OT Verlander 24-5

Submitted by Blue boy johnson on September 18th, 2011 at 7:37 PM

Justin Verlander now 24-5 and having one of the finest seasons in recent history. If I had a vote for MVP JV would get it. Cy Young is a mortal lock

On another note, those pesky Rangers won again, leaving the Tigers with a precarious one game lead in the race for HFA. Go Tigers.



September 18th, 2011 at 7:58 PM ^

What's far more impressive about Verlander's season than the archaic "statistic" of wins is how many different stats this guy tops the AL in. Go the ESPN.com, click away on pitcher stats and see how many times you see "1. Justin Verlander." It's a lot...

WHIP, ERA, Ks. Opposing BAA, OBP, SLG, OPS. Best WAR among pitchers. Just goes on and on.

I still think Bautista will be given the award, but any time you're a pitcher, the "it was an honor just to be nominated" speech is no lie. This is probably the best individual season of a Detroit athlete since Barry Sanders' 2,000-yard season.




September 18th, 2011 at 8:09 PM ^

if you buy into DIPS-ish pitching statistics (and you should), then Sabathia has a really, really good case.  Verlander had a huge lead in all the advanced stats a month and a half ago, but Sabathia has passed Verlander in basically all of them.   Verlander's biggest claims to fame now are Wins and ERA, but Pitcher Wins is an utterly useless stat, and ERA is a very flawed one.  


September 18th, 2011 at 8:15 PM ^

I'd just say this: basically every front office in baseball is ignoring Pitcher Win totals in favor of stats like FIP, xFIP, tERA, SIERA, and other advanced stats that isolate the things a pitcher can control and minimize the effect of luck, defense, run support, and ballpark. 

If you don't want to buy into those, that's cool, but I think you're missing out on some real insights in to what makes pitchers (including Verlander) great.  


September 18th, 2011 at 8:20 PM ^

just talking about who should.

And I'll say this: I have absolutely no problem with Verlander winning the award.  He's been -- at worst -- the second best pitcher in the AL this year.  I'm just a bit annoyed that the narrative is "Verlander is the only legitimate candidate" when Sabathia is having an awesome season that compares very favorably with Verlander's.  


September 18th, 2011 at 9:11 PM ^

I love advanced metrics as much as the next guy.  But when one guy leads in:

  • Wins,
  • ERA,
  • WHIP,
  • Ks,
  • Innings pitched,
  • % of quality starts,
  • Component ERA,
  • BAA,
  • OBP against,
  • Slugging % against, and
  • OPS against

You've got a really, REALLY tall hill to climb to convince me he doesn't deserve the Cy Young.


September 18th, 2011 at 9:15 PM ^

sorry, but the eye test by everyone with a pulse and knowledge about baseball (no offense intended) says its not close and that there isn't another candidate who deserves the award.

For argument sakes...traditional states that matter in the voting process


The only thing Sabathia has going for him is he pitches in a sandbox, but at the same time, he has the most expensive lineup full of all stars behind him, yet he is nowhere near JV in wins

Just my 2 cents


September 18th, 2011 at 8:16 PM ^

ERA is far from perfect, but it's not nearly as flawed as the nerdier segment of SABR wants to believe it is. Give a game the eye ball test and it's hard to notice a truly significant difference in defense from team-to-team.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:17 PM ^

Tell that to Zack Greinke.  

And Verlander has like a .237 BABIP this season, which is a huge reason his ERA is as low as it is.  That's just not sustainable.  What's impressive is that, even normalizing his BABIP, his stats are still awesome, because he's a great pitcher.  


September 18th, 2011 at 8:27 PM ^

Are you going to tell me that BABIP is not seriously flawed? Come on. Not all in-play balls are created equal.

I'm glad DIPS stats are out there. It's a relevant part of the equation and interesting to look at. But it is nowhere near the definitive measure that some metric zealots want to believe it is.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:34 PM ^

SABR people look at BABIP as flawed too. Some pitchers have lower BABIP's because they are better pitchers. Pitchers with high strikeout rates get weaker, easier to field balls. Pitchers with higher ground ball rates have lower BABIPs on ground balls than others. The same applies to HR/FB rate. The more fly balls you allow, the fewer home runs you allow per fly ball. That's why they invented the stat Siera. It factors in all the different rates that pitchers produce compared to, on average, what happens when you give up those rates. That eliminates each pitchers particular defense from the equation, which ERA does not do. For the record, Verlander has a 2.79 Siera and CC has a 2.97.


September 18th, 2011 at 9:15 PM ^

BABIP isn't a completely independent thing that will always revert to some magical median.

Which is more likely: Verlander has just been lucky with balls in play for the last 33 starts, or that hitters might not hit the ball very hard off the guy throwing 300 MPH with ridiculous secondary pitches?


September 18th, 2011 at 9:19 PM ^

a career BABIP of .286, so it is completely possible that he has gotten a bit lucky. It's also completely possible he's gotten even better than he already was before as he is walking nearly 2 percent fewer hitters than his career total, indicating better control. Answer? Who knows. It seems likely that .237 won't happen again next year though.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:19 PM ^

No offense to you personally, but I learned a long time ago never to argue advanced metrics/statistics with people. You can not convince an advanced metric/statistic person of anything. You cannot even have a reasonable debate. People of that ilk love advanced metrics more then the sport involved, more than logic, more than their kid, and the opportunity to be contrarian and advocate something ridiculous because of some acronym that was made up 11 minutes ago will preclude them from reasonable thought. Me and the 98% of Cy Young voters who list Verlander as #1 will be off on one-side, and the advanced metric people will gnash their teeth and beat their breasts that everyone had the audacity to watch sporting events and see who was obviously the most dominant pitcher in a season in almost a decade instead of sitting at home and looking at xFIP charts.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

that people say about SABR people.  That they don't love baseball.  Do you have any idea how much someone has to love baseball to devote thousands of hours to figuring out what makes some baseball players better than others?  Talk to any sabermetric person, and you'll meet someone who has an incredible, abiding love for the sport of baseball.  And it's an appreciation that's not limited to a fucking spreadsheet.  Every sabermetrics guy I know thought Austin Jackson's 9th inning throw to win that game against Cleveland was just unbelievably awesome, and Verlander has had like 5 starts this year that have left my jaw on the floor.  

Sabermetrics people are, almost to a man, sabermetrics people BECAUSE they love baseball.  


September 18th, 2011 at 8:55 PM ^

I think the most fucking infuriating thing about hardcore SABR enthusiast is they feel nothing outside the codifications of their advanced metrics is worth considering. You, no doubt, would be annoyed if someone's argument for why one pitcher should get the Cy over another was that they saw both of them pitch 3 times, and one of them looked better (the eye-ball test). But conversely, the hardcore SABR enthusiast mindset that FIP, xFIP, and WAR are the best measurements we have to measure preformance, and so only listen to those, is ridiculous too. In all honesty, there needs to be some balance between the two mindsets. I'm not saying SABR is without merit, but it isn't anywhere near perfect. It doesn't take into consideration that some games are "bigger" than others, and how pitchers preform in those might, just might, matter more. It doesn't take into consideration other things like the number of times Verlander went to mound knowing he had to win to stop a winning steak and he was the only starting pitcher for 4 months keeping his team near playoff contention, while Sabathia's team all but had the wildcard (at worst) locked up in May. There are things to learn from the eyeball test, and there are things to learn from regular statistics, and there are things to learn from sabremetrics. And the fact that there is no contingency outside of hardcore SABR enthusiasts advocating ignoring everything we've seen, and every regular statistic, and that people should actually be voting for Sabathia tells me that in all likelihood, that small, miniscule minority off baseball fans are wrong and the other 99% of people who watch baseball and think Verlander has clearly had the best season in all of baseball are right. But, as I said, you will never convince an advanced metric person of anything: advanced metrics are their God, and God is never wrong.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:20 PM ^

Let's not forget that Sabathia pitches in that bandbox in New York, and has to pitch in the AL East, whereas Verlander pitches in one of the most pitcher-friendly parks in MLB, in the AL Comedy Central.

Sabathia should win it, and it's not even close.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:25 PM ^

I can't stand the Yankees, but I'd be fooling myself if I said Verlander really deserved it over Sabathia.  AAB has laid it out pretty clearly, and generally, the winner of the Cy Young DOES have the highest WAR of any other pitcher in the game.

I'd love to see Verlander win it, but the metrics speak otherwise.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:36 PM ^

No, there's not a neat acronym for choking against your biggest division rival or wins after your team loses. Hence, those sort of considerations aren't valid. Perhaps one day when SABR2.0 comes out and we have C/DivRiv and Wf(TL), then it'll matter, but not today.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:26 PM ^

I love when people make outrageous statements like this "its not even close" when the person they're touting is going to lose the vote by a 20-1 margin. Arguing Sabathia should totally win the Cy Young and its not even close is like saying "Ross Perot is totally going to win in 1996, and its not even going to be a contest!" At some point, you lose credibility when your myopia blinds you to the overwhelming amount of evidence to the contrary.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:42 PM ^

I said Sabathia should win -- it's not a prediction.  WAR, xFIP, and FIP are some of the most accurate measures of a pitcher's level of dominance at his position, and on that principle, it shouldn't be close.

Your analogy doesn't make any sense whatsoever, either, but I'm really not into arguing with people who would rather sling thinly veiled insults, so I'm out.


September 18th, 2011 at 9:26 PM ^

as well.  I also don't think it reflects today's game, because it says he's only made 32 starts.  ESPN says he had 33.  I'm not sure how all this stuff works, but I would assume it could only get better by going 8IP, 3H, 2BB(I think), 0ER, 6K's.  Right? 

The Nicker

September 20th, 2011 at 6:00 PM ^

I think it's possible to be a SABR and still think Verlander should win the Cy. In fact, the SABR community is somewhat split on this issue with the somewhat strong majority pushing for Verlander.


As had been noted, bWAR has Verlander well ahead of Sabathia. Verlander leads in K/9, K%, BB/9, BB%, ERA, SIERA, tERA (by far).


Sabathia leads in FIP largely as a result of the paucity of HRs he's given up. On the other hand, he still leads in xFIP (just barely) as a result of giving up almost no flyballs. This is pretty dumb however, as Verlander has one of the highest IFFB rates in the league, which is factored into his flyball rate, and he's giving up 6% less line drives. So to just look at FIP and fWAR and say Sabathia's better shows YOU'RE DOING IT WRONG. NERD HARDER.

The Barwis Effect

September 18th, 2011 at 9:52 PM ^

In my chat on Tuesday, I received several comments complaining that CC Sabathia is being ignored in the Cy Young race. The main arguments for his case, compared to Justin Verlander's: CC has faced tougher competition and pitches in a bandbox. ESPN Insider Matt Meyers has a piece up today that brings up these same issues and Matt concludes his case by writing, "When put in the proper context, Sabathia has been every bit as good as, if not better than, Verlander this season."

It's a compelling argument ... but I'm going to gently disagree.

First off, the tougher competition argument makes some sense. Sabathia pitches in the AL East, he's faced the Red Sox five times; Verlander pitches in the AL Central and gets to beat up on the Twins and Royals and Adam Dunn. As Matt points out, Sabathia has made 13 starts against the top five offenses in the American League compared to Verlander's six. That may seem like a big difference, but there's another way to check this. Baseball Prospectus keeps tracks of the quality of opposition batters each pitcher has faced. Here's the aggregate batting line for each pitcher:

Sabathia: .265/.330/.424
Verlander: .263/.327/.412

So we're talking 15 points of OPS, which is notable by hardly sizable.

Now check out what each pitcher has allowed this season:

Sabathia: .249/.295/.353
Verlander: .192/.240/.310

Sabathia has allowed an OPS 106 points lower than his aggregate average. Verlander has allowed an OPS 189 points lower.

There's also the matter of how Sabathia has pitched against those top offenses (Red Sox, Rangers, Tigers and Blue Jays): Not very good. In those 13 starts against the top offenses, he's posted a 5.03 ERA and allowed 97 hits in 87.2 innings. Verlander has made only six starts against those teams (plus the Yankees), but if we add in the Royals (who have scored only a few runs fewer than the Blue Jays), we get nine starts against the top offenses. In those nine games, Verlander has posted a 1.98 ERA with 40 hits allowed in 68.1 innings.

As for the ballpark, it's true that Yankee Stadium is a tougher park for pitchers than Comerica Park. However, keep in mind that Yankee Stadium helps left-handed batters much more than right-handed ones, due to the short porch. Sabathia, of course, faces far fewer lefties. Ballpark effects remain an imperfect science; each park is given an overall rating, but the "handedness" of each park isn't taken into account. (Fenway, for example, hurts left-handed pitchers more than right-handers.) So while you can argue that Sabathia is hurt by his home park, I'm not sure if that's completely accurate.



September 19th, 2011 at 10:59 AM ^

I don't disagree that Sabathia has some stats that support his candidacy, but his leads in some of those statistics are quite trivial (0.1 in WAR is basically dead even, as is xFIP).  I am more impressed that Verlander has pitched 14 more innings, a better K/BB rate, etc. 

Personally, I think if JV is the MVP then you also have to consider Halliday, who is having a monster season in Philly as well. Of course, that team has 4 top-notch starters, so that probably hurts his candidacy. 

I'd give the CY Young to Verlander and, if Bautista or Granderson keeps hitting, him the MVP.  But if Verlander does hit 25 wins and those hitters struggle a bit down the stretch, then I don't see anyone else having a more valuable impact of his team's season than Verlander. 


September 18th, 2011 at 8:07 PM ^

Sort of. You can't simply compare records and declare the 17-game winner to be better than the 15-game winner. There are about 37 statistics that are more telling of a pitcher's success/value.

At the same time, when dude wins 24 games (with a couple of starts potentially left), you don't need to look much further to know that the guy is having a fantastic season.


September 18th, 2011 at 8:11 PM ^

but his win total has nothing to do with that.  

As an (admittedly absurd) hypothetical, a pitcher with a 7.00 ERA whose lineup gave him 11 runs per game would probably win 25 games, but would be an awful pitcher.  It makes way more sense to rely on stats that isolate what a pitcher can actually control (essentially, strikeouts, walks, home run rate, and ground balls). 


September 18th, 2011 at 8:27 PM ^

If the most recent example goes back 19 years, then it's more than "somewhat" rare.  There are what, 150 regular starting pitchers per season?  You have to go back through nearly 3,000 pitching seasons to dig that one up.

Also, I'd call Jack Morris more than an average pitcher, even if his ERA that year wasn't remarkable.