1990 to present day.
Now, as always, submitted for your disapproval, the seven Cy Young winners who could have won the MVP.
Before we set off on this amazing journey, you and I, I need to quickly fill you in on Justin Verlander's MVP-winning season that will be compared here and pretty much everywhere else for quite some time.
The Numbers: 24 wins, 5 losses, 2.40 ERA and 250 K's
The Team: The Detroit Tigers went 95-67 in the regular season to ultimately win the AL Central Division Title for the first time since joining it in 1998. They ultimately lost to the Texas Rangers in the ALCS.
2011 AL MVP: Justin Verlander, P, Detroit Tigers
Boom. Shock and awe right out of the gate.
Considering it looks as though the voters are a little loopy off printer fumes anyway, why not complete the cycle and award two pitchers their league's MVP Award in the same campaign?
The Numbers: 21-5 record (3 wins less than Verlander), 2.54 ERA and 170 K's
The Team: Considering the reality-show-quality drama level coming out of Chavez Ravine, it's impressive the Dodgers even managed a winning record—barely—at 82 and 79. Finishing third in the NL West was a blessing thanks in large part to "Baby Koufax's" 21 wins, five losses and overall inspiring performance on the mound.
2011 NL MVP: We'll see very soon. While Kershaw would certainly make a splash, my money is on Matty Kemp.
One of the glaring differences between 2008 Cliff Lee and 2011 Justin Verlander is the success of their respective teams. Given the struggles faced by Cleveland coming off an AL Central Division title, Lee was the best player on a floundering club.
The Numbers: 23-3 record (proportionately better than Verlander's 24-5), 2.54 ERA and 170 K's
The Team: As I said, the Indians were coming off a division win in 2007. Ultimately finishing third in the AL Central at a dead-even 81-81, Lee did everything he could to ensure his team's success, and ultimately came out with a Cy Young.
2008 AL MVP: Dustin Pedroia, 2B, Red Sox
In a season garnering a second of three Cy Young awards, Pedro Martinez rocked the American League. With one loss more than 2008 Cliff Lee, and one win less than Verlander, by today's standards Martinez could have easily won the AL MVP.
The Numbers: 23 wins, 4 losses, 2.07 ERA, 313 K's (63 on Verlander)
The Team: The 1999 Boston Red Sox finished the season second in the AL East behind the Yankees, ultimately going 94 and 68. Their season resulted in an ALCS loss to New York and Pedro Martinez becoming just the second pitcher to win the Cy Young in both leagues.
AL MVP: Ivan Rodriguez, C, Texas Rangers
Putting the doping allegations aside, Clemens had a fantastic season for the Toronto Blue Jays in 1998. Winning the AL Cy Young in 1986, Clemens was the last pitcher before Justin Verlander to also win the MVP. His 1998 campaign could very well have come to the same conclusion.
The Numbers: 24 wins, 4 losses (one less than Verlander), 2.48 ERA and 271 K's (21 on Verlander)
The Team: Ending the regular season with an 88-74 record, the Jays put together their best record since their 1993 World Series win. Coming off a last place finish the year before, the Jays ultimately finished third in the AL East, barely missing the postseason.
1998 AL MVP: Juan Gonzalez, OF, Texas Rangers
In a season resulting in his fourth straight and fifth overall Cy Young, Randy Johnson put up some monster numbers. Given the sheer level of talent and success, it's truly curious as to why he never seemed to merit an MVP win.
The Numbers: 24 wins and 5 losses (equal to Verlander), 2.32 ERA (0.08 better) and 335 K's (+84)
The Team: Coming off their 2001 World Series win, the Diamondbacks pretty much ran what was then a competitive NL West. Winning their division with a 98-64 record, they were ultimately swept in the NLDS by St. Louis.
2002 NL MVP: Barry Bonds, OF, Giants
I left Zito closer to the end because I'm honestly not sure if he was MVP worthy considering the success of the team behind him. However, he did go on to win the AL Cy Young, and it's hard to deny the fantastic season he had. Though considering the overall caliber of team Brad Pitt managed to put together, it's hard to say it was all because of Zito.
The Numbers: 23 wins and 5 losses (one win less than Verlander), 2.75 ERA (0.35 better), and 182 K's, 68 under Verlander and a telling sign of the strong fielders on the 2002 A's
The Team: Chances are you've seen Moneyball, so I'm not going to waste your time recounting all the details of the Oakland A's 103-59 season. Finishing first in the AL West, they ultimately lost to the Twins in the ALDS.
2002 AL MVP: Miguel Tijada, SS, Oakland Athletics (toldja' so)
This one is definitely more of an "Honorable Mention" considering the monster seasons everyone else on this list had, but there's something about Doc Halladay nobody can seem to ignore.
I think one of the main culprits behind this one is that nagging voice in the back of my head that keeps reminding me of Doc's "No-No" against the Reds in the post-season. Knowing the postseason isn't taken into considering during the voting, however, really crumbles my soap-box.
Basically what I'm saying is save your outbursts for a writer not admitting that he's probably wrong on this one.
The Numbers: 21 wins, 10 losses (five more than Verlander) and 2.44 ERA, 219 K's (-31)
The Team: As the defending NL Champs, the Phillies ultimately ended the season atop the NL East with a 97-65 record. After an amazing season, they were eventually dispatched by the soon-to-be World Series champion San Francisco Giants in the NLCS.
2010 NL MVP: Joey Votto, 1B, Cincinnati Reds