In one of the closest votes in the history of the Cy Young, save the 1969 tie between Baltimore’s Mike Cuellar and the Tigers’ own Denny McLain, David Price of Tampa Bay just edges out the reigning winner, Justin Verlander, by four points and one first place vote. Price was named first on 14 of the 28 ballots, while Verlander was named first on 13 of them. The Cy Young is awarded based on a 7-4-3-2-1 scoring system.
Verlander went up against Price and Anaheim’s Jered Weaver to defend his Cy Young. In spite of the perception, and the narratives attached to Verlander’s 2011 campaign, he put up nearly as dominant numbers as he did in 2011.
The perception surrounding Verlander this season was that, outside of a few games, he wasn’t as dominant as he had been the previous season. This isn’t inaccurate; Verlander was on another plane of existence for much of the summer in 2011. However, as you can see above, he had another great year and was deserving of the Cy Young (as was Price).
Dominant narratives are a large part of what propelled Verlander to the Cy Young in 2011. He was certainly a deserving winner and the frontrunner, but it wasn’t nearly as cut-and-dried as the media made it out to be. Those narratives of Verlander carrying his team to the AL Central championship and into the playoffs may have hurt him a little this year, left writers and fans alike expecting Verlander to be just as dominant or more so.
If you were fortunate enough to witness Verlander’s stretch of flat-out dominant pitching in the summer of 2011, you probably feel he wasn’t up to that level in 2012.
And he wasn’t. Verlander did struggle more this year than he did the year before. He complained that he “lost the feel” for certain pitches before or during starts more than he did in 2011. In one particular start, Verlander completely lost the handle on his change-up and essentially became a “lesser” pitcher limited to three pitches instead of his full repertoire; he still won the game anyway.
It wasn’t one of the seemingly effortless performances we’d grown accustomed to seeing the previous year; it was a gritty effort, for baseball standards, as a pitcher with less than his best stuff went out there and still won. That is just as impressive to me as the Verlander of 2011 who made winning baseball games look easy.
And here’s a great shot of pitching coach Jeff Jones to tide you over until pitchers and catchers report: