Justin Verlander: Comparing Him to the Only 9 Pitchers in the Cy Young-MVP Club
Any time a pitcher has a truly great season and warrants Most Valuable Player talk, there will be a debate about whether a pitcher should be included in MVP voting or not.
Of course, everyone knows that there is an award for the most valuable pitcher in each league—the Cy Young award.
The best everyday position players compete for the MVP award.
It's a debate that rarely ever merits much attention since it is such a rare feat for a pitcher to win both awards in the same season.
Since the inception of the Cy Young Award in 1956, only nine pitchers have managed to win both the MVP and Cy Young in the same season.
Verlander has a record of 21-5 (16 games over .500 himself), building the case that he has put the Tigers on his back to help catapult them into their current position in the playoff chase.
Ultimately, we will likely have a separate MVP and Cy Young Award winner in the American League this season, as is usually the case.
Here's a look at how Verlander stacks up against the nine members of the MVP-Cy Young Club.
Don Newcombe: 1956 Cy Young & MVP
Don Newcombe was the first pitcher to win both awards back in 1956, the inaugural season of the Cy Young award.
That season, Newcombe pitched his way to a 27-7 season with a 3.06 ERA.
Sandy Koufax: 1963 Cy Young & MVP Winner
In 1963 Sandy Koufax pitched his way to both the Cy Young and MVP awards. Koufax won 25 games, only losing five times, while making 40 starts.
He posted a 1.88 ERA and pitched a league-high 11 shutouts, leading the league with 306 strikeouts in the process.
Koufax finished second in MVP voting in his two other Cy Young seasons (1965 and 1966).
Bob Gibson: 1968 Cy Young & MVP Winner
Bob Gibson matched Sandy Koufax's accomplishment to become the second player to win both the Cy Young and MVP award in the same season back in 1968.
In Gibson's historic season, he would post a 22-9 record with a league-best 1.12 ERA. Gibson would lead the league in shutouts with 13 and also in strikeouts with 268.
For what it's worth, he also won a Gold Glove Award that season.
Gibson's Cardinals lost in the World Series that season to the Detroit Tigers, though he pitched spectacularly, posting a 1.67 ERA to go with his 2-1 series record.
In Gibson's other Cy Young season, 1970, he finished fourth in MVP voting.
Denny McLain: 1968 Cy Young & MVP
Denny McLain would match the accomplishments of Bob Gibson by winning the American League MVP and Cy Young award to place all four awards in the hands of two pitchers during the 1968 season.
McLain posted a 31-6 record for the Detroit Tigers in 1968 while also maintaining a 1.96 ERA. He led the league in games-started with 41, and also in complete games with 28.
His Tigers beat Gibson's Cardinals in the World Series that season. McLain went 1-2 with a 3.24 ERA in the series.
Vida Blue: 1971 Cy Young & MVP
Vida Blue earned the honors of winning both the Cy Young and MVP award in 1971 for the Oakland Athletics.
Blue put together a 24-8 record and a league best 1.82 ERA that season while also leading the league with eight shutouts.
His '71 Oakland A's lost in the American League Championship Series to the Baltimore Orioles.
Rollie Fingers: 1981 Cy Young & MVP
Rollie Fingers earned both awards while pitching for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 1981 season.
He posted a 6-3 record and a 1.04 ERA while saving 28 games.
His '81 Brewers lost in the American League Division Series to the Milwaukee Brewers.
Willie Hernandez: 1984 Cy Young & MVP
Willie Hernandez put together a 9-3 record and saved 32 games for the Tigers in 1984 to earn both awards.
He pitched in a league high 80 games and finished a league high 68 games.
The Tigers won the World Series in '84 and Hernandez finished three games, posting a 1.69 ERA in the series over the Padres.
Roger Clemens: 1986 Cy Young & MVP Winner
Long before the steroid allegations, back when Roger Clemens was simply one of the best young pitchers in the game, he managed to become the first player in 18 seasons to win both the Cy Young and MVP awards in the same season.
Clemens would win a league-best 24 games while also posting a league-best 2.48 ERA.
At just 23 years of age, he struck out 238 batters that season.
Dennis Eckersley: 1992 Cy Young & MVP Winner
Dennis Eckersley pitched his way to the award in 1992 and is currently the last pitcher to earn such a distinction.
In 1992, Eckersley posted a 7-1 record while finishing a league-high 65 games and saving a league-high 51 games. His ERA for the season was a minuscule 1.91 and he had a 10.5 K/9 ratio.
Ecks' Oakland A's team lost in the American League Championship Series to the Toronto Blue Jays that season.
Justin Verlander: What Hardware Will His 2011 Season Earn Him?
It's certainly hard to argue that Justin Verlander is not deserving of the Cy Young Award in 2011.
He leads the league in wins with 21, games started, innings pitched and strikeouts. He threw a no-hitter earlier this season and was selected to the All-Star team.
He has a very real chance to win 25 games this season for the Tigers and his ERA is a very impressive 2.38.
While his Tigers are currently 14 games above .500, Verlander is personally 16 games above .500 (21-5).
His team also sits atop the American League Central and appears to be headed to a playoff appearance.
While the MVP award will likely go to Boston's Adrian Gonzalez or Toronto's Jose Bautista, Verlander is certainly going to finish with some votes.
It still remains to be seen what his contributions will be to the Tigers in the playoffs, or how deep they will be able to go into the postseason. But as things stand right now, Verlander stacks up well with Newcombe, Koufax, Gibson, McLain, Blue, Fingers, Hernandez, Clemens and Eckersley.
Will he win it? I'd lean towards saying probably not, but he definitely deserves every vote he does receive, and probably more...